As well as having a top ten hit back in 1988 with his soul classic ‘Come Into My Life‘ Josh also has the finest #Menswear credentials of anyone we know. Having written some of our favourite books about style and street-wear as well as that really ace one about the Vintage Showroom we decided we needed to know more about Josh. So we asked him for his fave five and no surprise just like his books they make for a great read.
I spend far too much on clothes and, in a habit that is typically male, tend to buy much the same thing over and over. I like the idea of having a back-up – which is silly because I’m unlikely to wear the first one out, given how many clothes I have. Also because of the kind of clothes I like – rugged, hardy, dare I say it, macho clothes – workwear, military-inspired stuff made out of tough fabrics like denim and canvas: Real McCoys, Iron Heart, Buzz Rickson, Engineered Garments, lots of vintage, the kind of thing that in Japan they call ‘dad’s style’, because it’s passable whatever your age. It’s just the kind of stuff you really need when you spend all day sat in front of a computer too… But at least I’ll be ready when society collapses and we have to live in the woods and eat each other.
I think after about 30 maintaining an interest in current music requires a conscious effort – like getting to exhibitions and art shows when the weather is miserable. Otherwise it’s as though our capacity to absorb it is capped and our enjoyment becomes mostly retrospective or even nostalgic. That said, tech is proving a game-changer: services like Spotify have encouraged me to explore in a way ‘old-fashioned’ means of consuming music just don’t. Such services are making the experience of music genre-less and timeless too: you’re much less bothered about whether the music is one kind or another, new or old, just whether you like it or not. Hopefully there are a lot of kids out there – by which I mean anyone younger than me – now discovering the Beatles, for example. For some reason I find myself leaning towards the lyric-free – film scores (Clint Mansell, John Barry, Bernard Herman, Ennio Morricone are favourites) and classical (Dvorak, Grieg, Rachmaninov). Great lyrics – Costello, Tennant, Newman – are a beautiful but rare thing.
I do like an art gallery, though I have to say a lot of the time visiting the latest exhibition feels like a box ticking exercise and I don’t often come out feeling I’ve seen something new, provocative or meaningful. I know it’s old fart territory to say this, but, to paraphrase Blur, I do think a lot of Modern Art is Rubbish. The argument that art is anything you call art (or the market calls it) seems like an infection slowing eating away at quality. It’s a celebration of the vacuous. Get a queue for several hours to stare at Marina Abramavich? Mugs. Life is too short. I like to see some kind of craft in art – the sense that of the artist, rather than the artist’s team of penny-less art grads, actually made something themselves, to express a vision. That tends to mean painters. Favourites include the likes of Charles Sheeler, Lempicka, Francis Bacon, Pollock…
If I had more time I would fill it with reading. And if there is one thing I find marks out the ignorant it is a lack of reading: the simple practice of it makes the brain work in the way passively watching endless YouTube videos (and my friend will know I’m talking about him here) does not. That said, I almost never read novels. I don’t read to escape but to learn, and the last 15 years have been a new golden age for entertaining but also elucidating non-fiction: scientists, philosophers, economists, historians, thinkers finding that they can tell a good yarn while also explaining how the world works, or to challenge one’s assumptions about the way it does. I’d recommend the likes of Niall Ferguson, Naomi Klein, Sam Harris, the late great Christopher Hitchens. You end their books feeling as though the scales have fallen from your eyes.
I’ve always had a fascination with space – it annoys me no end when people say that space exploration is a waste of money. When exactly do we start to work out how to get off a planet that, eventually – if we survive that long – we will have to get off? Space exploration is an investment in our future. It’s buying insurance for the species. I digress. My wife – who gets panicky at the thought of the vastness of the known universe, whereas I feel relieved by the thought – recently bought me a telescope, which has been an eye-opener (no pun intended). Looking at the surface of the moon – just round the corner in space terms – can leave me awestruck. It’s nothing like looking at a picture of the moon. I recently interviewed Eugene Cernan, the last man (so far) to walk on the moon and spent the entire time slack-jawed and green with envy. Anyway, I now spend my time looking at apps that predict the amount of cloud cover that coming night. You’d be amazed how rare a clear sky over in London is.
Icons of Men’s Style Mini by Josh is available later this month from Laurence King.