Issue 5 Oliver Spencer Designer

Insight

How to deliver a ‘moment’

Menswear designer Oliver Spencer on his novel approach to fashion shows



Words by Ryan Thompson

If he existed in the tech-entrepreneur world, Oliver Spencer would be called a ‘disrupter’. Over recent years, the term has come to define someone who rails against the status quo and who subsequently changes the thinking or direction of that particular industry. Spencer can rightly be thought of as doing the former, although it remains to be seen whether he will fulfil the description’s second clause. But for the sake of independent fashion brands, we hope his approach to business is imitated wholesale. One needs only to look at the number of high-level autonomous labels that have closed recently or been sold off to fashion’s conglomerates to conclude that the current industry model for breeding new talent is at best flawed and at worst lacking any degree of longevity.

While Spencer’s ‘grow slow, grow strong’ business model has enabled him to remain steadfastly independent, it’s at his shows that the designer is most ‘disruptive’.

We set out to deliver a moment, not a fashion show. I want people to go away absolutely buzzing with thought and energy, and we try to provoke that. There’s no point just sending a load of clothes down a runway. We don’t rely on agency models - we cast all types of people and bring all sorts of music into the show in various ways.


The Specials’ drummer John Bradbury dub-stepped the show for AW14, and Idris Elba DJ’d it for SS14. I’ve had a samba band, a load of gypsies, you name it… Things like this should be, above all, enjoyable. It’s about communicating with people and having fun at the same time.’