We spoke to Nick Carvell, from GQ Magazine, about his part in the swell of interest in mens style over the past few years, his own route and experiences in the world of magazines and his personal taste and style.
When did you first start at GQ?
I started at GQ five years ago, first as Fashion Editor of GQ.co.uk and then as Associate Style Editor of GQ for the magazine and the website. Before that I worked at Mr Porter as their Social Media Writer.
Was this what you set out to do?
I studied American Studies at King’s College London, which allowed me to attend the University of California Berkeley. Whilst at Berkeley I started writing for their newspaper, The Daily Californian. I really enjoyed that so when I came back to London for my final year at King’s, I started writing for their paper Roar. Initially, I enjoyed writing about music and then switched to writing about men’s style. My career developed from there. I began to focus on menswear writing because I had always been interested in fashion, I’ve read magazines my whole life.
What magazines, or online blogs, did you find were an inspiration?
I’ve always liked magazines. Coming from Bedford, when I was younger, my friends and I travelled to London a lot to go to things that were free (like galleries, exhibitions or to be in the audience for TV shows). Buying magazines became part of that. It was an hour on the train from Bedford and buying magazines in London to read on the train became part of my connection to all the cool things happening in the capital.
Being in your position opens up a world of possibilities to go places, meet people and do interesting things. What have been some of the highlights for you?
I’ve been lucky enough to have loads of highlights in my career and I’ve got to meet people that I never thought I’d meet. Talking to Jake Gyllenhal about tea was quite a surreal moment (he’s a massive fan of loose leaf).
The extraordinary thing about being a journalist is you get to experience lifestyles that you wouldn’t normally have the chance to experience. For example, going to Dolce and Gabbana’s Alta Sartoria couture show – staged exclusively for their most loyal couture customers – in Palermo in Sicily earlier this year was incredible. It gave me the opportunity to be in the company of people I wouldn’t normally come across in my everyday life and see menswear at its most intricate, its most opulent. It’s amazing to be lucky enough to experience that sort of lifestyle for a few days.
The rise of online coverage of menswear has been huge and GQ has been a played a big part in the impact of that.
What I love is that the fandom surrounding menswear is still fairly fresh – it’s not that long since the whole the hashtag-menswear boom in America with blogs like Jak & Jil, The Satorialist and How To Talk To Girls At Parties. That’s when the wider menswear movement really started to come into being. I suppose now at the men’s fashion weeks, it still feels like a very good vibe, it still feels like a club where we’re all in it together because we all love it and want it to be a success. Plus it’s a relatively small world, so all the journalists, buyers and bloggers do get to know each other. I do hope GQ is somewhere people come to as a useful menswear reference because that’s why I like to write.
Has your taste and style changed over time?
Oh god yes, it’s definitely changed! I remember going to my first interview at Mr Porter and I was sitting in one of the cafes in Westfield, where their offices are. I was wearing a Fair Isle jumper, a shirt, some sort of tweed bow tie and a tweed jacket – because it was that time in 2010 when menswear had that heritage vibe going on. To my surprise a man in his 70s came up and asked where my jumper was from! Being in the industry definitely changes your style as your are exposed to so many different ways of dressing. There are so many fantastic people who mostly dress better than you, so you try and learn from them and grow.
Do you have favourite stores, labels or designers?
Michael Bastian in New York is one of my favourite designers, I love French labels like AMI Paris and Officine Generale, and Lou Dalton in London. I was looking into getting a suit recently and there are so many great labels in London, it’s just a matter of choosing which one you want. Whether it’s a Norton & Sons suit or a PJ Johnson suit, they’re going to both be incredible but which one do you want to have? Britain is great for smaller brands and also brands who are making in England again. For example, Patrick Grant’s Community Clothing initiative – I have a pair of their jeans. Or Percival, and Triple Stitch who are making shirts in London. Also there’s a great little brand in Norwich called Dancy’s which makes seriously good ties right here in the UK.
Is there a book inside Nick Carvell that we will see in the future?
One of my favourite books of all time is Hardy Amies’ ABC of Menswear – I actually try to give a copy of that to every intern. It’s a great reference point for anyone wanting to progress in the industry and it’s just written in such a funny and brilliant way. I would recommend anyone who’s interested in menswear to pick up a copy.
I would love to write a book – it’s just a case of finding out what that would be. There are a lot of great books out there about menswear, so it’s finding a way to make a difference. Maybe a novel instead? Or perhaps one day I’ll have enough stories from my career to put together a memoir – that would be pretty awesome.