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My fashion life - Nicholas Thorne

The menswear buyer for five-store London indie Question Air is an impulsive shopper, but regrets the calf-length Converse boots.

Did you always want to work in fashion?

I’ve never seen myself doing anything else. When you’re younger you just imagine what it would be like and buying is one of those things where you get the best of everything that’s out there. You meet everyone, you travel and then you get to pick the best of what’s available in terms of product.

What’s been your most successful buy?

Acne. I’ve placed a strong emphasis on the jeans side of the collection and we have built a real following. The Roc fit, a slim straight, is my personal favourite.

Do you prefer buying for summer or winter?

Definitely winter. The categories you can buy are much wider and the fabrics more luxurious. I’m also a massive fan of outerwear and accessories, which are generally stronger in the winter.

What do you like least about your job?

Constantly thinking of new ideas means it’s sometimes difficult to switch off at night.

Do you ever find yourself buying for yourself by accident?

That was the first rule that I learnt never to break. However, I do add the occasional extra unit onto the end of an order.

What brands do you like to wear?

I love Acne, Rag & Bone and Ami, a new label we’ve taken on for spring by Alexandre Mattiussi, a designer who used
to work for Givenchy. It’s slightly edgy but the shapes are very commercial.

As a buyer, do you still enjoy shopping?

I’m definitely an impulse buyer. I go into a store and know what I want very quickly, and most of the time I don’t bother to try it on.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever had to do at Question Air?

Modelling in our charity fashion show!

What’s your favourite trade show?

Copenhagen Fashion Week hosts a variety of interesting brands that offer a look that isn’t covered by other international trade shows. You don’t get the same kind of repetition in Copenhagen that you do elsewhere, because not everyone is showing there yet.

What’s your favourite thing about Copenhagen as a city?

The Scandinavians have a very unique style that is incredibly minimalist and effortless but still looks sharp and relevant. We’ve been going for three or four seasons, and last time it was a blizzard, so the summer is better. But everyone is very friendly in Denmark.

How do you cope with all of the travel you have to do?

As with all buyers, it’s a very stressful time of the year. I find that the adrenaline and hype around any fashion week gives me the motivation to keep going. As Question Air is a family-run business, we are all very encouraging of one another and I find that a good joke and a strong drink at the end of the day helps you maintain your sanity.

If you could own a store anywhere, where would it be?

Probably Mount Street [in London]. I love the element of high fashion and the various characters you find strolling around the streets of Mayfair.

What’s the biggest challenge facing independents at the moment?

It would have to be the culture of online discounting. We are in competition with other retailers that tend to offer constant markdowns throughout the season, which can be very difficult to match when you’re looking out for the bottom line.

What other independents do you admire?

Browns in London. It offers a great mix of established brands and eclectic new designers. When you walk in there you feel you are looking at something completely different, which is the backbone of any independent.

As a buyer, what’s the question you ask the most?

Does it come in any other colour?

What’s the biggest thorn in your side?

Having to become more tech-savvy. I’ve had to get to grips with programs such as Excel, and learn to use it for formulas.

What is your personal favourite fit of jeans?

Slim and straight - they’re flattering for all.

Single-breasted or double-breasted?

I’m a real jacket fan and wear them in most situations, even in 40-degree heat. I love a structured double-breasted blazer as it hides a multitude of sins and keeps you looking sharp.

What’s been your most questionable outfit?

My colleagues would say my calf-high, fur-lined Converse. Needless to say, I haven’t worn them since. In my defence, it was snowing that day.

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