Gordon Richardson, who graduated from The Royal College of Art in 1976 with a Masters Degree in menswear, has been with TOPMAN for 15 years. His main focus has been overseeing his team of 30 designers to define the trends for each season as well as ensuring all visual content is on brand. He has been integral in the inception and development of MAN – the event which TOPMAN and Fashion East started back in 2005 to showcase emerging menswear design talent.
Here, Richardson shares his thoughts on style, London, and yes, the ubiquitous man bun.
How is the business of fast fashion faring? We may be put in the category of fast-fashion but at TOPMAN we see ourselves as much more than that. We see ourselves as the most directional menswear brand on the High Street introducing new items on a regular basis. Keep your eye on our Topman Design show in January as an exciting introduction to new directions. We will also be launching some exclusive fashion collaborations in 2016.
How has the landscape of men’s fashion evolved since you’ve been working in the industry? Menswear is in the healthiest state I’ve ever witnessed in my career. With the MAN show and London Collections Men (LCM) here in London pioneering the way for other cities such as New York following suit, it feels like at last Menswear is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
Are there specific trends that you observe in different markets? We produce such globally desirable clothes that what we do seems to appeal to our customers around the world. I would say the biggest difference in what people wear comes down to the weather, but we aim to have pieces for all seasons available on topman.com all year round.
Do you think fashion on a global scale has become too homogeneous? Does individuality still find ways of surfacing? Menswear trends have become simpler in the past few months focusing on well-designed, affordable and wearable pieces, but there is still the opportunity to do something new and eye-catching. London is the perfect breeding ground for these ideas to come through.
Do you see more emerging menswear designers now than 15 years ago? I think the talent has always been there and London Collections Men demonstrates this. Now that we are in the digital age, it is easier and faster than ever to get your ideas and designs out to an audience.
What tends to be the biggest challenge that young design talents face? I think the talent is definitely out there but like most things, the stumbling block usually comes down to funding. Our MAN and NewGen Men initiatives aim to help and nurture these designers in ways far beyond financially, but it certainly helps!
Was there a reason you opted to pursue designing menswear (as opposed to womenswear)? It was a chance meeting with two of the most excitingly dressed people form London that I had ever seen. From that moment I knew I wanted to be part of their world, not the world of graphics, which seemed from then on so provincial.
How does the London fashion industry compare to Milan and Paris these days? I love London’s diversity. It comes from the heart and soul of the designers, not from some commercially driven place.
You’ve talked about “fashion following” someone — do you fashion follow anyone, or do you do your own thing? Living in London you get ideas and inspiration from everyone and everywhere. I fashion follow the city itself.
Who’s one famous person you find to be consistently well-dressed in his own way? For me, it has always been Keith Richards.
How often do you edit your own wardrobe? This is an on-going process and I am always on the look-out to update my wardrobe. I tend to wear simple pieces in a subdued palette of greys, navys and black that focus on subtle details inherent in the cut, proportion and fabric. I style and mix these pieces depending on mood and circumstance, throwing in a neckerchief or sweat (shirt) to add print into the mix.
What is the oldest item in your closet that you still wear? Why do you love it? A beautiful navy YSL overcoat. I’ve had it for over 20 years, and when I put it on now it still makes me feel how I felt the first time I tried it on.
What are five must-haves in a 30 year-old man’s wardrobe? A well-cut classic suit, a cashmere crew neck knit, a good pair of raw denim jeans, a clean and classic muted T-shirt, and a pair of clean, white sneakers.
Man buns: yay or nay? Not at my age, but if it works for you, then why not!