One of my favourite things about Anderson & Sheppard is that every person, from bespoke to the haberdashery, are wonderful. None more so than Alex Avdoi-Green. We caught up with Alex at Oscuro at The Arts Club to talk clothing and cigars.
Share a memory of your first smoke…
My first proper smoke, where I was consciously taking note of what I was smoking, both in terms of maker and flavour, was a couple of years ago when I first moved to London. It was in St. James’s Park - my favourite place for a solitary smoke and just I’d been and bought a Cohiba Robusto from James J. Fox to celebrate. I decided to take it to one of the benches that overlooks the park’s lake, lit it up and enjoyed it for about an hour and a half; probably double its smoking time but it was a warm day in early September coming off the back of Summer; I remember it well. I was blown away by how much I loved it. A perfect introduction into a world that I wanted to start learning more about and taking more seriously.
What’s your current favourite cigar and why?
I feel like my journey into the world of cigars has only just began. I’ve started out with more mild, lighter cigars from H. Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, Quai d’Orsay and the likes. All have been very pleasant, particularly the Upmann Magnum 50 that I had relatively recently. But, I did try a Davidoff 2000 a few weeks ago and it was the first time I really noticed the development of flavours. It was slightly more intense and the flavour profile continuously evolved throughout the smoke. It was very enjoyable and I really like that format, too. So I would probably say that’s been my favourite so far... although this regional edition La Gloria Cubana is certainly rivalling it.
What have you done recently, for the first time?
Taking time out of the day to slow things down a little - which a cigar can certainly help with. I find that every day can feel as if it is going 100mph sometimes and I’ve found recently that by just taking 10, 15, 20 minutes, and just let yourself be, that everything starts to slow down. For a slightly more adventurous answer however, I do plan to learn to scuba dive in the new year.
Tell us about your career so far…
It’s a brief one thus far! I’ve only been in this industry for about five months now. I spent the last 4/5 years of my life pursuing academia in a serious way but I completely fell out of love with that world and decided to leave it behind. Clothes, tailoring, well made things in general really have always been something I’ve been interested in. I’m fascinated by the process of something being created, more or less by hand, from start to finish, more than anything else. I think there is something really beautiful in that; creating something with your hands. An area I particularly love is knitwear, I’m a big advocate of wool, British wool in particular, and love hearing about how something like this knitted jacket that I’m wearing gets made; all the way from learning about the different kinds of sheep and the wool they produce, to me wearing it now—the whole journey is full of fascinating stages to me. There’s a movement growing worldwide at the moment called Fibershed. It’s where fibres, dyes and labour is sourced within a certain proximity to the location that something is made. Not only is the process of creating so interesting to me but so too are the people and their personal stories. Getting the opportunity to work at Anderson & Sheppard meant I was able to peek behind the curtain, at a world that has fascinated me for so long. I don’t know where my path will take me from here, I know I’ve got a lot to learn but I also know I couldn’t be in a better place to do that. I’m lucky to have been given such an opportunity.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Anderson & Sheppard?
I don’t think I could encapsulate it all into just one thing to be honest. I think first of all it has to be the people I work with who are all wonderful and have made me feel at home from the minute I started. Every single one has been enormously generous with both their time and knowledge and I feel very lucky to be around so many people whose depth of knowledge about the industry is really second-to-none. Secondly, I love engaging with our customers who make every day different. There’s so much variety day-to-day and so many interesting people who walk through the door, so the last few months have been a real pleasure meeting and getting to know customers both new and old. Lastly, being surrounded by well-thought through and beautifully-created things is a real treat. It’s a pleasure to talk about things I’m passionate about on a daily basis with people who are often equally as inquisitive.
Favourite city and why?
A city that really sticks out in my mind is Saint Petersburg. I went there a couple of years ago with my wife and it’s a beautiful place, with so much to see; its incredible architecture that ranges in styles, its palaces, cathedrals and museums... it’s a place that’s draped in this immense, deep history. It’s truly a special pace to walk around. Having said that, over the last six or so months I have developed a Paddington’s-eye view of London. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about this city that has gripped me.
Which menswear brands are you currently enjoying?
Of course, aside from A&S, I have huge admiration and respect for Adret, just down the road on Clifford Street. The beauty of the craftsmanship and the elegance of the pieces is something to be admired. They're stunning and the love that Adam and Seto have for what they’re creating rubs off on you—it’s inspiring.
Bode is another brand I like. I’m a sucker for embroidery—I love it—and Bode has so many intricately-made pieces that are unique in their being. There’s a lot of fun about them and I think that can sometimes be a lost element.
Most prized possession?
A diary which my grandfather kept. It’s something that’s incredibly special to me. A great thing to flick through every so often, it inspires me to start journaling. After that, it’s probably my dad’s wedding ring which I wear on my pinky finger.
Tell us about the outfit you’re wearing…
This is a bit of a move in colour pallet for me. I’m usually drawn to colours, but this is certainly more neutral and tonal. The trousers are brace-back style from Anderson & Sheppard's Haberdashery, which I’ve never tried before until recently. They fit perfectly and are probably the most comfortable trousers I own. This knitted jacket is another Haberdashery piece. It’s a beautifully knitted blend of merino wool and cashmere that keeps its shape really well and is super cosy. The shirt is New & Lingwood, I love a big pointed collar on a shirt and I love how theirs sits. The tie is an Edward Sexton purchase. I’m fond of their ties, they always have fun patterns and colours and the knot is spot on. The butterfly loafers are from Crockett & Jones, whose shoes I cannot fault. I think there’s something unique about the butterfly loafer too, it's a timeless, underused classic shoe. Accessory wise, these are some of my favourites. My watch was a wedding gift from my in-laws; I wear it with a bracelet which I’m sure many would say is a no-go but it's a bit of a style affectation I stole from Cary Grant after looking through old photos of him. My cufflinks were a gift from my wife; they have this beautiful inlay which is reminiscent of a night sky, I love them. Lastly, it would be remiss not to mention this handsome leather cigar case that I picked up from Connolly over the summer. It’s been a constant companion ever since.
What’s something always worth paying for?
A cigar for a friend. I don’t think there’s anything better than putting the world to rights over a cigar and whilst a solitary smoke can be therapeutic in some ways, it’s when you’re in good company that a cigar always tastes that little bit better.
Finally, a rule to live by…
If you ever you happen to meet someone who impacts your life in a positive way, no matter how big or small, always take the time to let them know.