Mark Frost is the design director of Gives & Hawkes. He was recently in Hong Kong to launch the label’s Fall/Winter Collection and we managed to squeeze in a little time with him so he could talk to us about his new role, life as a designer and his top things to do in his base of London.
What’s a typical work day like for you?
My working days vary hugely and might involve anything from a photoshoot or press interview to a research trip. A good day for me would involve spending time with my design team developing or selecting fabrics, working on garment design or fittings.
Where do you live and what it is like during summer?
I live in Brockley, south-east London. My house is around 30 mins from Savile Row in Mayfair where our flagship store and studio is located. Brockley is a quiet area which makes a nice change from working in Central London. London is really great in the summer, I think because the weather in the UK is so changeable the atmosphere is so positive when we do get some sunshine. We really try to make the most of the sunshine because we don’t know when we will see it again!
You took up the position of Gieves & Hawkes’ design director in April – what are your main responsibilities?
I’m responsible for the design and presentation of our clothing and accessory products, and for things such as campaign shoots and visual merchandising. The design has always been and remains a very collaborative process, and I’m fortunate to have a fantastic team around me.
What would you like to accomplish in this role?
I’m very privileged to be working for a brand with such well-established foundations, and I want to try and help communicate our expertise and heritage to existing and new customers. Our brand is firmly rooted in tailoring and I am excited about the opportunity to present that in interesting and relevant new ways.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I think they would say I’m pretty laid-back, collaborative, and (I hope!) a good guy. We do like to have fun as a team, especially when the sun is out and a pint in our local pub after work becomes irresistible.
How does one develop a flair for design and style? Is it possible to train designers?
I’m not sure that you can train designers to have a sense of style as that tends to develop with the individual and evolves over time. I think that you can improve as a designer with experience as there is more to being a designer than just having good ideas.
What is the most challenging part about your role?
I think the biggest challenge we face as a brand is trying to translate British style and taste into product that is appropriate for our biggest marketplace in China. Our heritage is based on military and bespoke tailoring which tend to make use of more heavyweight fabrics and structured garments, which are less popular in China – often due to the warmer temperatures.
What are your rules for dressing?
Make sure you feel confident in whatever you are wearing. Make sure what you wear fits well. Wear one ‘special’ item you feel really happy to own every day.
Top things you recommend visitors do while in London?
Take a walk along the Southbank from London Bridge through Borough Market (filled with delicious specialty food stalls) to TATE Modern and over the Millennium Bridge to St Paul’s Cathedral. This route takes in the old and the new, which is such a key reason why London is such a resonant city globally, and also gives you a taste of the food culture which is very prevalent here.
What do you eat for breakfast?
Fruit, normally pineapple and passionfruit.
Who are you listening to right now?
My music taste is pretty varied so tends to involve a mix of old and new. At the moment I would say George Harrison, The Last Shadow Puppets, Alexandra Saviour, Serge Gainsbourg and The Doors.
Finally, complete this sentence: A designer’s purpose is…
To understand their customer.