Simon Spurr Gives His Suits a British Swagger

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Simon Spurr in his studio. Photo: Melissa Hom

British-born Simon Spurr touts a distinguished résumé, having designed menswear at YSL under Hedi Slimane, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren. After creating his own contemporary, denim-based line, Spurr, in 2006, he was named a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund last year. Fall 2010 brings a more serious sartorial undertaking: Spurr debuted a refined new menswear line on the runway last week, Simon Spurr, filled with dapper plaids, patterned suits, cashmere knits, and tailored jackets. (Savile Row tailor Tommy Nutter was an inspiration.) "Hedi Slimane was my first true fashion mentor, and the first thing he did was throw the trend books out the window," says Spurr. "That's always stuck with me. I appreciate, I look, I listen, but on the whole I completely disengage from the rest of what's going on in fashion. I have a feeling, an emotion, that comes out in the form of clothes." We chatted with the designer about his prominent mentors, English tendencies, and affinity for cashmere sweats.

How would you distinguish your fall collection from the original Spurr line?
Spurr has a younger, faster, edgier feel, whereas Simon Spurr is about modern elegance.

Who are your favorite designers?
Tom Ford and Bottega.

How influential were your past design positions in shaping Simon Spurr?
I've been really lucky to work with three of the most talented men in fashion, and I learned different things from each of them. At Ralph Lauren, it was about building a brand and owning a look. At Calvin, it was more about removing excess ideas; stripping the design back to its purest form. And at YSL it was about working with color and proportion.

Where do you like to shop in New York?
Since I make clothes for myself, I tend to buy vintage at places like Melet Mercantile — I love the functionalist element of vintage military outerwear.

What was the first designer item you bought?
Very random: a Jean Paul Gaultier vest.

How would you describe your personal style?
I tend to live in jeans, a T-shirt, and a suit jacket. It's my daily uniform.


What trends are you appreciating right now?
I understand the relevance and importance of trends, but I don't belabor them. For the show, we opened with a double-breasted suit jacket with tailored sweatpants. I like the juxtaposition of a tailored top mixed with a relaxed, softer underpinning.

Any trend you're ready to see retired?
I don't personally embrace cropped pants.

What's one item you're saving to buy?
I'm actually in the market for a Brigg umbrella; they're handmade in London. I make this bag that has two slits on the outside to slide an umbrella through — it's quintessentially English.

What should every guy have in his closet?
A suit. There's a whole new body of men who are embracing suits now, sometimes for the first time. It feels young again to wear a suit, like the Beatles wearing them onstage in the sixties.

What's something you never leave the house without?
My iPod. Lately I'm listening to a lot of Chester French and Generationals because they were the soundtrack of our show. I wanted people to be able to close their eyes and still feel this British swagger — the clothes match the sound.