SI has picked the brains of “denim hunter” Leon Keyworth more than once over the years. In June 2016, the Royal College of Art graduate joined Topshop, following stints at Roberto Cavalli and Burberry. Here, Keyworth explains what makes his new role “one of the most exciting to date” while touching on the shifts he’s witnessed in the field of denim during his decade-long career.
How will your role at Topshop be different from the time you spent at high-end brands, given the speed of the high-street and the different expectations of the younger consumer that Topshop tends to attract?
Working on the UK’s biggest and most influential jeans collection, joining at a stage where I can see the range achieve an ever-expanding global reach, is incredible. I’m looking forward to seeing customer reactions at a faster rate, as this will enable me to be more responsive to their needs as well as to the influences I’m surrounded by. My approach to designing is always the same though – I apply my creativity to a specific brand philosophy. Whilst Topshop has a wide product range and diverse customer base, it also has a strong brand identity that my creations must convey. Topshop has always been influenced by youth culture and street style and I admire how the company has streamlined itself to take these ideas from the street to the store at unparalleled speed. This is one of the aspects that enticed me to work for the brand.
What is the most interesting shift that has taken place in the ever-changing denim industry since you started out ten years ago?
In the past, denim trends drew a lot of inspiration from the catwalks at international fashion weeks, but now the street has much more influence. Pinterest, Instagram and blogs are all channels that instantly expose genuine street style from all over the world – be it a new customised jean at a festival, or a trend that is emerging on the streets in Berlin.
Which denim trends do you predict will establish themselves next?
I think we’ll continue to be inspired by the history of denim, and the focus on how we reinvent and restyle recent decades will continue to prevail. This, coupled with the snowballing interest in sustainable design through the reworking of used garments and customisations makes it a really exciting time to be working in this category.