The buyer and reluctant model at Notting Hill’s menswear store Woodhouse loves working shop floors as much as he does browsing them.
With a love of all things menswear, Gavin Crossland started off working at menswear independent Limeys (later taken over by Cruise) in Nottingham before making the jump to agency Fourmarketing.
He joined premium menswear independent Woodhouse in Notting Hill, west London, as menswear buyer five years ago and this year is helping to launch own brand The Dapper Stag to celebrate the store’s 40th anniversary.
What is the best thing about being a menswear buyer for Woodhouse?
I love being involved in every aspect of the business and not just the buying, so I would have to say the variety. I’m never too far from the shop floor or even the marketing department.
And the worst?
Getting bullied into modelling the clothes because nobody else at Woodhouse will.
You’ve worked for sales agency Fourmarketing. How did it feel to swap roles?
I really enjoyed my time at Fourmarketing, but I saw Woodhouse as too much of an exciting opportunity to turn down. To help rebuild such an iconic brand with so much heritage was too appealing. It’s not often you get a chance like that.
What did Fourmarketing teach you?
Working for Fourmarketing, I met the majority of the UK’s independent retailers, so I learned how they buy and operate. Also, working in sales toughens you up, especially if you’re selling an unknown up-and-coming brand, which is great experience.
This year is Woodhouse’s 40th anniversary. What are you doing to celebrate?
We’ve spent a lot of time developing our own collection, The Dapper Stag. It’s a set of quality wardrobe essentials all made in the UK. We’re really proud of the collection and it’s had some really good feedback. [The Dapper Stag collection retails from £35 for a T-shirt to £175 for a waxed jacket.] Other than that, we’re spending the whole of this year working with some of our favourite brands to give our customers some unique products and one-off experiences.
Do you think trade shows are still important?
Definitely! Especially in this email and texting era, it’s actually nice to speak face to face and not play email tennis. It’s important to build relationships in this industry.
Which ones do you visit?
Pitti Uomo [in Florence], Man and Capsule in Paris and hopefully Copenhagen this season.
What’s your favourite thing about trade shows?
Definitely people-watching and picking up ideas from international brands.
And the worst?
When fashion crosses over to fancy dress with walking sticks, pipes and all sorts of weird accessories.
If you could buy one brand that doesn’t exist anymore, what would it be?
I grew up with the Nottingham brand One True Saxon. When I worked for [menswear retailer] Limeys in Nottingham, I used to love a good Saxon sample sale.
What one menswear trend do you wish would disappear?
Chalk-stripe banker suits definitely belong in room 101.
What trend would you like to bring back?
Maharishi embroidered pants. They were cool when I was a kid.
Who do you admire most in the industry?
Any independent retailers who take their own direction and stick to what they believe in. I admire those who search for unique, exclusive products and show individuality through their business.
If you weren’t a menswear buyer, what would you be doing?
Something in health and fitness like a personal trainer, nutritionist or even a PE teacher.
What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
A Hackett three-piece Prince of Wales suit.
What is the most money you’ve ever spent on your personal wardrobe?
When I was 19, I spent £295 on a piece of Dries Van Noten knitwear, when I was earning just over £100 a week. I wore it twice, because it was far too warm to go out drinking in – schoolboy error. I think I swapped it for a Vivienne Westwood shirt in the end, which was half the price.
If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Well, it’s not an outfit as such but the brand I own the most of is Stone Island. I was wearing it when I was 18 and I’m still wearing it now.
You’re surrounded by clothes every day. Do you actually still like shopping?
Love it, but I have to go on my own because I like to lose myself for a full day.
Do you prefer shopping online or in store?
I’m old school and prefer buying in stores, but I think online has so many more avenues to explore. I’m not sure stores will ever come back like the old days. The beauty of online is choice for the price-sensitive customer and also finding exclusives from around the world.
Apart from Woodhouse, where else do you like to shop?
Any cool independents, but I also like [London department store] Liberty and Cos.