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Getting to know: We talk to men’s fashion blogger and Hawkins & Shepherd founder Carl Thompson

Hawkins & Shepherd founder Carl Thompson

Carl Thompson is an experienced blogger with a passion for luxury men’s fashion, style and male grooming. In August 2013, Carl founded the premium menswear brand, Hawkins and Shepherd.

We chat about Carl’s biggest style icons, his current autumn wardrobe staples and his signature look. He also reveals his favourite designers and offers some top tips for restyling the same item of clothing.

Who is your biggest style icon?

The agony of choice! If you had asked me this question a week before I would have said David Gandy in a heartbeat. However, I’ve been chewing my way through the Icons of Men’s Style recently by Josh Sims and my love for Cary Grant has been resurrected. At the peak of his powers he was ubiquitous in menswear. And it wasn’t just the American brands, the Italians wanted him, the UK wanted him. Him and Clark Gable would champion the button down shirt, just ask Brook Brothers what their sales figures were like after North by Northwest was released. He didn’t have Gandy’s physique. But he was more refined than Gandy. I don’t care what anyone says, Gandy is rugged masculine, not refined or elegant masculine.

That all said, I still have to go for the home team. David Gandy I’ve met a bunch of times and he’s just one of the nicest guys. He has great discipline, he’s an awesome role model, and his attitude towards fashion is exemplary. I’ve learnt a lot from him. For example he never looks down on someone’s style. He’ll never pick anyone out and say that’s a terrible suit, or the layering is all wrong. He respects everyone’s choice, everyone’s tastes, and just gets on with his own thing.

Hawkins & Shepherd founder Carl Thompson
Carl began his journey in men’s fashion by launching London shirt makers Hawkins and Shepherd back in 2013

Where else do you take inspiration from in terms of dressing well?

I’m not sure how this is going to come off, but inspiration is easy in my line of work. I’m surrounded by it. On the social I’m getting slowly addicted to Pinterest, but Instagram stories have rekindled my love for that platform and it’s easier to shop the look now they have embedded links.

Of course there’s the press events themselves, and it’s good to not only see the latest collections, but get a feel from the other bloggers on where the market is, which designers are coming on strong etc.

What are your current autumn wardrobe staples?

I love this time of year. All fashion bloggers do because they get to experiment with their wardrobe and layer up. My wardrobe has see-sawed a little between business and casual in the last month. I have a Religion oversized zip hoody that is currently getting a fair bit of daylight. However, if we’re talking staples; the Camel Coat is never far from arms reach. It’s cashmere so light, breathable and interchangeable more or less and jean, chino or shirt.

Shirts is really my wheel house and this autumn I’m looking forward to wearing my own Hawkins and Shepherd Country Shirt range and Made-in-Britain shirts that will be perfect for pairing with tweed and thicker outer garments. Very gentrified, very classic and you’ll be seeing me wearing these a lot on the social in the next month or so.

Carl Thompson
Carl offers style advice on tailored formalwear as well as causal attire, luxury and high street

Do you go for fast fashion or timeless staples?

I don’t mind fast fashion, because it keeps everyone on their toes. Especially the brands. Because of fast fashion we now have see-now, buy-now runway shows, before we’d have to wait 6 months before they were released to the consumer. However, my wardrobe leans more towards investment pieces. I get more enjoyment out of a garment knowing we’ve got a future together.

What is the oldest item you own and still wear today? 

I’d say coats tend to be the seasoned veterans of my wardrobe. I suppose because they cost more than your average garment, I have a Belstaff Leather jacket that I’m emotionally attached too because I remember having to save up the money to buy it. I also have a denim jacket from DKNY which I’ve had since I was 18, it doesn’t see the light of day much but it holds a lot of fond memories. Clothes are like teddy bears for adolescents, hard to part with. 

What’s your top tip for restyling the same item of clothing to incorporate it into a number of outfits?

Good question. I’m not sure if this is an answer but I like to treat my clothes like Premier league footballers. Sometimes they need to spend some time on the bench, even if they’re performing well to prevent burn out. I’ve recently became reacquainted with some older pieces in my wardrobe as it’s evolved and rotated from season to season. Having pieces that are interchangeable makes it easier. Light on the patterns, easy on the colours, easy on the eye. Sometimes it’s tricky as I’m always doing shoots, I don’t want to duplicate the same piece too often. (How do weather girls handle this kind of pressure?).

What is your stance on accessories?

I was actually having this conversation with Oliver Proudlock from Serge Denimes the other day. He’s introduced an entirely new range of jewellery as we all strive to have something else about us. If you’ve ever read ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss he spoke of the crazy peacocking movement of the mid-nineties where guys would wear the most insane gear to get noticed in a club, making it easier for women to approach you as they had an angle-in.

Peacocking is subtler these days as it’s more in vogue to come across as well-mannered, classy, a gentleman. A gentleman isn’t typically seen wearing pink leather pants and a rockabilly Hawaiian shirt. He’s wearing a tailored suit, he’s got his hair combed, he’s got no mud on his feet. So we peacock now with accessories such as pocket squares, jewellery, canes etc. I’m not much of a hat guy. The Pitti fedora phenomenon just became saturated last year. But still, I can appreciate the art of millinery, it’s just not a look that I go for.

So men’s jewellery is enjoying a renaissance, though many people will tell you it never went away.

Hawkins & Shepherd founder Carl Thompson
Carl’s blog is an encyclopedia of everything men’s lifestyle

What is your most prized style possession?

I’d have to say the aforementioned Camel 100% Cashmere overcoat, it is a thing of beauty, which has been designed by myself using British fabric and tailoring. David Gandy has one and is also a fan.

What is your signature look?

My signature look? I’d have to say dark smart jeans, tan brogues and a crisp white shirt. I recently had afternoon tea down at Fortnum & Masons and switched out the shoes for trainers. If I know it’s a casual event the formality of footwear is the first thing I consider. But to quote my fellow blogger David Evans from Grey Fox Blog, is there anything better on a man than a crisply ironed shirt?

Who are your favourite designers?

In no particular order I’m always checking out Burberry, Gieves and Hawkes, JW Anderson, Alexander McQueen and Tom Ford. Tom has come under a little stick recently for his work on the Bond franchise. A lot of fellow bloggers and talk about his suits being too shrink-wrapped on Daniel Craig. But this really needs to be put into content that he’s only designing the suit, it’s really the fault of costume designer Jany Temime and to certain extent, Daniel Craig. I know Craig wanted his suits to feel like a second skin, very ‘new-man’. Tom has actually produced some incredible pieces since he came on in Quantum. Everyone knows about the suits but it’s the jackets I love. The knitted sleeve ski bomber in Spectre is a knockout and I even have a thing for the Levi’s leather jacket he rocks in Skyfall when he’s fallen off the wagon.

Follow Carl on Instagram here.