21 Mar 2017

Discovering a Creative Community + The Freedom of Freelance


 A morning spent at Waste Studio | Card Holder by Bellroy




This May will mark my second anniversary of turning full time freelance. That's two whole years of being my own boss, two whole years of pushing myself 100% into fulfilling and creative projects, and two whole of uncertainty. The unknown is a daunting prospect, but not always a bad one.

Working for myself has been a challenge. I've made mistakes, took risks, and grown from the experience. The community I have found myself turning to - for advice, to bounce ideas off, chat through issues and to collaborate with has become one of the most important aspects of my freelance life. I'm only a phone call away from several trusted voices, and that next coffee shop meeting.

My community is made up of people I've grown close to + trust. Conversations spark up through blogs, Instagram, Twitter, in coffee shops...These interactions can quickly turn into planning trips to meet up with people who share a similar interest; be that in a town I know well or a city I feel a stranger in. Repeat contact with these familiar faces, in turn, makes the community stronger and introduces you to whole new side of the industry.

The freedom that freelancing gives me means that I don't need much to make something happen. Take mine + Jordan's recent trip to Nottingham for example. We wanted to explore what the city had to offer, so we arranged a suitable date for us to meet, packed the essentials phone, camera, laptop, notepad, pen, Bellroy wallet + keys and set about planning our day to maximise time.


 Break time at Outpost Coffee Roasters
 A visit to Nottingham-based homeware + design brand Lane

Having previously visited the city last year I was keen to show Jordan some of my favourite spots, introduce him to some local creatives, and also check out a couple of new places on my radar. We started with a trip to the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery, followed by a break at Outpost Coffee. Fuelled by flat whites + chocolate brownies, we got to planning out the next 24 hours jotting notes down in my leather notepad by sending a some quick emails to see who was free to meet up.

A few conversations later and we'd arranged to meet the guys from Universal Works who previously sent us some recommendations for our last trip to Nottingham and our good friends Ian and Felicity of Campbell Cole for beers at Junkyard. Our chat turns to the benefits of living in a small city, growing up in the North, and how social media has been a game changer for small businesses and creatives.

For many freelancers it has became a passion to meet the  people behind the brands; getting to know the whys + hows behind the products
 and form lasting relationships.

Sure, meeting these people does definately makes for more meaningful content, but that's not always the motive. For me it's about making a connection with intelligent, funny and inspiring people allowing us to collaborate and develop new skills through understanding different disciplines.

Early the next morning we spent an hour at Waste Studio, a multi-purpose creative agency with one of the coolest offices going. I could spend hours chatting to Norm + co, if time allowed it... Hearing about some of the design work, brand lookbooks and community projects these guys have worked on gives me that extra push to work on those passion projects I've been putting on the back-burner. Next door to Waste Studio is Ideas on Paper an independent book shop filled wall-to-wall with hard-to-find magazines, art books + graphic design inspiration.

We also finally got to meet the team behind Lane, an independent homeware and design brand based out of an old school building, Primary Studios. The studios are artist-led spaces that help support local businesses through various creative programmes. It's a great sign of Nottingham's entrepreneurial spirit.

 Talking SS17 inspiration at the Universal Works HQ

The freedom of being your own boss throws up a few constants; the ability to set our own hours, work from any suitable location, (WIFI + coffee as standard), create meaningful work and immerse yourself in a warm and welcoming community. This also means you only have yourself to answer to if your work isn't up to scratch or you become complacent.

"If people don't love your work, or people don't hate your work then have you really done anything at all?
Tinker Hatfield, Nike

Over these past two years I've found what works for me, and one of those is to create a clean, uncluttered, calm and familiar environment one with good natural light, where everything has its place. Anything "unnecessary" can sometimes act a distraction. I don't necessarily mean "minimal" as such, but rather, considered and with a purpose.


Coat c/o Percival | Sweatshirt by Several | Jeans by Albam | Sneakers by Converse | Bag by Parka London | Accessories by Bellroy
Images of me by Jordan Bunker

I like to try and make the transition from my office at home to a working away as seamless as possible. The products which mirror a similar stripped-back, considered ethos contribute massively to each trip's success. Take Bellroy's Key Cover for example compacting my keys to a few centimetres in width, or the Phone Case which has a handy compartment for your bank card, all set for contactless payments. It's about working smarter and with more efficiency. And that's the same being your own boss.

I started this piece off by saying that the unknown is a daunting prospect. It still is. But if we took the easy road one which didn't challenge us, evoke self-doubt or have us looking at missed opportunities as a means to build something better - then how would we ever be truly satisfied that we gave it our all? The path is uncertain but the values stay the same. I'm just looking forward to wherever that next train journey take me. 

Have you ever considered working as a freelancer in your line of work, recently took the plunge, or do you feel more suited to a reliable 9-5 structure?

This post is in partnership with Bellroy. Thank you for taking the time to support the brands + businesses that make this blog happen.

19 Mar 2017

Inspired by Everyday Beauty





 Bomber Jacket by Jigsaw | Cashmere Jumper by ASKET | Chinos by Whistles | Hat by Percival | Sneakers by Common Projects | Socks by AnonymousIsm | Persol Sunglasses c/o SunglassesShop

Photography by Jordan Bunker

I've become totally obsessed with "everyday beauty". I'm not too sure if anyone else uses the term in the context that I'm thinking of, but basically, it's the intriguing colour combinations, shapes, textures and design details that tend to go unnoticed in everyday life. They haven't been designed by accident, but most of the time we walk past them without a second glance.

Paving stones that look like a school of swimming fish from above, the way the sun hits grey corrugated metal at 2pm, tower blocks that are lined up like a football team or something as mundane as a red sign that has faded to pink by the sun. I haven't quite mastered capturing these moments with my camera, but lately Yasumi's Instagram account sums it up perfectly.

Onour recent trip to Nottingham we weren't purposely looking for these little blips in the day, but the grounds of Nottingham Contemporary was full of intriguing angles and subtle nods to the city's once-thriving industry.

For this outfit I stuck to my current uniform of greys + navy; wearing this coated cotton bomber jacket by Jigsaw (similar here), soft cashmere jumper by Stockholm-based ASKET and these AnonymousIsm indigo-dyed socks which I picked up in Tokyo, with my straight-fit khaki chinos by Whistles and tortoiseshell Persol sunglasses

Next time on your commute to work or walk through town take some time to look out for everyday beauty. What have you spotted lately?

Thanks for reading,
Mat.

14 Mar 2017

A Day In The Life | My Skincare Routine

 

Take a look at this short video we created with online grooming + skincare store Mankind. They followed me around for a day - on a recent stop over in Manchester - to get a proper looking into the kind of things I get up to on a regular day. The film takes you through my morning + evening skincare routine, which includes a bunch of my current favourite products, as well as a couple of regular stop-offs in the city.

  Nice to play around with a little more video, no?

  Thanks for visiting,
  Mat.

8 Mar 2017

Talking Daily Uniforms


 Overshirt by Whistles | Vest by Lavenham | Sweatshirt by Reigning Champ | Jeans by Albam | Sneakers by Nike | Hat by Percival | Watch by Timex | Oakley Sunglasses c/o Shade Station

I recently found myself weaving through the unfamiliar backstreets of Mayfair early one Saturday morning. London on a Saturday is a totally different game to the "working week" sure, Oxford Street is chaotic and at the British Museum it feel like everyone is trying to get topped up on art before it goes out of fashion. But Mayfair though, that's a totally different kettle of fish.

There's a little spot a few minutes away from Bond Street that myself and Husam Al-Deen have taken quite the fancy to. If you take a walk to the Gagosian Gallery early on a Saturday morning, the chances are you won't bump into any shopping bag-wielding tourists, rather, just curious gallery folk, and chippy security guards who enjoy nothing more than to shoot the breeze about their love of these distinct backstreets.

This clean, architectural backdrop felt like the perfect location to compliment these tortoiseshell sunglasses by Oakley; a shape that seems to work really well on my slim, oval-shaped face.



Photography by Husam Al-Deen

As for the rest of the outfit, I went straight for my current uniform of navy + grey; mixing the slightly different shades of blue of my Fairends cap, Lavenham vest + selvedge denim jeans by Albam, with a classic grey sweatshirt, Timex watch and the ol' faithful Nike Killshots. The best kind of outfits, for me, are the ones that don't always require you to check (and recheck) in the mirror you just know they make you feel good.

I think we all get to a point when we have a daily uniform; whether that be wearing all black, going heavy on the denim, swaying towards a Scandinavian minimal style, or constantly being drawn towards bright colours. For me that uniform is navy. It's the colour feel most comfortable in, but also slightly anonymous, in a way it doesn't draw too much attention to itself, yet feels like it has enough character to stand on its own. Greys, browns and tans work perfectly with it, and that's where these Oakley frames fit in just nicely.

I'd love to hear about your current uniform. What are you current go-tos at the moment?

Thanks for reading,
Mat.

This post is in partnership with Shade Station. Thank you for taking the time to support the brands + businesses that make this blog happen.

1 Mar 2017

Spring Ready


Clothing by Jigsaw, Glasses by Bailey Nelson

Last week we took a trip over to Yorkshire to recreate six of our favourite SS17 menswear trends, for Victoria Leeds. The guys from the shopping centre challenged us to create the outfits using clothing selected from their stores, so in just a few hour - with Nik behind the camera - I made half a dozen outfit changes and find six suitable locations. That was intense!

Take a look at our take on the SS17 trends.

Neutral Basic (above)

A simple way to transition from the cooler times to the warmer months is by sticking to a neutral theme. You won't find any patterns or loud colours here, instead we've used a look combination of pastels, beige, stone, with the navy blues tying it all in together, all from Jigsaw.

 Clothing by Hackett, Reiss + Paul Smith, Sunglasses by Bailey Nelson

Versatile Utility

Utilitarianism has been a big story in men's style for a few seasons now, and it shows no sign of slowing down throughout this year. Details are key here - utilising garments with enough pockets to fill up with your daily essentials, showerproof materials for them inevitable downpours and versatile layers for warmer evenings.


 Clothing by GANT

Technical Outerwear

Technical outerwear is right up my street, and a daily go-to for anyone in the North of England. Think less "countryside explorer" and more about the suitable daily commuter gear. GANT is coming up good with this blue rain slicker and practical layers.

 Clothing by Whistles

Sports Luxe

As I originally come from the North West of England it's hard to take me too far way from my sportswear roots, and Sports Luxe is one of the biggest trends for SS17. Swap nylon + cottons for cashmere and merino blends, and switch out the running trainers for premium white leather sneakers. Whistles is your go-to for this trend.

Clothing by Paul Smith

Americana Holiday

One of my favourite trends for the warmer months is this year's holiday-appropriate Americana vibes. You'll find me wearing stone colour slim chinos worn with an all-over print revere collar shirt, canvas sneakers and classic wayfarers. Paul Smith + Bailey Nelson stocking everything you'll need for this one.

 Clothing by COS

Minimal

Taking on one of the cleanest trends for this Spring Summer; COS providing us with soft tailoring, subtle textures and a minimal colour palette. The store is the perfect stop-off for this Minimalist look.

Which is your favourite look out of the bunch?

This Instagram Takeover was created in partnership with Victoria Leeds. Thank you for taking the time to support the brands + businesses that make this blog happen.

27 Feb 2017

Inspiration on Instagram | Land Rover Illustrations by Guy Simpson


If we ever get a spare minute, Instagram is the place we go for some quick inspiration - and, fortunately, their algorithm keeps on throwing up gems that just demand a follow. Guy Simpson's Land Rover illustrations are a case in point. He's posted over 100 of these colourful beauties on Instagram, showing the ridiculous range of Land Rover modifications out there.

Armoured vehicles, safari vehicles, dune buggies, Post Office vans, and - literally - everything in between.

Take a look at Guy's Instagram account, and be sure to send us any examples of cool finds you've made. We'd love to see them!

You can find Nik at - Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter

20 Feb 2017

Love for the National Theatre | Oliver Sweeney SS17


 Marmelos Sneakers by Oliver Sweeney | Chinos by Whistles | Cap by Percival

Boxstead Mac by Oliver Sweeney | Sweatshirt by Sunspel


Let's call this one teamwork. The beauty of Instagram is being able to discover + easily connect with people you may have never come into contact with. I started chatting with Photographer Husam Al-Deen just at the start of last December, and it wasn't long before we were sitting in a central London coffee shop, brainstorming ways in which we could collaborate together.

We got chatting about our love of sneakers, architecture, printed magazines + menswear so it was decided, we'd making something happen in the new year.


 Red Sneakers (coming soon) by Oliver Sweeney | Socks by Form&Thread

 Vilarcia Knit + Osimo Sneakers by Oliver Sweeney