Gordon Richardson has been with TOPMAN since 2000, and was made Creative Director in 2012. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London in 1976, he set up his own menswear label, which was impressively stocked at Harrods. Two years later, he moved to Paris to design women’s accessories for Daniel Hechter, where he progressed to become Designer of the international menswear collection. In 1986, he returned to the U.K. as the Design Director of Sabre International, and took up the post of Principal Lecturer of Fashion at Kingston University — where he stayed for 11 years, before continuing his career within one of the U.K.’s largest high street brands — TOPMAN.
Today, Richardson’s main focus is to work with his team to define the trends for each season. He collaborates with some of the best fresh faces in men’s fashion and keeps TOPMAN ahead of the game. His expansive fashion background plays a key part in creating the in-house designed TOPMAN Design collection, which has been shown at London Collections Men since Spring 2013.
We nab five minutes of his busy schedule to chat about what’s next for TOPMAN, the importance of being sold on ZALORA, and what doors this new venture will open.
1. Can you describe what you do in your role as TOPMAN Global Creative Director?
I oversee all of the creative and design elements TOPMAN from campaigns to trends in order to ensure a consistent brand handwriting and identity.
2. Tell us about the design process. How involved are you in the design process, or do you direct things a bit more?
I direct the design process interjecting ideas for product depending on trends throughout the season making sure we produce the most exciting, relevant product possible.
3. You originally studied graphic design — how did you end up in fashion?
It was a chance meeting with two of the most excitingly dressed people form London that I had ever seen. From that moment I knew I wanted to be part of their world and not the world of graphics which from then on seemed so provincial.
4. What advice would you give to young men and women looking to begin their fashion career?
You have to totally love the subject and be prepared to put in long hours to achieve your goals. If your intention is to ultimately start your own brand you will have to be 24/7 committed and have a singular vision as to what you want to achieve.
5. How excited are you to bring TOPMAN to ZALORA.com expanding its reach further to many parts of SEA, Hong Kong and Taiwan?
We produce such globally desirable clothes its always exciting to be on a new international platform from which we can delight our customer.
6. How do you see digital further affecting TOPMAN and fashion in general?
Digital has such global reach and it’s such an accessible way of accessing our fashion followers and introducing them to the brand and what it has to offer.
7. How do you feel about the current state of the menswear industry?
Menswear is in the healthiest state I’ve ever witnessed in my career. With the MAN show and London Collections Men inspiring other cities such as New York to follow suit, it feels like at last menswear is getting the recognition it deserves.
8. TOPMAN has participated in the London Collections Men for a few years now, how important do you feel it is for the industry to have its own separate menswear showcase?
Menswear has been secondary to womenswear for so long. It’s so healthy to now have its own platform enabling young designers to showcase their collections to press and international buyers.
9. Can you tell us a little bit more about what inspired the AUTUMN WINTER collection and how it came to fruition?
Menswear trends have become simpler in the past few months with a focus on well-designed, affordable, wearable pieces. The winter collection features a strong utility trend and a new look that fuses together smart and casual.
10. What key AUTUMN WINTER trends should our readers watch out for to add to their closets this season? How do we incorporate AW trends into our wardrobe yet still appropriate for the weather here where it’s almost summer all year round?
The utility trend is perfect for your market with its focus on simple patch pocket cotton shirts and army influence detailed jackets. Look out for colours such as khaki and camel as a way of refreshing your existing wardrobe. Key items such as skinny jeans and chinos would work well with a bomber jacket. The new smart casual look is key so opt for a slinky printed shirt with a short or smart trouser.
11. Your advice to anyone who aspires to be Creative Director of one the world’s leading high street brands someday?
Empower yourself with the knowledge of fashion. Look at reference books, look at magazines, study the names, look at what’s new. Always have one eye on the future and one eye on the past. Put your sights on where you see yourself being and don’t ever give up on that.