Stories interview J. W. Anderson

Simon Chilvers recently visited the London studio of J.W. Anderson – Sunspel’s Creative Director since 2010 – for a chat about his AW13 collection. Below is an extract of their interesting interview.

J.W. Anderson’s men’s catwalk shows certainly draw attention. His AW13 collection featured models in bandeau tops, ruffled shorts and knee-high boots while SS14 included crimped hair and halter-neck tops worn with Oxford bag trousers. There are more traditionally wearable clothes in the mix, too – such as bold knitwear – but these pieces are not the lead message. Jonathan Anderson, 29, explains from behind his desk that he aims to push the menswear envelope. ‘I hope what I do is not cartoonish,’ he says, fiddling with a box of cigarettes. ‘I want it to be something which makes you think, challenges proportion but also challenges what our mentality is towards men.’

Born in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, to a rugby-coach father and an English-teacher mother, Anderson studied BA menswear at the London College of Fashion and launched his eponymous label seven years ago. ‘It’s been a very big progression. There has been a lot of mileage to get to this point,’ he says. ‘Some people think we just appeared from Mars.’ Though like many of his fashion contemporaries, Anderson’s HQ is less outer space and more inner London. Dalston, east London, to be precise.

What does your desk say about you? ‘It’s a bit like a kitchen worktop. I’m not the tidiest person but I’m not into that kind of minimal nothingness either because ultimately, that will affect what the clothing is. Your eye is affected by what you see on a daily basis, so you need to be around things that stimulate you. There is always a pile of things, like fabrics, that need to be signed off, and loads of magazines. Cigarettes, Mars bars, Vaseline – they’re always on here. I like a very communal workspace – I hate isolated rooms.’

Describe your personal style. ‘It’s very repetitive. I have very little clothing. In the morning, I don’t want to think. I wear plain jumpers in grey, black and navy, and T-shirts in white. [Anderson wears a lot of Sunspel basics – he also works for them as creative director]. I like Converse or Nike trainers.’

How would you describe your grooming routine? ‘I like D.R. Harris & Co. on St James’s Street in London. I get my aftershave from there – it’s called Windsor. I love that its products come in old-school apothecary-style bottles. It does a mouthwash, which it’s been doing since the 18th century, that tastes like cough syrup. I don’t use any hair products and I only get my haircut when I am having a photo shoot. My hair doesn’t really have a distinct style any more, it just goes where it has to.’



Interview by Simon Chilvers for

Photographs by Phill Taylor

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