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