In Conversation: Les Basics
IN OUR WORDS
Simplicity at it's finest, new to store brand Les Basics elevates core menswear staples like no other. Conceived in London and made in Portugal, each stereotypically mundane clothing item is redefined giving a fresh take on the term basic. With premium quality fabrication this is a brand to invest in, care for and let it give back to you with wearability year in, year out. Not to be confused with boring, Les Basics takes minimalism to higher ground, taking great care of every detail, choice of material and finish to ensure that each piece stays true to the brand DNA. Creating a collection around the pieces that he wanted but couldn’t track down, Kieron has taken a formal sensibility and applied it to casual wear sweats, joggers and hoodies. Keen to keep functionality as a priority, he designs with materials in mind and plays with texture – a fleece achieved by using the smooth front and loop back reverse together.
The results are clear. Not only shortening the forever hunt for that perfect white tee, Les Basics are making life that bit sweeter by designing each piece to be able to be worn with the rest of it’s collection in a capsule wardrobe approach. Yet nothing about the brand is formulaic. Standing apart from many a menswear brand trying to ‘keep it simple’ Kieron has driven Les Basics with a considered eye and an unwavering attention to detail, proving how said simplicity isn’t always the easiest to achieve.
IN HIS WORDS
‘What came before Les Basics? Well, the abbreviated version is that I made music in a previous life and co-owned a record label called Acid Jazz which was probably best known for Jamiroquai, The Brand New Heavies and The Blue Note Club. After music I found myself in the rag trade and started a label called RedDot which I guess will be remembered for its trompe l’oeil prints and twisted iconography. Then fast forward to today and it’s Les Basics that keeps me busy… there have been other adventures along the way but those are the highlights. To get Les Basics up and running was relatively straightforward although looking back it didn’t feel that way at the time. It was an evolution of another project I’d been working on – the main focus was to keep things as simple as possible and this has been my mantra ever since, it’s a good rule to work by but not always as easy to adhere to as one might imagine.
‘Not so basic basics’ is how I would summarise the brand - everything stems from this and the keep it simple rule. Functionality is a key element too, everything has to do a job and this also informs art direction, palette and materials, as well as design of course. It’s not difficult to confuse minimal and understated with boring and predictable which I think is a trap a lot of brands fall in to, trying to avoid helps this keeps us on the straight and narrow too, at least I hope so. These are the drivers behind the brand.
I design for myself and inevitably I’m influenced by trends and the market but essentially each collection comes from things I want but can’t find. A good example of this is Le Crew Tee… I literally couldn’t find a single sensibly priced, interesting plain white Tee when my few remaining long serving white Tees began to fall apart. The launch collection and the brand all relate back to this. I’m not sure what’s important when designing menswear, I just do what I feel like doing and hope other people buy in to it. Beyond that I always try to make sure that the whole collection can be worn together in any combination (not all at the same time of course), so you could literally get dressed in the dark and still be confident you’d look good.’
GET TO KNOW LES BASICS
Tell us about your neighbourhood.
I live in Highgate, North London. It’s a bit grown up, quite family oriented, but I have kids so suppose I’m also a bit grown up and family oriented, despite my best efforts not to be! Very green with Hampstead Heath, Highgate Woods and other parks nearby. Far enough up the hill to feel a bit detached from the madness but only 15 mins by tube to the madness when I need some.
What’s your fashion guilty secret?
I always carry a handkerchief.
What’s the most memorable comment, good or bad, you have received about your style?
Why do you wear such ugly stuff? Courtesy of my 8-year-old son.
What record always makes you get up and dance?
Something early from The Brand New Heavies.
If you had to pick one other city to live in, where would it be?
New York, predictable but true, hoping to get around to having a place there one day.
What one thing can you always justify spending money on?
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Make sure you love what you do for a living… my Granddad told me that.