Last year Matt Jones, the owner of menswear brand Hemingsworth, picked out the Plus 4 to be the star of the show in his latest photo shoot and it started his love affair with Morgan cars. The beautiful shoot was set in the countryside on a perfect sunny day with model Richard Biedul behind the wheel wearing Hemingsworth’s classic pieces. Matt designs for the modern globetrotter, focussing on quality and proudly designing and making his products in London. We went behind the scenes to ask Matt about cars, what he loves about London and what we can expect from the fashion world in 2018.
The London Morgan: Where are you from, where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Matt Jones: I originally grew up in and around the Chelmsford area. I was a very sick teenager, so the moment I was able to travel and work that’s what I did. My dream was to create the adverts on the telly but without a steadfast set of qualifications knew this might be tricky. So, I moved to Marbella to run a photography business at first before moving back to work in magazine sales and then finally secured a job working for the smallest marketing company in a town that nobody had ever heard of (Little Bentley) – I might as well have been paying them given the salary I was earning but I was exposed to lots more than I would have been elsewhere so it helped me jump the ranks. By the time I moved into London at 21 I was running big brand accounts at the more coveted agencies. The last role I did was Chief Innovation Officer before I moved to the brand BlackBerry to help them be more youthful. It was a dream role that saw me spend 6-12month stints in New York, California, before settling in Ibiza where I based myself permanently. When I left corporate life, I returned to Chelmsford where I am now currently hopping between London life midweek and Essex for the weekends.
The London Morgan: How did you get started in the fashion world?
Matt Jones: Living in Ibiza, whilst flying in and out for a corporate role every other day. I was constantly going between different climates and wanted something that made constant wardrobe changes less of a problem. Shorts, for instance, were just one example; I needed a pair that I could comfortably wear all the time. The reality is most tailored shorts are actually just slim flit imitations rather than incorporating any actual tailoring, and given that is what I was wearing on most trips, that became the marker to start with. I wanted to create a garment and collection designed to allow for maximum comfort and all-day wear, keeping the modern globetrotting gentleman moving. The marketing side of things was always going to be covered having my own agency, but developing the product was much more challenging. Developing an integral waist belt and French fly meant there could be only one place to develop such a technical product, back in London – this opened my eyes to the world of Saville Row tailoring and I eventually found myself wanting to go further and further with new products, the more I learnt.
The London Morgan: Tell us about your brand?
Matt Jones: Hemingsworth as a brand is all about quality. Be it the quality of company we keep, food and drink we consume, or clothes we wear. It’s an outlook that’s become increasingly important to me and I knew in order for our brand to be successful we would need an uncompromising attitude when developing our product and the experience surrounding the brand. Myself and esteemed manufacturing expert Henry Butler travelled across Europe in search of the finest fabrics and trims that would eventually go into our shorts. For example, our buttons are carefully crafted from Tahitian Mother of Pearl, zips are made to order in Italy and buckles are cast and finished in Germany to the highest specification. We use traditional yarns with the latest modern fibres for a feel that is reminiscent of soft cotton with the advantage of being quick drying. The fact that all these great pieces are then brought back to London to be assembled in our factory using a 29 piece pattern and go through 17 hand-finished stages before they leave us, really helps sets us apart. It is this attention to detail that we wanted to elevate Hemingsworth into a space that hasn’t been occupied before.
The London Morgan: We spotted you worked with Morgan on your photo shoot, what was it that attracted you to the car?
Matt Jones: At launch we did a best of British shoot which was magical to put together. It was all about The Rules – a modern-day gentlemen’s guide on quality of life. We invited the best British brands out there that could culminate our quality story, including Roger W Smith, Fox Brothers, Spirit Yachts and of course Morgan Motors. Each of these brands has their own uncompromising attitude towards quality and this is what attracted us to Morgan. The level of craft that goes into the making of each part, let alone the final coming together of the car giving it an unmistakable style of its own. The iconic classical look just set the tone for the film and brought a variety of shots alight.
The London Morgan: What was it like to drive?
Matt Jones: I picked up the car from Anthony at London Morgan, in Kensington. Having a history of owning performance cars, I can tell you that walking down Astwood Mews felt very different compared to the traditional locations of Luxury car dealerships – and that made it even more special. I was able to have uninterrupted time exploring the Aero, before being introduced to the Plus 4 which we used for the shoot. It’s very easy to pick up the controls so didn’t require much more than a five-minute lesson on the roof and petrol cap before I was on my way. Driving back through Soho to my Kings Cross offices before I had any time to settle into the drive, the heavens decided to open which I immediately thought I might be done for – crowds of people, speed bumps and windows steaming requiring me to manually figure out how they slide open (without the conventional electric buttons). However, none of that was a problem because the car just commands a different level of respect on the roads compared to anything I’ve driven. Crowds move and smile, traffic patiently waited as I repeatedly blundered getting used to the low-speed biting point of the clutch and soon I relaxed into the drive.
When I finally took the car to be used for the shoot, the sun was out and it was one of the most enjoyable drives I have experienced. Opening up the engine on motorway, country roads and eventually coast (all with the roof down of course looking like Mr Toad), it was a revelation and unlike anything I had driven, especially through the bends you feel every bit in control of the firm ride and it coaxes you into pushing the car and yourself further. I returned the car to Anthony immediately enquiring on the price and waiting lists.
The London Morgan: Where did you spend your time in the car?
Matt Jones: Coming up from London, we completed the shoot in one day across three locations along the East Coast. It was all rather ambitious at the time but the weather in July was so unpredictable we had no choice. We started at Royal Harwich Yacht Club before moving to the very grand Hintlesham Hall and nestled in the heart of Suffolk forest – the Morgan was the perfect companion for the day as it led a series of crew vehicles in tow from location to location. My favourite moment was crossing the Orwell Bridge at twilight on the way back home to London.
The London Morgan: What are your tips for taking a great photo?
Matt Jones: Experiment and lighting. Nowadays there are plenty of reference materials online for photographers to learn and gain inspiration from, however sometimes you can really surprise yourself changing angles to reveal an original perspective. Nothing can compare to natural lighting, despite all artificial post tools. I’ve camped out on beaches for days just for a 20minute sunrise or sundown shot when filming ads in the past – so just make sure you’re ready and know what you’re doing when that time comes.
The London Morgan: Tell us about Fashion Week; what are your highlights, what are you looking forward to and what are your survival tips?
Matt Jones: Similar to Morgan, Hemingsworth style and colours are timeless. But I always get excited seeing what textures and colours the fashion houses are working with each year. Its less about seasonal prints or shapes for me, but the mixed textures and experimentation with colour will always inspire some thought as to what could or more importantly shouldn’t be done. Going forward we will be doing more collaborations – its a great way to test the natural dynamic of your brand and what works. The best advice I can give is not take anything too personally. Its a fast moving industry and very diverse in terms of the characters and opinions you will come across. Sometimes despite feeling like you’re doing all the right things you just need to be patient and let the brand live, rather than trying to force your way forward.
The London Morgan: What are your wardrobe essentials?
Matt Jones: Inside a Bennett Winch travel bag, it’s no surprises I would start with a pair of our Clipper Shorts (most likely in classic Navy) and build the outfit from there – a complimentary sports jacket from Fox Brothers with a long sleeve polo shirt from Trunk on Chiltern Street. Matched with some Tods driving shoes.
The London Morgan: Tell us about your collection for 2018, what can we expect?
Matt Jones: Starting with our shorts we’ve got another eight colourways with some exclusive collaborations coming later in the year. My favourite is a grey Prince of Wales check. However the big story for us is moving into a wider collection of jackets, trousers and suiting. Just like our shorts all garments are made in London and follow our uncompromising attitude when it comes to materials and trims. Needless to say all are geared towards ‘travel’, with passport pocketing in our jackets and seersucker suiting which looks great all the time and bounces right back when packed in a case or after a long flight.
The London Morgan: What’s your favourite restaurant?
Matt Jones: Not to say I don’t enjoy more contemporary dining but I find consistency and comfort is best. In London, it has to be The Parlour in Kensal Rise because it does both brilliantly no matter what course you’re going for. Serving up colourful British food that always get you excited. Their Salted Caramel Rolo’s been a favourite. This year they were recognised in the Michelin Guide. Back out in Essex I like the Bear Inn in Stock. It’s warm and cosy and perfect for when we bring along the dog (Albert, a Springer Spaniel). It’s like walking into the hub of a community whether your a regular or just passing through. I am slowly working my way through their boutique wine list.
The London Morgan: Where’s your ultimate holiday destination?
Matt Jones: Up in the hills of Ibiza or visiting a castle in Scotland. Both remote beautiful locations, serving up delicious local produce and of course offering plenty of nostalgic and picturesque drives.
The London Morgan: Which influencers inspire you on Instagram?
Matt Jones: Once again less is more for me. I like people who share those details when travelling that are akin to what I’d like to capture or stumble upon and experience myself. Those that actually look like they’re enjoying themselves rather than trying to work hard pretending to look like they are. Wei Koh the founder of The Rake and Ted Gushue at Petrolicious both get it right in my opinion. Doing what they love and showing that in their own way.
The London Morgan: What advice would you give to a younger you?
Matt Jones: Only to enjoy the journey more. Having flown around and had the opportunity to experience some magnificent things so early on, I wish I had been in the frame of mind that could process it all and taken it in.
The London Morgan: What’s next?
Matt Jones: Aside from menswear fashion and running creative agencies, I’d say it would have to be something meaningful for me to prioritise my attention elsewhere.
Having moved about quite a bit, I am now looking for a countryside residence I can settle and embrace with my partner – We’re thinking some form of residence / venue with stables and a few vines.