Time to interview one of our closest friends in this industry, Dan from Casual Connoisseur. I’m not sure when I first heard about CasualCo, but not much time after their beginning in 2006, and as a passionate of the casual movement and aesthetic it was obviously a must have for me. Their cool and original drawings set them apart and from then on it was growth after growth. Having met Dan & Tom (his twin brother and the other half of the brand) a good few times, always with some good beers around, I can honestly say that these are one of the most genuine people in this industry, everybody who know them in person knows what I’m talking about.
Let’s hear what Dan has to say in our Industry Talks Q&A.
What type of music do you listen to?
I’ve got Spotify on random and I’ve just gone from Creedence Clearwater Revival to New Order to Kraftwerk, The The to Public Enemy, so a bit of an eclectic mix!
How’s a typical day for you?
Typical day would be: first thing cup of tea, check emails, update the social media stuff, check outstanding orders and process them for the Post Office run. Keep on top of things we’re working on, photograph forthcoming product for the shop etc. I can work strange hours, I get active late on when I should be in bed. It’s just a good time for me to concentrate. My brother Tom and I do all this together, it’s just a team of two and it’s still a very tiny operation despite the public perception (we’ve been called a mainstream label recently!). We live and breathe this and it’s very much hands on. We do every aspect of the label from the design, photography, the online store to posting out all orders, we tend to bounce off one another sometimes literally. There’s not enough hours in the day sometimes, as cliched as that sounds. We don’t work to seasons or collections like the stereotypical brands do, so everything tends to happen as a new idea, then we get it made, or at least try to. It’s very sporadic and unconventional, but just how we do it and always have and it works for us. Today we visited a local factory to see a new coat sample we’ve been working on and we’re very happy with that, this is the best part of doing what we do. Taking delivery of boxes of things which started out months earlier as a sketch, is a great feeling. Now we’re going into hat season, which is probably the busiest time of the year for us.
What is your team like?
I support my home town team (as you should) Stockport County. We dropped spectacularly to part time regional football after 110 years in the Football League. We are the longest surviving League club to do that. Last season, we finished 11th in our respective Division, the sixth tier, which is as crap as it sounds. This season we’ve already played (and beaten) FC United on level terms. We cannot possibly sink any lower to be honest. We used to be only one division below the proper United and regularly beat Man City. I’m lucky enough to have been there and seen it when we were at arguably our greatest, it’s swings and roundabouts I guess. This season is all about promotion back into the Conference, we had a good start but have stumbled a little bit of late, expectations are high though, and they should be.
We have improved a lot on the last few seasons with a better looking squad. It’s a strange league to be honest, small clubs with very few supporters, most grounds don’t have a terrace, more a patio!
All these clubs are privately owned by wealthy businessmen though, which we are not. After many years, we finally took control of our ground via the help of the local council, which was a huge positive. I hope we do it this season, but not convinced on what I’ve seen thus far.
Workwear, heritage, sportswear, streetwear, Ivy League… what is your cup of tea
I go through different phases, I can jump from one thing to the next pretty easily, I like to mix and match a lot of stuff really. A typical favourite, classic outfit I’ll always go back to though, would be an Oxford shirt, nice denim or fatigues or army pants as I call them, suede shoes and a parka. And a nice hat. All depends on where I am and what I’m doing. I’ve always been a fan of camouflage, military and proper outdoor stuff. I’m never one to shy away from lots of bright colours and bold patterns and I dare say, always a bit of that colour co-ordination which is really contrived, but we’re all guilty of it. I’m still really obsessive about outerwear too, I thought this would diminish as I got older but it hasn’t. I’m a proper hoarder, I still buy and sell jackets every single week. I’ve got some brilliant/ridiculous coats. I’ve just spent several hours on eBay looking for coats I don’t think even exist!
What brands have you been wearing lately? And which brands from the past would you give a round of applause?
Big fan of Engineered Garments, though they seem to get pricier each season and I find the older designs a bit more exciting at the moment, 6876 has always been there, the classics like Ralph Lauren, Stone Island, Barbour, Garbstore, Lacoste and Supreme (their shirts are a favoured fit). I do like a few of the more crossover premium brands via Japan, like Beams, Nanamica, Neighborhood and WTaps. I’ve got quite a bit of Bathing Ape stuff now too, which I was never really into previously, I think I got into it because of Eric Clapton’s trendy Dad style. I’ve got a good few of their rugby shirts and I hate rugby. I find if I like something now I just get more of the same and stick with it. Footwear wise, I’ve always liked my Wallabees and European comfort shoes and of course Veras stuff too. I recently got some Astorflex shoes which are decent aswell.
Oh, and I just got some of the Spezial Munchens, which reminds me, I need to put them in the fridge, that’s what modern casuals do now isn’t it?
From the past, said it before, but one stick out label for me would be early OTS when Ian Paley was behind it, very ahead of it’s time at the time and hit me at the right age, which I think got me a lot more interested in clothes and how they work. Stone Island too, seems to come back around in waves, seems pretty popular again at the moment, or maybe it never went away?
What would you change in the menswear industry?
I always thought, if money was no option I’d open a big factory loads of us could benefit a lot more from and be a lot more hands-on. In the UK, it’s a shame that the manufacturing industry is pretty small and almost a little covert now when you think of the history of it all. That said, we’re getting some good things produced just for us, in different factories at present such as hats, polo shirts, rugby shirts and outerwear all in decent independent UK places, so it’s not bad at all, with additional stuff produced in the US too, and of course forthcoming projects via Portugal, so right now we are in a good place and it’s going pretty much how we always wanted it too. I don’t know really, it’s a good question, but we do our own thing, so it’s hard to comment on that, I’ve encountered the odd bit of snobbery here and there, but on the whole, I’ve met some genuinely nice folk and made some good friends through the whole ‘menswear’ thing we’ve dipped into over the last ten years. There’s a lot of ‘Nathan Barley’ type folk in the fashion industry, but we’re not really involved in that.
Thanks Ramiro and sorry it’s taken about 9 months to send you this!