Director and Designer Alan Moore talks to Whiskeria Magazine – read the article below as he discusses the brand values and explains a bit about the ten30 process.

Thanks to Christina Kernohan and Stance Agency for images and art direction and Whiskeria Magazine for content.

How would you sum up your work at ten30 in 3 words?

Contemporary Luxury Design

What inspired you to establish ten30?

I studied textile design at Glasgow School of Art, with a specific focus on embroidered womenswear. I thought that I wanted to work in high fashion but quickly realised that I possessed neither the skills nor the experience to do so. I felt like I still had a lot of creative exploration to do after art school, so I set
about making dresses and womenswear in a small studio in Glasgow.
After a couple of years’ creative and expressive work, I was commissioned by Harris Tweed Hebrides to design and manufacture a collection of men’s jackets; the brief was to tell a story of Scotland through Harris Tweed. I designed a range, then the project came to a stand-still due to production costs and other
factors out-with my control. A few months later I was asked to supply menswear for a photoshoot for Scotland on Sunday, and we ended up with a four-page spread and the cover image using those same jackets.

Was that editorial exposure a turning point for you?

Yes – we started seriously selling product after that. The Scotland on Sunday images were picked up by an American website with thousands of subscribers and, from then on, we started selling jackets all around the world.
As the business expanded I felt that we needed to refine the product and the offering, so sought out tailors who could work in partnership with us to cut and sew, whilst we designed and consulted with customers. Restricting our sales to bespoke one-to-one has been far more beneficial to the business – there’s much more control over the process and our customers are more likely to return in future.

 

What personal experiences have inspired and shaped ten30 as a brand?

Throughout my studies, I worked part-time in the denim store REPLAY. The brand was great, and I think my time there shaped the way that I conduct business now, listening to the customer and fulfilling their needs, rather than pushing a product on them. My interest has always been in textile design – I get excited by looking at how certain fabrics will work together. I’ve found that playing to your strengths is valuable in business, so I focus on design, styling and knowledge of tailoring, and leave the cutting and sewing to our expert tailoring partners.
I’ve also been fortunate enough to be given a Scholarship from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust – the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association – to further study embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework. Through QEST I’ve had the opportunity to meet some truly aspirational
figures and learn invaluable lessons in customer service, quality of product, and
working in the luxury sector.

 

Tell us about a ‘day in the life' of Alan Moore.

As a small business owner, I need to wear a lot of hats. I’m not a routine kind of person, I don’t have set hours or times to do things. I don’t think I can afford to be so rigid with time, as things can change at short notice. A lot of my time is spent in the studio, one-on-one with customers, designing suits. I enjoy the interaction and, even as the company grows, it’s an aspect of ten30 that I’m keen to always be a part of. I have a great relationship with our UK tailors and fabric suppliers, so I’m usually on the phone to them a couple of times a day. New projects are crucial for any business and as we’re still small, I spend a lot of time networking and talking with other businesses about potential collaborations and partnerships.

 

What differentiates ten30 from other tailors?

Because my background is in design rather than fashion or tailoring. I can remove myself from the technical aspects of how the garment is going to be put together and focus more on the aesthetics. I enjoy clashing patterns and textures and being a bit bold with how you dress, and I encourage that with my customers.
I think my skill is in being able to bring an idea together, adding subtle points of interest that indicate consideration in design, but with restraint. The idea is to have an outfit that sticks out from the crowd, but for no obvious reason. We do this by ensuring the fit is perfect and the fabrics that make up the garment are
interesting, without being garish.

 

What’s been your favourite project to work on so far?

ten30 is primarily focused on contemporary luxury tailoring, however collaboration with bigger brands is another large part of the business.
We’ve been involved in a lot of exciting projects, but my favourite will always be the collaboration we did with Johnnie Walker during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. We were commissioned to design and supply a range of ambassadors’ uniforms for Johnnie Walker Red Label, as they had a huge
presence during the games. We made simple jackets and waistcoats using a beautifully rich scarlet Harris Tweed, accented with gold linings and black lapels, branded with the striding man embroidered in gold on the chest.
This project will always be one I remember fondly as it was our first big
brand collaboration and was so well received.
Glasgow was buzzing with the atmosphere of the Games, and to play a small part in that was a real privilege. After the project finished we were invited on a weekend retreat to Jonnie Walker’s Drummuir Castle and a tour of the Cardhu Distillery, which was truly unforgettable.

 

You source your fabrics in the UK – how do you go about choosing which suppliers to use?

Some tailors will boast thousands of fabrics to choose from, from mills around the world, although too much choice can be daunting at times. I’ve carefully curated a portfolio of fabrics that suit every occasion, a mix of colours, patterns, weights and compositions.
We only use fabric woven in the UK from natural fibres, so lots of wools and cashmeres.
I’ve created a collection that ranges from the very different to the very subtle. We’ve been working with the same mills over the last 5 or so years – good business is built on good relationships.

Talk us through the process of designing a suit or look for a customer.

Each customer will have a different idea of what they want and it’s my job to advise them on how we can make that idea a reality.
All appointments are private – our customers deserve undivided attention. Initially we discuss the purpose of the suit, then we look at fabrics, and there are usually plenty of finished suits waiting for collection to help
inspire new customers too. Once a fabric is chosen we start to design the garment and look at the subtle details. The whole process is very customer-led, I try not to interfere too much, although can guide them and offer advice on what I think will not only look great, but will suit the occasion and their personality.
Once the designing is done we take notes and measurements to ensure the suit fits perfectly and uniquely to the customer’s own shape.
I believe that you should see the man in the suit, not the suit on the man.
Our tailors cut and sew the garments using the guidelines I’ve given them and produce what we call a ‘try on’. The customer is then invited back to the studio where we pin the garments and shape it to their body. Finally, the garment is sent back to our tailors, who re-cut the pieces, using the new alterations as a guide. The customer then has the opportunity to try on the finished
suit, ready to be worn out the door.

You designed the Caledonian Sleeper uniforms – tell us more about that project.

We’ve been uniform partners with Caledonian Sleeper for three years now and it’s been a fantastic project. The train service had been bought over and, initially we were commissioned by a third party to produce design proposals and pitch the idea. After winning the contract we were able to take on the project fully without that third party’s outside influence. This meant that I could
work with mills, factories and suppliers that I’d already built relationships with, all based in Scotland, and that I could have complete transparency of the supply chain.
The brief was very open, which is often more difficult, so I tried to be very specific; I wanted to design something that was classic and timeless, evoked ideas of the romance of travel and was emblematic of Scotland. I was inspired by things like vintage art decorail posters, luxury trains such as the Orient
Express, and Wes Anderson films. I wanted to create an image of style and elegance that is usually seen in 5 star hotels or old movies.
I worked with Harris Tweed Hebrides to design a bespoke fabric that perfectly matched the new livery of Midnight Teal, and this served as the lead fabric for the project which everything else would be paired with. I also designed a bespoke tartan which is now registered with the Official Tartans Register in Edinburgh; it consists of eight colours representing the eight stops that
are on the journey. I’ve learned some valuable lessons from the Sleeper project – both our brands hold dear the values of luxury, comfort, attention to detail and customer service.

What’s your favourite anecdote from your time at the helm of ten30?

There’ve been plenty of career highlights, including meeting the First Minister at the launch of the new Caledonian Sleeper, trips to Islay working on a big distillery project, taking part in a huge charity fashion show in New York and being invited to showcase work at the Royal Windsor Horse Show which was opened by the Queen. Near the end of 2017 I was invited to The Palace in the spring of 2018 to attend a fashion event hosted by The Duchess of Cambridge; I’m sure this will be a special event and one that I’ll remember for a long time to come, although the question is what does one wear to such an event?!

 

You are closely tied to the whisky industry – how/why is that?

We have various links and ties to the whisky industry and I’ve built up a great relationship with a host of brands and ambassadors. I spent a lot of time working in hospitality throughout my studies and in the infancy of the business.
There’s a certain fraternity that exists within the bar community and it’s something you don’t ever leave. Working in bars you develop a knowledge, understanding and appreciation of not just whisky but food and drink as a whole. I think having this knowledge and appreciation, and having served my time on the other side of the bar, has opened a lot of doors for me to introduce the brand. I’m a fan of whisky and I’ve found that it’s a great conversation starter with customers – everyone in Scotland has some kind of experience with the dram.

 

What’s your favourite whisky? Do you think it changes depending on the situation?

Although I love the big peats of Islay whiskiews, my favourite must be Oban 14. Oban holds fond memories for me; my wife and I went there for our first weekend away together, and we enjoyed plenty of seafood, boat trips and our fair share of the local uisge beatha. We frequently visit, shared a dram of Oban
from our quaich on our wedding day, and we’ve hidden away a special bottle to open when we celebrate the birth of our son in Spring 2018.
The Johnnie Walker project opened my mind to blended whiskies served as a long drink – before then I reserved whisky drinking for stormy nights by the fire. A blend, like Johnnie Walker Red Label or Monkey Shoulder, served over ice with a splash of ginger ale makes for a smashing summer thirst quencher.

 

Are there parallels between whisky and bespoke tailoring/styling?

There are certainly parallels between whisky and tailoring, both in terms of how the product is produced and how it’s then enjoyed. They both start with simple raw materials and ingredients; the better they are at the start, the better the final product. Once the best ingredients are sourced it’s up to the experts, but it’s at this stage that it comes down to personal taste. There’s always a choice, and an expert should be on hand to guide you into making that choice. The two industries are about experience and story, and there’s also the element of craft – it’s easy to throw all the ingredients together and come out with a final product, but it takes years of training and practice to develop something truly great.

What do you see for the future of ten30?

We’ve been in our Ayrshire studio for just over a year now, and have settled into the community. We still have a substantial customer base in Glasgow and the West of Scotland and I think, with the launch of our new website this spring, we’ll see that grow as well. Weddings have been big for us and we’ve already made plans to be more involved in wedding markets and events. I enjoy working
with grooms, it’s a real privilege to be part of their big day. We’ve also launched a new range of accessories including ties, socks, cufflinks and hats and we’re looking to add a ready-to-wear shirt range this year as well. For 2018 it’s
about refinement for us – we have a product and service that is of exceptional quality, so now we’re at the stage where we’re making small tweaks, constantly seeking to improve, but without changing too much.