interviewed by Calum Donoghue, 19 September 2015
That fine line of age appropriate vs staying stylish is something us gents will all have to face as we get older. QH caught up with Simon Jacobs, Founder Mr Quintessential, the man with a mission to make mens style ageless...
What has been your most successful item to date and what is it that you think makes it so popular?
The most successful item so far is the Ash Dip Dye Cardigan. This is really a unique piece in the collection, each item is individually hand dip dyed by expert craftsmen with years of experience. It is truly a luxurious item, and the fantastic effect makes it incredibly different from other items available to buy on the high street.
You feel passionately that men should not lose their sense of style as they age, how do you think men should develop and evolve their style as they get older?
I have never felt my age and have always had my own style. As I grew older my style matured and so did my fashion sense. Just because men maybe in middle age they don’t have to dress middle aged, like their fathers may have done in the past. Men are now more savvy and switched on. There are so many style icons in the media constantly bombarding us, and a huge range of fashion publications that are targeted at the male market. When I was growing up my father never had access to this type of literature or the media as it is today. A man in his late 40s thirty years ago, would dress in the stereotypical style for a middle aged man. I think that the man of today should always develop his style as he matures. The days of wearing logos should be forgotten and left to the next generation, and you need to dress age appropriate, but still retain a sense of style, elegance and be fashionable, without looking like you try too hard.
You say fashion is about identity, how would you describe your personal style?
I now have a very classic sense of style. I think I dress age appropriate. I am the father of two teenage boys, and I used to love wearing the same look as they did years ago. I used to be a huge fan of a certain US based brand, that uses extremely fit models to advertise. My kids used to rip me apart, and it was only then that I looked in the mirror and realised I looked ridiculous, and gave everything to my kids to wear. I then decided that it was time to dress age appropriate. I like to wear good fitting jeans, smart shoes, a great sweater and finish it off with a stylish leather jacket or blazer. My style has developed as my hair has turned greyer. I am lucky, that I am still relatively in shape, so I can buy my clothes from anywhere, and put them together to create a look that flatters, and doesn’t always have to cost a fortune. I have always been inspired by Ralph Lauren, and feel that he has a great sense of style for his age, and always looks good, as does Tom Ford.
Can you tell us more about the craftsmanship behind the collection?
I stumbled across the idea of knitwear last year when I was in Hong Kong at a trade show. I felt that there wasn’t enough choice of styles of knitwear for the more mature man. Whilst I was looking at the exhibitors, I came across this unique company of Cashmere Manufacturers. They had some amazing items on display, and are a small run family business, and there was just something about them that clicked with me. We couldn’t communicate as they didn’t speak a word of English, and my Chinese stretches to "Ni Hao". The company really takes pride in everything they do, and genuinely want to produce fantastic garments, with superb quality. They use years worth of technique, and most of the items they produce are all done by hand. I recently took a visit to the factory, to watch my product coming off the production line. I was amazed...I had visions of mass production, but it was a room filled with women, doing everything by hand. Each garment is painfully hand checked for perfect quality.
Colours feature heavily throughout the collection, what were some of your favourites to work with?
Simple, the dip dyes all shades. I love the shades of blues that have been created. The Ash in both colour ways , Navy to Ivory, and Ivory to Navy. I watched these garments being produced, and the time it took to get the shading 100% perfect. The Reed sweater in Grey is also one of my favourite pieces. I didn’t want just plain colours, I felt that this was what was missing for the target market I am catering for.
How do you keep that balance of fun vs age appropriate?
Life is what you make of it. You have to live life to the full. I know it sounds like a cliche, but you really do not know what is coming around the corner. If you go around with a positive attitude, you get positivity back. You have to make life fun. I try to surround myself with people who are upbeat, have a great sense of humour, and make me laugh. I like to go to the gym at least 3 times a week, and keep myself in shape. There are plenty of people out there who reach a certain age and just give up, and let themselves go. You can’t stop your hair falling out, or turning grey, but you can try to look after yourself in other ways. I have two teenage boys of 19 and 16, who also keep me on my toes. I took them to Ibiza in the summer, and it was me that wanted to go clubbing. Obviously they both said no, as I’d embarrass them both on the dance floor. But my attitude is “Hey who cares” . I maybe 50, but am no where near ready to put my slippers on and drink Cocoa just yet!
- Simon Jacobs, founder Mr Quintessential