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Friday, 9 May 2014

GarconJon meets...Mikey Dale

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Michael Dale, 30, is the Senior Press Officer of Menswear for high street retailer River Island. We first met at the first Sartorial 7 meet-up last year and since then we've worked together on a number of projects, including the most recent S7 shoot in Brighton. As the ultimate gentlemen, his charm is as impeccable as his style. I caught up with him post-beach, post-pint, post-post-production to find out what makes the man.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I grew up in Stoke-on-Trent and now reside in Hackney. I’ve lived in London for around 5 years now and have always lived East. There's an amazing energy.

What's your star sign? Scorpio

What music are you listening to right now? Todd Terje, Little Dragon, DJ Koze and Talking Heads are in my iTunes most played list at the moment.

What did you want to be when you were a child? To be honest I really don’t know. I knew I wanted to do something creative but fashion was certainly not considered an option until I was at college. I had the usual aspirations as a kid: rock star or astronaut.

So can you reber when you thought 'fashion PR's for me'? Not as such, it was kind of a natural progression. When I first started working in retail many moons ago it was then that I found I had an affinity for menswear. When I moved to London someone recommended I go for a PR role and the rest is history. I feel like the job chose me rather than the other way round.

You’re a fellow member of Sartorial 7, what do you like most about our menswear collective? It’s been a great opportunity to show the average Joe that it’s ok to be interested in style and take care in your own appearance. It’s not always about owning the most expensive suit, but rather considering the details.

What Sartorial 7 collaboration have you most enjoyed? Is it bias of me to say River Island? I did actually love what we created in Brighton. It was also a different experience as the result was photo driven. Attending Goodwood Revival with Private White VC was also a lot of fun. We got to experiment with vintage looks, drink real ales and look at classic cars all day. What’s not to like?!

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I loved our most recent outing too an it was a new experience for me as I photographed it all and swapped in with our latest member Stevie. It was strange being the other side of the lens while you gents had a laugh. The most important thing for me was having quite a distinctive summer look for the campaign and I think selecting Brighton was just such a perfect choice. Why did you choose this location? The starting point is the city’s rich heritage steeped in British subculture and style, particularly the infamous mods and rockers. The abundance of great locations in Brighton gave us an opportunity to show off the versatility of the brand’s collection. At the end of the day River Island is a high street brand, so we wanted to capture some energetic fun that appeals to the slightly younger demographic.

Shooting the main group images was a highlight for me - there's a superb rapport between the team now. What was your favourite part of the day? We had great fun shooting on the Pier, that group shot with the ice creams is currently my Facebook cover! That's the true test of quality. We didn’t even think that shot would work but you captured it masterfully. There’s a natural element to it that I love. It doesn’t feel too posed.

How would you describe your taste in clothing? That’s a tough one as it changes a lot. I do love a good skinny jean and pair of oxblood Dr Martens, but I have generally always favoured slightly smarter attire. I’m influenced by film and music but I try not to be too literal with it, as cool as the Bogarts, Bowies and Brando’s of this world are. I always like to try and apply a contemporary edge. My latest thing is wearing trainers with a suit, which has garnered mixed reactions…but it’s confidence that really carries off any outfit. Not sticking to the rules.

There are so many fantastic London designers and you've worked with quite a few of them on various levels. Do you have a favourite right now? Christopher Raeburn, Baartmans and Siegel, Agi and Sam. Those are the real up and comers. If we’re talking about the big boys then I guess it would have to be Prada. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of their last season, their campaigns are beautifully shot and they always choose really interesting faces. Dane Dehaan looks great in the latest imagery.

You've worked for a range of brands, from luxury at Ozwald Boateng on Savile Row to high street at River Island today. How has this range influenced your approach to menswear? I think it’s given me scope and understanding across different sectors of the menswear market. Working on Savile Row is where I first fell in love with tailoring, the romance of The Row and the history of the suit itself, however I do know what it takes to work for the high street giants too. Past experience has helped me appreciate the value of both.

Since you joined the company I've noticed River Island really upping the stakes in it's proposition for the high street, particularly in menswear. What's been the best project you've headed up for RI? Well thank you very much! I’ve loved working on the Design Forum and Fashion Film Initiatives. Working with these inspiring talents has played a big part in our increased credibility, giving us a new voice in the industry as well as allowing us to support young designers on projects they otherwise may not have been able to partake in. I can't take all of the credit of course. Our Marketing Director is amazing and the brand has come on leaps and bounds since she joined the company, then of course the product itself has improved greatly too. The Design and Buying teams have worked hard to up the ante season upon season, which has ultimately made my job a lot easier!

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What’s the most challenging thing about your job? Constantly coming up with new ideas.

What do you like most about your job? Constantly coming up with new ideas.

I'm a huge fan of print publications - do you have any favourites? Wonderland generate some amazing editorial and Julian Ganio’s shoot concepts in Fantastic Man are inspired! I usually get my daily fix from blogs and mens lifestyle websites too. have really upped their game lately, they seem to have mastered a good balance between humor and insightful advice in their writing.

What's on the horizon for Mr Dale? I would like to do more writing and styling if I can, I’ve always enjoyed that it’s just finding the time! Next up at River Island we have our big collab with Baartmans and Siegel, launching with a film preview at LC:M. Bigger picture? Who knows, but what I do know is that there is potential for River Island to do a lot more, even though there’s so much we’ve done already. Onwards and upwards!

Finally, leave us with some words of wisdom... Even if you fail 10 times over, do not give up on whatever it is that makes you get out of bed in the morning. Alternatively – stay in bed. But you’ll be mighty bored.

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