How I Wear It: Laid-Back Casual

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How I Wear It: Laid-Back Casual

Words by Mr Justin Quirk | Photography by Mr James Pearson-Howes

29 June 2020

“He had a Berghaus or Rab bubble coat, navy on the outside with a red lining, the hood was removed so it was cropped at the neck,” says filmmaker Mr Glenn Kitson, recalling his style epiphany, which he experienced at a young age on a high street in Bolton. It arrived in the shape of an older lad sporting “a French crop Action Man haircut, straight-legged Levi’s and brown hiking boots”. It was, he admits, the moment everything changed: “I just thought, ‘He looks like Action Man, a hiking mod – that is how I want to look’.

“All my influences are from other men that I saw who looked cool,” he says from the London home that he shares with his wife Ms Krissie Louise Kitson, their two children and an elderly rescue cat. Mr Kitson’s aesthetic, which joins the dots between Manchester, Ibiza and Tokyo, was shaped in large part by his upbringing in Bolton, a former mill town located 10 miles from Manchester in northwest England. “It was just this Manchester hiking vibe that still runs all the way through things like Oi Polloi,” he says of the look he admired among his peers. “And Manchester to me is still like the metropolis – it’s still my favourite city in all of the world.”

An early starter, Mr Kitson attended his first gig at the age of 13, a formative encounter with the groundbreaking indie and dance hooligans Happy Mondays at Manchester’s G-Mex Centre. From there, he was quickly immersed in a world overlooked by most style journalism, but which shaped much of where we now are: football culture, the provincial DIY end of rave and the intersection of European label swagger and the hard-wearing functionality required when you live in places where it rains a lot and you’re surrounded by moors.

“It’s all got to be done tongue-in-cheek. We’re a bunch of blokes dressing up in clothes. Let’s not take it too seriously”

After moving to Bournemouth in the early 2000s, he began his career in fashion selling vintage sportswear both on eBay and to shops, demonstrating an uncanny knack for locating deadstock and lucratively preempting trends. “I was going to Berlin, doing flea markets, coming back with made-in-West-Germany adidas, Puma Dallas, Fila Terrinda, box-fresh Nike Internationalist, all the casual stuff,” he smiles.

Mr Kitson is quietly understated about the work he does now with The Rig Out, a flag of convenience for his adventures in menswear. He has produced a steady stream of memorable short films for brands, which are all rooted in the style he wears so well. These include shorts starring footballers Mr Jadon Sancho and Mr Harry Kane (both for Nike); a spot for Polo Ralph Lauren in which its nautical leisure aesthetic is retooled for youths who have never previously held a fishing rod; and one in which Nigo walks through an animated world of adidas Superstars.

Despite his deep knowledge of his own aesthetic, and the forces that shaped it, he wears his learning disarmingly lightly. “It’s all got to be done tongue-in-cheek,” he says of his ultimate attitude to his wardrobe. “We’re a bunch of blokes dressing up in clothes. Let’s not take it too seriously.”

“This is like a thin, velour sort of cardigan. What I like about Remi Relief is that they get that West Coast Americana stuff right; they nail it. It’s kind of affordable, too. It’s not too out-there – you don’t look like you’re in fancy dress with it. Japanese stuff where it’s California, West Coast, that mod-y, Dennis Wilson look – I love it as I get older. I was doing a shoot in LA a couple of years ago and I had nice Birkenstocks on, OrSlow fatigue shorts and a grandad shirt. And this kid went, ‘Hey man, you look like a Malibu dad’. I was like, ‘That’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said. Nice one! Exactly the look I’m after.’”

“This is another luxury West Coast vibe. Wallabee-style shoes, Gucci shorts and the Polo Ralph Lauren hat – that’s one of the most expensive shorts-and-top outfit I’ll probably ever wear. With the shoes, the construction on them is amazing. Some brands I find a little bit gratuitous in terms of their pricing, but certain luxury items I get and understand why they’re luxury – these shoes feel really good. The instep is really nice – when you put the foot in, they feel a bit higher up than normal. I’m not afraid of bright colours, but you’ve got to know tonally what’s right – things can pop but it’s not jarring. I think you learn that with age, I hope you do anyway.” 

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“You want stuff that does the job – you’re not going to go up to Everest, but you know it’s going to do the job if you did. It’s about feeling protected and having that good solid gear. This is a really nice smock jacket from Stone Island this season – the pockets sit on the back, just excellent design. Amazing technical fabric, it’s a pretty light cotton-y feel, a nice texture. Then white OrSlow jeans and Malibu sandals. It’s good to wear this stuff with Stone Island – it softens the look. I love Stone Island – it’s the classic Balearic label really. But you have to soften it. You’ve got to wear something that takes the tone down.”

“Gucci cardigan, my ‘luxury dad’-wear. The knit’s pretty chunky, chunkier than the Remi Relief cardigan. There’s a really good north-London-look, they hang around on their scooters, Ralph in the summer, bit of Gucci, but they’d wear festival-y Scouse gear as well. Gore-Tex jackets when it’s raining and that. Jeans are Levi’s Vintage Clothing, you can’t go wrong with that – why reinvent the wheel, you know what I mean? Think it might be a 505, so there’s a bit of room in them. And the white trainers; they’re leather Vans – a casual, round-the-house vibe.”

“A KAPITAL jacket, the bucket hat is Polo. I would never wear a full KAPITAL outfit as it looks like fancy dress – but pull one or two things out to wear separately with other stuff and it makes a really good rig-out. It’s tongue-in-cheek too. One of the reasons why we did The Rig Out was you’d read things where the way they talk about Japanese culture was such bullshit. I’m mates with Daiki Suzuki and Angelo [Urrutia] who was his second-in-command at Engineered Garments, and they chat about cool shit, but everyone just wants to tell stories and have a laugh. That’s what I always felt was missing. It’s weird – Japan’s always been about fun, but Westerners looked at it with a different lens. They’ve always been playful. Anything Beams does – it’s super witty, but we just try to intellectualise it and take all of the fun out of it. I don’t know why.”

Story Mfg. – that stuff’s amazing. Ethically, they do everything right, everything’s eco. And culturally, it’s part of that hippy-casual Balearic thing that I love, it’s ticking all the boxes for me – the vibe is right. It’s a bit boxy and a bit oversized which I dig. It’s a loose fit. The T-shirt is Brunello Cucinelli – one of those kind-of-safe but remarkable Italian luxury labels. You don’t know why it’s so expensive, but you put it on and it feels physically amazing as well as prestigious.”