Tell us about your typical day?
I wear a lot of hats these days which keeps things interesting. Some days I’ll have a quiet day at my desk writing a story for a magazine, other days I’ll be darting around town between press appointments (or else between podcast recordings for HandCut Radio) and other days I’ll be in strategist mode, working from clients’ offices or even shooting content on-set with clients.
What inspires you and your writing?
I’ve always been fascinated by craft – and by objects that are tangibly well made. For as long as I’ve been a professional writer, I’ve tried to tell the stories of brands who are the very best at what they do. As I’ve moved into consultancy and strategy work over the past two years, this has been coupled with an interest in how trends form and the intersection between clothes and culture. I enjoy studying how certain garments or aesthetics become intrinsically linked with music genres, social movements and so forth. I also enjoy shaping stories that dissect the ingredients that make brands relevant today.
What does British luxury mean to you?
I associate British luxury with integrity; with craftspeople and brands who care about what they do, and who take pride in passing on the best possible experience to the consumer.
What do you see as the future of luxury?
I think the future is pretty opaque right now, but there are a few trends indicating the direction of travel for luxury in the next few years. Of course, digital experiences and e-commerce ballooned in 2020 thanks to pandemic lock downs, and that’s only going to accelerate. I also think that consumers are starting to dictate what it means to be a moral or responsible brand, and choosing to shop with brands that have consciences. I think that’s really exciting.
On that note; If British luxury has one major challenge to face in the next five years, it’s to speak to the 30-year-old who’s coming into the luxury market, rather than the established consumer. Between the short-term fallout of Brexit and our poor initial response to the pandemic we’ve had a rocky 12 months. Now, British luxury needs to come out on top, with bold ideas and energised brands, to remind the rest of the world that we’re still relevant.
What was your big break?
I’ve been very lucky, and I suppose I’ve had a couple. The first was securing an internship at The Rake magazine straight after I graduated. The magazine was opening its first London office that summer so I happened to bug the editorial director at the right moment. I worked my way up to digital editor there which was a great few years. Joining the team who launched The Jackal magazine was another twist of fate. I was the title’s deputy editor for two years and it was the most extraordinary (and intense) learning curve. I feel like I walked away from that two years with four or five years worth of experience that really helped me adjust to self-employment.
In a parallel life, what would you be doing?
Studying Anglo-Saxon literature, probably. I’m a history geek and studied Old and Middle English at university. I’ve always regretted not staying on to do a DPhil.
What’s your best luxury under £10?
Cor, tricky one. Under £10? A slice of anything from Paxton & Whitfield, probably.
Look out for Alek's first article for Walpole, published next Thursday.