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10 questions with Simon Carter

Menswear designer Simon Carter talks exclusively to Global Blue’s online managing editor Kirsty Welsh about celebrity fans, his favourite pieces, the inspiration behind his quirky printed shirts, and what’s next for the brand

Kirsty Welsh
Kirsty Welsh,

How did you get into the fashion industry?  

It was a hobby that got out of control. I began in 1985 with a small range of brooches for men, adapted from vintage pieces that I’d bought at antique fairs. I was studying immunology at Chelsea College on London’s King’s Road, right in the centre of fashion. From this I moved into cufflinks, which was my first big break. It was then straightforward to broaden into a range of accessories, from ties to watches. The next step came in the 1990s when I began to offer suits and shirts, and things grew from there.


Where do you get your inspiration for creating your array of prints?  

I love colour and bold design so I’m always looking around for inspiration. This season it’s all about the circus, harking back to the glory days of the travelling family showmen between the wars. I saw a vintage poster for a Russian fair and that gave me the idea. I also use many botanical and insect-based designs and some of these have been adapted from old travel journals that I’ve picked up. 


Any celebrity fans?  

Yes, quite a few. I’ve just dressed Tom Daley and I worked with Richard Ayoade, designing his outfits for the new Crystal Maze that he’s presenting. Others range from Paul Merton to Gary Oldman.


What’s the most favourite piece you’ve created?  

Funnily enough, I think it’s my handmade sunglasses. I make these in England, and the quality and finish is just superb. 


Most treasured items in your wardrobe?  

I have a beautiful paisley silk jacket in deep blue that I got married in. It’s actually a tie silk, woven for me in Como in Italy. 


What attractions would you recommend for visitors to London?  

Get off the beaten track. Go to the Wallace Collection just north of Selfridges – it’s the most amazing collection, amassed by the first four marquesses of Hertford. For a taste of old cockney London, you can’t beat Goddards pie shop in Greenwich.  Fournier Street in Spitalfields is the most perfect, intact terrace of Huguenot silk weavers’ houses. I also urge visitors to look up as they walk ‒ London has the best skyline in the world. 


How would you describe the Simon Carter gentleman?  

He has a sense of style, an eye for design and can discern quality. 


What’s your most popular cufflink design?  

Tricky question. I’m still known as the king of cufflinks so it’s hard to choose. I’d say probably my crystal skulls. 


Has men’s fashion shifted to become more experimental in terms of prints and colours?  

When I began designing my strongly patterned shirts a decade ago, it was a niche market. Now men of all ages are much bolder and more confident. It’s great to see. 


What’s next for Simon Carter?  

I’m opening six stores in India this year. I firmly believe in India. They have a natural love of colour and design, and love British brands.

Simon Carter



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