This week at Debenhams we have a treat for you as Jeff Banks, the Welsh designer who created and presented the television programme ‘The Clothes Show’, joined us to take over our Facebook page. His commitment and passion for fashion now spans six decades and he doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping anytime soon. Always entertaining, Jeff loved answering all your questions – here’s what everyone wanted to know…
FB: What’s your favourite design?
Jeff: My favourite design is the Charles Eames chair which is a bit of a classic and comes with a foot stall so it’s great for chilling out and watching TV. It’s very expensive these days but you can get some excellent copies on the internet.
FB: How do feel about the “clothes show” live these days? I remember you did the TV programme and the show was live too. Love your stuff Debenhams has recently opened in our local town… so it’s all good!
Jeff: I used to thoroughly enjoy doing the Clothes Show which I presented for 12 years and a lot of people say it’s a shame there is nothing like it on TV anymore. I created Clothes Show Live because two ladies from Newcastle wrote to me and said if I had any spare tickets for Yves Saint Laurent’s show in Paris could I send them to them. It then occurred to me very few people had seen a big show so that’s why I decided to start Clothes Show Live. These days I don’t think it is as good as it used to be and looks a bit tired.
FB: If you could offer ONE TIP for a good Christmas male fashion buy for this year – what would it be?
Jeff: I just have to say a Jeff Banks white shirt! But I would, wouldn’t I? Here’s the collection >> http://bit.ly/TYYFDQ
FB: What would be your favourite fashion decade?
Jeff: Has to be the 60s which is what gave me my starting opportunity and also it was less serious then so you could have a go at something for fun without it coming under the magnifying glass of the press and public immediately. Some of my best fashion errors were in 1965 as you could get away with murder and nobody noticed! These days everything is so slick and professional, I think a lot of the time it takes the experimental fun out of it.
FB: My husband and I love your designs but have you ever thought of doing woman’s and children’s fashion?
Jeff: Funny you should mention that, I am just talking to Debenhams at the moment about the possibility of getting back into doing a women’s collection again which is what I originally trained for. I was twice British women’s wear designer of the year so I have a bit of background in it and it would be good to have another spin round the block. Watch this space!
FB: How difficult was it to get your name recognised as a top designer?
Jeff: It was surprisingly easy because when I started there weren’t many of us around either here in England or on the continent. I can remember that 6 months after starting my first shop I was on the front cover of Time magazine in America with four other British designers quoted as being the Brit revolution. I always thought it was that easy and I guess I have taken it a bit for granted.
FB: What would you recommend for a capsule wardrobe for a 45 year old man? My chap is very stylish, but there is much less fashion advice for men than women.
Jeff: First off he needs a good suit in either black or navy, a good pair of jeans that he can wear the suit jacket with as well, three white shirts that can either be worn with a tie or without and can also be worn with denim and a few V neck sweaters that can be worn over the white shirt and under the suit jacket if it is chilly. To bling it up I think this season a baker’s boy tweed cap and definitely a long scarf should see him through the season. You need to buy a dog lead as well as once he gets this wardrobe together you definitely going to have to keep him on a leash! As a bit of PR, he could get all of this from Jeff Banks at Debenhams >> http://bit.ly/xQFKP9
FB: I have been looking for a work shirt for my other half, which must have a shirt pocket, double chuff & short collar, he is a 17 & half & we can’t find one in Aberdeen, please help….
Jeff: Just as a bit of gossip, the first girl I ever lived with was called Morag! I bet it’s not the same. With regards to your boyfriends shirt, getting back to the subject, it is generally an unwritten shirt law that if you do a folded cuff you don’t put a pocket on it. They do in America but not here. The reason for it is that historically shirts were worn as an undergarment and a man would wear a waistcoat over the top of his shirt (so the shirt wasn’t seen) and then wear a coat or jacket over the top so having a pocket on your shirt was completely unnecessary. Times have changed and although I’d abide by the law of shirt Debenhams run a blue shirt in the Thomas Nash collection which has both a pocket and a folded cuff. >> http://bit.ly/RZFbNp As a came clean about my first live in lover perhaps you could get him to change to a Jeff Banks white shirt with a folded cuff and forget the pocket which must make him look a bit like an airline pilot anyway! >>http://bit.ly/RgqnzO
FB: What’s your top fashion tip for my hubby to be next week? We are getting married on a beach in Florida. Although we are keeping it simple I still want him to be stylish.
Jeff: For a beach wedding in Florida the weather is going to be quite warm so I would suggest a white or pale blue linen suit. If he was really adventurous as I was in Miami recently, a lot of guys were wearing shorts but with a matching suit jacket which I think looked really cool. You would have to risk waiting to get there before he bought his wedding outfit but I think it would be worth a gamble. The other alternative, although it is a bit Peter Andre, is just a really good white shirt and white linen trousers.
FB: My boyfriend loves your new white shirt range. What inspired you to create this collection?
Jeff: I was watching the Mad Men TV series and I noticed the guy who played the lead always had a draw full of white shirts so that before he went in to a meeting or to the bar he flipped out a new white shirt and looked really sharp, I thought it would be really cool to do a collection of my favourite collar shirts so that guys that want to be able to follow in the Mad Men tradition can get a collection from one place.
FB: How easy was it to get your first collection made and sold and essentially how easy was it to make a name in the industry? I am currently trying to design some women’s shoes with a difference and not quite sure where to start, any help would be appreciated.
Jeff: It was relatively easy for me as when I started back in the 60s there was very little competition and also the standards of quality were not as high as they are today. If you’re just getting going the most important thing is to find a shoe factory that will support you with samples and also agree to accept small orders. Somewhere in Spain or Italy is your best chance and you can go through the Italian or Spanish Chambers of Commerce at their respective embassy’s to make contact. When you then find an outlet for your designs you will have the factory backing to be able to produce small quantities and delivery your orders. Make sure that you go to relatively small retailers who are more likely to give you a break and experiment with your collection than a big retailer who might just play it safe. Good Luck.
My takeover has to come to an end, thanks for all your questions. See you all in the men’s department! Jeff