Saturday, 13 September 2014

Real-life dandy: Shaun Gordon

In which G.M. Norton interviews an extraordinary tie-maker and all-round natty dresser.

 

I first came across Shaun Gordon on Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer’s Twittering page. He had attended the launch for a new tie collection by an immaculately-dressed gentleman described as “not your average tie-maker”.
Aware of Mr. B’s commendable taste in neckwear (have you seen the Gentleman Rhymer’s own range of Partridge-esque club ties?), I was instantly intrigued so proceeded to this tie-maker’s webular site. His name of course, was Mr. Shaun Gordon and as was evident in a matter of milliseconds, he makes exceedingly good ties.
Mesmerising ties aside, what struck me about Mr. Gordon was how incredibly dapper he is. What’s more, he makes it seem so effortless. Upon joining Instagram at the beginning of the year, I made the commendable decision to follow this most dashing of dandies. So, when I was considering which sartorially elegant gentleman to feature for the next ‘real-life dandy’ feature, I naturally thought of Shaun. Being the thoroughly decent chap that he is, he agreed to take part and here are the results.
His good chum and photographer extraordinaire Adam Rogers kindly took the splendid pictorials. They were taken on a 1967 Nikon F Photomic, giving the pictures a magnificent look of yesteryear that I’m sure you’ll appreciate. Adam can be found on Instagram @adam_rogers_

Name: Shaun Gordon
Occupation: Menswear Designer & Bespoke Tie-Maker
Place of birth: London, United Kingdom
Current location: London, United Kingdom

1. What does a dandy mean to you?

One who expresses elegance in the form of their appearance and etiquette.
2. How would you describe your style?

A modern take on the 1940-50s, I am still evolving as we speak.

3. If you could choose one era in time, what would it be and why?

In terms of clothing I like the ‘roaring twenties’ because of the way the adventurous colour combinations are worn together. However, I struggle to find anything that fits because I am too tall.

4. What's your favourite item of clothing and why?

That’s a tough question. Hats, ties and shoes because these three items are impactful focal points where you can shift your overall appearance. Apologies sir, I could not pick only one.

5. How long have you been dressing like you do?

Approximately two and half to three years. It was a slow and beautiful process.
6. Do you ever dress down?

I tend to at home or on holiday. But as the days go by it is becoming more classic and considered.

7. How do you put together an outfit? Do you spend a long time planning it or do you just pull it together?

On weekends I iron all my shirts for the week and pre-select a tie for each shirt but it’s not 'set in stone,’ as I generally let my mood dictate which items I will wear overall. Even the weather makes me change my mind sometimes. 

8. Where do you get your clothes from?

I get my vintage clothes from various places such as Portobello Market, Spitalfield Market and sometimes I am lucky when I visit local charity shops from time to time. However I do combine it with modern clothing such as Ozwald Boateng, Richard James, Turnbull and Asser, Paul Smith and Church’s to name a few.
9. You must attract a lot of attention from people because of the way you present yourself. What kind of things do people say to you?

Most people are quite polite, some smile and give me a curious look. While others rudely take photos on their phones without my consent but I do not let it get the better of me.

I have had the following statements made:

“You look very sharp!” - Thank you very much.

“You like someone out of the 1950s!” - Thank you very much (I take this a huge compliment as I believe the gentleman of the past dressed impeccable well).

“Do you dress like that all the time?” - Yes.

“Is that moustache real?” - Yes.

 “Can I touch your moustache?” - I would prefer it you did not (smile).       

''That moustache mate, it’s bit much init!?" - Each man to his own, sir.

“How do you dress like that?” - My response vary depending on how much time I have, especially on the Tube. But along the lines of being inspired by my Grandfather who was a sharply dressed gentleman who believed that “a man should always look his best.”

"Are you comfortable dressed like that?” - Indeed, of course I am.
10. What people or things inspire you?

I am finding myself becoming more inspired by old paintings of the early gentlemen by artists like Miroslav Kraljević, which somehow leaves me open to ideas on how I might assemble my attire together.

Early adverts and illustrations by René Gruau and J.C Leyendecker are also great inspiration for colours and fit. I love the way these images depict the moment.

There are lots of different gentlemen or themes that inspire for many different reasons. To get a better idea of what or who inspires me, can also be found on my website.
11. There are lots of sartorial rules, it seems. 'Never brown in town' and 'don't wear a matching tie and pocket square'. Do you follow any rules?

To name a few that I follow are:

I never wear a matching tie and pocket square; I always unbutton my jacket before sitting down; I believe in the important of removing my hat upon entering a restaurant; I like to leave the last button of my waistcoat unfastened; I never wear braces and a belt together; I always wear a tie clip with a tie and a pocket square with a jacket (never matching, of course); and finally, sock garters are an absolute must. There’s nothing worse than seeing a creased sock or worse still, a hairy calf when seated.

12. You make rather splendid handmade ties, describing yourself as 'Not your average tie-maker.' What inspired you to start this business?

It started off looking for a particular tie and not being able to find it. In my frustration I decided to make my own and bought a few vintage ties to deconstruct and discover how a tie was actually made. I became obsessed as it were, as making a tie was difficult but I kept at it until I got it right. Sooner or later when friends came to visit they saw all my tie trails draped around my mannequin and were interested to buy. But I would not let them take one because I thought it was not made to the highest standard and I wanted to ensure they had the very best.
With this is mind, I wanted to be a part of providing men (and women in some cases) ties that makes them feel special because they are handmade using limited runs of fabric. I believe that when you dress your best it affect your mood for the good and that inspires positive actions for the day, whether at work or play. A tie is a great way to express yourself and I am very happy to be able to contribute to men’s wardrobes in this way.

My Grandfather also had a strong influence too which is why I dedicated the first tie collection to him. He had the reputation of being impeccably sharp and he always had the opinion that a man should always be well dressed. Therefore I based the first collection on the idea that if Alvin Gordon was still alive and it was his birthday, what gift would I give him? I was aware he would wear the same suit, shirt and shoes but change the ties often. Therefore I built the range around him in a sense that I wanted to offer something different that he may not have had in this wardrobe, such as the Herman Herringbone tie for an example.
The second collection 'The Frame Of Mind' was about the attitude of always wearing a tie or being well dressed, not just for the office but for a sense of individuality. Therefore I was inspired to create ties as though they were its own entity. I expressed this idea by ensuring that the back of the tie (tipping) was in a contrast pattern or colour to create a difference. I also used slightly thicker interlining so a fuller knot could be made with a ‘four in hand’ knot. Both collections are available online: www.shaungordon.co.uk and at Steven Hitchcock Tailor shop on Savile Row.

I am currently working on the new ready to wear tie range, which promises to offer bolder colours within the classic scope of patterns. The launch will be taking place at the end of 2014.

13. What is your definition of a gentleman?

One who is well mannered and courteous to his fellow men, especially towards the ladies.
14. Are there any particular accessories you like to wear, apart from one of your limited edition ties?

Yes indeed, other accessories I like to wear are hats, tie clips, lapel pins, cufflinks, a pocket watch (only with a waistcoat) and shoes. 


If you'd like to be featured as Norton of Morton's next real-life dandy, do send me a missive to nortonofmorton@gmail.com

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'

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