I have an embarrassing confession to make.
In the past, when it came to fashion, I hardly regarded Australia as a place to watch and follow the latest trends. Being on the southern hemisphere, Australia’s weather is pretty much opposite to that of the world’s fashion capitals, cities such as New York, Paris, Milan, London and Tokyo. My ignoble impression was that Australia was always a season behind the rest of the world when it came to collections, and that by the time Aussies picked up a trend, the rest of the world would have moved on from it.
I hadn’t realised my foolish misconception until an interesting conversation with my friend Andre popped up. Andre works for an international luxury fashion brand and what he said about the Australian fashion market (which he covers) piqued my interest to find out more about style and the stylish people from Down-Under. The scene IS vibrant, and consumer spending for fashionable products is growing too. Not to mention Australia’s innumerable social media influencers who have found huge international followings. As we spoke, Andre promptly whipped out his iPhone and showed me the rather impressive list of Australian social media influencers he currently follows.
That was how I came to know of Tom Simpson.
Tom is head of menswear at The Iconic, a leading online fashion and sports retailer in Australia and New Zealand. Sporting salt and pepper hair and a gym-built bod, Tom’s Instagram posts are an exuberant display of his unique sartorial sense. Tom could be a younger Nick Wooster, his style is not traditional, but a stylish blend of rock-star and tailored gent, a way of dressing that certainly shows off the best of his looks and physique. According to HSD’s style archetype, Tom would be a mix of Bohipster and Rebel.
Despite his busy schedule at New Zealand Fashion Week in Auckland, Tom agreed to an interview to share his thoughts style and what inspires him.
WT: Describe your style.
TS: My style as rock-ishly tailored, casual chic. I’m happy to mix classic suiting with garment-dyed vintage boiler suits.
WT: Who are your style icons?
TS: I take my inspiration from a number of people and sources. I grew up admiring Nick Wooster and was influenced by his style in the early days. I love the way Alex Badia has mastered the layered look, and also Richard Biedul, for his modern take on tailoring. Finally, I love to throw in a bit of Justin O’shea, because Rock and Roll tailoring is just pure genius.
WT: Would you rather have a great body or have an awesome wardrobe? Tell us why.
TS: You always have to pick the wardrobe! An awesome wardrobe is transformative.
WT: Some guys love shoes, some love belts. What’s your favourite accessory and why?
TS: Every man’s wardrobe has to include an amazing pair of shoes. It’s what can start or end an amazing outfit. My go-to pair are the Gucci Horsebit loafers. They work with so many looks and can be dressed up or down.
WT: What are your top rules for dressing up?
TS: Make sure you shoes are right, pick classic loafers or dress shoes. Always have your shirt tucked in; you will never see me with a shirt untucked. Finally, make sure the suit fits! My pet peeve is guys in ill-fitting suits.
WT: What are 3 menswear brands you like at the moment and why?
TS: I think everyone’s favourite brand at the moment is still Gucci! What they have done to menswear in the past few years has revolutionized the industry. I’m also currently loving the way Burberry is utilizing their heritage prints. Finally, I’m loving what Virgil is doing at LV.
WT: When it comes to clothing, you should always invest in…?
TS: Shoes, shoes, shoes. Ask any woman or man and they will admit to judging you on your shoes. Invest in a great pair of dress shoes or loafers and you will be sorted.
WT: Fashion trend love and hate.
TS: Love the current take on tailoring from the catwalk. Oversized silhouettes and deconstructed shapes bring new life to it. I’m not feeling the streetwear trend at all!
WT: You work for a fashion e-commerce retailer – what are your thoughts on men buying fashion online?
TS: Men are funny creatures. The fact that the menswear fashion industry is growing faster than that of women’s worldwide tells you that the shopping mindsets of men are changing. They still want convenience, and to be told what to wear, but they are more open to making their own choices (sometimes impulsively) now more than ever before. You don’t appeal to men by pushing the latest “it” bag or through mass brands on site, but by creating an emotional connection. If you create an environment where men want to hang out, learn about trends, brands, and where they can obtain cool how-tos, if you get the items they want to them in lightening speed and make it super easy for them to return said items, they will welcome you with open arms!
WT: What’s your grooming regime like, day and night?
TS: I keep it very simple. In the morning, I use a moisturizer after a shower. Before bed, I apply an Aesop eye serum. That’s it!
WT: We really like your salt-and-pepper look. Tell us about your hairstyle and where you cut your hair.
TS: My salt and pepper hair! I have slowly come to terms with the fact that I am going grey, and if I’m honest, I’m excited about it! I have had many haircuts and looks over the years, from long curls to a shaved head! But as I get older, I want an easy-to-style, no-fuss look. I’m not fussy about where I get my hair cut. After all, hair grows back!
WT: What’s the maximum amount of time you would spend on your hair? How long do you take to style your hair?
TS: My hair takes about 3 mins from start to finish. After a thorough shampooing and rinse, I apply mousse and blow-dry my hair. I then use Patricks hair products to style it. I like something easy that looks good even after a long day at the office and a session at the gym.
WT: What’s your favorite fragrance and why?
TS: Currently I love Maison Margiela Fireplace. It’s dark, smokey, and makes me feel warm and cosy. Plus not many people have it.
WT: Tell us about your fitness regime.
TS: Fitness has become a big part of my life, it’s my escape, my way of relaxing, it’s what I do to clear my head. I go to the gym 6 days a week and do only weights. As I grow older, a fitness routine has become even more important to me; it helps me to feel young and healthy.
WT: Your photos on Instagram are well shot and curated. How do you take a great Instagram photo?
TS: Truthfully, it’s all about the tripod, as I travel on my own for work a lot. Over time, I’ve come to realise that it’s not just about one aspect of the picture, be it the clothes or how you pose. It’s about creating a scene, and that is the secret to making people pore over and look more deeply into your pictures. Taking the pictures yourself is hard and it means you cannot expect perfection. As long as the composition looks right, I don’t worry too much about the lighting.