It was a bright sunny afternoon where tall buildings casts a light shadow. I was waiting to meet Luke Alland who is a also known via his Instagram account as @TheExileBrit. We met earlier this year during London Mens Fashion Week. We were at the 10 years Celebration of GarconJon Streetstyle Photography event, where his most captivating and memorable work was displayed. We were introduced by Rashpal Amrit and conversations naturally took its course into the interests of style and ideas. Before we parted ways, we agreed that we would meet again after all the fashion events were over. Four weeks later, I received a text from Luke asking if I would be okay to take some photographs and catch up? I was intrigued because he introduced himself as a Videographer and I naturally thought that was his sole focus. A week goes by and so, here I am waiting outside Bond St. station on Gilbert Street. After 10 minute, I looked up from an Instagram comments and was greeted with ‘ Hi Shaun’ accompanied with a cheeky boyish smile.
Shaun Gordon: Hi Luke, How are you?
Luke Alland: Yeah doing good, Thanks!
SG: How was your day?
LA: Very busy, just preparing some bits and pieces for a last-minute meeting at work!
SG: Ah I see, I know what that feels like! So where were you thinking of taking these shots? Indoors? Outdoors?
LA: Yeah, I like this area. Has some really interesting spots! Let’s just take a walk toward that way and see what we find?
SG: Ok cool.
We headed towards Grosvenor Square.
LA: Shaun, let’s stop at this shop, really need some cigarettes, got to feed this addiction, you know?
Enter the shop.
LA: Do you smoke?
SG: No, only cigars.
LA: Smoking cigarettes and cigar are different aren’t they?
SG: Absolutely, the cigarette smoker inhales and with a cigar you never inhale! It’s for pure enjoyment of the flavouring. A bit like wine-tasting!
LA: Well, I enjoy smoking cigarettes, so I'd say we’re coming from the same place.
SG: On that note, we’re near Mount Street. Let’s go to Sautter and I can pick up a cigar. Might be good for the shoot!
LA: Ok let’s do that then. I smoked a cigar before but I’m used to cigarettes.
SG: Yeah, if you are not careful you can inhale a cigar by accident and trust me! It’s not good - It can make you sick!
We walked through Grosvenor Square where there were different pop-up bars and restaurants with lots of families and people socialising.
SG: What is the camera called that you are testing today?
LA: It’s a Fujifilm XT-2 (35mm lens) and wanted to test it out during these natural lightings and what’s great about it is that it takes a nice vintage appearance!
SG: Wow, sounds good!
LA: It really is, we’re going to get some great shots Shaun!
SG: Haha, I certainly hope so! How many people have you taken photos with your new camera?
LA: You’re the First!
SG: You’re such a charmer!
LA: No seriously!
SG: Hello Rhys, How are you?
RH: Very well, thanks.
SG: May I introduce you to Luke.
LA: Hi, Luke, nice to meet you.
RH: Rhys, Nice to meet you. How may I help you gentlemen today?
SG: Just going for my usual (Hoyo De Monterrey Petit Robusto)
LA: Rhys, would you mind if I took a couple of shots here?
RH: Of course, please go ahead.
In which Luke goes carefully into his rucksack and assembles his camera together and we walk into the small humidor, stocked with cuban hand rolled cigars, which leave a pleasant aroma of natural fresh tabacco.
LA: This is nice! Such a lovely smell in here!
SG: Maybe you’ll do cigars instead?
LA: ha ha.
We left the humidor and the camera clicks away as I begin speaking to Rhys and one of his guests. Then we parted our way and headed over towards Bond St. again.
LA: What are you wearing today Shaun?
SG: Richard James Jacket, Turnbull and Asser shirt, Shaun Gordon Wynton Tie (of course), Vintage Chino, Charles Tyrwhitt Spectators and Tom Smarte Hat.
LA: You make me look so scruffy Shaun!
SG: You’re not scruffy! Your dressed stylish casual!
LA: Haha, yeah right! Do you dress like this all the time?
SG: Yes. The way I dress is my way of celebrating life! When you dress well and feel good about it, you really do feel a difference! This positive energy has an affect on everything you do for the day, whether at work or play.
LA: How did you get into it?
SG: Long story short, I remember just wearing a shirt and a tie to work one day and received such a positive reception that I thought 'this is good - I like this!’ You see, I was always inspired by the way gentlemen dressed in the Golden Hollywood era but never thought anything of it. Until one day someone crossed me and I just thought, well if they are not going to respect me or like me anyway, I might as well do what ever I wanted to do! So, I sold all my jeans and designer brands clothes on eBay and with the money I made, brought vintage clothes in Portobello Market and various Charity shops.
SG: Salvador Dali being one of my favourite artist inspired me to grow my moustache into handlebars. I guess you could say I was in a state of rebellion!
LA: What made you cut them off!?
SG: Guess I evolved. It took a lot of time to maintain, which I enjoyed for the most part. But equally speaking I didn’t want my exterior to dictate my identity or a concept of who I was. So, it was a personal challenge to myself… if I could do it... Not to say, it won’t come back. Who knows?
LA: So how did you get into making ties?
SG: During time, my style changed, I was looking for a tie and couldn’t find the one I was looking for. Since I trained at London College of Fashion, where it was believed that to be a successful designer, you should know how to craft clothes in order to design it. I brought a few vintage ties and began deconstructing them and remaking them again. Testing this out on different materials and seeing how it reacts.
LA: Wow! Sounds intense.
SG: Took me two years roughly before I could say I was happy with what I produced. Friends used to come by my house and ask to buy them but I would say no and explain all the faults. They thought I was mad!
LA: So where do you get your inspirations from?
SG: I am first and foremost, a creator. I draw inspiration from everywhere. It never stops. I am always attracting new ideas or concepts. I tend to find I am drawn to Art most of the time.
SG: Thanks. How did you get into photography?
LA: Well, My Dad’s a photographer.
SG: So it runs in the family?
LA: Yeah. He’s more into taking photography of nature. But I find taking photos of people more interesting. Everyone has a story and I like to wait for the right moment to capture this. Hold it right there!
Luke photographed me smiling!
SG: Oh no.
LA: You should smile more often!
LA: Seriously! Anyone can pose a moody serious expression but real character comes through emotions.
SG: Hmmm, perhaps but I never really liked my smile or pictures of myself smiling!
Photographed or caught should I say of me giving a serious disapproving look.
LA: So why is the tie so important!
SG: Because it's the one detail that has the power to enhance a person overall aesthetic by linking everything together. This can take form in colour or texture and even the way it’s worn.
LA: Tell me a bit about the tie you are wearing?
SG: I am wearing the Wynton tie from the Kind Of Classic collection, inspired by Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue Album, 1954. It reflects my mood today because of its beautiful golden yellow colour, which reminds me of summer and I love how the blue leaves makes it very easy to wear with your everyday wardrobe that generally consists of blues or navy.
We ended up at the Punch Bowl and continued our 'civilised’ conversation with a glass of chilled beer into the early evening and parted ways.
Words: Shaun Gordon