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Thursday, 16 April 2015

GarconJon meets Darren Kennedy for Brooks Brothers

With classic American brand Brooks Brothers owning one of the best menswear stores on Regents Street, it's understandable that some of Londons most stylish gents love the brand. This month Brooks Brothers asked me to document these men for a new series on and after a good chinwag on set, I couldn't resist but ask my own questions for GarconJon. In the first of the series, I caught up Darren Kennedy over a coffee at Hawksmoor Spitalfields to talk about life as a broadcaster in the digital age and the extended American family the Irishman has. A group which includes President Obama.

Darren Kennedy, Broadcaster and Writer

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I'm a true Dubliner, I was born and bred in the city. And despite the fact that I spend most of my time in London these days, Dublin will always be my home at heart.

You may be a Dubliner but I know you've travelled some in your time. In your opinion what's the best place to live and why? I've lived in Paris, London, Toronto and Bordeaux but in terms of quality of life I'd say Dublin really is up there with the best. It's actually a fabulous city to live in. I know I'm biased but it's the fact the city is a very manageable size with the sea, the mountains and the countryside are all within bicycle distance from the centre. When it comes to weather, Los Angeles offers a tempting combo of city, sun and beach.

Describe yourself in 5 words? Happy to laugh at myself!

What's your star sign? Capricorn and I've been told I'm typical - practical, loyal and determined once I set my mind to something.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Growing up I wanted to be a vet. I was fascinated with nature and wildlife. My favourite programmes to watch were David Attenborough documentaries and I used to image myself travelling to the Galapagos Islands. I've yet to make it but I will one day. As a result our house was like a menagerie with cats, dogs, birds, fish, turtles, frogs... you name it, I tried to keep it as a pet. I went through a stage of wanting a pet lamb, despite the fact we lived in the city! My veterinary dreams perished when I realised I'm actually very squeamish!

As a Scotsman, I always find people have a curious response to my nationality – particularly in the States. What do people say to you when you first open your mouth and find out you're Irish? I travel quite a lot to the States and so many people there have such a strong affinity with Ireland - even Obama has Irish roots for God's sake! Americans can be funny and on occasions one or two have tried to convince me that they're more Irish than I am - despite the fact they may never have set foot on Irish soil. I find it endearing to be honest. The funny thing is, no matter where I find myself in the world, I never seem to be far from an Irish connection. Over the decades my countrymen have travelled far and wide, so most people are very receptive when they hear the accent.

See the full interview by clicking below.
Being a broadcaster is often a career shrouded in mystery, how did you get to this point in your career? My career in broadcasting started when I was 19 while in my second year at University. I was studying International Business with French and Spanish but knew I wanted to work in TV so I managed to wrangle my way into a TV station and get work as a runner on a breakfast show. Not long after, I started a radio chat show called 'Kennedy's Couch' on a local radio station.

Since then I've done every job I could get to learn my craft and experience as many different areas of the industry as possible. I've worked in research, producing, programme development, stage manager and more. My goal was always to be front of camera. Now I enjoy the variety my work offers. From entertainment shows to the occasional more investigative documentaries like my show ‘Gay Daddy’. Right now I’m working on a brand new series called ‘The Unemployables’ where me and my co-presenter help two young people who are long term unemployed get a job. Think ‘Benefits Street’ meets ‘The Undatables’.

YouTube has obviously revolutionised the industry and you use it as a kind of showreel it seems. Have you considered creating your own channel with unique content? Funny you should ask that! My Youtube channel is about to launch imminently. I mean I've had one for a while but I'm starting to produce content specifically for YouTube with a focus on mens style, grooming etc.

Did anyone in your life or on TV inspire you to go down this path? I guess David Attenborough would definitely have had an impact on me even though I probably didn't realise it at the time. Terry Wogan is an amazing broadcaster and who doesn't love Michael Parkinson!!

What was your career plan B? I don't do plan B's!

What time do you wake up in the morning and what do you do first? If I'm not in studio with an early call time, I'll usually get up at sometime between 8am - 9am. First thing I'll do is brew up a nice strong coffee!

You're a man who know's style – what three pieces of advice would you give a man who is uncertain of how to dress himself?

1. Fit is everything. Take the time to try on clothes before you buy them. Proper fitting clothes can shed pounds/years of a man.
2. Start with the basics and build up a wardrobe of clothes you like and are comfortable in wearing. For instance, a classic navy suit is a must-have in everyman's wardrobe.
3. Don't stress, it's not brain surgery!

Who are your style influencers? I adore what Tom Ford does but quite apart from that it's people that I see on the streets. Anything tailored with an urban edge usually does it for me. I adore colour too.

You’re wearing Brooks Brothers which is a classic American menswear brand, how do you think that fits into your wardrobe? Every man needs good quality contemporary classics in his wardrobe arsenal! Keeping the look tonal in navy, makes it easy-wearing yet polished. On another occasion, I could wear the chinos to anchor a more colour outfit. In that sense, they're a useful wardrobe staple.

I know your 2015 schedule is jam-packed, what's on the horizon? My new series 'The Unemployables' begins in April so that's exciting. My YouTube channel launch and I'm hosting a myriad of Award ceremonies - I love the buzz of a live audience so that's always fun. My fourth suiting collection launches in April. Oh and I'm off to LA next week!

Finally, leave us with some words of wisdom... Always be your authentic self and when things don’t seem to be going your way 'Bend like a reed'!