ON AND OFF THE CLOCK
16 QUESTIONS WITH: DAVID KEYTE
"I guess, like all of us, I am a product of my upbringing. "
YOU DESIGN SOME SHARP CLOTHES THAT HAVE A UTILITARIAN LEAN AND YOUR COLLECTIONS SEEM TO ALL FIT TOGETHER NICELY SEASON AFTER SEASON. NOW IN YOUR TENTH YEAR WITH UNIVERSAL WORKS, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR VISION HAS CHANGED AT ALL? OR BEEN CONFIRMED?
I think the vision is the same as day one: Modern, based on the here and now, but with an understanding of our cultural and clothing history.
All that informs the collections, but we never hold back from exploring further.
Wearable, stylish, and understated clothing has been what we are about since the beginning.
Of course, others will have to be the judge if we are succeeding in that vision.
HOW HAS TEXTURE AND FABRICATION PLAYED INTO YOUR WORK OVER THE YEARS?
I love fabric and start each collection with choosing fabrics before creating any designs. For me, that’s where it begins.
I’VE READ AN INTERVIEW WITH YOU WHERE YOU TALKED ABOUT GROWING UP IN A WORKING CLASS NEIGHBORHOOD IN EAST MIDLAND, HOW DOES YOUR PERSONAL HISTORY AND A SENSE OF PLACE REFLECT IN YOUR WORK?
I guess, like all of us, I am a product of my upbringing.
Having a hard-working family taught me a lot and keeps me humble and hungry to achieve and keep improving.
I didn’t start with any wealth or status so I can always relate to the everyday guy, but hopefully inspire him too.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'D LIKE TO CHANGE IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY?
Yes! Less fast fashion and cheap clothing that falls apart or gets tossed after a couple of washes.
DO YOU HAVE ANY KIND OF RITUAL OR TRADITION ASSOCIATED WITH FINISHING A COLLECTION?
I would love to throw a big Wrap Party when we are done with each collection, but when it’s ready it’s almost immediately into the shows and selling season.
Then it starts all over, so there’s little time to think about or create a kind of fun ending ritual.
Usually it’s just the sound of a good nights sleep and the relief of having done it just in time again.
ANY FASHION RULES THAT YOU ADVOCATE FOR?
Breaking them as often as you can.
IF YOU HAD TO DO SOMETHING THAT ISN'T THIS, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Please don’t make me do anything else! This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was nine.
WHEN DO YOUR BEST IDEAS COME? EARLY BIRD OR NIGHT OWL?
Early bird for me, but it can also take a lot of tries - a lot of throwing away sketches and ideas before the right one comes together.
So although I might start early, it sometimes finishes late.
HOW DID YOUR PERSONAL STYLE DEVELOP FROM HIGH SCHOOL UNTIL NOW?
I’m not sure it has changed that much.
I was into an eclectic mix back then and I still am.
Mixed up in an interesting way I hope, but always mixed up.
WHAT DO YOU NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT?
Clothes. I don’t look that good naked.
DO YOU HAVE ANY HOBBIES THAT YOU WISH YOU HAD MORE TIME FOR?
Not hobbies really, but I wish I spent more time hiking in the hills and less time reading emails.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE STORE OR RESTAURANT IN YOUR HOMETOWN?
My favorite store is not really a store, but a small sales counter attached to a small bakery that opens just a couple of days a week.
They make bread and a few other things with such passion and commitment.
Just to be there and breathe that air is a slice of heaven.
WHAT RECORD IS THE MOST NOSTALGIC FOR YOU?
Tobi Legend – Time Will Pass You By
WHAT GENRE OF ART DO YOU FIND THE MOST INSPIRING?
CAREER OR PERSONAL, WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE BIGGEST RISK YOU'VE TAKEN?
I try and take risks as often as I can, but they’re small and calculated.
I guess that the biggest was starting a business when I was in my late forties when most people are thinking of slowing down.
I just wanted to go faster!
ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
I’m honestly humbled when people tell us they like Universal Works.
It makes it all worth it if we can make people’s lives a little happier - expressing themselves through their clothing and feeling good in what they wear.