Our menswear editor sits down with blogger and founder of luxury menswear brand Hawkins & Shepherd, Carl Thompson, to discuss style, seasonal trends and the future of digital marketing.

"He knew how to make an outfit cool without trying."

Who’s your style icon?

My gold-standard, implacable style icon would be David Gandy. He never missteps, he’s never frivolous or trend-led, yet never admonishes anyone for following them.
At the moment I'm going through something of a Steve McQueen phase. I watched “The Thomas Crown Affair” recently and the style in that film… It's Douglas Hayward [renowned British tailor] in his prime. And McQueen, he was an all-rounder. He knew casual, he knew smart, he knew how to make an outfit look cool without trying.

How would you describe your personal style?

As much as I try and effuse the casual elements of my wardrobe, my style is very classic. I appreciate a lot of styles, but I'm not design-led. By that I mean I don't overthink the suit’s design or look to stand out by means of bilious colours and accoutrements; I prefer a clean, classic silhouette: natural fabrication, full chest, structured, two-button, single breast with a suppressed waist, dual jetted skirt pockets, flat front trouser, slant pockets, etc. Saying that, this season I’m drawn to a strong double-breasted, peak-lapel blazer, but it has to be exquisitely tailored.

What’s your favourite trend in menswear right now?

I don't pay much attention to trends, but I wish I had kept hold of all my old Reeboks and Nikes from back in the day considering how big the sneaker trend has become.

What’s the best thing a man can wear?

Oh, that would have to be a crisp, white shirt and preferably one that’s made to measure. It's the building block for any wardrobe.

Which is your favourite season for fashion: autumn/winter or spring/summer?

Spring/summer for me. Yes, we all like to layer as fashion bloggers, but the A/W season is so long in this country and the window for S/S is fleeting.

What’s your favourite aspect of being a blogger?

I think it's having the final say on things. I don't need to say nice things just because I'm being paid, not that I ever did, but there is less of a pressure to toe the company line so to speak. If a brand isn't for me then I just politely decline, regardless of pay. A brand should never want a blogger who simply throws rose petals in its wake, that gets no one nowhere.

What’s one thing people don’t know about being an influencer?

To paraphrase Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire”, it's an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege. It's about knowing Google algorithms, SEO, WordPress and other elements of digital marketing like the back of your hand.

What advice would you give to those looking to become influencers/content creators?

Ask yourself which blogger do you like and can you do it better? Do you have an opinion or are just after the free things? Are you prepared to make zero money for the first year and write content that only your mum will read? I'd advise people to treat it as a hobby and focus on a career that will make you money.

"You need to create a story that people can relate to."

What marks London out as one of the leading destinations for men’s fashion and style?

We have Savile Row and we have the history. Nick Hart (of Spencer Hart) once referred to Savile Row as “a reminder of qualities and values that outlast and transcend depressions, recessions, fads and here-today-gone-tomorrow fashion.” Aside from that we are home to incredible menswear brands who offer ready-to-wear and smart fashion at prices that are accessible to those who can’t buy into high fashion.

What has been your career highlight so far?

I was fortunate enough to be featured in “GQ China” this year, which was a huge coup for me. I've spearheaded a number of campaigns outside of fashion, such as Mazda, and they've all been rewarding in their own way. I've been a huge fan of Reiss for a long time so being involved with the editorial team at Reiss is also a very bright and lustrous feather in my cap.

Where do you think influencer marketing and blogging will go next?

I think we'll have our work cut out. There is now a groundswell of awareness when it comes to sharing data, so getting people to subscribe to mailing lists or social channels will get harder. Similarly, people are becoming quite emotional when it comes to buying products and this has ramifications on how these products are presented by influencers. On one hand you have massive department stores trying to become less “warehouse-y” and more personable. Conversely, influencers will need to become more native when posting content. Just posting a picture of a guy in a suit and saying, “It's all about the details” just doesn't cut it anymore. You need to create a story that people can relate to.