Words by Alek Rose
When he's not pedalling between London's best coffee shops, Oliver Hooson (@olvh) is snapping shots of the capital's finest architecture and interior design, and exhibiting some of Instagram's most tasteful outfits. We met up at – you guessed it – a coffee shop to have a chat about his entry into the world of fashion, maintaining creative motivation and backing yourself.
Firstly, can you introduce yourself?
I’m just going to start with: god, that coffee is good. But anyway, at the moment I have quite a bit of overlap. My work life has all been Instagram-based menswear fashion, working with brands to create content but mainly for my Instagram page. Lately I have stepped away from that – I’m still doing bits of it because don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing – but I’ve taken a step back to do a lot more with design and photography. I’ve started to pick up a lot of interior design jobs which is great, it started as me just taking natural shots of amazing design products that fit my aesthetic and I love curating scenes like that so much. So, I think right now I’m merging a passion for photography, interior design, and menswear together.
Who was your childhood hero?
Johnny Knoxville. Not just because of his charisma and his craziness but because of his steez as well. He had that iconic wardrobe: the Chucks, the Ray Bans. He encapsulates loads of the traits I had growing up.
What sparked your interest in fashion?
My first moments of being conscious of the way I dress were going to band nights, music was the catalyst. Metal, punk, post-rock, I was a grunge skater. That’s actually what made me pick up a camera as well. Skating and music are definitely the two things that bring me the best memories. The clothes we used to wear were a sign that we were part of a culture, almost a minority, which was special to us. At the age of twelve we were travelling from Chester to Birmingham to meet up with random dudes who posted videos on YouTube, just to skate with them. That led to music and the clothes we’d wear, which ended up as a much more minimalist, refined style focused on more muted colours and certain brands did that well. My first years skating, I was wearing XLarge, FUBU, Rocawear in size XXL and I was thirteen…
When did the transition to a more minimalist style happen?
That was all about finding girls, some people moving off to uni, getting jobs, maturing into adult life. I started spending money on clothes that I actually wanted to keep without ripping them while skating. Just looking at everything I’d worn from age twelve to about twenty and figuring out what worked and what didn’t, what was a more consistent, viable style. And to be honest, if we look at the two styles, I still have a soft spot for the plaid shirts, hoodies underneath, that Jackass style, like Johnny Knoxville, Tony Hawks, Bam Margera.
How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?
Everyone wants to know this. I actually only have two coffees a day, three absolute maximum. I’m lucky, some people don’t even manage to get out of the office to grab a coffee, but my office is the coffee shop.
TASCHENNYT Explorer: Mountains, Deserts & Plains Book £30
Uniforms for the DedicatedBlack Corduroy Weave Volume Trousers £109
Bang & OlufsenNatural Beosound Edge Speaker £2,900
NikbenGet Wet in Style Swim Shorts £99
FloydSunset Orange Cabin Suitcase £330
Bang & OlufsenCharcoal Grey Beoplay H4 Headphones £240
Campbell ColeChilli Red Simple Key Knot £17
UnrecordedKhaki Chino Trousers £125
When did you start the coffee reviews and did you expect them to be as successful as they are?
I’ve had a lot of feedback on the reviews since I’ve been doing them, there are people you’d never expect who have told me they love them. People say that the reviews shortcut to everything they need, giving a digestible and accessible recommendation. I’ve learned a lot about coffee since starting the reviews, but the more you learn about coffee, the more you realise you don’t know about coffee. I’ve realised that if I pretend to know the complexities about coffee, I’ll just offend people in the top tier. I was never that bothered about the complicated stuff anyway, I came to coffee shops for spaces. I came to enjoy this feeling that people create, which you can’t really get anywhere else. I started doing the reviews about two years ago and I’ve just tried to keep them digestible really.
You seem to have very smoothly monetised your hobbies and passions, what advice would you give to others who want to do the same?
Time, place, and persistence. I’ve been very lucky in being able to wait for things to take off instead of having to rush into making money from it all. Without sounding like too much of a cliché, if you want it enough it’ll happen. Don’t go into a situation where you don’t back yourself, always expect that you can do it. I’ve come out of jobs in the past where I’ve just thought I was so under-qualified to do them, but they’ve come back and told me what they want and I’ve taught myself how to edit to that standard for example. I’m still learning. I don’t know how I managed to design a bag with some friends and it took off. Just back yourself and tell yourself you can do it.
On the flip side of your work being your hobbies, do you ever find it difficult to distinguish your leisure time and work time?
Yeah, that’s a killer. It took two years to realise that I’m at my least productive now, I was at my most productive when I came to London. I was more ballsy, going out and taking photographs in people’s restaurants and shops, picking people off the street and saying: “Can you hold this?” I took more risks. But now that I’ve got more used to the jobs and a more constant income, I think I’m less creative and I’m worse at handling my time.
In 2019 I’m looking to shake things up a bit and start doing different stuff because doing the same thing for too long is hard, you have to keep moving. So, next year I’m designing a café, I’m designing the interior of a new café for a coffee company. They want to bridge lots of gaps and they’ve asked me to come in and help with design marketing. For me, this project for 2019 is the thing that I couldn’t have dreamt of but is definitely the direction I want to go in.
Following on from that, where do you hope to be in the next five years?
I’d say interior design, architecture, and photography. But also, I don’t see why all of my passions can’t overlap and live together. But yeah, designing spaces. The other day someone told me that one of my favourite designers had no experience in design at all, he just fell into it through a series of opportunities. So, if I can linger around the interior design dream then I’m happy with that. Actually quite an OPUMO dream, it definitely lives within your aesthetic.
What are three brands that you’re wearing this winter?
I’ve got to decide on a new coat and there are three brands that I’m looking at: one is Sunnei from Milan, another is Bode NYC and finally And Wander – a really cool Japanese technical brand.