industry insiders on their worst fashion christmas presents

i-D asks a roll call of fashion folks to recall the unstylish Christmas presents that made them cringe.

by James Anderson
25 December 2015, 5:33pm

Christopher Shannon, Designer
"Someone got me this awful fashion-craft book about making sort of 'spirit clothing' from leaves and feathers, sort of foraging for fashion... so awful! Saying that now, it sounds quite amazing - very 'St Martins M.A research'. I might try and track another copy down. I don't believe in being ungrateful, so I'm not revealing the others, although there's been a few complete wince-face ones. I'm mostly happy when anyone gives me anything. Within reason."

Lulu Kennedy, Founder and Director, Fashion East and Editor at Large, Love
"Being dumped right before Xmas, LOL!"

Michael Costiff, Founder of World Archive and all-round Style Icon
"My family would never dare to buy me a fashion item, but because we had a ginger cat they thought I would like a 'Garfield' pyjama case. It was quickly sent to the charity shop!"

Simon Foxton, Stylist and Art Director
"Probably a pair of Red or Dead 'Space Baby' Doc Martens."

Joe and Charlie Casely-Hayford, Designers
"The worst fashion related Christmas present has to be the seasonal fashion calendar! Which confirms that we will have to work through Christmas on coordinating our fall sample collection for Fashion Week in early January!"

Marc Hare, Founder and Designer, Mr Hare
"Sorry, Mum, but back when I was 10 years old and a rude boy, circa 1980, all I wanted in the world was a navy Crombie to rock with my college loafers and white socks. I got a computer battleships game instead. I am still disappointed to this day. That's how fashion can do you."

Lou Dalton, Designer
"A bottle of the perfume 'LouLou' By Cacharel, bought by a relative one year, due to the name association and not the fragrance itself. I still have it somewhere at home back in Shropshire, stashed away with a bottle of 'Charlie' by Revlon, also a gift from the same relative for Christmas."

Gordon Richardson, Design Director, Topman
"Xmas novelty socks!"

Siv Stoldal, Founder and Designer, Haik
"Ah, god, I have the sweetest family, but being a fashion designer I have been prone to a few 'fashion gifts' in my time. Especially from relatives who insist what they have bought is very 'IN' right now. Not so long ago someone tried to give me UGG boots as well as silver gladiator sandals! Being quite shocked that they thought I was going to wear this, I just could not handle being polite, and gave the gift right back. Thankfully, now everyone knows that buying 'fashion clothes' for me is a complete waste of time and money, and to be fair, I know I am difficult, to the point that I even find it hard myself to buy clothes that I like."

Ben Kelway, Art Director, Arena Homme + and Pop magazines
"For several years in the '90s I got a pair of 'Jeff Banks' branded underwear. It was usually those sort of depressing fitted shorts or 'trunks' which lose their shape after a few washes."

Alison Lloyd, Founder and Designer, Ally Capellino
"About ten years ago, when my Mother volunteered in a charity shop, I received a fairly heavy parcel. Inside was a large pair of well used men's wool combinations. I was pretty speechless, and she topped it with the triumphant addition, 'Only 50p from Mr Emmet!' who was the owner of the charity shop."

Harriet Vine, Co-founder and Designer, Tatty Devine
"Once I was given pink marigolds with a feather boa trim. I think they were meant to be a fashion item, but they went straight to the charity shop."

Peter Jensen, Designer
"I think the worst fashion present I ever got must be a home crocheted tortoise from my dad's mom. She never usually gave us a present and then one year I got this tortoise from her, which was around 1 meter by 1 meter, it was fucking huge. I was around 17 years old then, so getting something homemade was really very uncool. I remember that it was made in these dusty brown colors and looked like it had been sitting in some old women's front room for 300 years. I hated it, but because we never got anything from her - and my dad was so pleased that finally she gave us a present - I was forced by my mom to look happy and say thank you. Oh, and it smelt of cigarette smoke as well, which is so bloody '80s!"

Pam Hogg, Designer
"The worst was probably the present that someone passed on to another friend in a last minute realization that it was way off the mark."

Kit Neale, Designer
"A candle making kit instead of a Playstation that I had asked for. And I still often get fucking ghastly socks!"

Steve Terry, Founder of Wildlife Press
"I received a pair of those animal feet slippers as a surprise gift one year - they were not the most practical foot attire. Try climbing the stairs in those bad boys!"

Cozette McCreery, Co-founder and Director, Sibling
"Possibly pearls. I know, what a brat. However when my brother gave me a crew cut and I'd wear my Hamnett pale pink cashmere skirt and twinset they did get an airing. I think everyone thought they were plastic."

Sid Bryan, Co-founder and Director, Sibling
"I was given proper old man leather slippers one year and I pulled a face. The person noticed and insisted that they were from Jermyn St and so very good quality and very expensive! I've worn them for the last 6 years and hear 'very expensive' every time I wear them."

Gert Jonkers, Co-founder and Editor, Fantastic Man
"Is there such a thing as a bad present? One of my favorite summer holiday reads this year was Marie Kondo's book Tidying Up, and I really agree with her belief that a present may well mean more to the 'giver' than to the 'receiver'. A present finds its main purpose in the act and moment of giving. If somebody really decided they want to give this or that, then that's a good present, whether the receiver likes it or not. If you don't want to receive or keep it, never mind; just re-gift it to someone else or donate it to charity. That said, I don't think I've ever worn the bedazzled underwear that I received a few years ago, but also because the size was way off."

Judy Blame, Jewellery Designer and Art Director
"I can't remember any presents, good or bad. I hate Christmas!"

Daryoush Haj-Najafi, Senior Editor, Complex UK
"I love my mum a LOT. But unfortunately she's way more TK Maxx than she is Ebay. I mean, urgh, no more fitted shirts please, no embroidery, no Spitalfields Shirt Company, no bright colors, no weird grey big-buttoned cardigans, no Levis commuter jeans. Mum, I know sweats in Machine-A run to more than your mortgage payments, but if you can't afford that, just get me stuff from Nike in a block color."

AlexBox, Make-up Artist
"I was 8 years old, a little ska-punk-rude girl, with orange hair. I was excitedly opening a beautifully wrapped present from my Aunty. Excitement turned to horror when inside, instead of a Blondie T-shirt or hat like The Specials wore, there was a drip dry, white nylon, lace collared, pearl buttoned Miss Marple blouse! I was expected to wear it to a Boxing Day tea, but curiously it couldn't be found... Ten years later, when I left home, my mum and dad re-decorated my room. They pulled back the large wardrobe and found hundreds of tiny pieces of strange, white nylon 'confetti'.....!?"

Mandi Lennard, Founder of Mandi's Basement
"A full set of fall/winter Chanel make-up from The Independent. The catch was that I had to write a review on it for them, and it was one of those things I kept putting off, and at the last hour cobbled something together that was not worthy of the stash they sent me."


Interviews James Anderson