Always with their finger firmly on the pulse our good friends at The Great Divide have kicked off their Body & Sole interviews in fine style by having a chat with the super cool Terry Ellis, check it out…
TGD: What is your job title Terry? What do you do in your job on a day-to-day basis?
TE: I’m a buyer at Beams: Buying clothes for men and women, buying crafts and design, designing and commissioning special editions of clothes, furniture, textiles and ceramics in collaboration with good makers
Many people these days are ‘nomadic itinerants’ – at the mercy of an itinerary and work out of a suitcase – do you feel this is a blessing or a curse at the mercy or flux?
I live in London and Tokyo and I like to move around and see whats going on in the rest of the world so for me the semi-nomadic thing is a blessing.
Trend is on the stand being accused of slowly killing style – are you the defence or the prosecution?
Subquestion – who would design your suits if you were ‘that’ lawyer?
Prosecution I guess…trends are there to make a fast buck and to keep people occupied.
Style is consistent and based on quality and attention to detail. My suits are made by Anderson and Sheppard and by Fallan and Harvey in London and I also get things made at Winston Tailors in New York.
Menswear is consistently in ‘the throes of changing’ – what era do you see as being the one that redefined style and mens clothing? Was there a protagonist of this change?
The 1940s and the 1960s are the decades that defined and redefined menswear in my opinion. The 2nd world war, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the economic and social changes they brought were the protagonists for change.
So it’s no secret that you love vintage as a ‘phenomenon’ from garms to cups, plates and pics – so tell us, is it the smell, the time, the hunt for the elusive Type 1 or simply the love for clothing that drives your passion …?
Pottery is ‘kiln it’ – sorry for that one ; ) what advice would you give to a novice wanting to start collecting or buying?
Read as much as possible on the works of Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper. Go to the ceramics galleries at the V&A a lot. Try to meet contemporary potters and and go on studio visits. Start off by buying stoneware rather than porcelain because its more austere and is better for training the eye than porcelain in my opinion. And finality I’d say start collecting works by local potters, if you live in London Its worth looking at the pots made by Billy Lloyd, Julian Stair, Edmund de Waal, Helen Beard, Carina Ciscato…the list goes on.
Japan has stolen your heart but is your soul residing in London still? If so which part of London and why?
South London is where I call home.
Fennica is your baby if you will, you conceived an outpost for the might of the beams sword, what is fennica doing that keeps it fresh and never in a state of dormancy?
At fennica we keep plugging away at finding hand made functional things that are made in quantity and can be sold at reasonable prices…they must also be beautiful. We don’t pay a lot of attention to branded luxury goods or to one-offs and unique pieces.
Music is the greatest art form – if so what masterpieces reside in your music gallery – give us 5 quintessential tracks that soundtrack the life of Mr Ellis?
One Drop by Bob Marley, So What? by Miles Davis, Cool Struttin’ by Sonny Clarke, Curly Locks by Junior Byles, I Love the Nightlife by Alicia Bridges.
Are you possessed by an particular spirit? For example does the spirit of punk reside within you – what is your inner driving force?
I’m a Jamaican rude boy, it’s quite obvious.
Who is your absolute icon and why?
The potter Shoji Hamada because he kickstarted studio pottery in England in the 1920s when he made a kiln in St. Ives with Bernard Leach. He popularised Mingei in Japan and around the world and collected examples of crafts and design that inspire us at fennica today.
Hip-Hop is back in a major way – you are a big fan – who is rewriting the blueprint for the story telling art form?
Dunno really, I guess Danny Brown and Trinidad James…
Give us one ABSOLUTE brand that the mens fashion industry has to thank for emancipation and change within the last 30 years?
Beams…I know cos I was there.
What’s the first thing you do after you get out of bed
Check work mails from Japan on my phone while pulling on my jeans.
What’s the last thing you do at night before you get into bed
I say a little prayer for world peace and that.
Are you a friday night person or a sunday morning person? And why?
Not sure I understand the question…err…I’ll say Sunday morning easy like.
Some one is designing a Terry Ellis graphic tee – what would four words be on that tee?
I don’t wear tees
Your personal style is chameleonic – what’s the one staple?
Alden shell cordovan shoes on the modified last