We’ve all seen them, out on the town at night, men of a certain age, dressing as if they are two trouser sizes smaller and at least 20 years younger, determined to look cool and trendy.
“His jeans will be too skinny, his shoes will be too pointy, and his shirt will be too tight,” says fashion stylist Glen Campbell. “He’s got two buttons open and the buttons below are busting out.
“If you go into pubs and clubs, you see these guys – they’re maybe in their 40s – and you just think, everything is too small for you. You need everything slightly looser, not to say go baggy, though.”
Glen is a mature man himself – he’s 55 – and a familiar face from television, having worked as a fashion stylist, first for Calendar and YTV, then on ITV’s This Morning with Richard and Judy for 10 years or so, as well as appearing on Lorraine, QVC and Fashion Snoopers for the BBC with Sarah Cox, travelling the country to make over people picked out on the street.
He also works as a fashion consultant and latterly as a model, especially for men’s footwear and clothing brand Oliver Sweeney. He will be at the Sweeney store in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds, later this week to give a talk alongside the company’s cobbler-in-chief, Tim Cooper. Glen will be paying particular attention to improving the sartorial style of the older man, encouraging them not to chase trends, but rather to take inspiration from classic styling, and, most importantly, to shop well.
“Rather than buy 10 shirts over six months, buy two very good shirts and rotate them. With your jeans, buy the best quality of denim you can, and look after them. And shoes – very important, buy two or three very good pairs and let them last you a good five years. Have them polished and resoled, so everything is neat and tidy.”
His grandfather’s generation would buy a suit that lasted 10 years. “They’d look after it, and that’s the sort of thing I like to do as well. And that’s what Sweeney is doing. You can feel the quality – beautiful Italian wool and British tweeds that you know are going to wear well and last, and over a period of time become softer and better. They’re giving us that Italian mindset of dressing well, but have a longevity.”
Glen’s grandfather, Bill, came to the UK from Jamaica in the 1950s and started a little cobblers business by Woodhouse Moor in Leeds. Glen was born and brought up in nearby Hyde Park. His father, also Glen, sadly no longer with us, was a mechanic and later a scaffolder. Glen’s mother, Rita, still lives in Leeds.
After Royal Park Middle School in Hyde Park (an excellent school, with inspirational teachers in a poor area, but now demolished, he says), Glen attended Lawnswood, where he excelled in rugby, playing for the county, and also in running and trampolining. He says: “Lawnswood was great for me because I am actually dyslexic so when I started I was very quiet and shy, but when I discovered sport that opened me up.”
He developed a passion for fashion at an early age, too. “When I was 12, I had big afro hair and I used to wear three-piece suits and big platforms. Yes, it was a sight,” he says. “It was a funny mix, one minute running down the rugby pitch, the next minute talking about frocks, but it worked.”
Glen’s first job was at Vidal Sassoon in Leeds, and he soon discovered the Jonathan Silver fashion shop in the city centre. “I got on with Jonathan really well,” he says. “He had one of the first truly international designer stores in Leeds back in the Seventies. He had Versace, Missoni, Cerruti, all the big brands.”
He took a job at another Leeds designer fashion store, Primo. “There have been a handful of stores over the years that have built up Leeds’s fashion reputation,” he says. “The first, Jonathan Silver, then Primo, then Strand, and then Hip came along, and Accent, so there’s been this troop of independents that have really built up Leeds’s prestige.”
Glen set up his own store in Leeds called Union, sited where the Mac counter now stands in Harvey Nichols, and YTV approached the young style guru to talk fashion on Calendar, the start of his TV career.
Now Glen works mainly as a fashion consultant for both womenswear and menswear aimed at all ages, although recently he has found that more mature men are beginning to take a healthy and much-needed interest in fashion. “There are lots of reasons,” he says. “There are lots of single guys, divorced guys out there now, who had wives before and don’t know what they’re doing. You have the grey pound – they know the fashion’s out there, they are seeing more celebrity people, but they’re still a little bit scared about what they can get away with.”
Glen himself has been married for 30 years to Sue, who works for Education Leeds. They have lived in Menston for more than 20 years and have three grown-up children: Sophie, who runs a charity called Trekstock that supports young people with cancer; Ali, a musician in a band called Black Surf, whose members are all from Menston and Ilkley; and Holly, who runs a gym in Leeds.
On October 20, Glen will be presenting a style night at the Oliver Sweeney store in Leeds. “I’m going to be looking at how to dress for a big interview, a big meeting and work in general when you want to make an effect, because guys make massive mistakes when they do that – it’s far too statementy.
“I’m looking at off-duty wear for the weekend, because a guy can tend to get lost in terms of how he’s going to look, and also Saturday night and the party season, which will be a real minefield – what’s acceptable and what’s going too peacocky.”
A fashion guru he may be, but it’s testament to Glen’s down-to-earth Yorkshire-ness that he has never wanted to move to London. “I’m rooted in Yorkshire. Ninety-nine point nine per cent of my work comes from London, so I’m up and down all the time, but I still come back here because I love the people, my family and friends are here, and the scenery is amazing.
“Leeds city centre is a real hub but you can go 25 miles out and be on Ilkley Moor. So we’ve really got everything up here, and that’s the thing that keeps pulling me back.”
* An Evening of Style with Glen Campbell is at the Oliver Sweeney store in the Victoria Quarter in Leeds on October 20, 6-8pm. Email [email protected] for details.