In conversation with Kieran Wright, Budd’s Head of Retail, we discussed the better days ahead of us, what it has been like manning the Budd fort at this uncertain time and how he’s navigating Budd’s new live chat feature.
Kieran's menswear career started part-time at a tailors in Edinburgh during his university days. As the story goes, he went into the shop to order a pair of gold corduroy trousers, and left the store with a Saturday job selling their Ready to Wear collection. As Friday nights were typically reserved for partying, he admits he wasn’t always on top form come those Saturday mornings, but picked up a rudimentary tailoring knowledge and an impressive array of brightly coloured cords.
After university he swapped his coloured cords for shorts and boat shoes as he packed up and moved to the other end of the country, living by the beach at Sandbanks in Dorset. There, he worked in a long-established family-owned menswear store, running the tailoring department. After five years he moved to London and worked for Montblanc before joining Budd in 2019. It’s safe to say that you’re in good hands when Kieran is around.
How has it been managing the shop during lockdown? And aside from social interaction, what do you miss about the Budd shop pre-lockdown?
Lonely! I think one of the most positive things about the last year has been hearing and experiencing how much our clients love us, miss seeing us in person and root for us to do well. It has not been easy trying to offer what is really quite a hands on service in a very hands off way, but it has helped us to devise and develop new ways to reach our clients, which will be beneficial to us even when things return to normal. I never thought I would say this, but I miss the area bustling with visitors from all over the world, discovering the Arcade and Budd for the first time.
Were you sceptical about Live Chat prior to instating it?
Not at all. It is a great way to provide information quickly and informatively. Clients can archive chats so details on sizing and fit can always be referred to at a later date and we can also send images of items in store through the chat feature, which at the moment is about the closest thing we can offer to being in store. If I’m shopping online and I can get the information that I require in real time, I am more likely to make that purchase.
And what’s the best advice you can give when people are shopping at Budd?
Ask questions. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that exists in our team and challenge us to produce for you whatever it is that you have in mind. Between the cutting room, the cloth mills and our work room, the likelihood is that we can do almost anything. What you don’t see on the shelves at Budd are the special items that we make and source for clients, so if you can’t find what you are looking for, we’ll be happy to help.
How do you think people will dress post pandemic?
This has been the most difficult 12 months that many of us will ever have endured, so it’s natural that people have been electing to wear clothes that give them a hug. Cashmere jumpers and pyjamas have been a small comfort as we have been forced to stay at home, but as we begin to meet each other in person again, it will be an act of celebration to dress up smartly. We saw this 100 years ago in the roaring twenties between the wars, and I believe once we have moved on from the pandemic, the same will be the case.
What looks are you looking forward to transitioning to as spring/summer approaches?
At the moment I wear jeans and a jumper daily, so I’m longing to wear suits again!
What’s your favourite style trend?
I’m dubious of trends and fashion in general. Style never goes out of fashion.
My preference in Tailoring is a very soft shoulder which could be considered a trend, but for me it just makes the jacket more easy-going and nonchalant.
I hope that after a year of pyjamas, the trend will be to start dressing up again when we go back out into the world.
What are you most looking forward to when we come out of lockdown? And what is the first trip you will make?
I moved house in July last year and I have yet to have a housewarming party, so definitely that, even if it is a year late… and the pub!
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Cook. My knowledge of cooking is extremely limited, so I have been challenging myself to expand it and to develop my skills. I made Boeuf Bourguignon from scratch recently and it took me four hours, but it was totally worth it.
What’s a trend in formalwear or casual that you hope to leave behind?
Tan coloured shoes. And people wearing bum bags diagonally across their bodies. I worked in Selfridges and saw the birth of this trend and I cannot wait to see the end of it.
What is an accessory you think is overrated? And what are your controversial opinions?
Electric Scooters. Not strictly an accessory but people in London certainly consider them to be. I hate them with a passion as does my Dachshund, Harris, who launches himself at them as they pass by.
Favourite style icon?
Prince Charles. Always impeccably dressed and his taste is faultless.
What is the biggest mistake people typically make when it comes to shopping for shirt/accessories?
That a shirt should be fitted tightly to the body. It shouldn’t. It should follow the shape of the body, certainly, but there should be a little excess cloth for movement and comfort. I can fully appreciate the amount of time and effort spent at the gym to achieve the perfect physique, but shirts should leave something to the imagination.
What is your favourite Budd item?
The thing that most surprises people about Budd?
Budd has a large reach in terms of reputation as a shirtmaker, so it comes as quite a surprise that our shop is so small. We had a low capacity even before Covid; two customers in the shop at once feels busy, but we always ensure that each client has our undivided attention when they come to see us (which I know first hand that many of them are itching to do and the feeling is mutual).
In your own opinion, what is it that makes Budd so special?
Passion and craftsmanship. Every single member of the Budd team is passionate about craftsmanship. If you come to Budd, you will receive excellent service with as much sardonic humour as you can handle from many of us and leave with something which has been carefully crafted to exacting standards set by tradition.