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?
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: