With a background that reads like a who’s-who in luxury fashion, from shop floor to buyer, designer to consultant, spanning a 40-year career and more of a sartorial force than ever, as the digital landscape rapidly expands, Nick Wooster has carved out his very own corner of cool. Taking part in Anatomy Of Style as one of the key voices in menswear today, Nick shares his take on the fundamentals of men’s fashion and the key building blocks that underpin all working wardrobes...
"I've been working in this industry since I was 16 years old, from being a buyer in retail to designing clothes. Back when I started, I didn’t understand there was a fashion business, I didn’t understand the life I have today would be anything like what I have. I’ve learnt along the way that fashion is a constantly changing industry. And what’s so great about today’s age is that we can be bombarded with experiences and visual information, we can read, hear and experience things almost constantly. I’m happy that I get to participate in some way – although the getting my picture taken part was not necessarily what I had in mind, things have just evolved like that."
On the rise of the influencer, street style and social media, he explains: "Men don’t like to ask directions, so Google Maps helped them find their way. Blogs and social media have done the same thing for getting dressed. And we all bring something different to the table."
On The Fundamentals...
"The building blocks of my wardrobe have not actually changed in 40 years. There’s always a white and blue shirt, black and brown brogues, a Chelsea boot, a pea coat, a cashmere V-neck sweater, a blazer – the proportions may change, the lapel width may change, but overall there are certain things that never go out of style. They're investment pieces and easy to build on."
"We can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. Men have got a taste of what it’s like to care about how they look."
Taking those building blocks and running with them, he admits: "When it comes to shoes, I have three of my favourites: a new pair, a pair that’s in its mid-life and a pair that’s trashed, which I love just as much, so it depends on the occasion. This works for most things like Church's brogues or wingtips in black or brown and Common Projects sneakers."
Despite appearances, for Nick, style is not something that's necessarily innate, nor is it ever really a completed picture; "I certainly had to learn the rules of good taste, of what looks 'right'. That’s a lifetime's work, I don’t think we’ll ever figure it out fully. You have to work at it, evolve it. Style is such a subjective thing, particularly today. There is no one way to look, it's so layered. It's a fascinating time."
He goes on: "If you think about it, what's really interesting about menswear is that it has the tradition of makers, the idea that someone who is creating pieces is an expert and artisan in their field. This is what men look to. While the fashion part of it is really fun, and I obviously love clothes, I think, in menswear, knowledge is one of the most important trends out there. Knowledge is power and regardless of who you are, what your style is, I think all men are interested in stories, they’re interested in information."
This need men have to know things or find things out, is only heightened now we live in such information-rich times, Nick adds: "There are so many great outlets for finding out information today, so I think things are only going to continue to go forward. How we consume the information may change – it may go from a printed page to a phone, it may go from still pictures to video – but there’s definitely so much content out there and I think that’s what's really diversifying menswear today."
"Grooming is really about the individual. You have to learn your skin, set your goals - then it’s really simple."
On grooming, Nick has a more nonchalant attitude: "Like personal style, there is no right or wrong with grooming, there’s so many ways that you can go. In order to master getting dressed you have to understand your body type and once you know that, then you understand the brands that work with your form and you’re home free. And the same is true for grooming.
"I don’t really have much of a regime. I moisturise, I use eye cream, I like to smell good, so I care about those kinds of things. And also I want to do it in as few bottles as possible. You just have to find those products that suit you and work the best and it becomes one less thing to worry about.
"I say the same about fragrance as I say about cats – I would never admit it in public, but I secretly kind of like it. And that is that I like to smell good, so one spray of something a day is a nice way to finish off. I don’t want to be doused in cologne. My signature scents are by Diptyque and Byredo, and Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien."
Anatomy Of Style
As part of our Anatomy Of Style menswear focus, Nick was invited to come together with Olof Nithenius, Fredrik Risvik and Matthew Zorpas in a dapper discussion hosted by Esquire Style Director Teo van den Broeke, each of the four key voices in menswear today sharing their insights and individual takes on style DNA.
Watch them in conversation in the film below and discover what they bring to the sartorial table…