The agent speaks to Stephen Spear about his talent for spotting the most stylish menswear brands before anyone else
You most recently worked as an agent at Egomark and The Gallery. What made you decide to go it alone as a menswear agent and distributor?
The timing is right. It’s a tough climate but that means I’m keeping overheads tight, and I’m working with good brands so it doesn’t feel that scary.
You cottoned on to the new wave of menswear early, working with Japanese workwear brands and trawling the directional Arsenale hall at Pitti Uomo before most. How did that happen?
I think it’s mostly instinct, plus I think about what I like to wear. Arguably that’s not the correct way to do it, but I know my market and essentially when I look at something I think ‘yes, I’d wear that head to toe’. Then I know at least 20 stores that will buy it.
How will that whole workwear/heritage/vintage look move on?
That’s an interesting one to answer, because if you travel around the UK there are already different interpretations of the look. In some northern towns, for instance, the look is to tuck your chinos into your socks. Similar silhouette but a different translation.
What are your thoughts on spring 12?
I’ve seen some great things on my travels – quite an unstructured look with a softer colour palette.
You’re also one of the trio behind new menswear trade show Jacket Required. How did you get involved?
Mark Batista, who founded denim show TBC, gave me a call earlier in the year and asked if I’d be interested. I jumped at the chance, particularly with Craig [Ford, agent for A Bathing Ape] involved as well. The response we’ve had has made us all feel very proud and we had a great mix of premium brands for the first edition. And hopefully it will put London on the map. A lot of buyers go out to the Euro circuit now, but many still make multiple trips to London showrooms too. If we can save them that, and maybe one abroad, it’s worth it. Plus the atmosphere is more sophisticated than the UK has seen and there’s an appetite for that.
What’s the mood among menswear buyers?
It’s tough. The season is getting shorter, stores are going on Sale earlier and there’s less time to get full margin. There’s also a lot more savvy consumers out there and that’s fair enough, but it’s more important than ever now for retailers to protect the retail price on quality menswear.
Which retailers inspire you?
I can’t name names, as there are too many great ones in the UK. One of my favourite stores abroad is luxury indie L’Eclaireur on Rue Hérold, Paris. The buys are amazing and if I ever had a store I would want it to look very similar.
The lighting, the mood, the buy, the service. Plus there’s a secret room, which only opens if the staff press a button. The last time I went there was a wall of car bonnets – to see Givenchy’s new range a button was pressed and a bonnet slid out to reveal it.
- Andrew Parfitt is a menswear agent and distributor
Describe your favourite outfit?
White Superga, Ralph Lauren shorts, woven belt, Oxford shirt and chambray tie, unstructured blazer with a pocket square. Also a Calabrese tote.
What trend would you most like to see?
If we could all dress like an episode from Boardwalk Empire I would be more than happy. Fingers crossed.
Finish this sentence: ‘The most important thing in fashion is…’
Even if you change six times make sure it looks like it was the first thing you threw on.
Where is the most stylish menswear destination in the world?
It’s got to be Florence when Pitti Uomo is on.