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Charlie Casely-Hayford Dazed Nixon watches
Charlie Casely-Hayford wears coat by Casely-Hayford AW14 and Sentry watch from Nixon's holiday 2014 collectionPhotography Andrew Nuding

Charlie Casely-Hayford: suited and booted

The Brit designer breaks down his personal style and talks obsessing over Egon Schiele and the promise of homegrown menswear

“My dad made me my first suit and boots before I could actually walk,” admits Charlie Casely-Hayford. “I was about five months old. I basically still wear the same look today, just a few sizes bigger.” Charlie and his father – the acclaimed designer Joe Casely-Hayford ­– are perhaps the most formidable father-son duo in British fashion today. Their label, Casely-Hayford, is bringing a dynamic brand of tailoring to the menswear landscape – a landscape that’s been fuelled by the success of London Collections:Men, Britain’s first ever menswear-focused fashion week.

Casely-Hayford sits somewhere in-between Savile Row’s formalism and a youthful anarchy, fusing references to the sportswear and skating zeitgeists with old-school craftsmanship. And as a touchstone for contemporary British style, it’s little surprise that they’ve collaborated with everyone from Converse to The XX. In terms of his personal style, Charlie errs on the side of “streamlined minimalism” – embodied here in the monochrome Casely-Hayford coat which he teams with an equally-sleek Nixon Sentry watch from their 2014 holiday collection. Thanks to its pared-back leather strap and classic stainless steel metalwork, “the Sentry by Nixon fits into my world pretty seamlessly,” he explains. To celebrate their new collection of timepieces, we caught up with him to talk inspiration, LC:M, and life with a walking-style-icon for a dad.

Talk us through your creative process.

Charlie Casely-Hayford: A lot of the design process happens after everyone else has left the studio and my dad and I discuss things back and forth. I give my reasons for wanting something one way and he gives his for wanting it another. We are always on the same page when it comes to the bigger picture. That duality is what I guess is at the core of each collection. It's more often discordant than harmonious, but we love that.

What have been some of your biggest music and artistic influences recently?

Charlie Casely-Hayford: Due in large part to my dad, a lot of drum and bass is being played in the studio at the moment, and to counterbalance that, whenever he goes out I usually put on some Burial. The Egon Schiele exhibition at the Courtauld had a really big impression on me in terms of design. I'm still processing it and have been a big fan for as long as I can remember.

Who are your style icons, both past and present?

Charlie Casely-Hayford: They're probably all musicians. David Bowie – in every one of his incarnations. Then I guess more recently the lead vocalist of Francis and the Lights. I'm into his look. Obviously my old man kills it on a daily basis, but that goes without saying.

Growing up around fashion, what are the most timeless things you've learnt about style?

Charlie Casely-Hayford: As a wise woman named Aisleyne from Big Brother series seven once said: ‘You better know yourself.’ I think that is probably the most important thing I've learnt growing up in a fashion environment and from my parents who have worked in fashion their whole lives. Those formative years of experimentation that we all go through are the most important because they allow you to work out who you're not, which is sometimes more important than trying to work out who you are.

I think style follows hand in hand with that understanding and personal discovery. For some people that moment comes at 25, for others it's 50, but I think with that knowledge comes self confidence and a sense of timelessness that can manifest itself through style in different ways.

Which season do you most enjoy designing for?

Charlie Casely-Hayford: Coats are probably my favourite item to design because of their innate masculinity and with the right proportions they can be very powerful, so AW is more enjoyable. But I love SS because it creates more challenges and pushes us further in the design process. We're always looking at new ways to balance lightness and volume. 

Referencing-wise, is there a particular era you always gather inspiration from?

Charlie Casely-Hayford: British youth culture is an ongoing personal obsession of mine - I couldn't specify one era. I think because the UK, for me anyway, has spawned some of the most seminal subcultures of the last 50 years and continues to do so, it will always be a source of inspiration for the Casely-Hayford DNA.

How do you think LC:M's success, both commercially and progressively, has changed the face of what London means for menswear?

Charlie Casely-Hayford: As a designer I think the success of LC:M has really been in it's international recognition. When we started out 5 years ago, other than the major brands, the menswear design market was non-existent because the barriers to entry were so extreme. Slowly, with the support of the British Fashion Council and the power of LC:M, these barriers are being broken down and enabling new generations to break through straight from college.