Mr David Walker-Smith: The MFM Interview
David Walker-Smith is regarded as the one of the best dressed men within the fashion retail circle. In the last year he was appointed Managing Director of the prestigious Fenwick of Bond Street store after being an integral part of the Selfridges buying structure. To boot he is also a committee member of the British Fashion Council. MFM dropped in for a coffee and a chat to talk about the menswear industry and what’s in his wardrobe.
MFM: So David, How have you found your new role as MD at Fenwick Bond Street?
DWS: Really good! Working for Fenwick which is still to this day a family run business is pretty cool. All 11 stores nationwide are run independently with the same values and strategy which is focused around the customer. It’s all about inspiring the customer to shop and to create destinations of choice.
MFM: As a committee member for the British Fashion Council what did you think of the London collections: Men that has just passed?
DWS: Phenomenal. Really inspiring. It’s great to see our big designers like Burberry and Alexander McQueen choosing to put their show on here. Also what’s fantastic is the new generation scheme which showcases the best of our up and coming talent. I mean what fashion week has the Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales involved? This is the kind of scope Dylan Jones has brought to LCM. But also it’s very inclusive with all the events based in and around the shows that creates a real hub around London for those three days.
MFM: Do you have any advice for our MFM readers who are thinking of stepping in into the world of fashion retail i.e. buying, merchandising or in a creative capacity?
DWS: Do it! It’s a great industry to be involved in but be warned it’s very challenging. Be prepared to evolve and for change. That’s what I have always loved about retail by adapting to change, using innovation and by simply thinking outside the box.
MFM: What has been the biggest change you’ve seen within the menswear industry over the last 10 years?
DWS: The industry has become faster, bigger and more relevant. Men these days have a mind of their own. The modern man aspires to be different and to be one step ahead of the pack he exists in. With that in mind even with the massive growth of the ecommerce business, there has never been such a big emphasise on that personal one-on-one customer service.
MFM: You are known as being one of the best dressed men within the fashion business. Describe your own personal style.
DWS: I would describe my style as individual. But like a lot of guys it depends on my mood! I like wearing clothes that suit me and I can be slightly more adventurous at times.
MFM: Who are your favourite designers?
DWS: Prada, Alexander McQueen and Margiela. Prada is all about timeless beauty and the cut. Miuccia Prada just captures a mood I want to be in! Margiela for the simplicity with an imaginative twist and I absolutely love his shoes. I am also a big fan of Acne and on the high street All saints and Cos. Cos is brilliant for clean and sharp menswear.
MFM: Who are your style influences?
DWS: I think you have to admire how David Beckham has popularised Men’s fashion in this country. For me at the moment I’m taking inspiration from period TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and Dancing on the Edge. I also Love Michael Pitt’s style who stars in Boardwalk. He did the Prada ad campaign a few seasons ago and has a great look.
MFM: Who in your eyes at the moment are the best dressed guys in town?
DWS: Dan Rookwood who is the Men’s Health style director is very dapper. I also have real style envy for Gordon Richardson who is the Topman design director. Adam Kelly who I work with always dresses very well.
MFM: We at MFM loved your look on the Monday of the last LCM. Talk us through the outfit.
DWS: I wanted my look to be quite modern contemporary and have the monochrome look. I took inspiration from Raf Simons who is great at the minimal and simplistic style. The jacket is from Prada and is unstructured and has a very fine feel to it. With anything from Prada, the cut is amazing! The cropped trousers were from Givenchy and the Document holder is from Margiela.
MFM: What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe at the moment?
DWS: It’s got to be the white Prada shoes I wore for my LCM outfit. I have also just bought the most amazing pair of Margiela shoes with incredible detailing. I have to say though at the moment at home I practically live in my Levi’s jeans and Neil Barrett sweatshirt.
MFM: What’s your take on British Fashion at the moment?
DWS: It’s really strong. London is a great hub for fashion with such diverse areas. For instance you can go from Mount Street to Westbourne Grove, Brick Lane to Bond Street.
MFM: What is the best bit of advice you can give the MFM readers about dressing to impress?
DWS: Clean your damn shoes! Its pains me to see men who don’t look after or take pride with their footwear. I think you should try and dress to your body shape the best you can and have good staple pieces in your wardrobe that you can rotate.
As David is known for his style and impeccable dress sense as a working professional, MFM asked him if he could pick 6 items that everyman should have in his 9-5 wardrobe.
1) Smyth & Gibson white cotton twill tab collar shirt £125
2) Mr Start “Rivington” navy two button suit £695
3) Kurt Geiger Harington oxford shoe £155
4) Peckham Rye Burgundy silk tie £60
5) Drakes silk and wool blend printed handkerchief £60
6) Sandro slim fit wool blend overcoat £450
For more, Follow David on his official Twitter account HERE.