In Conversation @ IAN HYLTON

With a natural understanding of luxury and how it translates across all price points, Ian Hylton’s facility for identifying trends and discernment in polishing them for a specific market has seen him shine as a designer, product developer, creative director, branding consultant, style editor and merchant in the Fashion, Home, and Living categories. Hylton, PORTS 1961 Menswear Creative Director and a man of consummate style spoke to mylifestylenews during his Hong Kong visit, in style......

You are a man who has worn many hats, from a fashion designer, to a fashion editor and a creative director, to a judge on a fashion TV show, to a consultant etc. Which role do you like best and why?
I love the role of creative direction, basically it encompasses all hats. The designer in me, the interior decorator in me, the fashion editor in me, all of that experience is combined into one position as creative director.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Life is about passion, and I am fortunate that everything in my life I am passionate about, my work, my family, yoga, art and literature, these things all help with life and balance.

Tell us about your relationship with Ports 1961? How did it start?
My relationship with Ports 1961 started a long time ago. Both my parents were Ports customers. I grew up in Toronto, Canada, the original home of the brand, and I have a personal relationship with the founding family, and grew up with Ports around me. So when Fiona Cibani, the brand’s global creative director, approached me about working with the brand, it was almost as if life came full circle. It was a completely natural fit.

Can you share with us some of the evolution or changes that have been made since you joined Ports 1961?
I cannot really call it evolution or changes. It is more about the defining customer and DNA of the brand. Ports 1961 men’s collection was launched in Milan for 11FW season. This was really a defining moment. The brand was built on womenswear, and menswear was a later addition. It has been a very exciting process to shape the current incarnation of a brand that is so rich in heritage.

What elements and characteristics have you infused into the brand?
I would like to think a certain elegance - whether casual or formal dress. My approach is always about a certain sense of elegance.

To many fans out there, Ports1961 has always been seen as a brand that is urban, contemporary and chic, yet very wearable. Since your involvement with Ports 1961, we have seen even more innovative designs in the menswear line. What changes have you made in Ports 1961 design process since your involvement?
The brand is always contemporary and chic, also wearable and masculine. In the last couple of seasons, we added some fun. We do quite a bit of celebrity dressing, and always need to keep it interesting. Fashion tides are constantly changing and dressing today must be easy. The detail, the fabrics and trims are all 'luxe', but the attitude is 'easy'.  Black Tie is always going to be black tie and I love formal evening dressing, but for day it's all about 'ease'!

When you design, do you design for trends/ or for style?
I always approach things from a position of style. Menswear to me is not about being trendy. I believe a man in too much fashion is not masculine. And that a man’s personality and personal style is what makes him. I believe men shop differently than women. Men shop to add something to there already defined style. Where woman are more likely to buy a style to define them or at least their mood.

What are the materials and fabrics you use most? Why?
LUXE fabrications. Today the difference between good and great lies in design details and fabrication - feel-good fabric, fabric that moves, light-weight fabrics, fabrics with energy and new innovation. In the Spring collection the Rhombus printed wool, the Solid and Degrade are some of my favorite fabrics. This was a 6-month development with one of the Italian Mills. This kind of collaboration is exciting merging traditional techniques and new innovation.

What are the materials and fabrics you use least? Why?
That’s hard to say. Polyester used to be a bad word, now with technology, there are some amazing innovations in polyester yarns.

Describe the style of a Ports 1961 man.
The Ports 1961 man is multi dimensional; he is confident, successful, fashion aware but not a fashion victim. He takes care of himself; he is quality conscious and demands best of his what buys, whether it be cars or clothes.

What kind of personality do you think a Ports 1961 man should have?
I think it would be arrogant to predispose the kind of personality a man that wears a fashion brand may have. Ports 1961 customers are global, there travelers, open minded and interested in newness and nowness... they can be found in cities around the world.

Who's best represents a Ports 1961 man?
If I will give a face, the man would have to be Actor/Director Deng Chao. Not only because he is a superstar, he is strong, confident, busy. He is a husband, a father. He is a leader, he takes pride in grooming, he makes his own conscious decisions on the way he looks. He is elegant, gracious and charming. In my opinion, these are some of the most beautiful characteristics in a man.

What are the messages you want to deliver to people who wear Ports 1961?
ENJOY! Understand that these products are designed and produced with integrity.

What does Ports 1961 aim to achieve?

Do you have a confession to make about your latest collection?

What are you working on now?
The Ports 1961 Fall 14 collection. And it's looking and feeling so great! I look forward to sharing it with you!

Fashion is…
Fashion is a dialogue of our times. Fashion is the way one carries oneself. Fashion is an attitude, a feeling, a mood. Fashion is color, but fashion can also be very black. Fashion is passion. It is more than a thing. Fashion is culture.

What are your fashion tips for Hong Kong people?
Personalise your look, make it individual. It is always important that a man wears his clothes as opposed to his clothes wearing him.

When did you shop last and what did you buy?
A few months ago in NYC where I bought a painting at an auction... It's magical! The use of color is breathtaking!

What’s next on your shopping wishlist?
A new MAC computer, and Ports 1961 galactic tweed suit, single-breasted version.

What is your favorite possession?
My iPhone, I literarily cannot live without it. I am not techy, but I do everything on this phone.  The camera currently and usually has over 3000 pictures in it. I think it is the one of the greatest inventions ever.

What is your ideal way of a living life?
With passion, enjoying everyday, enjoying what I do for a living, spending quality time with my family…Living, laughing, loving and a lot of champagne!

What do we expect to see in Ports 1961 SS2014 Men Collection?
PORTS 1961 SS2014 Men collection is inspired by the sculptural artworks of Rainer Lagemann, which capture the human body in motion. A geometric freeze frame of classic, timeless gestures and emotions are conveyed through silhouettes, materials and details. 

What material are used?
Bonded fabrics have been exclusively created and matched with an optical depth, emitting dimension and weightlessness in trapeze shaped pea coats and cropped trousers. Nappa leather is decorated in a geometric dégradé print motif bomber jacket and strong shouldered tailoring. Supple suede Bermuda shorts with matching caban exemplifies an understated luxury. Cashmere intarsia, ultrafine merino and water resistant yarns are amplified onto multi gauge knitting structures that push the boundaries of conception. 

In terms of colors used?
Double-faced and bi-color fabrics are used extensively in tailoring and outerwear. Each classification is delicately trimmed with dusted gold hardware. A soothing desert color palette of sand, off-white and champagne lead to a sharper offering of crisp white and pearl grey. Vibrant violet, aubergine, ink blue and navy interrupt ocean tones of sage and stone. 

What are the style like?
Athletic mesh, luxurious suede and water resistant cotton are combined in slip-on derby shoes and loafers, creating a balance between formal and sport. A classic Ports 1961 modern man with timeless values.

Prior to Ports, Hylton made his home in New York, where he was Editor-at-Large for Suede Magazine, a Time Inc. title that’s lush, vanguard stance earned critical acclaim from The New York Times, Advertising Age, Womens Wear Daily and Italian Vogue. The myriad functions he performed in that integral role ranged from conceptualizing and styling shoots to developing original merchandize that reflected the publication’s distinctive perspective. While in Manhattan, Hylton also consulted on numerous luxury brands including the launch of David Chu’s eponymous collection - a line now well on it’s way to replicating the success he enjoyed as Head Designer for Nautica and the urbane décor emporium, ABC Carpet & Home, for which he developed a business expanding, merchandizing template.

*Special Thanks to Plug-PR @ interview arrangement.

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