With a career that spans decades, it's no surprise that Topman creative director Gordon Richardson knows what works - and what doesn't. With a firm conviction that fashion is about finding what works for you rather than slavishly following every trend, his signature style is as discerning as it is distinctive. In Sydney to launch the Topman a/w '15 collection, he chats to Buro 24/7 about making mistakes in front of the mirror and swearing off jeans for good.
You originally studied graphic design - how did you end up in fashion?
Some designers are making clothes for dolls from the moment they're born and I can't profess to that, but I've always been interested in style. I started studying graphics when I was young and it just wasn't what I thought it was going to be. If you had an artistic inclination, you went to art college and graphics seemed to be the most interesting option at the time, but I found it so boring. But then we did a fashion project with these designers from London and I was so inspired by them that I thought, that's the world I want to inhabit. So I swapped into fashion.
What was your career path before becoming creative director of Topshop in 2002?
I worked with Arcadia [which owns Topshop] freelancing and designing for their other brands. Before that I taught fashion at Kingston University for nearly 10 years and that put me in very good stead because I love working with young people and encouraging new talent. My team of designers keeps me young - we go vintage shopping together and I can look at something and think, I've seen that before, but they look at it and they're seeing it for the first time.
You're known for always wearing a hat, but never jeans. Why so?
I still don't wear jeans, but I've gone off hats. I don't feel like I can wear a hat anymore. At the time it felt like I was the only person wearing hats but now everyone's wearing them. That sounds pretentious but it just doesn't feel the same way it once did.
Who are your personal style icons?
I love looking at photos of older gentlemen who weren't about fashion but had a lot of style. Their suits were bespoke and very smart and I love that attention to detail. I also get inspired by musicians, from Bowie to Keith Richards to Serge Gainsbourg - iconic figures in their heyday.
How would you describe your personal style?
Once upon a time I would have said rock n' roll gentleman but it's constantly evolving. I like to think my style now is a discreet form of whatever's currently fashionable. It's a nod towards what's fashionable but not in that big fashion arena of I'm wearing every trend. It's' about wearing things that are applicable to your style.
What are the items in your wardrobe you can't live without?
The thing I love most, that I wear more than anything, is a very, very fine gauge cashmere sweater in black. Always the finest gauge I can find, so it's like a t-shirt. Normally cashmere sweaters are quite thick but when you find a really fine gauge cashmere, it's pure heaven.
And I do like a scarf. It's my nod towards pattern - a little silk neck scarf in a pattern or print.
What's your best tip for dressing well?
Even if it's a trend, don't force yourself into it. Some trends will be more suited to your stature, your size, your style, even the way you walk. So don't be beholden to a trend, but try to look at people you admire and respect and look at how they dress and pick up tips that way. Because we all make mistakes in front of the mirror. It's about style over trends, every time.