ohw? are you? We ask Tony Bannister of Scout

Posted on July 27, 2015 by Cherilyn Charlton

ohw? are you? Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I have a fashion degree background, my first job was working for a very cool trend forecasting agency based in Covent Garden, London where I learnt from the ground up how to research & visualise cool trends which clients all over the world bought to use in the development of their ranges. I worked there for 7 years as a designer, Head of Womenswear & then Head of the Studio which allowed me travel over the world meeting agents & client & doing season trend forecasts presentations,. From the US to Brazil, Scandinavia & across Europe, all over Asia & down to Australia. This is where I learnt my craft & got the travel bug & which eventually led me to being offered a position to head up the Trend Bureau for one of Australia's largest department stores & emigrate to Australia which is where I was living until I moved back to London a few years ago. I then moved into the world of retailing as a Product Manager & Creative Director for a number of leading Australian retailers. I was responsible for not only the direction of the brand & the product but suppliers, marketing, merchandising & store concepts. Huge responsibilities & budgets but a great learning curve. One of my biggest achievements was turning a no name retailer & brand, recently acquired by a large privately owned manufacturer to being named Australia's No 1 retailer.

I think it’s fair to say you know your stuff having been in the industry for over 20 years… where did your interest in fashion stem from?

Growing up in the 1970's in the UK, influenced by music & style gurus like David Bowie & Bryan Ferry, I'd always had a strong leaning towards fashion. I used to design & make my own clothes when I was young & had an obsession with vintage fashion which living in a small northern town meant hunting & foraging in church hall jumbles sales at the w/e for rare & unusual cast-offs. I had a good eye & slightly original fashion sense. Much to the horror of my parents, I went through the stages of post Mod - Smoothes as they were labelled, glam rock, then punk then New Romantics. I noticed what people were wearing but strove to look & be different. 

At what point in your career did you think, it’s time, I need to build my own agency?

As various companies kept trying to poach me after various repositioning of successful brands, I decided to start my own consultancy & work for several Australian brands not just one to broaden my portfolio. This was successful up to the point where I could no longer take on any more clients exclusively which is when I decide to launch SCOUT to build a brand based on the experience I'd garnered over a 20+ period of forecasting and developing ranges. I also saw a gap in the market between how to forecast & how to realise product which no other forecast companies were doing . 

Is your vision of Scout complete or do you see it evolving?

We've been working in the fashion arena for a long time, but as the internet & pace of developing ranges has changed, so have the industries needs. There's constant need to change, for newness & now everyone has access to everything. Our job more & more is to edit & make sense out of the vast amount of information which is available. We've also moved into the Lifestyle & Interiors markets as this is a growing market & one which also needs direction & expertise on.  

Do you find it hard switching off? I for one find myself constantly staring at people’s shoes, my inner monologue running “what brand are they?”

I often say to my team, just because I'm not 'on-line', having a weekend 'off', away travelling or on holiday doesn't mean I'm switched off. You never are, I'm always seeing things or someone than can spark the germ of an idea or a trend. 

How would you describe your personal style & where do you draw inspiration from?

These days its more understated with a twist & I find inspiration from everything & everyone with travel always surprising & inspiring me. 

Where did you first encounter the brand ohw?? What was it specifically that caught your interest?

I saw it in Berlin @ the Premium trade fair. The simplicity of the presentation & product really stood out in what is a very crowded market. I felt it had a unique point of difference, modern, functional, clean but fashion forward.

And finally, what’s your top pick for AW15? I know that’s a hard question, of course you love them all!

In terms of colour, we've been forecasting all shades of blues for over 4 years but for AW15 we are talking about the importance of white & pale neutrals shades which for winter is quite unusual when the focus is always on black & greys. I suppose it's the polar opposite… whether it's a white sweatshirt or chancy knit, a white leather jacket & of course a pair of white ohw? sneakers, white is the new black! 

A great point to finish on, thanks Tony! 


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