The Dapper Chapper is has always got one eye on what’s next, new styles, trends and designers. With that in mind, we spoke to British born designer Ashley Watson who is new menswear designer with true artisanship at his core, a designer whose creations are born from personal interests and his own life about town.
Having studied graphic design at Leeds University and completing placements at British Vogue and Topman, Ashley, 30 started his career as a menswear designer for Ted Baker in 2009.
With an initial focus on T-shirt design, his role evolved into a new, younger sub-brand called ‘Born’ concentrating on the direction of the range and the denim collection in particular.
It was during this time Ashley realised that if he was designing for others, he could feasibly do it for himself.
“It was actually during my first placement working at the design department at Topman that I had the idea that if I could do it for them I could do it myself. Arrogant and naïve yes, but a seed was sewn,” he said.
“Ted Baker was an amazing place to cut my teeth. If you have an idea and show the reasoning behind it, they often would give it a go.
“Having said that, I didn’t feel that the designs I was producing reflected my tastes or lifestyle. The only way to develop the product that I wanted to produce was to put it out under my own name and on my own terms,” he added.
Born into a creative family and parents that showed no fear in trying out hobbies they had no experience in, Ashley soon adopted the same freedom to explore which led to photography, painting and furniture building but with the underlying challenge of creating things that served a functional purpose, leading to clothing.
After leaving Ted Baker, Ashley worked behind the scenes sourcing suppliers and developing his own products.
Starting with a range of accessories he showcased the product at Jacket Required at the Truman Brewery in February 2014, launching in September of the same year, with the collection now including clothing.
It’s the detail in his products that remains an important part of Ashley’s brand’s growth.
“There are so many amazing mills in the UK and Europe that I think they deserve support for both economic and environmental reasons,” Ashley says.
“I’ve found British makers are willing to adopt new technologies. It’s obvious that products made in the UK aren’t going to compete globally on price and quality aside, a willingness to innovate gives British manufacturing a brilliant opportunity to cut itself a bigger niche,” he adds.
The motivation for Ashley’s ideas come from the life he leads daily about town, travelling between his flat and studio and potentially then on into the evening – often cycling from place to place.
He says. “I don’t like carrying more than I have to and so I wanted to design clothing that’s functional, built to last and when you arrive wherever you going, looks the part.“It’s about a balance between three elements – aesthetics, function & quality. I try to make sure each product hits each on the nose,” he adds.
It is these elements that Ashley believes creates a point of difference for his collections.
“I think that living in London and drawing inspiration from the life I lead ensures that the products are always relevant in terms of trends and what’s actually needed,” he says.
“I think people aspire to a lifestyle – it’s tangible and easily understood. It helps to paint a picture and put the reason for a design into context,” he concludes.
one for our street styled chaps to keep an eye on. For more information regarding the Ashley Watson brand, please visit www.ashleywatson.co.uk