Pass it on

From baby boots to a beloved T-shirt, three fa­thers and sons share the sto­ries be­hind their favourite hand-me-downs

The Guardian - Weekend - - Contents - In­ter­views by Colin Crummy Pho­to­graphs by David Yeo

Fa­thers and sons on their style her­itage

‘Dad is way cooler than me – I just ac­cept that’ Joe Casely-Hay­ford, 62, is a de­signer who launched his epony­mous brand in 1984. In 2009, he cre­ated the menswear la­bel Casely-Hay­ford with his son, Char­lie, 32. Pic­tured pre­vi­ous page

‘This T-shirt’s too small for Dad. It’s funny when he wears san­dals or tucks his shirt into his trousers’

‘I used to raid my par­ents’ wardrobes – my mum’s fur coat or my dad’s tweed jacket. Now I’m sav­ing stuff for Bobby’ Cathal McA­teer, 46, is the Scot­tish founder of Folk Cloth­ing. He has two daugh­ters, Minu and An­nie, and one son, Bobby, who is 11.


My ear­li­est mem­o­ries are be­ing in my dad’s former stu­dio in Whitechapel, east Lon­don. It was a sec­ond home be­cause my mum and dad started the busi­ness to­gether. I re­mem­ber my dad bounc­ing me around while peo­ple were cut­ting pat­terns at the ta­ble.

Dad’s watch, a Bre­itling Nav­itimer Cos­mo­naute, plays an in­te­gral role in those child­hood mem­o­ries. His style al­ways evolved, but the watch was there from day zero – the one per­ma­nent thing in his wardrobe. It has a lot of power.

I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand fash­ion when I was a child; I didn’t un­der­stand the hys­te­ria. When I was nine, in 1995, I met Princess Diana on the front row at my dad’s show at the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum. It was the first time she had sat on the front row at a show; sud­denly, all the cam­eras were on us.

My dad made me my first suit and a lit­tle pair of leather work­man boots when I was a child – we still have the boots (pic­tured pre­vi­ous page). It must be a sub­con­scious thing, but I of­ten wear the same look now: a suit, T-shirt and boots. Ex­actly what he de­signed for me when I was a baby.

As a teenager, I came to the re­al­i­sa­tion that my dad was way cooler than me, and I just had to ac­cept that. He has this in­cred­i­ble un­der­stand­ing of ev­ery art form; it’s some­times over­whelm­ing. I was very con­scious of what he would think of my style as I grew up. Even my school uni­form: my old man made sure it was so fresh. Ev­ery­thing fit­ted per­fectly.

When I went out to see my friends, I would run out the door be­cause I didn’t want him to see what I was wear­ing. I used to ex­per­i­ment with a weird mix of style eras. At the same time, I was try­ing to fit in at school, so I’d wear wide-leg tas­selled trousers from Cam­den Mar­ket.

Dad taught me how cloth­ing plays a huge part in iden­tity. I have lots of clothes passed on from him, but when he gave me that watch on my 25th birth­day, it was dif­fer­ent be­cause it was for life. When I turned 30, I bought him an iden­ti­cal watch, so we could share them. I knew how much it meant to him.


I found my first watch in the gar­den when I was eight. It was a first world war grid watch, one of the first wrist­watches made. I still don’t know how it got there.

I have been a keen col­lec­tor since. I love the mas­culin­ity of men’s watches, the tech­ni­cal as­pects. The Bre­itling Cos­mo­naute se­ries re­ally caught my eye: it was one of the first chrono­graph watches, and was worn by the as­tro­naut Scott Car­pen­ter when he or­bited the Earth on 24 May 1962. By 1993, I had got to a point where I could treat my­self to one.

Char­lie and I share a birth­day – 24 May – and I handed it down to him on his 25th birth­day. It’s im­por­tant to main­tain a chain, es­pe­cially in a fam­ily busi­ness.

We work to­gether now, but when Char­lie was grow­ing up I said to him: ‘There is one thing I would like you to do, and that is not to come into the fash­ion busi­ness.’ That is what hap­pens when you tell your kids to do some­thing. It’s a tough busi­ness, but a fan­tas­tic one. Soon Char­lie will be run­ning the

com­pany on his own. There is a great beauty in that idea of from father to son, son to father.

In most other ca­reers, the father would al­ways teach the son. But be­cause fash­ion is in­spired by youth, I have learned a lot from Char­lie: he was the one who sug­gested we could work to­gether. But when it comes to de­sign­ing col­lec­tions, I’m the more for­ward-think­ing. He is al­ways say­ing: ‘Whoa, Dad, let’s be clas­sic here.’ I say, we have got to push the bound­aries. It’s al­ways an in­ter­est­ing de­bate. Who wins? Well, I’m the father.


This isn’t the first T-shirt of mine I have given Bobby, but it is the one he loves and wears the most. I have kept a lot of clothes that I would like to pass on one day. There is a three-piece suit by Bathing Ape that I have never told him about, and other things he can’t stand now. They are just nice things, un­branded, for when he won’t be dig­ging streetwear and sports­wear so much.

I was into fash­ion as much as Bobby is when I was his age. I used to raid →

my par­ents’ wardrobes. I would go to par­ties and nick my mum’s fur coat, or my dad’s tweed jacket or old cor­duroys.

I got a job at 12, so I had money to spend. When I was 15, I worked in a clothes shop in Glas­gow called Ichi Ni San, which stocked the lat­est fash­ion, such as Hel­mut Lang and Vivi­enne West­wood. At 17, the own­ers sent me to buy for them in Lon­don and Paris. I was rub­bish at school and very into clothes, so it was great. I learned on my feet. It’s a fun in­dus­try.

I re­ally don’t mind what Bobby does. But if he did take over the busi­ness, I would be ter­ri­bly proud.


My dad wore this T-shirt a few times and then gave it to me. It’s a bit too small on him. I think it’s funny when he wears old-man san­dals or re­ally tight T-shirts. And when he tucks T-shirts into his trousers.

I only have two or three favourite la­bels: Supreme, Palace and Bil­lion­aire Boys Club. Most of their stuff is rare and hard to get hold of. I like Palace for its jack­ets.

There are a few peo­ple I watch on YouTube who have lots of stuff that I re­ally want. One guy, Qias Omar, col­lects Supreme and trav­els to Sneaker Cons, which are events where you trade clothes and train­ers. When I saw that, I de­cided I wanted to go.

Last month, I went to the Sneaker Con in Lon­don with my dad and a few friends. I didn’t bring much money be­cause some of the sneak­ers were £2,000. But you can trade stuff, so I swapped a pair of Adi­das train­ers my dad gave me for some Supreme and Palace T-shirts.

I like the spots and the colours of this T-shirt. I feel proud be­cause it is my dad’s de­sign. I think I would like to do the same as my dad when I grow up.


Grow­ing up, I loved try­ing on my dad’s clothes. I al­ways used to wear his suits be­fore I could af­ford to have my own. At school, we wore a blazer and trousers or a suit; most boys wore hand-me-downs. Tai­lor-made clothes last so well that I had friends who were wear­ing their grand­fa­thers’ cloth­ing, made 50 years ear­lier. I al­ways wore my dad’s. The jacket my dad is wear­ing in this pho­to­graph was ideal for a teenager at a cold English board­ing school – it is made from such heavy wool and its dark colour ab­sorbs stains.

I was fas­ci­nated by my dad’s mil­i­tary uni­form, from do­ing na­tional ser­vice in Nor­way. One time, hol­i­day­ing off the Nor­we­gian coast, he had a tra­di­tional na­tional cos­tume made, which I loved to dress up in. We both like to dress smartly: we dress smarter than most other peo­ple wher­ever we go. It makes it an oc­ca­sion.

It is a flam­boy­ant thing to spend your life play­ing the vi­o­lin. My out­fits help me build an im­age. I like to be in­volved in the de­sign process: the clothes need to be com­fort­able. My jack­ets have a vent in the back so I can play freely.

Play­ing the vi­o­lin is a phys­i­cally un­bal­anced thing to do. I ex­er­cise a lot to strengthen my back and arms and im­prove my pos­ture, so dad’s jacket, which we both still wear, is a lit­tle

tight now. We both feel sen­ti­men­tal about it – per­haps I will be able to share it with my own child one day.

I get lots of de­signer clothes from mod­el­ling, but I pre­fer to wear be­spoke clothes. I of­ten end up giv­ing the de­signer pieces to dad.


I’m a very fru­gal per­son. I don’t throw any­thing away. My body hasn’t changed over the years, so I have clothes that are 40 to 50 years old. You get used to them. I ask my­self: are you sure it’s worn out?

If I don’t wear a suit for a long time, I find a way to give it away. My chil­dren were al­ways wear­ing my clothes. My daugh­ter, Sasha, would wear a jumper of mine; Char­lie was al­ways a show­man, al­ways dress­ing up in my things.

The tai­lor of this par­tic­u­lar jacket was called Chap­man. I said to him that I wanted re­ally thick ma­te­rial, wool, so that if it’s cold out­side I can wear the suit with­out a coat. It should be prac­ti­cal, but suit­able for work.

The way you dress is not ev­ery­thing, but it’s a state­ment about your­self. A suit shows you have gone to the trou­ble of be­ing pre­sentable. But I am not ex­treme – you can be­come obsessed with your looks.

Char­lie is friends with Karl Lager­feld and is of­ten given clothes. They some­times fit me even bet­ter than a be­spoke suit. And, be­lieve it or not, they are a lot cheaper

‘I get lots of de­signer clothes from mod­el­ling, but pre­fer a tai­lor-made suit. Dad gets the de­signer pieces’ Char­lie Siem, 32, is a clas­si­cal vi­o­lin­ist and model. His father is Kris­tian Siem, 69, a Nor­we­gian busi­ness­man.

‘We dress smarter than most other peo­ple wher­ever we go. It makes it an oc­ca­sion’

Bobby and Cathal McA­teer

Kris­tian and Char­lie Siem

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