London Fashion Week Men's is only a few weeks away and we couldn't be more excited to see what's new on the menswear front.
In honour of the coming event, this month's spotlight on interview is with Lloyd Rayner, co-founder and designer at Kurtis Paul, a luxury fashion brand from Manchester that specialises in high-quality bags and accessories.
We talk about the modern gentleman and whether there is still stigma surrounding the 'man bag'.
Why did you start Kurtis Paul?
Kurtis, my brother and business partner, and I were cogs in large corporate machines and felt as if our personalities were being suppressed by the policies and procedures we were asked to follow. We are naturally creative people and felt that within these environments we were being held back; it was this frustration that made us start dreaming of something bigger.
The transition into luggage was an easy one for us. Both avid travellers, we had tried and tested many different luggage options and found that there were two ends of the market. There's was the low quality / low price brands where the product was not made to last and the good quality / very high price brands, where a majority of the cost is within the brand and not necessarily the product. Since starting Kurtis Paul it has been our inspiration to plug that gap. We craft beautiful products from the best materials and do so in a way which lets them still remain affordable.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Our inspiration comes from two sources; firstly, we start all design with a purpose. We don't believe in products for products sake, any item we design must solve a problem and it is this problem that starts our journey.
We think about our target audience, how they would respond in different situations and what they would need from an item. From this, we create a list of required features. For example, with the Donald Canvas Beachbag we thought of the type of items that would be stored in the bag and how the customer would carry them. This led us to create a bag with a single, large hold. The beach is an informal setting and the items taken vary in size i.e. beach towel, sun cream, etc. We wanted to make the access to these items as easy as possible and didn't want the hassle of organisation; the Donald Beachbag allows just that.
Once the product is imagined, we then apply our creativity. The inspiration for which comes from Manchester and its industrial feel. The city is filled with large warehouses and old factories, at Kurtis Paul we love the sense of purpose you get from such buildings. Everything is designed with intent and made to last. This industrial feel can be seen in the brushed brass fixtures we've chosen, especially selected for its durability. The brushed texture was added to symbolise the daily grime that is seen in such industrial architecture.
Do you think there is still stigma surrounding the 'man bag'?
I think when people refer to the 'man bag' they imagine a scruffy, very informal bag usually associated with youth culture. In this aspect, I believe there is a stigma associated with the product. I would however say that when people think of men's luggage, they envision something completely different. During recent years there has been a significant shift in the way men 'see' their place in society. There has been growth in male grooming and the boundaries between hetro- and homosexual males have merged. The modern man is no longer someone rugged and unkept but someone who takes care in his appearance and the way he presents himself. This shift has meant men's luggage is a lot more popular and part of modern fashion.
Who is the ultimate Kurtis Paul man?
Kurtis Paul has a very clear target audience, it is an audience we refer to as 'The Modern Gentleman'.
The modern gentleman is someone who holds himself in high regard, has a high self-worth and is determined to become the best version of himself. Much of his downtime is spent on self-development and he enjoys the knowledge that is received through reading factual literature. He understand that health is an important aspect of his routine and a healthy body lets him perform at his best.
The modern gentleman has an interest in travel and the experience of different cultures. He knows that it is our differences that make us unique and by studying different cultures he can gain an understanding of people's motivators and drives, he calls on this knowledge to ensure he helps other reach their potential. Helping others is an important aspect of his working mantra; he believes that to receive, you must first give.
What do you think is the biggest summer fashion trend for men?
We see an increase in simplicity within 2017 summer fashion. There will be a rise in the classic plain shirt/t-shirt look matched with dark, well-fitted jeans. Fashion will start to transition into neutral tones, as men find that classy is more attractive than loud.
What does your daily outfit look like?
My daily outfit is chosen to suit my lifestyle: a dark blue / black suit with a slim fitted shirt. As the evening progresses the jacket comes off, the top button is undone and shirt sleeves are rolled up slightly. My busy routine includes a post-work gym session so I am always accompanied with either the Cromwell or Arnold duffle bag.