Designer Spotlight : Ian Scott Kettle

Ian Scott Kettle is a new bespoke menswear accessories designer based in Central London. He graduated from Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art.  He has collaborated & worked with Alberta Ferretti, Erdem, Dexter Wong, Bruce Oldfield, Bora Aksu and Joe Casely-Hayford. He has worked as a designer & master pattern cutter & illustrator and now he is talking to us at House of Coco to tell us more about his plans for the future…

When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I Started ISK about 2 years ago. I wanted to develop a product/service that catered to men in a classic way but offered a new approach. I have worked in the fashion industry for 25 years and I was exhausted by bad manufacturers, prohibitive pricing demands of retailers and the generally tired retail system. ISK is a bespoke service for Gentlemen, I make everything myself in my London Studio by hand and work directly with individual clients. The service is the same as a Tailor except I do not make suits or shirts.

What’s your background?
I have been a freelance designer for many years; working with small UK based designers and Luxury brands, mainly in womenswear. My preference is actually pattern cutting, I find it is far more fun to resolve a design for someone than sit and draw all day, I think that is why I now make what I do. Craft and form and my design language and in commercial design that is basically ignored or at best rather bland.
I am also a Fashion Design tutor at Central Saint Martins. I have been teaching there for around fifteen years and this is a large part of my professional practice. I have moved around a lot over the years but currently I am the course leader for fashion on the FESP Study Abroad Program. I also teach in China, Buenos Aires and recently did a stint for Parsons in Paris. All of this is backed up by my passion to nurture great design. A lot of what is going on today is rather dull or a bit pretensions (subjective I know) but I am currently writing a book on design practices for fashion and hope to have that out be the end of next year.

How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
I am the only person in the business. This is a blessing and a curse. I occasionally take on an intern, often one of my students; they sometimes work on the sample collection with me or on the marketing end of the business.

If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
HA, yes probably, but I did have a lot of experience before setting up and also the luxury of taking my time. The business is only now reaching a place where I am confident and satisfied enough to put my name to it. The products are getting a great response and I believe the service is quite unique.

What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Finding premises is always hard if you want to work in central London. I have been luck and found a great space in Cockpir Arts (a group studio venue in Holborn) who not only house me but offer great support with business advice, legal and practical mentoring and generally a supportive atmosphere.

Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
Hum! Well, I was a huge fan of New Wave Pop Act called Toyah Willcox as a kid in the 80’s. Last year a made her a great Neck Piece for a recent promo shoot. It might not me that cool but the fifteen year old Ian was very pleased with that!

2016 is almost here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
Next year it is all about refining the service and  I intend to link up with a few businesses (tailoring & Bridal) to offer my service.

To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
Without doubt my annual open studio events are my favorite moments. My studio is set up like a shop and when there is a big audience (Cockpit get a few thousand visitors through the door during open weekends) the response to the annual collection is really encouraging. The guys really get-it. There really is not much like what I do out there and when they find me they are often excited to book an appointment and have something made.

Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
London every time. I have lived in London for 35 years and my family are all Londoners. I find the city to be ever changing, you can’t get bored! I really hate it here right now ha-ha but I know from experience that this will change again and again. London is buckling under the redevelopment that’s going on everywhere. As a city we have always had an identity crisis, its what makes us the vital and creative place we have always been.

Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Sorry I am a real bloke here: A bar of soap, a cheap razor and (my only concession) a good hand cream as sewing & steaming cracks my fingers…

Style means….?
I would have to go to my hero Quentin Crisp for that one:
“Style is not a question of fashion. Fashion is instead of style. When you don’t know who you are, then you consult the glossy magazines. But I wear clothes that I think show who I think I am! Know one asks me about the weather.”

Best thing about London to you?
Easy: Greasy Spoon Café’s

Statement shoe or statement bag?
I am not comfortable with the notion of statement anything, a great pair of shoes can be wild or plain for me, its in the fine details. As for bags, I carry so much crap around with me I am one step away from a shopping trolley most days!

If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
I am obsessed with my Issey Pleated trousers. I have loved Issey Miyaki since the 70’s and it is only now that they are doing pleats for men… I want it all and plan to be berried in it…

Favourite love song?
Gold Dust: Tori Amos

Best place for a coffee?
Anywhere that pays their taxes.

Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
By Howard Tangy my wonderful CSM tutor (recently retired) from when I was a student at CSM. I was always to scared to start a new project and terrified of sketchbooks (I still am) so he took my beautiful new sketchbook and tore out the first few pages and said “there, now it’s fucked’ instead of trying to make it pretty just get on with the job”… harsh words but he was right and that is what I have done ever since.

Guilty pleasure?
Then I guess it will have to be Toyah, 35 years later and I am still buying the albums.

If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
New Years Eve on Palolem Beach, Goa, India: Best night of my life…

In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
Actually expansion is not necessarily how I would define my intentions. I don’t think continual growth is always a positive thing. My hope is to develop a thriving practice with a great client list. I want to do this for the rest of my days. The plan is to cart me off to the knackers yard at 100 having delivered my best piece yet…

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