Meet the Ecocentric: Oliver Spencer

Oliver Spencer’s eponymous brand caters to the creative individual who wants adaptable, sustainable style

Style 22 Apr 2022

Oliver Spencer's SS22 collection
Meet the Ecocentric, the idea at the heart of the new SS22 collection from Oliver Spencer

There is a romance to the work of Oliver Spencer. It is not the opulent romanticism of the Italians that you find at Gucci or Versace, with their contemporary take on maximalism inspired by Florence and classical antiquity. Nor is it the louche French version, suggesting sensual Left Bank assignations after dark in chic eveningwear, à la Saint Laurent.
Instead, it is a thoroughly British take on the notion of the Romantic, with a capital R – a sophisticated, gentlemanly individualism that has its roots in our noble tradition of celebrating gentle eccentricity in dress. This being the 21st century, though, we have moved with the times and our self-expressive protagonist is not so much a flamboyant dresser, with a tendency towards the dandy, but instead what Spencer calls an “Ecocentric”: a free-spirited environmentally-led creative. ‘He’s a photographer, musician, ceramicist that is mindful of what he includes in his wardrobe,’ explains the designer.


Oliver Spencer's new collection is 85 per cent sustainable
Oliver Spencer’s new collection is 85 per cent sustainable

What this individual wants to wear, suggests Spencer, is a crossover wardrobe of sportswear and tailoring, comfortable and relaxed and given character by the use of a rich selection of interesting – and, crucially, eco-friendly – fabrics. ‘Our dedication to sustainability continues to grow, with the collection now at 85 per cent sustainable, using a host of organic cottons, linen-blends and ecological fibres,’ he says.

These materials are colourful – sky blues and forest greens are key, suggesting the natural world – patterned and textured.

‘Woven and geometric textiles evoke a free-spirited nature akin to a refined hippie,’ says the designer. The Ecocentric is decidedly more boho than aristo. Seersucker and waffle share the stage with terry cord and textured jersey, creating a richly tactile range of pieces that are less concerned with decoration for the sake of the observer than with the sense the wearer has of the special nature of his outfit.

Oliver Spencer SS22 collection
Oliver Spencer SS22 collection

The laid-back approach is evident not only in the loose silhouettes – a new wide-fit fatigue trouser with side pocket and double waistband, for example – but also in the relaxed construction. And this is where Oliver Spencer excels; as a designer, he is fully aware that for his clothing to be relevant to most men it still has to be based on the staples: jackets, trousers, coats, shirts, knits etc. So far, so obvious. But the way to make these fit for today’s new flexible lifestyle, where the lines between work and leisure have been blurred as never before, is to engineer them to be as easy and comfortable to wear as sportswear. This requires a modern, technological approach to design so that pieces maintain a degree of refinement in shape and silhouette, while allowing for easy flexibility. As well as delivering this “hybrid” style in jackets and trousers, Oliver Spencer’s spring/summer 2022 collection also offers it in outerwear such as the “Ilfracombe” four-pocket Harrington, with its drawstring waistband, and the “Porthcurno” Italian-style water-repellent parka.

‘What we have created for this season is a modern work wardrobe where sportswear and lifestyle cross over,’ says Spencer. ‘Ultimately it is what we are all chasing, and we are helping to provide a point of view as to what a creative would wear to work. It’s the movement and flexibility that sportswear allows, but the modern and refined sensibilities of what the brand is known for, the result of which is a distilled aesthetic of the two.’