We chat to Irish television presenter and fashion personality Darren Kennedy about the current state of the industry, his seasonal must-haves and more.Read more Icon features.
As a man at the top of his game, Darren Kennedy is one of the familiar faces at the forefront of men's style in the UK & Ireland. With a plethora of television and fashion achievements under his belt, he's no stranger to the screen having appeared on This Morning, The Xtra Factor, Celebrity Big Brother as well as his own documentaries Gay Daddy & Like a Virgin to name a few.
We met the rising star in The Gore Hotel a few weeks back to find out what his essential wardrobe pieces are for Autumn/Winter as well as chatting all things fashion in 2016.
You can keep up with Darren on his social media Facebook | Twitter | Instagram and Youtube.You can keep up with The Gore Hotel on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Is fashion something you've always been interested in? How was it you got into the industry?
I never thought you could work in fashion, but it was always an interest! My strongest fashion memory was when I was about six or seven in the Primark dressing room with my mam going 'Nope, not that'.
How I got into the industry was a kind of circuitous route, I was working in TV hosting programs and working in production behind the scenes for years and was looking for a change of direction. TV can be a bit draining and restrict you from doing creative things - despite the fact that it's a creative medium. I went and did a few courses, set up my blog which transformed into HelpMyStyle.ie and thankfully the worlds of fashion and TV collided - the two are intrinsically intertwined really.
Coming from Ireland, do you think it was a little more difficult to get a foothold in such a competitive industry?
Not really, when I started out I didn't really know where it was going to go, so entering the fashion industry 'per se' wasn't my immediate focus. I was working full time in TV, which is still my passion, it's still what I love. It's just about building something else for yourself that's not just working on someone else's vision.
What do you think has changed most about the industry since you've started?
Menswear has become the largest growth sector in fashion - which I think is huge! Obviously, social media in the past ten years has just transformed the industry also, but the main change in the industry has been in technology. I think we've only started to see how technology can impact on fashion.
The next five to ten years will see the convergence of those two worlds with wearable tech and clothing that can read the environment, the weather and adapt to that. If you're creative, the fusion of technology and fashion industries will be an interesting field to work in - but it'll always come down to aesthetics in the end!
How about menswear specifically? The past few years have seen a lot of diversification!
It's bigger than fashion and style really. The definition of masculinity has changed and actually what it means to be a man. There used to be only one definition of being a man, and that was the alpha-male breadwinner who went out and killed a bison and dragged it home for dinner. I think now, like with sexuality, fluid is the key word - you can embrace different things and be more open to what's right for you.
Do you think there will always be a place for tailoring in a man's wardrobe?
Oh yeah 100%! While people always think suiting in relation to tailoring, tailored garments can be anything really - it doesn't necessarily mean a suit. In terms of classic tailoring, you can see the relaxed sports styles and streetwear influences blending in with the relaxing of silhouettes, wearing of bomber jackets as opposed to blazers. A well-made garment is a well-made garment and we'll always need a good suit to whip out for the formal events!
Coming into Autumn/Winter 2016, what's the general mood of the season for you?
Oversized and slouchy cuts with lots of texture and sportswear influences. Shearling continues to be huge this season as well as leather, suede and brushed wool. The seventies vibes also continue to show its influence throughout.
What key pieces do you think the average man should be picking up for the cooler months?
For men, one of the most important purchases at this time of year is a decent coat or piece of outerwear. Make a wise decision and really up your style game, it's the first thing people see in the cooler months so choose your style and invest in a good piece. Be it a suede textured jacket with contrasting shearling, a leather jacket, or a camel coat - classic and timeless.
Anything we should be avoiding?
Don't follow trends too much as you're automatically date stamping your look. It's fine if you're not spending a huge amount of money and your happy that you'll only wear it for a defined period of time, but if you're looking for key pieces - it's not really the way to go.
Any styling tips for the guy who's a little confused about winter layering or dressing?
I think it's always important not to buy layers that are too chunky. You go into some shops and there's lots of lovely knitwear and classic knits but you can't layer with them. They look beautiful in editorial, but in real life if you're commuting and wearing an Aran knit jumper layered under a wool coat - you'll be sweating! Yes it's winter, yes it's cold, but everything doesn't have to be three inches thick!
Getting back to yourself, how would you describe your own style?
Changeable like the weather. I generally go for tailored pieces with a slightly urban edge - colorful at times!
Louis Copeland, Specsavers, Dublin Fashion Festival... How do you make time for it all?
I don't think about it too much! I'm always looking towards the next thing and I like to keep moving forward. It really doesn't phase me. Don't get me wrong, I take time out to travel and get out to nature where I can relax, I get far more happiness out of experiences rather than things - there's only so much pleasure you can get from a new coat! I love to eat too - when I'm in London it's Roka or Bodega Negra.
Looking at your success, has there been any serious 'pinch me' moment in your career so far?
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