In talks with: Joe Ottaway
With clients from the world of finance, business, international sport and entertainment, Joe Ottaway is the leading stylist and image consultant within the British menswear industry with over fourteen years’ experience. A regular at the London Collections Men’s front row and often featured in GQ’s best dressed lists, Joe’s knowledge, contacts and brand relationships within the industry allow him to provide a service that no one else can. Following the LCM we caught up with Joe to talk about his career and inspirations.
LCM [London Collections Men] took place at the beginning of June. Tell us more about your experience, who attended with you and what where the big themes? The first day of LCM is traditionally kicked off by Topman. This year was a throwback to Teddy Boys and 80’s nostalgia which had my fellow Essex boys, Oliver Cheshire and Paul Sculfor rolling back to the golden party years. Topman took us to the British seaside for a ‘dirty weekend’: sweatshirts emblazoned with the seaside towns of Margate and Torquay set the scene, with nautical horizontal stripes on knits and beach prints worn with short shorts and mod suiting. The show was loud and uplifting and it was the perfect way to set the tone for a busy LCM weekend. I felt that the majority of shows on day one were filled with drama, theatre and artistry which, as much as it gives an insight into the designer’s imagination and creative viewpoint, is slightly irrelevant to myself and my clients; but that’s the beauty and the point of runway shows: they are a spectacle and showcase creativity.
I am very lucky to keep some great company throughout LCM, as I am joined by the likes of my good friends Johannes Huebl, Oliver Cheshire, Paul Sculfor and my long time wingman Mr. David Gandy. Day One was closed by one of my long time favorite designers Oliver Spencer which was the stand out show for me. The beauty of an Oliver Spencer show is that the focus is on the menswear, rather than the impact of a showcase runway experience. David and I are good friends and we have a strong creative relationship. We always fly the flag at LCM; we share a strong passion for true British style so it was really good to see the influence of Savile Row filtering down through the runway. The classic check and windowpane patterns were very evident from the traditional sense shown at Turnbull & Asser to the more contemporary bold check shirt-coats from Astrid Andersen.
How did you first get into fashion, what inspired you? Fashion has always been a strong passion of mine and it has played big part of my life even from an early age. I had my own identity and appreciated the world of menswear. My route into the menswear industry was a very unorthodox one. I use to play Semi-professional football along with working in a menswear boutique. As my life in the lower leagues continued, I realised my true calling was in the world men’s fashion so I decided to learn the industry from the bottom up, and that’s where the path into personal shopping /styling started. I began looking after a range of professional football players, which fueled my passion for working with individuals on a one to one basis. From there I secured a job at Harvey Nichols where I was fast tracked to becoming the company’s first men’s personal shopper. The years thereafter saw my profile and reputation grow rapidly. My relationship with David Gandy helped established myself as as credible profile within the menswear industry and has contributed to a lot of my success.
How does a typical day play out? The beauty of my job is that there isn’t really a typical day as such. It can range from visiting a client at his home to carrying out a wardrobe consultation, taking a client shopping for a day, looking after a wedding party. It’s a widely varied job which also involves me consulting for Selfridges personal shopping and also Gieves & Hawkes. The consultancy part of my job is based mainly around business development and supporting a brand with their growth.
“My route into the menswear industry was a very unorthodox one.”
Do you believe that men are more fashion conscious today more than before? Men are much more interested in fashion these days and it is no longer deemed as a taboo subject to be interested in it. I feel men now realise the importance and positive impact dressing well can have to their lives. As a result men feel much more comfortable in using someone like me. There is no longer that classic stigma attached to using a personal stylist compared to how it was 10 years. I believe that a man who books a personal stylist in this day and age is as common a man who books a personal trainer or a haircut. This is due to the rise of the masculine metrosexual male, someone like David Gandy for example. Many men are inspired by David’s looks and style and he has made the world of menswear a much more prominent place in today’s society.
What does it mean to be influential? For me being influential represents leading by example and having a truly positive impact on to the world and industry you work in.
Which brands do you work with? I work with a range of brands from high street designers to Savile Row. I pride myself on making the world of menswear accessible to the everyday man, looking stylish doesn’t mean having to spend a ridiculous amount of money, anyone can hit Sloane Street and spend a fortune on luxury designer brands for the sake of it being deemed ‘fashionable’. I come in and help clients shop in more strategic savvy way, combining the world of Savile row and luxury menswear with high street brands.
Go to brands? I am spoilt as I ply my trade in the most diverse fashionable city in the world. London is a host and the birth place of some of the most amazing brands and shopping destinations in the world. From Savile Row to Carnaby St we are home to the most diverse black book of go to brands. My personal go to brands are Gieves & Hawkes, Thom Sweeney, Anderson & Sheppard and Drakes.
What are you currently working on? I am very excited to have recently launched the ‘Style Club’; an exclusive membership service which aims to take the stress out of shopping well; members of the style club receive a monthly style box curated exclusively by myself. The bespoke luxury personal shopping styling club allows members to look their stylish best with none of the effort attached. I am really excited about this new venture as I feel it will change the way the modern man will shop.
Final thoughts? The modern day gentleman has grown much more concerned with the importance of dressing well and looking good. In the ever changing and somewhat intimidating world of men’s fashion, there is a growing need for straightforward, honest and unpretentious advice. The menswear fashion industry is often represented as being quite inaccessible which can be a little off putting to some gents. Sometimes we could all benefit from a little direction and a few helpful tips. That’s what I am here for. I aim to break down these barriers and misconceptions, and offer tools, tips and down to earth advice to the style conscious man of today.
Book an opportunity to work with Joe Ottaway through one of the exclusive Experiences by Total Management. Please contact email@example.com for further information.
June 30th 2016