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An Englishman in New York by Ben Sherman: Video

The cult British brand presents their new video in collaboration with Dazed featuring a selection of unique creative characters in New York for their new Plectrum range

An Englishman in New York – an ever-growing species that extends way beyond Sting singing about Quentin Crisp. Hit Manhattan – or increasingly Brooklyn – and you won’t need to look hard to locate the urbane, discerning Brit successfully showcasing their creative sophistication and style to native New Yorkers. For the A/W11 Plectrum by Ben Sherman collection we rounded up six of the most dynamic of these Big Apple residents. Each Englishman chose his own clothes from the season’s collection and was shot in his New York neighbourhood. 

It’s safe to say that the modern Englishman in New York incites Anglomania in myriad ways. Simon Howell, for example, models, snaps and surfs, whereas Benjamin Towill has established a successful restaurant – The Fat Radish – and founded his own catering company. As Andreas Laszlo Konrath and Russell Manley explain, going native is not the right option. But none of our subjects have any desire to go back home. In fact, Christian Banks and Richard Brown discuss how New York itself is a critical character in their creative process.

Suffice to say, the Englishman in New York plays a leading role in determining style and culture on the most exhilarating global stage of them all. 

Simon Howell - Photographer
Dazed Digital
: Why did you move to New York?
Simon Howell:
I’d lived in London about six or seven years. I think I’d done my time in London. I grew up in Yorkshire and didn’t really feel held to London, so I was very much like, ‘Okay I’ll try something different.’ I was toying with moving to California but New York seemed a much easier transition. I knew more people here. New York’s got a nice European vibe, so it had all the things I wanted that I got in London but with a little bit of difference.

DD: Was there anything that surprised you about moving to New York?
Simon Howell: It’s promoted as being so easy to move to New York – it’s said that everybody loves English people, so you can walk straight into it and everybody will give you the time of day. That happened for a little bit, but then I realised people aren’t that bothered. You definitely get a sense that you’ve got to earn it.

DD: What are the advantages of being a photographer in New York?
Simon Howell: I think from an artistic point of view, the advantages of being here are that it’s easier to get on with your work. There’s a sense of promotion here. New Yorkers are very good at taking something and running with it. I do feel that sometimes in England it’s more of a struggle.

DD: What do you like about Ben Sherman?
Simon Howell: It’s got a classic cut with simple lines. It also fits in with my bearded moustache aesthetic, if I can be that shallow about it!

Richard Brown - Film Producer
Digital: Why did you move to New York?
Richard Brown:
All the films I liked as a kid seemed to take place in New York. I always had this idea in my head about the city. When I first came to New York I was 15 and I fell in love with it right away.
I knew it was where I would live.

DD: What are the differences between producing in New York and London?
Richard Brown: There’s a bigger film business here, although the majority of it is in Los Angeles. In some ways, it’s quite similar to London, but there’s probably a broader base of talent and resources here, simply because of the size and scale. People generally seem to be looking for reasons to say ‘yes’ here. In England, I always found people were looking for reasons to say ‘no’.

DD: New York is notorious for being a city where people work incredibly hard...
Richard Brown: What happens here is that people work really hard and then they go out afterwards and play pretty hard. People tend to burn the candle at both ends. There are a lot of hangovers in New York.

DD: Has New York changed since you’ve lived there?
Richard Brown: People say that it’s become much more gentrified. That’s probably true, but its fundamental character is constant. All of the characteristics of old New York are here – you just have to look for them a little bit harder now.

DD: What do you like about Ben Sherman?
Richard Brown: I really like the clothes. They’re kind of like the clothes I’d normally wear but nicer – really classic and well-made.

Christian Banks - Composer/Musician
Dazed Digital
: New York is awash with musicians – is that a help or a hindrance?
Christian Banks:
It’s a big help. My first band  was mostly sample-based but I really wanted to use live musicians, so I put an open call out for a saxophone player and a trumpet player. I got in touch with musicians that were very talented.

DD: Does New York impact upon the sound of your music?
Christian Banks: New York has helped shape the kind of stuff I want to be doing. I feel like a lot of people in New York are into a hard, aggressive kind of music. That has definitely had an influence on some of my stuff.

DD: Do you have a hard time switching off from your work in New York?
Christian Banks:
There’s no break ever! It never feels like a break. I just got back from recording in LA and am jet-lagged from a crazy flight with 20 screaming babies onboard. I went there expecting a little sunshine – a little break, but it was pretty much recording the whole time. I’ve been back less than 24 hours and already I’m DJing tonight!

DD: What do you like about Ben Sherman?
Christian Banks:
It suits my personal aesthetic. There were definitely pieces where I was like, ‘Oh! I wouldn’t mind this disappearing from the rack! 

Andreas Laszlo Konrath - Photographer
Dazed Digital
: When did you move to New York?
Andreas Laszlo Konrath:
I first came here in 2002, a few months after the Twin Towers atrocity. The city was in a state of shock: at  that point they’d put up the two lights that were shining as the replication of the Twin Towers. I remember seeing the city at night, and from that moment I wanted to live here. I moved here full-time in 2005.

DD: Would it have been harder to establish yourself as a photographer in London?
Andreas Laszlo Konrath: I don’t know. I interned at places but I didn’t really give it a chance. All I know from being in London is that I found it very hard to get in with people. Here it all felt very natural – you call and email people and they respond and go: ‘Yeah, sure. Come and see me.’ It seems New York is very keen to get fresh talent in – especially from London.

DD: What do you like about Ben Sherman?
Andreas Laszlo Konrath: Ben Sherman was a really popular brand when I was at school but I wasn’t interested in it as a teenager. Now, when I walk past the Ben Sherman shop in Soho, New York, I actually go in or look at the window. Wearing it always reminds me of the classic style of home. 

Benjamin Towill - Restaurateur 'The Fat Radish'
Dazed Digital
: What brought you to New York?
Benjamin Towill
: I came on holiday here when I was a chef in Cornwall. There’s no judgement in New York and that’s why it’s exciting – you just do whatever you like and if you fall flat on your face so be it, you can just return.

DD: Is a meal the same in London as it is in New York?
Benjamin Towill: The whole dining thing is so different. New Yorkers don’t cook at home, whereas Londoners do. Also, a restaurant here is about so much more than food – it is about the mix of people. It’s like throwing a dinner party in a restaurant.

DD: Do New York diners possess more exacting standards?
Benjamin Towill: I think they’re fussier. When I got here, I heard a customer bit a manager because they couldn’t get a table. I thought, ‘Who does that?’ That was the moment I realised that you are dealing with a slightly different customer.

DD: What do you like about Ben Sherman?
Benjamin Towill: The fit and everything is great. I was looking through the collection and the stuff is unbelievable – totally different and very unique. There are so many different styles and everything works.

Russell Manley - Founder of Tommy Guns
Dazed Digital
: Why did you move to New York?
Russell Manley:
It was just a change of scene. I had been in London for 17 years. We’ve got three salons there and I didn’t really want to do a fourth. I was going backwards and forwards to see friends anyway, and really loved New York. What isn’t there to love about it?

DD: Why are there so many Englishmen in New York?
Russell Manley:
There is still the feeling that it’s a place of opportunity. If you want it and are prepared to work hard, it’s a great place to be, and it’s great socially as well.

DD: Are there differences between the New York and London Tommy Guns salons?
Russell Manley:
No. That was a worry at first. We thought maybe everyone would want big Hollywood hair and that it was all going to be very scary, but to be honest, through media, magazines and everything else, the styles and fashions translate very quickly, if not immediately. So, you are getting the same sort of clients and the same sense of style. I’d say there wasn’t really that much difference.

DD: What do you like about Ben Sherman?
Russell Manley: I like its heritage. They’ve been making shirts for a long time. It’s comfortable, the price point is great and they look good. That’s all you need to base it on.

Text: Tom Teodorczuk
Photography: Ben Toms
Styling: Robbie Spencer
Hair: Kevin Ryan for Willie Smarts
Make-up: Francelle at Art+Commerce using NARS Cosmetics
Photographic Assistant: Amy Gwatkin
Styling Assistant: Jessica Bobince
Digital Operator: Dougie Irvine
Models: Andreas Lazlo Konrath, Benjamin Towill, Christian Banks, Richard Brown, Russell Manley, Simon Howell at Select Casting Elizabeth Fraser-Bell