In Conversation With Christopher Mundy
Back in 2012, Budd opened its interview process for its first new sales associate in over a decade. We knew that we needed to find somebody as unique as the company itself, who would appreciate and promote the company’s values, variety and even eccentricity! Step forward, Christopher Mundy. Christopher assumed his role with passion, enthusiasm and most importantly curiosity and over the years has flourished in his role position as assistant manager. We thought we would have you learn a little more about Chris, although brace yourself, as many of you may know, he is not a man of few words!
How long have you worked at Budd now?
I am in my sixth year now. It has whistled by!
Favourite thing about Budd
The uniqueness; there is no other place like it. Having the freedom to buy - prudently - I try to converse extensively with our clientele and my long-serving peers. This influences what is seen in the shop; we reflect the tastes of those who keep us in business.
Some up Budd in just five words/ten words
Characterful provision of quality pieces, OR a customer-led den of temptation!
What are your Budd essentials?
High quality white (above all else) and blue shirts, in poplin through to WISICA according to budget. Madder ties and accessories. Silk moire braces and bows teamed with quality white pocket squares for evening dress in batiste or Marcella. Silk knit and Grenadine ties always look sharp and characterful. Batiste pyjamas are wonderfully cool whilst Cashmere and Cotton are perfectly cosy during wintertime - with a dressing gown of variant cloth dependent on taste and purse completing the look. Undergarments are oft-overlooked - fine cotton lisle through to cashmere and silk socks; coupled with a nice pair of boxer shorts to keep everything where it should be! Braces to keep trousers in place and chain cuff links to suitably accommodate the wrists.
You like to travel, and have travelled extensively to Germany and Italy. What country/countries do you think have the best style?
Earnestly, I feel the London school of shirt making and tailoring is an example to others. With that said, the Continental flair for colour; the exquisite lines of the Italians and the precision of the Austrians, Germans and Swiss are all qualities that I very much admire. The Japanese obsession with quality is exemplary and the devotion to luxury displayed by the Chinese, a real breath of fresh air. Arabic tastes tend to be determined by touch and simply do not settle for lesser qualities, something that is admirable. But this is not to take away from anybody - we have clients from around the world; Buenos Aires seems a particularly stylish place - and gentlemen from Rio and Sao Paolo also insist on the best. I could not single any one place out, yet have to mark my commendation to those gentlemen who fix their own style and stick to it, wherever they may be.
I am a huge fan of our Madder and knitted silk ties. Invariably, I will wear a Madder tie from Monday to Thursday and a Madder bow tie on a Friday. I always wear a silk knit tie at weekends, paying homage to the gentleman who ran Budd back in the 1930's. I also favour Madder yard squares and fine silk or cashmere scarves as the weather takes a chillier turn.
If you could turn back time…?
The England in my head is that from Austen's time through to the Dickensian period and into the early 20th Century. The Napoleonic conflicts and the Great War were sad affairs for so many reasons and it significantly unsettled the balance in this country and across Europe (minutely aped by Brexit, I might say). On a sartorial front, the opulence and exquisiteness that would have been presented, without exception to a gentleman, is considerably more difficult to provide today - even though some of us do try!
Who is your all time favourite style icon?
I really could not say that I have any one; I just admire those who dress well. There are several of our clients from whom I have taken inspiration - and older films; even Joyce's Ulysses has somewhat influenced me. Then of course, there are the manifold hints and tips that have been passed down at Budd over the years!
Who would you like to dress?
There are quite a few notable British actors whom I have been able to dress - often indirectly - but cannot name. Generally, that gives me pleasure as I feel proud to see an elegant Brit flying the flag, per se, in subtle colours, all neatly pulled together. If I might turn the question on its head, though; I would like to dress those whom would ask me - I take it as a compliment to be wanted to help.
Soundtrack to Budd?
That would most certainly be a cacophony! There are so many individuals that come through our door, ringing the bell, keeping us in business and making our little shop what it is; they are the very heart of everything we buy and make. In turn, the sound of the ladies sewing away at our workshop, through to the shears snapping in the cutting room and the vital clerical staff busily organising things in the office and online, there is a vast array of different influences all coming together in an orchestra of orchestrators! How could I choose?
Favourite aspect of your job?
Sourcing and selecting great products for our customers. A special moment for me was when we managed to produce white silk evening waistcoats. These were an elegant addition to our white tie range and sell really well too. And navy moiré braces - I felt that our clients would love them and so we took the plunge: the test batch sold out within twenty-four hours!
Favourite piece of clothing?
This is tough one, but I would have to say that I love my Budd Edwardian Blue stripe shirt. It was the first bespoke shirt that I had. My colleague James MacAuslan will indubitably be the best shirtmaker in the world one day (I opine) and it was quite a privilege to have a shirt made by him under the guidance of Mr Butcher during his apprenticeship training.
Part of me will always love Wall Street, probably on a stylish bent; and thence another of Michael Douglas's films, The Game, also appeals very much. Oddly, I also thoroughly enjoyed The Weatherman - particularly the brilliant Michael Caine. La Vita Bella and The Godfather probably influenced my Italian enthusiasm and fascination. I like films which are unexpected - there is a reality them which is not always found in the happy ending scenario that we are so often peddled.
War and Peace was tremendous, although I have a misgiving that the ending seemed rushed; as if Tolstoy had exhausted himself with the most incredible descriptions of the simplest of affairs and wares in the early chapters: it felt as if he tired of the book and rushed what was a hugely interesting and educational (if slightly biased, it could be said) account of Old Money Europe around the early 19th Century. It is regarded, rightfully, as one of the best works ever written. I also thoroughly enjoyed Great Expectations - but perhaps that is due to a personal connection as I seek to propel myself further upwards!
Things about Budd that you think people might not know?
The joining together of Budd and Webster Brothers back in 1983 actually takes our history back to 1847. To my mind, that makes us London's oldest surviving, continuous producer of shirts; that our buying process stems largely from customer feedback and purchases.
Favourite local (to Budd) shops and watering holes?
St. James's and Mayfair is the equivalent of the best department store in the world, unpacked and spread across a short space. It would be imprudent of me to recommend a particular tailor or cobbler as we are all on very good terms; but in terms of watering holes and eateries - nobody has ever had a bad word to say of Wilton's, its staff are the most charming people you could meet. Franco's is fantastic for a cigar and Armagnac, whilst Alessandro and company at Duke's Hotel is beyond parallel (the most exceptional Martini in the world, bar none). We are also very partial to the famous pie at the Windmill pub, just along from Savile Row. It is something of an end of week institution.
What are your pet sartorial hates?
Sandals worn with socks! This is unnecessary and, if a single man - will likely guarantee you stay a single man. I also dislike ready made bow ties and overly extravagant colours when accompanying a lady. A pre-tied bow is unnecessary - I will help you to learn, should you wish. Finally, upstaging a lady: that would be unpardonable for me to do and I heartily discourage it.
Five things about you that people don’t know?
I have completed under and postgraduate studies at three universities, technically five through affiliate programs. I used to be a swimming teacher - with quite a healthy pass rate. I have three Godchildren - and a niece - all of whom I adore. It was my privilege to represent my first university at swimming and water polo - even earning Captaincy. I have run eight marathons and one full Ironman.
Hobbies and activities?
Learning - I love to learn and always hope to. I design my own fitness plans, based on core work and mixed-martial arts to attempt to stay trim. Through a labour of love, I have taught myself Italian and am committed to raising my proficiency and fluency. Additionally, I love to see my dear family and friends - without whom I might be an empty shell. The children in my life, especially, push me to try to be a better example to them: they are our best hope for the future and I love seeing how they excel and develop (exceeding my capabilities, afore long, without doubt).