Standing inside Casely-Hayford’s new two-floor, apartment-style store in London’s Marylebone, it’s hard to take any doomsday hand-wringing over the state of tailoring seriously. Current trends in fashion may suggest that men will soon be going from cradle to grave in an £800 branded tracksuit, but there’s no evidence of that here.
Precision is everywhere. Suits hung from the walls strike the Goldilocks centre-point of having neither too much or too little in the way of structure, while unassuming formal trousers rub up against bold jacquard blazers. Everything on show has enough interest to compete with the latest hype sneaker drop, and it’ll undoubtedly stay in favour for longer.
Showing us around is co-founder Charlie Casely-Hayford. He started the label when he was just 22 with his father Joe, a man who dressed everyone from The Clash to Princess Diana before heading up storied Savile Row firm Gieves & Hawkes. Today, the father-son outfit is one of the most exciting and coveted brands in menswear.
Now, you could argue that a new tailoring shop in the well-heeled Marylebone area is nothing to hold the front page for. But what makes Casely-Hayford’s presence so important right now is its ability to blow the cobwebs away from a potentially declining art of making a proper suit.
All the painstaking craft and reverence for tradition is accounted for, but the brand’s main appeal is its ability to take that intricate craftsmanship and breathe new life into it, whether that’s through offering made-to-measure bomber jackets, or updating the notion of a fusty tailors with till points made from recycled plastic bottles.
It’s an approach already being received well in the area. As FashionBeans meets with Casely-Hayford outside the store, it’s hard to overemphasise the frequency at which the man is stopped for a chat by the locals, all keen to catch up with one of Britain’s brightest talents. And, in fairness to those who stopped, he’s a hard figure to miss. Standing at 6’7 and wearing clothes so well-cut that it induces instant paranoia about everything currently hanging off your own body, he has leading-man presence (he’s also fronted campaigns for the likes of Converse and Dr Martens).
His easy-going nature is uncommon, too. Not only for someone who, since 2009, has been known for tailoring, one of the most rule-bound corners of menswear, but for someone who has fashion in his blood (not to mention a dad who received an OBE for services to fashion).
That approachability extends to the clothes he designs, too. Yes, you could spend a sizeable amount of money at the new store on the label’s superb made-to-measure or bespoke tailoring service, but Casely-Hayford has also just launched a collection for Topman, including suits that come in well under £200.
Below Casely-Hayford talks about the new range, gives us a tour of his new neighbourhood and explains why British style is among the most exciting in the world.
For those unacquainted, what defines the Casely-Hayford brand?
Intelligent design with culturally rich undertones. Each collection embraces a fusion of high and low art with a focus on British sub-cultures.
What can visitors expect from the new store?
The starting point was an apartment – we wanted to create a warm, intimate space with a strong focus on art and culture. The store was designed by my wife who heads up the interior design studio Studio Ashby, so it really feels very personal and is a true insight into the Casely-Hayford world. Each artwork, sculpture and piece of furniture tells a story, and we hope that that comes across when you first walk in.
Why did you choose Marylebone for the launch?
We knew we wanted the store to be on Chiltern Street from day one. There’s a sophistication, an understated vibe to the street. It has an international outlook and a parochial feeling at the same time, that’s pretty rare in London.
What are your five favourite places in the area?
Daunt Books is where I head for my downtime. Cire Trudon – quite easily the best candles in the world. The Wallace Collection – the tranquillity of this space is unparalleled. I’ve been going there for the best part of 20 years. And Cadenhead’s Whisky. It truly is one of a kind, I’d particularly recommend the tasting experience hidden downstairs.
How does the Charlie Casely-Hayford x Topman collection differ from your own mainline collection?
The Charlie Casely-Hayford x Topman collection was something I worked on independently of my father Joe (who I co-design Casely-Hayford with). The fit of the Topman collection is closer than the relaxed silhouette of the Casely-Hayford mainline collection. The colours and jacquards that we created for the collaboration are more vibrant than the handwriting of our own brand.
What was the inspiration for Charlie Casely-Hayford x Topman?
This season’s Topman collection is called ‘Indian Summers’ and focuses on clashing prints and rich jacquards. It’s a modern, youthful take on eveningwear.
What’s the best piece of style advice you have ever been given?
A little black shoe polish rubbed evenly with a cloth over a good pair of brown shoes gives them a whole other dimension.
Who is your personal style hero and why?
Francis Starlite (the lead singer of Francis and the Lights) has a pretty strong look going on. It’s not so much reflective of my personal style, but I love the way he pulls off his style.
What do you think the best thing about British style is?
Definitely its unparalleled history of sub-cultures. They’ve created the richest mosaic on which the foundations of modern British style are built.
What is one style rule every man should live by?
Embrace clothing which empowers you rather than clothing that defines you. I think there is a big difference.