Proper Interview: David Keyte, Universal Works

As part of our ongoing investigation into what our mates have been up to during lockdown we’ve decided to catch up with Mr Universal Works himself, David Keyte. As good with words as he is with a pair of scissors a chat with David is always guaranteed to warm the cockles of our heart as well as make us realise that we need some new trousers.

Proper: So David, how has the lockdown been treating yourself and Steph mate?

David: Well after the first few days of utter panic and running around our HQ (on our own) like headless chickens it’s all calmed down now and Steph is running the office mostly on her own most days and I walk slowly round the garden on my own like a very slow chicken in weird isolation. Seriously it’s sort of OK, of course it’s shocking for business but really all this has been a massive human disaster for so many people, business is the not the top priority. It’s more about getting through this all together, unless you’re in the government that is (don’t get me started on Cummings!). 

I’ve found that my little electric milk frother has been something of a God send during lockdown, which items have proved themselves essential to you during this super weird period of isolation?

I have been getting higher and higher on caffeine myself, but luckily I’m a black coffee guy so it’s a much loved kettle and a chemex jug I’ve been hugging mostly.

How about the running of Uni Works, what kind of an impact has the pandemic had on the business?

Well the retail closures across the globe has been a huge hit for us and for all those stockists. We’ve been trying to help them and help ourselves as much as we can to survive and keep the business in a fit shape and mostly thanks to the support of our customers we are doing that and looking like we can come through it OK. 

Are there any more collabs in the pipeline?

We have a couple of on going projects in the shoe world, and several plans that have been waiting for some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel to begin work again. So like much of the world the colabs have been on lockdown for a few months but you will be the first to know Neil, promise.  

The latest UW collection is inspired by Santa Fe, what’s all that about?

Well it is really not like we change everything every season or year, but yes we  got inspired on a road trip we were super lucky to be able to enjoy last year,  across  the South West of the USA. The colours and patterns in that part of the world, Arizona and New Mexico are amazing for the natural environment and of course the Native American and Mexican culture.

Has working from home and ‘the new normal’ affected the way in which you design stuff going forward?

Well I’m back on the kitchen table it started on 11 years ago, so maybe it will, although I rarely look back I prefer now and looking forward.  But yeah of course I’m definitely thinking more casual but it’s not like I was designing Saville Row suits before so I think what we do is pretty good around the house as well as down the pub or cruising across the USA on a road trip.  

Honestly everything I do and experience effects my designs and the creative process for sure, so NOT traveling will have an effect, as travelling does, but I also know most of what I design is what I want to and enjoy to wear and that changes slowly and develops by the things I see and experience. So 3 months locked at home will have an effect. Keep watching for those next round of “new in“ lines!

I remember (probably well over 10 years ago) discussing with you our mutual appreciation of that ‘old guy walking around town’ look. i.e. OAPs who wear running shoes with slacks and maybe a killer harrington or technical outdoorsy jacket (and if you’re lucky a bucket hat). Whilst I’m still a fan of that vibe  I actually feel like I’m turning into that person now! Have you been drawn to any other unlikely style icons recently?

I remember that conversation, that guy, that mythical guy is still THE guy, his steez is still the best look, too many layers all a bit loose and yes a mix of what looks like old Patagonia and old Marks and Spencer, and weird ’trainers” and a funny shopper tote bag with God knows what in it, great look!

As for new influences, a bit like the previous question, this lock down will have an influence, but sometimes you have to wait a while take it all in see what happens.  right now it’s watching Michael Jordan in the ‘The Last Dance’ series and thinking massive 90’s suits and oversized sportswear are looking very fly!

Who’s faster, you or Ian Peggs?

IAN by a big margin, I got injury after injury for the last couple of years and he has been going from strength to strength, in lockdown he has been running more and drinking less, whereas for me it seems to have gone in the opposite direction (hic!)  He is leading by example to us all at the moment, top bloke, although I still have not forgiven him for looking better in the Adi kit we made than I do, bastard!

If you could pull down one statue which one would it be?

Well there are many statues of those old slave owning super rich f+**+rs that need to come down, jeez where do we start?  At least the big statue here in my city is of Robin Hood and he had a view of the rich and poor which works in my book. 

What can we expect to see from UW in the future?

Well assuming we still have a world left out there that wants decent clothing, then I hope we will carry on with providing that, in an honest way, with a sense of humour and with a genuine passion for what we do. Easy then! 

Speaking of which, where do you see yourself in the next five minutes?

Right now I’m looking hard at making some ‘manly’ herb tea and trying to catch up with too many emails I missed today whilst on one of those many bloody Zoom meetings!

Write A Comment