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Everyday Carry with Grey Fox Blog Founder & Menswear Writer David Evans

Since the founding of Holdall & Co Ltd, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know interesting and talented individuals from many varied professions. Over the course of this year, we’ll be sitting down and chatting with many about their professions and taking a peek inside their bags, to learn more of their everyday carry items and the tools of their trade.

Third in our series of “Everyday Carry with…”, we caught up with David Evans, founder of the Grey Fox Blog, menswear writer, fashion icon, occasional model and star of Debenhams' Christmas TV campaign.

Our time with David is documented below, along with a video of David explaining the items he carries (the video is also available on our YouTube channel).

My name is David Evans, and I have a blog called Grey Fox, which describes my search for style as an older man.

Tell me how you got into blogging - what did you do before you started your blog?

For about 25 plus years I was a lawyer - I decided I’d had enough of lawyering so I retrained as a teacher and taught in a primary school for 4 or 5 years. I’m now - as far as those jobs go - virtually retired and I’m spending most of my time blogging, 26 hours a day.

How did you first get into blogging?

I wanted to write a book and I thought it would be nice to find some way of practicing my writing skills. I knew of blogs, although I had never really followed any, so I thought it would be interesting to start a blog and write about something. I couldn't think of a topic to write about. I thought of cycling and all sorts of things, but later decided that it might be quite interesting and amusing to write about the problems an older man has, deciding how to dress and where to buy clothes and so on. I started that just over 4 years ago, thinking it would be over within 2 or 3 months, and here I am nearly 4 and a half years later, and the blog is still going strong.

Do you have any favourite stories from your time blogging? Anything interesting that might have happened?

I think most of those are around visiting factories and speaking to the people that work there. I remember going up to Manchester, to Private White VC, and meeting this absolutely lovely lady who worked on a sewing machine. We were just chatting and she kept me in stitches for about 10 minutes - I can’t remember what we were talking about, but she kept me in stitches. She was a great character, really proud of the work she was doing and really enjoyed what she was doing. It made me think there’s this whole sort of pride for making British out there, that we don’t know anything about - and that really inspired me to do a lot of the writing I’ve done since then.

What lessons has writing the blog taught you? What have you learnt from doing this?

So many, it’s difficult to know what to highlight really. I mean, obviously in terms of writing skills, having to write everyday, you really hone your writing skills. I probably used to write blog posts which were much longer than necessary, so now I tend to write a blog post and cut it down, and cut it down and cut it down, so it’s sort of minimal. I think on the whole people don’t want to read a lot, they’re much more interested in images, but then you have to put in a little bit of information.

Another thing that I’ve learnt since starting is that blogging is now not just about writing a blog, it’s about having a presence on social media generally. The blog to me now isn’t the huge part of being a blogger that it was even a couple of years ago; I have to spend a lot of time on Instagram, to a certain extent on Twitter, Pinterest, so in many ways blogging has become a sort of more complex business, and it’s not just about writing, it’s about organisation, it’s about photography, it’s about design, so, many things.

If you were given the day off from all of your everyday responsibilities, how would you spend it?

At the moment, what I really fancy is to spend a day in the British Museum. I was given a years membership for Christmas and I haven’t had the chance to go up there and see it. All of the exhibitions that I wanted to see, like the Celts one are now finished and gone, so I know it sounds a little bit mundane, but that’s actually what I’d quite like to do, just go and see the British Museum for a day.

Have you met anyone famous during your time blogging?

It depends on what you mean by famous really; I’ve met people who are famous in the fashion world I suppose, people like Sir Paul Smith and some of the better known tailors and bloggers, I haven't met The Queen or anybody like that as part of my blogging duties.

Have you met anybody that’s stood out?

That’s an interesting question, but no, no one individual, because everybody brings so much to the party really, so not yet. Everybody’s interesting in their own way, and I think that’s the great thing about getting into menswear and design and fashion - nobody really stands out that much. I know the press like to highlight people like the editors of Vogue and see them as the most important parts of the fashion world, but actually they’re not, they’re just part of a great big jigsaw, so I have to say that nobody has stood out, it's just been lots of very interesting individuals.

What are you proudest of?

I think becoming known for supporting British manufacturing is something I’ve become proud of in a sense that I think it’s something that’s really worth doing. When I started the blog, I thought I was just going to be talking about style and fashion for a while and that I’d eventually run out of steam, but, actually finding some interesting themes for the blog, in particular supporting British made fashion and style has been really interesting and that’s probably been the thing I’ve been proudest of.

I’m also quite proud of the fact that I like to have a bit of a needle at the fashion industry for just ignoring men over forty, and last year I started doing photoshoots and things, so I’m becoming a bit of a model as well - not willingly - but in a way that I think sort of makes a statement really that needs to be made in the fashion world at the moment. So they’re not huge things to be proud of, but I see them as milestones in the development of the blog.

What does your future hold?

I honestly don’t know. I’d really like to see more men on the high street buying British made products, and if I could find some way of influencing that decision then that would be the way I’d like to steer the blog. That, and also getting the fashion industry interested in selling to the older man as well. Because here we have a demographic that is getting bigger every year, is very, very affluent and without too much effort can be made very interested in style and will go out there and buy it as well. So, those two things are the future direction for the blog and are both things I think could be quite useful and interesting to pursue

You mentioned that you started with the intention of writing a book; when’s that coming?

I now feel that there’s no need to write a book, because it’s there on the blog. There are a couple of books I’ve got in the back of my mind, but to be honest I just haven't got the time to do it at the moment. Doing the blog and social media is busy enough as it is, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the book doesn’t actually appear at the end of the day.

What’s been the happiest moment of your time blogging?

Nothing particularly, I suppose it’s always quite nice when the blog sort of hits the national press or Grey Fox appears on the Christmas television advert for a highstreet store - those sort of things are nice and they’re sort of interesting and exciting milestones, but they don’t necessarily bring great happiness. I just enjoy every day. I don’t particularly see any great peak of happiness that sticks out, because every day I’m doing something that I’m really enjoying, and the projects I’ve got in train at the moment could be very, very satisfying to bring to an end - so, nothing really - sounds a bit boring doesn’t it?!

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Organisational skills!

I would just like to be able to organise myself! As a blogger, as busy as I am, I need a secretary. I had at least one secretary to keep my diary during my professional career, and suddenly as a blogger you’re doing everything yourself - absolutely everything, and I do find that difficult, so I wish I had some organisation ability to keep on top of that.

So maybe to stop time - just buy yourself an extra day or two?

That would be quite nice, yes it would - and simply catchup with some of the emails I haven’t answered and write some blogs posts. Even in the evening watching television, I’m sitting there with the laptop on my knee doing a blog post, doing emails and things. I’m at the stage where I get maybe 20 or 30 emails a day, all of which need attention relating to the blog and some I could ignore, because they’re not addressed at me directly, but the vast majority I feel I have to answer and it’s difficult to say ‘no’ to people, so it always brings stresses and strains, and angst, which I could do without you know, but on the whole I love what I’m doing.

If you could interview anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I’d love to be able to interview Horatio Nelson, because he was not only an amazing Naval office and warrior, but he was also a really outstanding leader of men. He lead the British fleet to victory at Trafalgar and many other battles, and this is a fleet of men who had very, very hard lives and yet they all loved him, and I’d jut like to find out what he did to make that happen.

David explains the items he carries and the story behind them:

August 01, 2016 by Raimonda Navickaite

Everyday Carry with freelance fashion business writer Eric Musgrave

Since the founding of Holdall & Co Ltd, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know interesting and talented individuals from many varied professions. Over the course of this year, we’ll be sitting down and chatting with many about their professions and taking a peek inside their bags, to learn more of their everyday carry items and the tools of their trade.

For the second in our series of “Everyday Carry with…”, we caught up with Eric Musgrave, freelance fashion business writer, creator and editorial director of Drapers, founding editor of FHM and regular contributor on Radio 4, Radio Five Live, BBC News, Sky News, Channel 4 and in the press.

Our time with Eric is documented below, along with a video of Eric explaining the items he carries (the video is also available on our YouTube channel).

I’m Eric Musgrave, I’m a freelance writer specialising in the fashion business, specifically the menswear business.

Tell me how you got into your line of work - what did you do before you became a writer?

I’m from a working class family in Leeds. I was born in 1955 and was the first and only member of my family to go to grammar school and University. I went to Hull University to study History. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I left, so I took two gap years and finally decided to be a journalist. After a bit of a false start, my first proper job in journalism was as a junior reporter on a trade magazine called Drapers Record, which I started on the 28th January 1980, so just over 36 years ago. I’ve been writing about the business side of the fashion industry since then.

Do you have any favourite stories from your work life?

I’m not sure I have favourite stories, but I’ve been very fortunate. It’s been a great job (or a series of jobs), which have taken me all around the world. It’s a fascinating story of how clothes are made, how fibres are created and the huge infrastructure that gets things from the back of a sheep, to hanging in a beautiful shop in central London.

Have you ever had a low point or struggles during the path of your career?

There’ve been a few. I was sacked from my first job in journalism where I was on a 6 month trial. 5 and a half months into it I was called down to see the manager and told that they didn't think I was on the wavelength of the publication and handed my P45.

I was the editor of a magazine called Fashion Weekly and received about 20 minutes more notice than everybody else that it had been sold to a company I used to work for - and didn’t want to work for again. That was about 18 months of hard work that disappeared down the drain.

So there’s a few ups and downs - a few downs rather, but many more ups.

What did you do to build yourself back up again?

Just get on with it. Because, I once tried running a trade association and was out of my depth. It wasn’t really the job for me, so sometimes you’ve just got to say “Okay, I tried it and it wasn’t for me,” but when it comes to journalism and magazines, I feel confident that I know what I’m doing. But I’m very open to offers, I like work, I like what I’ve done so far, but that’s not to say I couldn’t try something else.

What lessons has your work life taught you? What have you learnt from doing this?

It’s always a good thing to treat people in your working life, as you would treat them in your personal life. Being honest, fair and straight forward whenever possible is always advantageous, rather than being tricky, deceitful, etc, etc. I don’t think I am particularly different in my business life than I am in my private life.

If you were given the day off from all of your everyday responsibilities, how would you spend it?

Even though I was brought up in the city of Leeds and lived in London for a long time, I now live in the country - I’ve lived in the country for nearly 20 years. I like being in the country; I’d probably go for a walk with my dog and go to a pub for a nice quiet drink - that’s my idea of a good time.

Have you met anyone famous through your career?

I’ve met lots of people that are famous; The Queen, Prince Charles, Diana Princess of Wales, Bryan Ferry and Elle Macpherson to name a few I can remember off the top of my head.

The most impressive person that I’ve met is a man called Bernard Lewis, who setup a company now known as River Island. He’s 90 now, but he opened a hand knitting wool shop in about 1947, and from that developed a clothes chain called Lewis Separates. He eventually changed the name to Chelsea Girl; a famous fashion chain in the 60s, and later renamed it to River Island. He’s a fantastically bright, very smart and extremely charismatic man, and he’s probably the most impressive person I’ve met.

What are you proudest of?

I’m probably proudest of having a good reputation in the business - I mean, I’m quite well respected, and I’d even say well liked, and that means a lot to me. It shows that my hard work of over 30-odd years has been recognised.

What does your future hold?

I intend to keep working, because I like working and I can’t afford not to work. One of the downsides of doing the work I do - despite what people think, is that it’s not particularly well paid. So you often find freelance journalists go on forever, and I think I will be one of those. But I do like the business, it’s fascinating, there’s always new people to meet, new things to learn and fashion is about change and development - so it’s a stimulating environment.

Have you got a moment that’s been the happiest in your career?

I’ve twice been named ‘Business Editor of the Year’ which is quite an achievement to be said; the work you’ve done over the past year has been recognised by your peers as the best in its class - so that has given me a lot of satisfaction.

Another was turning around the magazine Fashion Weekly, which was in a pretty terrible state when I was given it as my first role of editor. Given the very few resources we had we did a really good job, such that our biggest rival came and bought it - that was the sharp edge of that success.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

To speak a few languages, because I’m very English which means that I don’t speak any languages. I once lived and worked in Holland for about 18 months, now I don’t often feel inadequate in any sort of company - but I felt very inadequate in Holland, where virtually everybody you meet speaks two, three or even four languages. I still wonder how they managed to do it.

If you could interview anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Simply because I would have liked to have met him, my favourite writer is an American humorist called S. J. Perelman, who has been dead for about 25 years. He was a famous writer from the late 20s onwards, and I really love his work and I would be fascinated to meet him and talk to him about his work - and his amazing vocabulary that he used. He was also a very fastidious dresser, so we would have something else to talk about too!

Eric explains the items he carries and the story behind them:

March 11, 2016 by Raimonda Navickaite

Everyday Carry with personal stylist Sarah Gilfillan

Since the founding of Holdall & Co Ltd, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know interesting and talented individuals from many varied professions. Over the course of this year, we’ll be sitting down and chatting with many about their professions and taking a peek inside their bags, to learn more of their everyday carry items and the tools of their trade.

For the first in our series of “Everyday Carry with…”, we caught up with Sarah Gilfillan, founder of Sartorial Lab - a personal styling, shopping and wardrobe management service for men.

Our time with Sarah is documented below, along with a video of Sarah explaining the items she carries (the video is also available on our YouTube channel).

My name is Sarah Gilfillan. I’m a personal stylist and personal shopper for men, and I have a company called Sartorial Lab.

Tell me how you got into your line of work - what did you do before you became a stylist?

I’ve pretty much always worked in fashion, I used to work in retail and then worked on photoshoots. For a long time I was working with men and really enjoyed doing that.  It was a growing industry where men were becoming interested in looking after themselves and dressing better, but didn’t want to go shopping themselves and didn’t really know what they were doing (not all men, but some), and that’s the sort of clients that I get.

Do you have any favourite stories from your work life? Anything interesting that might have happened?

Well I went to Romania to do a guy’s wardrobe - that was fun. And I have very nice emails from people saying that I’ve changed their life sometimes, which is lovely!

Have you ever had a low point during that path of your career, where you thought that you just couldn’t do it - what did you do then?

When I hit 40 I changed my career. I ended up not liking photographic styling as I felt that I was always carrying loads of heavy bags around, and having to lie and blag for the clothes. Either lying to the press offices - because I couldn’t really get them easily if I wasn’t working for a magazine - or I was having to go and buy everything at the shops and take it back, but lie about why I was taking it back. I hate lying and I hate asking for favours, so those two things just weren’t sitting well with me and I decided to do something else. So now that I’m doing personal shopping, it’s much more about helping other people, which I feel much, much more comfortable with.

What lessons has your work life taught you? What have you learnt from doing this?

How you feel is really important, and what you are dressed in is really important to a lot of people - not just me. It helps a lot of people with their confidence, and I absolutely love helping people.

If you were given the day off from all of your everyday responsibilities, how would you spend it?

I’m always in the city, I’m always around the shops, so shopping for me is like a busman's holiday. Going for a long walk in the country or by the sea is what I quite like to do; dress in rubbish clothes and not care what I look like - whatever the weather - I don't mind.

Have you met anyone famous doing this?

In the past I have dressed a few famous people, from Ewan McGregor, Chris Moyles to Coldplay (before they were famous and nobody knew who they were - including me!).

What are you proudest of?

I’m proud that I’ve actually followed my dream, and did what I wanted to.

When I started styling, it wasn’t a well known job like it is today, so I went to the library and I photocopied a book called the Creative Handbook, and I got a list of stylists - not only did I not have a mobile phone but I didn’t even have a phone at home, so I literally had this photocopied list that I went to the phonebox with and spent lots of money mainly speaking to peoples’ answer phones, just ringing people up and saying ‘how do I get into this, because I really want to do it.’ 

The fact that I persevered and did that. There are a lot of people that have the dream of doing something, but they never actually do it, and I’ve gotten to travel to lots of nice places, work with great people and do exciting things.

What does your future hold?

I’ve started doing a little bit of teaching, only one-to-one so far, but I’m thinking of perhaps setting up workshops and working on photo shoots with my colleague/blogger friend Grey Fox - you might know him! It’s nice to have variety, but really I would just like to keep on doing what I’m doing - helping lots of men with their wardrobes and helping making their life easier.

Have you got a moment that’s been the happiest in your career?

I’d say I’m happiest now really, because I feel like I’m really doing what I want to do. I’ve found my niche in the market and it seems to be working.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

It might be to fly so I could fly around the shops, along with a client in tow. I could alleviate public transport because that does do my head in a bit! And I could get around without the traffic of London; have a quick look down to see what’s in that shop, and then that one - X-Ray vision as well would help then, wouldn't it!

If you could interview anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Who would it be?! I’ve always had this fantasy that I would love to have met Elvis Presley because he’s super-cool and beautiful - I loved his films and his music!

Sarah explains the items she carries and the story behind them:

February 08, 2016 by Raimonda Navickaite

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

We'll be at The Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair from 9th-11th October - so if you're in or around Manchester, come and say hello!

It's going to be a great show, so come along for a fun day and support independent designers (maybe get some unique ideas for Christmas presents?).

We hope to see you there!

Design Junction 2015

We're back for another year with Design Junction at their new Victoria House venue.

If you're in London during London Design Week 24th - 27th September - come along and say hello. And as our special guest enjoy 50% off the ticket price with code: DJGUEST. 

Limited Edition Oxblood Cardfold Case

We've brought back a very small run of The Cardfold Case in Oxblood Leather - available only at our online store!

Slim and light, the card case is cut from the same high quality full grain leather we use for our folios, but thinned down to be a strong and durable minimalist statement.

The case fits up to three cards in each card slot, or alternatively, the slots take folded notes and business cards as easily, making this a useful case all without stretching or weighing down your pockets.

Proudly bearing the mark 'Handmade in England', each card case is constructed with pride and perfection to exacting standards that English leather craftsmen are renowned for, making each one unique. The classic yet minimalist modern design makes it timeless, whilst it's craftsmanship and quality makes it a long-lasting piece you can enjoy for years to come.

 

September 17, 2015 by Raimonda Navickaite

Free In-store Monogram Service at Spitalfields Late Night Event

Join us at The Dandy Lab, the exciting new technology-enabled gentlemen's emporium, in the world famous Old Spitalfields Market, for a very special late night shopping event.

Join our exclusive in-store event from 11am until 8.30pm, where we'll be offering Free Monogramming on our Billfold Wallets and Cardfold Cases - expertly done while you wait.

  • 3rd September - The Dandy Lab, 73 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6AA

Can't make our events? Not to worry! Throughout Summer/Autumn we're also offering Free Monogramming in our online store, for our Billfold WalletsCardfold Cases and Key Lanyards.

August 30, 2015 by Raimonda Navickaite

Free In-store Monogram Service at The Dandy Lab this August Bank Holiday

In London this August Bank Holiday? Join us at The Dandy Lab, the exciting new technology-enabled gentlemen's emporium, in the world famous Old Spitalfields Market.

Join our exclusive in-store event, where we'll be offering Free Monogramming on our Billfold Wallets and Cardfold Cases - expertly done while you wait.

  • 31st August - The Dandy Lab, 73 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6AA

Can't make our events? Not to worry! Throughout Spring/Summer we're also offering Free Monogramming in our online store, for our Billfold WalletsCardfold Cases and Key Lanyards.

August 29, 2015 by Raimonda Navickaite

Monogramong a Key Lanyard at Holdall & Co HQ

We've set up our own You Tube channel, as we'll be sharing more of what we're up to throughout the year. 

Subscribe to our Holdall & Co You Tube channel.

June 28, 2015 by Raimonda Navickaite

Free In-store Monogram Service at Cheaney & Sons this April

Join our exclusive in-store events this Spring, where we'll be offering Free Monogramming on our Billfold Wallets and Cardfold Cases - expertly done while you wait, at the Cheaney & Sons store in Spitalfields, London.

  • 18th April - Cheaney Shoes, 18 Lamb street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6EA
  • 19th April - Cheaney Shoes, 18 Lamb street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6EA
Can't make our events? Not to worry! Throughout Spring/Summer we're also offering Free Monogramming in our online store, for our Billfold Wallets, Cardfold Cases and Key Lanyards.
April 10, 2015 by Raimonda Navickaite