Spring is such an important time of year and at the moment life and nature seem to be going hand in hand. Something tells me you’ve been very busy in the studio and getting very busy in the garden. What does Spring mean to you?
Spring is a time of hope, new beginnings and a sense of fun. As far as the new collection goes we want to embody these qualities. As we come out of the winter hibernation I want the collection to reflect this. What we have created for this season is a modern work wardrobe where sportswear and lifestyle crossover. It’s about a new beginning and embracing optimism, growth and getting outdoors! The distinction between work and play has become ever more blurred and ultimately I have tried to provide an answer for what a creative would wear to work! It’s about the movement and flexibility that sportswear allows, but the modern and refined sensibilities of what the Oliver Spencer is known for.
The new collection has a rich and loose feel to it, which pieces do you feel embody this?
I’ve been working a lot with texture, and I love the terry-cord ‘Lulworth’ jersey we’ve used in the Riviera shirt; the particularly the green! The sky blue Buffalo jacket is a real spring-time jacket; perfect for layering up and down. I’m a part-time Mod, so I love the short Parka and our new zip-up Truro wind-cheater too, because as optimistic as we are about the spring we all know there will be the odd rainy day (or two). The colour palette reinforces the richness of the fabrics and the greens, sky blues and natural tones really complement our trusty and reliable navy blues.
Riviera Jersey Shirt Lulworth Green
Texture and tactility has always been an important part of your collections what fabrics are you enjoying for the Spring 2022 collection?
The tactile nature of our fabric is what really sets this collection apart. Putting on one of these pieces should take you somewhere back in the past; the organic cotton-waffle and the terry-cord jersey are a step back in time and give a real sense of nostalgia and familiarity. As is a new organic cotton canvas we’ve introduced this season called Ellbridge - produced in France; it’s strong and really rather beautiful and can be found in some of our old work-wear favourites like the Drawstring trousers, the Cowboy jacket and the Avery overshirt.
Collaborations are becoming quite the norm, you’ve been doing them for quite sometime what’s next for Oliver Spencer and who with?
What excites us about a collaboration is that it allows us to share our skills and insights with like-minded brands from different worlds. Spring is a time to get busy in the garden and for many people the garden has become a new adventure. This season we have partnered up with Niwaki; they make beautiful gardening equipment in Japan, from hand-forged topiary shears to telescopic, tripod ladders for pruning the azalea karikomi (or in my case, the fig tree in our office garden on Lambs Conduit Street)! Just like their considered pieces we have produced a collection using robust organic French cotton-canvas that combine utilitarian detailing and ergonomic design, that at the same time feel very chic. Get outside, get dressed-up, get down and get dirty!
Comfort is key, it seems these days, in clothing how do you see this progressing?
Through lockdown loungewear became the norm. As the world returns to normal and we return to the workplace, comfort remains important but the enjoyment of getting dressed up has returned as well. Making an effort makes you feel good. We want to make sure that comfort is an important part of that. Our drawstring trousers are a classic example of that marriage, comfortably classy. It’s also about how we pair things; so a jersey track pant with a shirt and unstructured jacket define the new working world.
What will you be busy doing in the garden as Spring returns to us?
I’m very lucky to have a home down in the Isle of Wight and the gardens are really rather unique with a mix of both tropical and classic English. It very much reminds me of Tresco in the Scilly Isles which enjoys the Gulf Stream, we may not have that on the Isle of Wight but the sun spends more time with us than anywhere in the UK. I’m sweeping up the oak leaves that have blown around the palm trees, its such a great mix, much like our Spring collection!
As a father of three young boys, designer and business owner in these modern times you will have a strong sense of responsibility to the environment, this is reflected in your drive to produce a sustainable collection form conception to delivery, how is that going?
I’m really pleased with how we are achieving our goals and maintaining our pursuit of an environmentally responsible process. We’re constantly looking at ways we can minimise our impact on the environment through the supply chain, for example our linen comes from a fantastic mill in Lithuania who previously specialised in furnishing and home linens but we’ve worked closely with them and developed great linens that are perfect for our clothing. As I mentioned earlier the cotton that we have used for our core collection is organically-grown, spun and woven in France, it’s fantastic! There are great companies out there and we will always be researching for the best products so our sustainability targets are achieved.
You’re a world curious fellow, where would you like to visit
Currently on my radar is Namibia, the thought of getting to the Skeleton Coast is really exciting. Africa is such an incredible continent of bio-diversity, so to start, my adventure in Namibia where you can see lions whale watching on the beach seems like a great idea!
Have you missed going to gigs?
Ohhh, I have missed them so much, music is such a big part of my life and my work. I actually just went to my first gig the other day. I went straight back to the eighties and saw Echo and the Bunnymen, what a voice!
Pack your bag you’re going to a festival, from your new collection pick what you’d be taking?
That’s a tough question, there are too many options but I suppose we all know what tends to happen at an English music festival so I’m going to grab the Porthcurno Parka, we all need a bit of waterproof gear to wear or to sit on!
What would be your fantasy festival line up?
At my age, I can only handle a 48-hour festival. Friday night headliner would be the mighty Led Zeppelin with none other than Jack White supporting! Then I’d start Saturday with some soothing sounds from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the afternoon without doubt would be an acoustic set from Mr. Paul Weller as for the headliner to finish off or finish me off? I think it would have to be massive Attack they mean so much to me and Mezzanine still blows me away, so Massive Attack it is. If Zeppelin came on stage and joined them for the encore, well… talk about a stairway to heaven!
So thank you Oli for sharing some odes to spring and some things to look forward to. Sounds like we can relax into a roomier more comfy but always elegant start to the year, enjoy and then enjoy some more.