For those of you unfamiliar with Grey Fox, he's a fashion blogger who aims to help the 40 something (and older) gent dress smartly and stylishly. We've been inspired by the content and direction of the Grey Fox blog for some time now, and were recently lucky enough to catch up with David (Mr Fox's real name) to find out more about how it all began...
R&E: Hi David, we’re great fans of what you’ve created with Grey Fox. What inspired you to tailor your blog direction to the ‘older’ guy?
David: Thank you. I wanted to write a blog about something that interested me and, being then in my mid-50s, I had experienced the uncertainties that many older men go through trying to choose clothes. I didn’t intend to blog for long, having other longer term ideas, but I soon realised that all other menswear blogs were aimed at a younger audience. The blog received attention for being different, so i stuck at it.
R&E: How has social media helped you connect with your audience? Are you often asked for advice?
David: Without Twitter the blog wouldn’t have been so well known. I now realise that blogging cannot be done in isolation and I now dabble on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and occasionally Facebook as well in order tor each a wide audience. But social media aren’t everything and I meet and network on a weekly basis, making many friends of all ages through the blog. I also write for other publications and occasionally comment as a spokesman on menswear issues. I am often asked for advice, usually by e-mail, and I’m happy to help if I can.
R&E: In your experience, what are the recurring problems that over 40s experience when it comes to dressing, compared with their younger comrades?
David: Most high street clothes are aimed at a young audience and menswear advertising reflects this obsession. There are therefore problems finding stylish, good quality and well-fitting classic clothes for men. Much ‘classic’ menswear is shapeless, style-less and characterless (look at the poorly designed tweed jackets offered in the Sunday supplements or in high street chain shops). With poor choice, no advertising and few role models, the older man can be forgiven for feeling that he needn’t bother. The problem becomes a vicious cycle.
I am trying to break this cycle on Grey Fox, reviving the interest of the older man in style (like our fathers and grandfathers, we should dress well) and persuading the menswear industry to take note of this large and affluent demographic - the older man.
R&E: Have you noticed much change in the past couple of years in the way brands are advertising to this demographic?
David: There are some adverts in print, but the fashion shows are stuck in the Dark Ages, with clothing on the catwalks almost exclusively worn by very young models.
R&E: Do you think dressing well becomes more important as you get older?
David: No more so than when you’re younger.
R&E: What inspires your style?
David: I remember my grandfather, who loved English brogues and wore smart suits. Even when casually dressed, he exuded style. He was very comfortable in what he wore.
R&E: What’s the best way to integrate contemporary trends into a classic wardrobe?
David: Classics and contemporary mix well if quality is maintained in both. Experiment and see what suits you. Keep colours and tones complementary to help blend the styles and trends. If you don’t feel relaxed, try something else. Clothes are there for you to wear and to enhance your appearance, not for you to ape fashions which may not suit you.
R&E: You’re a big advocator of product made in Britain, why is this important to you?
David: We have a very important heritage of menswear here, from Savile Row tailoring to cottage industries like Harris tweed and industrial skills like weaving and shoemaking - why go anywhere else? We can support these skills, British jobs and exports by wearing British made and/or designed clothes.
R&E: What’s the best piece of style advice that you’ve ever been given?
David: Make sure what you wear fits properly. The huge majority of men don’t know, or don’t care, whether what they wear fits properly - look around next time you go out and you’ll see the problem. It’s easy to do and makes all the difference to your appearance.
R&E: What’s a typical day like in the Grey Fox world?
David: The blog is a hobby but takes as much time as a full time job - writing, researching, visiting people, shops and factories. Huge amounts of time are spent answering e-mails and I’m afraid many go unanswered as I simply don’t have the time. If the blog earned me money, I’d hire an assistant! I try to restrict social media time, but it isn’t easy. I work part time on other things, cycle and walk my dog at other times.
R&E: What do you enjoy the most about blogging?
David: Making friends, so different from the people I knew in my previous existences as a lawyer and teacher. Meeting creative and entrepreneurial people and admiring quality products. I love the writing too.
R&E: Do you have any further plans for Grey Fox, would you ever cross-over to other mediums – will we see you podcasting or starting a YouTube channel?
David: I want to redesign the blog to make it more accessible for readers. I am considering other media, but need to be convinced that my audience will embrace things like videos. I have no doubt I will change my approach as social media moves on.
However, I also need to find a balance; I spend huge amounts of time promoting menswear largely at my own expense and, while the blog is effectively a hobby, I am constrained by financial restrictions. Watch this space, Grey Fox Blog won’t be left behind!
Thanks for taking time out to chat to us, it’s been a pleasure to learn more about you!