Like a velvet revolution, a seamless new movement is making its presence felt in the upper echelons of men’s couture. Savile Row, the bastion of tailored quality, is being challenged by a new generation of couturiers that revive old-fashioned skills whilst creating exciting new designs. Oscar Udeshi is one of the leading lights of this new direction in men’s fashion.
The former banker had a career that involved travel, money and great perks, yet he gave it all up to commit himself to an entirely new calling. Rather than simply join the legions of designer wannabes, this economics and philosophy graduate really had something to say, and it’s a message that is helping to revitalise London’s luxury men’s fashion sector.
V – How, and when, did you get started in the fashion industry?
I was in a car accident, and though my life didn’t flash before my eyes, I imagined what if it had done. After that I was done with banking. I realised I enjoyed researching, designing, buying fabric and making things much more than I ever liked banking. So I woke up one day, opened my closet and discovered I had over 200 shirts, 50 suits and 80 ties. I knew then I either needed therapy or to make this my profession, so I did the latter.
V – How would you describe your style?
Having a mixture of heritage, with roots in Austria and Zanzibar, I would say my style draws on both. From my Austrian side, form follows function and an appreciation for good design. From my Zanzibar side, the exotic, the extreme and colourful.
V – Would you call yourself a ‘Savile Row’ designer?
Our way of thinking is more a philosophy, a design language that forms a coherent whole. Every article of clothing is analysed; what function does the item fulfil, can it be made better, are the best components being used, can the fit be improved? This is applied consistently to everything we do, with the same aesthetic sensibility, to create a complete look. This differs from Savile Row where the tailor just makes a suit. We dress the whole man, as opposed to just working on one element of that.
V – What does ‘designed by Udeshi’ give to a garment?
With our garments you know what you are wearing – it is discreet but elegant. Each item of clothing has a distinct commonality, namely that nothing is created purely out of aesthetic considerations; there has to be some further value to a design feature. Each item will have included subtle but considered touches to make it more comfortable, durable or functional yet each will be constructed with the utmost luxury and flair.
V – Men’s quality fashions became first less conservative, then younger. Where do you see it evolving?
The traditional segment of the market is being rediscovered by a different generation, so there will be emphasis on classic cuts, good old-fashioned quality and values. This will evolve as the new generation sees the benefits and the limits of the past, and certain elements such as the heritage aspect, influencing casual items, which is a trend that is in full swing now, with selvedge denim in heavy weights, grandfather shirts with turn of the century detailing, etc. The extra detailing, environmental concerns and the appearance of organic fabrics should see the emergence of niche brands catering for a more conscious consumer who will buy less but better.
V – What kind of person wears your clothes?
I do not think the physical aspect of what they do matters, but their mindset, what their values are, what excites them, this is what they have in common. They are independent and usually at or shortly will be at the top of their game. They appreciate the quality and the thought that has gone into an Udeshi piece, and that it is distinctive and different, in a subtle way. They tend to drive Porsches or Aston Martins, and wear IWC, Audemars Piguet or Patek Phillippe. They can be titans of industry, architects, surgeons, chefs, in finance, in art, but they are their own men.
V – A true stroke of design genius…
The paperclip, the zipper, buttons, the mini (car), Dyson vacuum cleaners come to mind. Something functional yet very simple.
V – Your favourite designer
Frank Lloyd Wright. I wouldn’t mention a clothing designer now would I?
V – The place where you feel the most creative
Dachstein, the mountain in the middle of Austria where three provinces of Austria meet. The absence of man-made stimuli allows the brain to relax and instead one is enveloped by the beauty of the scenery, so the subconscious can relax and the creative juices can flow.
V – A passion outside of the fashion world
Architecture, motoring, wine, cigars and film.