Tuesday, June 28, 2011

5 Minutes With Mark Maidment of Ben Sherman

Mark Maidment studied Menswear at Harrow School of Art, graduating in 1993. After working for brands in the UK and USA he joined Ben Sherman in 2002 as Design Director. Following 3 successful years he was made Creative Director, expanding his role to include, interiors, marketing and bringing the whole brand identity, concept and dream together.

Ben Sherman Gets Nicked in New York.

Ben Sherman x Dazed & Confused Englishman in New York.

Q1. What was the first record you bought and how did it change your life?

Mark Maidment: ‘Embarrassment’- by Madness. It had a song called “Crying Shame” on the B side and I actually listened to that more than the A side which was “embarrassment” (which is a superb song), anyway, “Crying Shame’ taught me what it felt like to lose the girl you wanted to keep even before I had met a girl I wanted to keep.

Q2. Ben Sherman has been worn by five decades of musicians. Today every brand and designer is trying to claim music as their DNA and inspiration. Has the fashion/music crossover become just another cynical marketing device?

MM: For many yes! We are lucky that our music and youth culture roots are solid. The mods, one of the first and most powerful clothing and music connected youth movements, loved Ben Sherman. They loved the Ben Sherman shirt and that was our future, made right there in 1963.

Q3. Would you agree that Ben Sherman's uniquely British Mod heritage makes the brand difficult to understand for mainstream America.

MM: For some maybe, but for those who don’t know or understand our mod roots, just the pure ‘Britishness’ and strong style and attitude are enough for them to like what we do. We are very proud and very grateful to have such a great fan base in America

Q4. Fashion seems to becomes more about business and less about inspiration every year-Have the accountants taken over?

Fashion has become such a big business, and its success grows every year in terms of business growth and opportunities. It some ways this is good: its keep fashion alive and keeps it from being something that just done for the sake of it. One thing has not changed and that is, if you walk through the offices and studios of any successful fashion company you will find the designer. These are still the exiting creative people pushing the boundaries as they always have done. Long live design, long live breaking the mold and long live creative passion.

Q5. Can you share a funny story-something 'off the wall' that has happened to you at Ben Sherman?

MM: I have been at this great brand for many years. It’s a great place to work and a great brand to represent and work with. It’s a very addictive place to be. I have had some great fun and many, many laughs at Ben Sherman, lots of funny stories, but I guess one that sticks out in my mind is when we were presenting the new collection to the American sales team in a big mansion house in the Hamptons a few years ago. I had a brand new young designer on stage with me, who was very ‘green’ and had not really traveled before. The sales guys got so excited with the presentation they jumped onto the stage and grabbed this new young designer and put him on their shoulders and walked him up and down the street all chanting his name. it was very funny to see. This young lad was pretty freaked out. It was even funnier when someone shouted ‘ there's free booze back at the house’ and they dropped him like a stone. I thought to myself there's a life lesson in there. You can go from zero to hero very quickly and you can come back down with a bump just as fast!!

Madness - Embarrassment

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