British Made – Gordon Richardson and Topman

Summer is reaching it’s close and already evenings are feeling a little more chilly. Fortunately, TopMan are about to produce a new line of “Made In Britain” products that will provide a range of warm knits and wools to welcome in the darker months. On sale from next month, and made using the best in British produce and manufacturing, we discussed the new range with TopMan’s Design Director, Gordon Richardson, to discover more about this new range as well as find out about TopMan’s continued success in the states – where the brand is helping fly the flag of British fashion and design.

What is your earliest memory of fashion?
Going with my mother when i was about 12 years old or so to a very discreet tailors in Portsmouth where she used to have these stylish jersey jacquard suits made for her and being fascinated by the whole tailoring process. It was like the insight into a secret world of delectable creation that i had never witnessed before. In this particular instance i got to choose the cloth that my very stylish mother subsequently had made into a suit , something that absolutely terrified me at the time.  I still to this day love the smell of woolen cloth when its being steamed and pressed.

What is your ultimate style tip?
Don’t be fooled by fashion. Let your own style dictate what you should wear. Fashion rites of passage are important to go through though as they define your later style just don’t be beholden to them . Let your own personality shine and use and abuse fashion to that end!

The new Made In Britain range at TopMan is a great way of highlighting British methods, materials and products – what were the inspirations behind the new range?
The inspiration came from wanting to produce a more luxurious element to our ranges. The recent continued success of our Topman Ltd range proved to us that we could push the “traditional ” boat out further and source yarns etc that were 100% natural. So we’ve initially focused on a small capsule range of textural cable knit fisherman style sweaters in pure 100% lambswool for the first run.

What is the importance of supporting the British industry to you?
A simple desire to produce quality clothing based in the UK. This country has such a heritage and history of making luxury goods it seemed the right moment with fashions current love of effortless, timeless clothes to produce a small part of our expanding ranges in Great Britain.

What do you look for when seeking out high quality products?
An element of craftmanship and that the garment has been loved in some way in the manufacturing process. Also something that should be durable enough to become a future hand me down. So often High St fashion is cursed by the fact that it has no permanence and is easily disposable, by producing something that has been lovingly crafted we are going some way in re- balancing this.

TopMan has opened in the USA – how does it feel to be flying the flag for Britain in the States?
I think it was more a question of actually having a presence out there alongside our High St contemporaries that was the most appealing fact rather than purely flying the flag for Britain. The store was designed around the success of our London Flagship and contains all the same product ranges available here in the UK, albeit on a slightly smaller scale so its been interesting to monitor what sells out there.

A new store is opening in Chicago in September and further store launches are planned – has TopMan’s success in the States surprised you?
Topman’s fashion should by its very nature have universal appeal, as the team consume global trend avidly as part of the whole design process.  So no it hasn’t really surprised us but equally we are very happy with how its trading as we were all nervous at the outset as to its success. It naturally took a while for the American market to fully understand what Topman was about but interestingly once discovered they seem to be coming back at increasing levels. Key successes for us have naturally been the type of product less readily available out in the States like our suits and smarter product  which offer great fashion shapes and styles at amazing value something that isn’t readily available out there.

Who would you consider is the most stylish man in the world?
Do you know what those kind of questions are really hard to answer but for me, as i look at it as being more how appropriately someone is dressed ; more how what someone wears fits/ suits their environment.  Stylish people always have their own fashion language and set of rules that are untainted by a personal stylist.

What would you be doing if you weren’t designing for TopMan?
I would and still like to think it would be in some band or another as music was always my 1st love, however maybe now that dream should be parked , it really is too late in the day for that sadly.

What ambitions do you still want to achieve?
I’ve tended to take each day as it comes rather than having any solid ambitions so we’ll see what pans out in the future but it would be great to paint or have the opportunity to travel more extensively than i have the opportunity to do right now. Also i like the idea of a weekly fashion column on style which could be fun to work on.

British Made – Gordon Richardson and Topman
British Made – Gordon Richardson and Topman
British Made – Gordon Richardson and Topman
Made In Britain by Topman is available from September.