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Darren Skey

If fashion had not worked out for him, Harvey Nichols’ head of menswear would have had a shot at football.

Did you always want to work in fashion?

I was always known among my friends as the kid who loved fashion. If I wasn’t going to be a professional footballer I wanted to work in fashion. Even at university I spent all my money on designer clothes as opposed to alcohol.

Any tips for surviving the trips to shows and showrooms?

Plenty of hydration, comfortable shoes and stamina. Shows can be quite stressful. The busy schedule means you are constantly running from one show to the next. There is also a certain amount of pressure to look good. The showrooms are more relaxed but the long appointments can be tiring.

How do you deal with approaches from brands that are clearly not right?

In a very polite manner. We try to offer advice to brands that aren’t quite right. You never know when a brand might suddenly hit the right formula.

We also like to work with brands to develop their products, especially up-and-coming British designers.

Ever passed on a brand that turned out to be a real winner?

Not yet.

Who would be the first name you’d buy if you bought womenswear?

It would have to be KTZ womenswear. These guys are doing things completely new to the market. The spring 14 show in London was amazing.

Which of the Harvey Nichols stores most reflects your personality?

Edinburgh, because it has a reliance on timeless classics. It invests in quality and is willing to pay for it. And Manchester, because it’s one of the most vibrant and fun cities outside of London. They have a unique fashion sense and are the most fashion forward out of all our regional stores.

If you had your own store, what would you call it and what would the interior look like?

I’d call it The Supermarket of Luxury (stolen from a friend’s idea). It would probably look a bit New York loftish. I love exposed brickwork.

What’s it like working with Harvey Nichols fashion director Paula Reed?

It’s an absolute honour and a pleasure. She is so creative and driven to improve the business. Sometimes it can be time consuming - she walks into a room and knows everyone and everyone wants to talk to her.

What’s the best fashion show you’ve ever been to?

Rick Owens’ Paris spring 14 show was probably the best in terms of sheer shock factor. Estonian rock group Winny Puhh were an absolute showstopper. Also for sheer opulence and crowd reaction, the Versace spring 13 show in Milan. I’ve never heard so many gasps.

If you weren’t working in fashion, what would you be doing?

If I hadn’t gone to study at university I would have probably given my football career a better stab. I was offered an apprenticeship at Fulham but decided to study instead. Or maybe a I’d be trader in the City.

How do you relax at the end of the day?

I go home to two kids who jump all over me for an hour and then I nip to the gym before sitting down for some trashy TV with the wife.

Tell us something unexpected about yourself.

I spend my Sunday morning cleaning out the kids’ lionhead rabbit. A job I despise.

What’s the most embarrassing fashion item you’ve ever bought?

When I was about 13 I bought a pair of white baggy parachute material tracksuit bottoms. I thought I looked amazing but on reflection I looked a state.

What would you call your autobiography?

Village Boy to City Man. I was brought up in a small village and still live close by now. People think I’m a bit of a local celebrity being featured in magazines and jet-setting around the world to sit in the front row of fashion shows.

Who would you get to write the foreword and why?

I would probably ask my Dad. He knows me better than anyone else and would be nothing but complimentary.

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