What I Know About Style

David Saxby, Old Hat vintage

Old Hat


Vintage guru David Saxby on 1950s guitars and why denim is strictly for cowboys

How long has Old Hat been going for?

Twenty years while the one we have in Tokyo, Japan has been going for 11 years. The Tokyo store came about my chance. We had been doing a lot of business with Japan for a long time; a Japanese guy came into the store and we went from there.

What inspired you to run a vintage shop?

I’d lost a lot of money and I had a background in tailoring. A vintage store is something you can start without a lot of money, so it seemed like a good idea.

Why did you choose to be based in Fulham?

Fulham and Chelsea are perhaps the most civilised parts of London. It’s an area where people appreciate good tailoring and need formal wear for parties and events.

What’s your favourite fashion era?

Edwardian is smart, elegant and of very high quality. Edwardian fashion is also very wearable today (although slightly less so for women). Smart clothes for men haven’t changed much over the last 100 years and the reason we don’t have a national costume is because we transported our style around the world.

What are your top style rules?

•    Englishmen shouldn’t co-ordinate. It is okay for Italians and women to colour match, but not for Englishmen.

•    Never wear denim. It is fine if you’re a cowboy, but it isn’t appropriate for an Englishman.

•    It is vital to feel right as well as look right. Good quality, well-tailored fabrics are important. Use, buy and learn about the best materials – it doesn’t take long.

Do you personally collect anything?

I think everyone is a mug punter. I collect 1950s guitars. I have some which I don’t deserve for my level of playing.

Who are your customers?

We have a lot of actors and musicians, plus we seem to have corned the market of British comedians, including Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Vic Reeves.

What is the most interesting vintage item you have found and why?

Perhaps a suit made for Elton John by Tommy Nutter [who was famous for reinventing the Savile Row suit in the ‘60s] which has been included in the Metropolitan Book of Modern Art.

What could you not live without?

Tea. I usually drink Earl Grey, but I’m not that fussy.

What’s the most valuable vintage piece you have discovered?

I have been collecting clothes for 20 years so I have a lot of things which are personally valuable to me. I do have a lot of fashion which once belonged to actors and pop stars and my items will often go into auctions. I own a morning suit which once belonged to American industrialist Otto Kahn.

If you could travel back in time, where and when would you go?

I would go back to 1900. Victorian clothes were pretty good and I could live without email!

What’s your life philosophy?

Always put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I never feel guilty about life’s pleasures.

Old Hat, 66 Fulham High Street, London SW6; 020 7610 6558

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