Abbas is a producer and the founder of Openvizor - an international arts organisation that builds multi-disciplinary partnerships and projects with artists and institutions.
Tell me about what you do
I produce film and fine art projects and set up organisations that allow people to tell their own stories, whether they are an artist, a filmmaker, photographer, sound artist. It's all about personal expression and how to use that as a dialogue and also how to support the next generation.
When I was growing up, I would go to High Street Kensington market, which was a very rock and roll place. There were people from all over the world who worked there, who all had creative careers. I had never been in an environment before where I was told that it was okay to do art. It was a great experience understanding what was possible out of what I initially thought was impossible.
Then I developed Openvizor, out of nothing really, other than just a lot of curiosity. I would go to conferences and just hang out and be part of the furniture. That’s how I got to know people. I work with Jonzi D from Breakin' Convention at Sadler's Wells. We've been working together since 2008. He's a real pioneer of the importance of art, hip hop, and dance. There is always a connection in my work between research, fine art, performance, and film. You need to gather people around you who believe in the same things.
How did you come across Oliver Spencer?
So I walked into the Lamb's Conduit Street store and there was Tom and I wasn’t sure I'd necessarily be able to buy anything at that point but we started to chat and it reminded me of being on King's Road in the 80s when you'd go to a shop and just talk. You'd never buy anything, you'd just talk. Eventually I bought some shirts!
How do you get dressed in the morning?
I wake up in the morning and think, who am I going to meet today. What you wear is a form of respect for the person you are meeting as much as for yourself. I think that’s what’s missing sometimes from the conversation.
In different industries, people tend to wear different things. You have to look a particular way if you work in film, it can sometimes be very formal. When I was in Cannes recently at the Director’s Fortnight with Alejandro Jodorowsky and ‘Endless Poetry’ I was wearing Clerkenwell shirts because they have short collars. As I'm not a tall guy, I can't really wear big collars. I wear them with a blazer and chinos. A white shirt will always save you.
Most of the time I just layer. I layer because London has all the seasons in one day. For me, it’s figuring out how formal the day is going to be. I think you can get away with a lot with knitwear and a good jacket, those guys will always help you. Going into other people's offices, or a restaurant, or a museum or another institution leaves you not quite sure how to dress. A shirt is important, it shows you’ve made an effort. That’s why the Clerkenwell shirt is so good because of the short collar that stands really nicely and can be worn under most things.
What is your favourite Oliver Spencer purchase?
This gingham shirt I'm wearing today has such great fabric. I remember saying to Tom that you don’t see shirts like this anymore, with such substantial cloth. When you walk into a shop and there are nice, simple, beautiful clothes at an affordable price, it’s reassuring. Oliver Spencer has been a really good friend to me. I can't really buy five white Clerkenwell shirts…that might be excessive. But I've got my uniform.
With Oliver Spencer you really notice the importance that is placed on not just the quality of the fabric but also the cut. There is an understanding that you are going to be wearing these clothes all day and you need to look good the entire time. The clothes are effortless elegant all way through the adventures of working hard and playing hard all day.