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Mei Chung

Luxury indie Browns’ menswear buyer tells Emily Norval who her favourite designers are and why she loves English tailoring.

How did you find the autumn 13 menswear buying season?

It’s been very colourful, with demands met from both the creative side and selling point of view. This season I visited the usual key players: Pitti Uomo in Florence, Tranoï, Capsule, London Collections: Men (LCM), Milan and Paris. This second season of LCM upped the tone for sure. Being able to have one-to-one sessions with each designer allowed us to build relationships with James Long, Agi & Sam and Martine Rose.

What menswear brands are selling well in Browns at the moment?

Within our multi-designer offering, we are pleased with Mihara Yasuhiro, Lanvin and James Long, who are leading the race.

How do you think British menswear design stands out against international competition?

Since we have the support of London Collections: Men, buyers are able to pay full attention to, and spend good quality time with, the British designers. But I’d still like to see further buzz, like in Paris.

How have customers’ spending habits changed in the past few years?

As clients mature, their tastes and needs are different each season. They would either like to touch up their current wardrobe, or purchase a completely life-changing wardrobe. People in their 20s tend to look for new or unknown designers, as they want to be exclusive trend-setters and different from their friends.

How would you describe Browns’ male customer?

Full of mixed flavours! It’s so great to see the fathers who shopped with Browns when they were young visit us with their sons and share their history.

Who are your favourite menswear designers?

Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester and Mihara Yasuhiro.

What is your favourite menswear trend for autumn?

Tailored suits and flight bombers.

And your least favourite menswear trend?

Layering over-washed or distressed fabric pieces and shorts over pants.

Did you always want to work in menswear?

Yes, I love the history and structure of tailoring, especially English gentlemen tailoring.

What do you think sets Browns apart from other retailers?

Browns’ DNA is to seek and work with new talents, to create a platform for them to grow. Also our one-to-one understanding of our clients in the shop.

What’s the most exciting part about working at Browns for you?

Working directly with clients who need to build a wardrobe to support their new life changes, or alter their life. Also, being able to support new talents and meet designers for special projects.

What do you think is the most important element in menswear design? What do you particularly look for?

The thinking behind the designer’s ideas, along with the shape, movement, fabric and colour

Who do you think is the best-dressed man in the public eye at the moment and why?

Ryan Gosling, with his alarmingly cool presence! Also Bruno Mars in tailoring and aviator sunglasses in his latest video.

How do you relax in your spare time?

With movies, old classic films and books. I’ve just finished with a crime novel called ‘The Devotion Suspect X’ by a Japanese writer who has been dubbed ‘The Japanese Steig Larsson’.

Two piece suit, or three piece suit? Why?

Both. 2B for extra confidence, 3B for extra comfort.

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