“Be yourself. Don’t follow fashion, adapt a classic style for yourself. You can adopt a totally original style, if it’s done with taste, it works and everybody notices you.”
Paradigm Magazine recently had the honor to speak with William Wilde, Owner of Hornets Kensington and when Bill talks we listen.
Bill, what was the inspiration for starting Hornets Kensington and when was Hornets established?
Hornets started in 1982. I was an established professional in another field, doing rather well. Like most professions, it was a small circle. I wanted something unusual. I noticed old clothes shops, I had always been a classic dresser, so it was interesting. There were vintage shops, period shops and old men shops selling dark suits. Then I had an idea and did it. I opened the first vintage mens clothing boutique with in-depth ranges. It took off straightaway.
You have said previously that everything we sell has to have “something about it.” Why is this the case?
We sell wonderful classic clothes that have that solid quality about them. Or something unusual with a unique style. For instance, 1957 double breasted overcoat with a silk shawl collar and
cuffs. It was made for a colonel. With something like that, the team gets together and says “that is a piece”.
What, if any difference, is there between a British gentleman and an American gentleman?
A gentleman is a gentleman is a gentleman. There is no difference. We are all tribal, and gentleman of any nationality will recognise each other.
The professional golfers of today have become walking advertisements with absolutely no style. What happened to the class and finesse of players like Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Gary Playr?
Professional sportsmen have became fashion icons. Fashion is not style.
Who is your style icon and why?
The Duke of Windsor, Cary Grant, Charlie Watts “Rolling Stones drummer” and the present Prince of Wales.
“…in the mid-1980s, an intoxicated Jagger phoned Watts’s hotel room in the middle of the night asking where “his drummer” was. Watts reportedly got up, shaved, dressed in a suit, put on a tie and freshly shined shoes, descended the stairs and punched Jagger in the face, saying: “Don’t ever call me your drummer again. You’re my fucking singer!”
If you could give any piece of advice to a young man in his 20s or 30s in regard to style and class, what would it be and why?
Be yourself. Don’t follow fashion, adapt a classic style for yourself. You can adopt a totally original style, if it is done with taste, it works and everybody notices you. Hornets style management is a young man who dresses in an original and classic way, it presents him, his personality, as he is! Your clothes must present you, not dominate you. Find some small detail you like, and use it all the time. A silk handkerchief, a scarf or classic hat and it will be your mark.
What is your favorite piece of literature and why?
Voltaire’s “Candide”, a small book that says everything.
What is your ideal outfit?
Country clothing, tweeds, cords, shooting jackets. In the summer, linen and cotton. I wear countryclothing in town. I do stand out, I must admit. But it’s not an affectation. I’ve never been refused entry to any smart place in London or in any capital.
Do you find that young men especially have forgotten what it means to have charisma / swagger not only with their attire but also in their everyday lives?
Young men, if they have charisma and swagger, they have it, or they will find it. We have a lot of young customers; they may want something unusual for a party or a special date. We find something for them. Or they want a bespoke business suit that looks like it’s made for them. I think that most of our customers are on the way to finding their charisma and swagger (I love that word swagger), if they don’t have it already.
Bill, I Googled what it meant to be a perfect gentleman and this is what I got… “You finally asked a beautiful woman out on a date and want to make a good impression so she’ll want to go out with you again. One of the things women love most is a gentleman. Being a perfect gentleman will make her feel special.” What do you think it means to really be a gentleman?
A gentleman is going to dress smoothly but quietly, so the accent is on her. His manners will be impecable. If she leaves the table to powder her nose he will rise; when she comes back he will stand up. Most importantly he won’t talk too much about himself, just establish who he is and make general conversation. He will encourage her to talk about herself. Remember, you haven’t said much about yourself and you will not, if you want to impress her. When she phones her girlfriend that night or the next morning, she will say “he is so charming and he is so interesting”.
One last question … When I am traveling I only usually see older men wearing proper attire at airports (blazers / slacks / suits). Why is it that young guys think it is appropriate to travel in clothes that they usually wear to bed?
I will answer this one with an anecdote. Thirty years ago I was on a plane; we couldn’t land where we were going because of an electric storm which knocked all communication out. We overflew but couldn’t land in the next country, same problem. The captain, smooth and charming over the speaker, said “You will find this hard to believe in this day and age, but I have to land in another country to make a telephone call to where we are going the electric storm has knocked down all electronic communication.” He made his call and took us to another country. We finished up as guests of the airline in a very smart hotel, with a small river running through it. I was given a key to my room, and a pink ticket for the dinner. The room was like a suite. I was travelling in tweed jacket, open neck white shirt, jeans and brogues. Had a shower, put on a shirt and tie, and a double breasted suit with my trademark silk handkerchief in the breast pocket. The restaurant was beautiful, I headed to where my fellow passengers were sitting. They were mostly dressed as they were on the plane, very casually. The head waiter appeared “A table for one, sir?” I waved my pink ticket at him, “I’m with the airline” … “If you come this way, sir”. He conducted me to a very good table, “You do realize I have this ticket for dinner,” … “Yes, sir. Please be my guest and thank you, sir, for dressing for my restaurant” … “Not at all,” I answered. The menu was impressive, I didn’t take advantage of his generosity, that would have been ungracious. I ordered a reasonable 3 course meal. He stopped the waiter and saw what I ordered. He appeared with a sommelier, “Can I suggest this, sir?” he pointed to a very good wine “That is very kind of you.” ”It is very polite of you, sir”. The pink ticket was for a fixed dinner, everybody had the same. A cheaper meal. I think that says it all about how to travel and also cuts back to your question about gentlemen. They are recognized anywhere in the world.