Idris Elba on his collaboration with Superdry
The multitalented actor and musician tells us how he’s taking on the world of fashion
I come from a part of East London where fashion is important. We couldn’t afford the big brands, but we still looked good. This was the starting point for my collaboration with Superdry – the concept of the ‘everyman’. I could have taken my name to a more expensive designer brand, but for me that wasn’t the goal. The goal is to make affordable, cool-looking clothes for the everyman. To have a shirt that may not be expensive, but that you can wear to work and then to dinner and still look sharp.
When I first started working with the brand’s founders, James Holder and Julian Dunkerton, we were very honest with each other about what we wanted to achieve. I know what Superdry do, and they do it amazingly, but they wanted a departure – something a little smarter, more premium than before. And I certainly wanted my collections to capture my own style and the clothes I like to wear. They taught me how to look at fashion in a different way, and the result was a true collaboration.
The initial approach was to think about how I dress day-to-day – this is my favourite cut of jeans, my preferred type of T-shirt. The idea was to take the things we like the most and tweak them, paying attention to details such as quality of material and fit. I’m not a designer, but I know what looks good – I can look at someone and say, ‘That doesn’t work for you, this will work.’ And that’s what I did when I walked into the room with Julian and James. I said, ‘This is what I think I can do, and this is how I imagine my ideal customer to feel walking out of the store.’
I’ve always been busy, but now everything has come together at the same time. Fashion, music, acting – it’s all part of the same world, and as a creator it feels so natural to me. People ask me if I can be a jack of all trades. I think I can, and I think everyone should. My attitude is to not worry about being an expert – why not just try it?
Idris Elba is best known for his starring roles in the BBC One series Luther and HBO’s The Wire, as well as numerous appearances on the silver screen, in addition to his established music career under the moniker Driis. Idris Elba’s ongoing collaboration with British casualwear brand Superdry started last year.