Dougie Hood, sales manager at Savile Row tailor William Hunt, tells Sarah Mansley how he kick-started his career in the Swinging Sixties.
How did you get started in fashion?
I started as a Saturday boy at menswear store John Stevens in Glasgowand soon realised I had the edge. Age was on my side and the 1960s was a great time to get involved in the fashion industry. So with the help of people such as store manager Colin Bennett and clothing manufacturer the Fox Brothers, I got the experience and contacts I needed and started my own business.
What have been the biggest changes in the menswear business during your time working in the sector?
There’s a lack of respect, knowledge and, most importantly, passion nowadays. When I started out I was doing this because I loved it – and I still do. I was totally engrossed in the atmosphere and passionate about what was happening and the whole ethos of the 1960s. People no longer know the fashion industry inside out, they don’t love every aspect of it and they don’t get as excited about it.
How important are trade shows for brands nowadays?
Very. The trade show is like a shop window for a brand – it gives people the opportunity to see what’s on offer. There is an old saying: the window is for looking, the shop is for shopping. But without the window on a brand at a trade show, there is no way anyone would approach us to buy. Ideally, there should be another show for formal menswear. We always go to Pitti Uomo, but we need somewhere else to increase our reach.
And how has the menswear consumer changed?
They’ve channelled their views a lot more. I think they are more aware of exactly what they want, but it’s not adventurous or personal. The media has much more influence on the consumer now. People want a suit because David Beckham has worn it or because a film star has modelled it, not because they love it themselves.
How do you think premium menswear brands will fare in the credit crunch?
I honestly believe that we’ll be fine. As long as we maintain the quality and exclusivity, there will always be a place for premium menswear brands.
And how do you feel about the future of heritage brands, especially after the loss of such an iconic Savile Row brand as Hardy Amies?
We need to move with the times and embrace new labels and designers alongside the heritage brands. If the brands of old do not embrace the new, then they’ll never survive. A recession is, in fact, a good time for premium menswear brands. In times like these, people want to look good in order to feel good. We are providing an aspirational brand and, as long as there is hope and aspiration, there is life. People need and want something to aim for, and fashion plays a very real part in confirming they’ve reached a goal.
And what about the contents of your own wardrobe? What’s in there?
I love the clothes that I work with, so I’d have to say it’s all very formal-oriented. Even on a weekend I favour a very preppy style, with clean lines and simple styles.
And what is your favourite outfit?
I have so many to choose from. I always keep everything; I have a suit made by Paul Smith when he was still a student. But my favourite would have to be a simple, clean-cut, formal suit by William Hunt, obviously.
Dougie Hood is sales manager at Savile Row tailor William Hunt
Who is your fashion icon and why?
David Bowie. He has reinvented himself so many times to appeal to new generations, while still managing to grow old gracefully and with style.
Born David Jones in Brixton, London, in 1947, David Bowie is one of the 10 best-selling artists in UK pop music history. He is often quoted as being a major influence on people in almost every creative industry, thanks to his individual, chameleon-like style.
In 1966 he began using the stage name David Bowie and released his first solo records. Eight years later he introduced his androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust to the world, and it was that character’s glittering wardrobe that lit the fuse on a more glamorous and adventurous style of dressing for men on both sides of the Atlantic.
Bowie’s career has spanned five decades and he has sold an estimated 136 million albums, as well as starring in films and developing a successful career as a record producer. As if to underline the importance of style, Bowie released a single called Fashion and he even married a supermodel in Iman.