Gentleman get ready, Huw Bennet, contributing editor to Oliver Grand and co-founder of Vanishing Elephant (just to name a few of his many accomplishments) is leading a workshop in men’s style at the Canberra Centre on Friday 24 June.
But before we have the opportunity to find out Huw’s tips for developing a personal style and taking on this season’s trends at tomorrow’s masterclass, we wanted to find out a bit more about the man himself.
Leiden: What drew you to a career in fashion?
Huw: I was always a funny kid wearing my dad’s suits out on the weekend and forever searching Vinnies stores for leather boots, old Italian football jerseys and printed tees. I guess when I left school I wanted to work with clothing but wasn’t quite sure how to go about but I always kept coming back to this idea of dressing up, or trying to find something a little unique and by chance a friend of mine took an internship with David Jones and the only vacant spot to fill was fashion so I packed up my uni books and the rest is history…
L: What spurred you and Felix Chan to create your own label Vanishing Elephant?
H: We both had been working in wholesaling labels and had our own ideas; we actually have set about making separate ranges until a mutual friend introduced us. We looked at each other’s ideas and decided to roll them into one project.
L: You have been involved in building brands from the ground up including Incu’s in house brand Weathered. What does it take to launch a successful label?
H: I think most importantly is having a good understanding of what you’re setting out to create and knowing what the intended market is for the brand’s product. I’ve always maintained that there is and will always be room for well made garments that are both thoughtful and considered.
L: How did you come to contribute to Oliver Grand?
H: Jesse the founder of Oliver Grand and I have been friends through work for some time and when she heard I was leaving VE we started sharing ideas about menswear and what it meant to us both. We then decided I could try and write some topical pieces and then create some unique content through my contacts and experience. The Oliver Grand man and my ideals about menswear and being a man are very much aligned so it’s an easy operation for us both.
L: Oliver Grand’s fashion content focuses on a more classic, less trend-driven sense of style. What key pieces should every man have in his wardrobe?
H: Simple is always best, trends are there for a reason and are fine to dabble in but knowing and having good everyday pieces is key. I like to champion the classic white oxford shirt, a good pair of leather shoes and a well made and tailored suit should be essential for all guys. Knowing how to dress to the season and also understanding your body type can help make buying wardrobe stables easy.
L: What tips do you have for standing out from the crowd but not necessarily looking too trend focused?
H: Dress smart, not outlandish. I always try and think what would my grandfather think of this outfit or item. Buy smart and take care of your pieces, they’ll reward you in return. Look for colours that match and if you want to add some highlights be mindful of what will match back with these.
L: What are some of your favourite brands to dress in?
H: Locally I buy Jac & Jack as everyday easy wearing pieces for both work and the weekends. I used to travel to Japan a lot for work so I have a list as long as my arm of favourite Japanese brands and stores. I gravitate towards American brands as they suit my body type – tall with shoulders and this could be anything from J.Crew, Carharrt or Engineered Garments.
L: Sales of men’s fashion are on the up, however many of the big name designers are moving towards mixed gender runway shows which may signal the end of a stand alone Men’s Fashion Week. What are your thoughts on the future of men’s fashion?
H: Wow hard one, I like the mixed shows. It’s business smart and for some represents a real insight to brand integrity. Showing together and on season means they can deliver product that is current faster and more efficiently then previously. Menswear moves a lot, and is by most standards the yardstick for all fashion. Trends aside, menswear and specific labels globally have given men more options and better options all round which is a great thing.
If you haven’t already, book your ticket to the Men’s Style and Tech Masterclass with Huw Bennet.
Style Masterclass with Huw Bennet
Friday 24 June, 2016 7pm
Canberra Centre, Level 1 adjacent to Country Road