Simon Holden is our Men's Formalwear designer and plays a huge part in the creation of pieces for our new Kin by John Lewis range. We caught up with him to find out how he got into design, his favourite pieces and what's on the horizon for our latest brand.
What's your fashion background?
I studied fashion at university and at the end of my course I participated in Graduate Fashion Week. From there I was lucky enough to be given a job on Savile Row, working for Ozwald Boateng for a number of years. While I was there, I got to travel to some great places and put on shows at Milan Fashion Week, and in Ghana and Nigeria as part of the African Nations Conferences and the World Food Programme. It really was eye-opening and helped to give me a rich understanding of the fashion world.
I learnt a lot in my time with Ozwald Boateng, as he has a unique approach to design with his use of colour and shapes. After that I went to work for Burton which provided me with a more commercial view. Then, around 18 months ago I moved here, to John Lewis, as Designer on Men's Formalwear.
How has menswear changed since you started designing?
I think it's changed a lot. The customer is now more savvy and aware of style and fashion, with their choices becoming more considered. This also stretches out to grooming as well and I believe that's largely down to the channels available to the modern man, such as magazines, the internet and television. Plus, a man being interested in fashion is a lot more common.
Was designing menswear always your ambition?
When I started college I didn't know which route I wanted to go, but around halfway through I decided to focus on menswear and I've continued to follow that; I've never considered anything else since. There are much more subtleties in menswear, which I really enjoy.
Where did the idea for the range come from?
We're proud of the existing ranges that we were offering our customers, but with the current climate in mind we wanted give more width to our ranges, and make them more accessible to a wider range of customer. A new collection allows you to present new styles in a brand new way, and with the Kin by John Lewis range we wanted to offer a design-led range which is great quality at a keen price, so keeping an eye on our customers' wallets.
The range itself includes designs for men, women and children, which makes Kin by John Lewis a fresh and exciting concept. It introduced us a new way of working as we collaborated across different areas within our design studio, creating a more cohesive look with our use of certain colours, patterns and print.
Why the name Kin by John Lewis?
When looking at the meaning of the word 'kin', it's described as "one's family and relations". With collections across all three categories, the name Kin by John Lewis is perfect for this offer.
Why choose the Kin by John Lewis range?
With designs that stretch from formal to casual wear, it offers simple, stylish and timeless pieces that offer some real longevity, at a keen price.
What are your favourite pieces from the men's Spring/Summer range?
From the formal range, we have a fantastic slim fitting indigo suit which is a bit punchy and offers a real individual look. Alongside this we have a textured white shirt and our knitted ties to help you create a really modern and clean outfit. I also love the double breasted linen jacket with white buttons.
What can we expect for future seasons?
We're going to continue to maintain the aesthetic that we've worked hard to build with our spring/summer range because it's something we're really passionate about. We'll be experimenting with the new shapes, prints and patterns and our autumn/winter ranges will offer a great range of outerwear and knitwear options.