Customer Spotlight: Harry Wilby

February 2023 | Written by Nicholas Sarnella

Harry Wilby is a strategy consultant, originally from Wakefield, Yorkshire, who has shopped at John Simons for several years. Harry comes from a rich background in menswear, having worked for a number of reputable outfitters, including HIP, Nigel Cabourn and Real McCoys. Harry’s current vocation seems him specialise in asset management within the Japanese market and interestingly, one can trace a link here to his passion for menswear, as Harry points to the influence of Japanese designer Hiroki Nakamura upon his personal style, as well as recanting formative purchases from fellow Japanese designer, Junya Watanabe, during his teenage years. We sat down with Harry to discuss the importance of true independent retailers, who carve out a niche for themselves within a homogenous market, and the necessity of a functional wardrobe, which can be adapted to various settings.

1. Can you remember the first significant piece of clothing you purchased? What was it and where was it bought?
I can’t recall what the exact purchase was, but it was definitely whilst I was at HIP in Leeds, where I first worked when I was about 15.  I distinctly remember working throughout the Christmas period and coming back with less money and more clothes than I had when I started.

The first big purchase I made with that pay check was an all-black Junya Watanabe trench coat, which I still wear to this day.

2. When was your first visit to the shop and what were your first impressions?
My first visit to the shop was about four or five years ago and what was striking was the conviviality of the shop, as well as a true sense of independence and belonging on Chiltern Street. Marylebone is a village in a metropolis, and the shop feels unmistakably local. Reverting-back to this idea of ‘independence’ in the UK, there are so many independent stores which, whilst culturally important for the town or city that they are in, simply compete over the same brand selections season after season. Walking into John Simons for the first time just felt special.

3. What item of clothing could you not live without?
My dark green corduroy Ivy Jacket, I wear it everywhere. I’ve got the matching trousers that I wear too but the jacket is so versatile. Even though it is a pretty heavy material, it’s never out of place whether in the pub, or, on Pall Mall.

4. What is your number one style tip for the readers at home?
Always take a pair of penny loafers when travelling, they always find a way to come in handy.

5. Do you have a sartorial hero?
I can’t place my finger on having a sartorial hero, in so far as there being one individual on whom I’ve modelled my style, but there are certainly key reference points I can pick though throughout my life.

At University, whilst I loved vintage, the incessant serial number culture was draining and took the spontaneity out of style. To that end, Hiroki Nakamura was always an antidote, I dipped in and out of Visvim but his personal style and how he approached the ageing process of garments was always a constant. He was at Goodwood Revival a couple of years ago and just blended in seamlessly. I think it’s been inescapable to be in or around menswear in London and not be influenced by what Jason Jules is wearing. I’ve been finding myself subconsciously wearing pink and purple socks recently.

Historically, Ayrton Senna just oozed an effortless casual style that really came through in what he wore in the paddock. There’s a fantastic video of him driving a Honda NSX around Suzuka, heal and toe shifting in a pair of loafers and white socks. It’s worth three minutes of anyone’s time.

Going full circle, if I were to pick out a contemporary sartorial hero, then I’d have to say Rav Matharu. As the street’s first South Asian designer, he has recently opened his eponymous Clothsurgeon store on Savile Row – he’s the one person I really admire for carving out their craft and making a positive impact through clothing in modern Britain.

6. If you could choose to attend a concert from any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you wear?
I’d go back to the Royal Albert Hall in 2016 and relive Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression show. I’d wear a lot more than he did.

7. Do you feel that your profession has impacted your style? Or do you feel as if your sense of style has impacted your choice of profession?
I’d say my style has evolved despite my profession. That’s probably a result of gradually erring towards garments that I wear for their versatility – dressing up and down during the day for certain situations. I’ve found myself wearing more ties post pandemic for example, which is particularly striking outside of the occasions I wear more traditional suiting.  I always think it says something about an individual who has clearly made an effort, whether consciously or intuitively, to respect other people’s time and to get the most out of the everyday interactions that they have.

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