Catching up with Afield's Mark Scholes

We got a little bit excited at the end of Summer about a new brand called Afield. Right now, their debut, yet to be released, SS17 collection brings a bit of warmth to mind, despite the fact it’s anything but outside right now.

Following up from our initial excitement for Afield, we caught up with Mark Scholes, Creative Director of Afield and also founder of U.K. menswear faves tuktuk.

As we hurtle toward the end of the year, the launch of Afield is nearing, and it’s safe to say we’re pretty excited. For now, get to know a little more about the man behind the brand, what makes them tick, and what brought on starting another brand off...

Mark Scholes, co-founder and Creative Director of Afield

Mark Scholes, co-founder and Creative Director of Afield

Could you start off by introducing yourself and what you do?

Hello, my name is Mark and I am the co-founder and creative director of Afield; a new menswear brand that is launching January 2017.

Afield looks a pretty exciting brand, describe it in five words or less?

Contemporary, Directional, Affordable, Menswear

How long have you been working on the brand so far, and how's the experience been so far? 

We started working on the Afield branding/identity at the end of last year (2015). I started working on the SS17 collection – our debut collection – around January time this year (2016). Afield is essentially a re-brand, or the evolution, of tuktuk – a brand I originally founded back in late 2009.

Afield SS17 - Easy all-day looks

Afield SS17 - Easy all-day looks

I see you work with TukTuk and Brighton store Thread. What's your background and how did you get into working in menswear?

As mentioned above, tuktuk is a brand that I founded back in 2009. I was the main designer amongst many other things. Previous to this, I had worked in menswear retail jobs whilst at University, so continuing down the menswear route felt like the logical progression.

Back in 2013/4 my brother and his business partner opened up a multi brand store in Brighton, Thread. tuktuk was one of the brands they stocked in there (and one of the best sellers too, I might add), so after a year or so we decided to merge the 2 businesses into 1.

We now work collectively on everything we do, tuktuk, Thread and Afield. It’s a nice balance in terms of who does what. I focus on the branding, design and production, and then the buying, retail, sales and accounts/finance stuff are shared between the other two.

You're launching Afield in a couple of months, which must be pretty exciting. What are you guys working on right now, I imagine there's plenty to get ready?

Our new website launches in January 2017, so lots of prep’ work going into that right now. As well as selling our own Afield SS17 collection on-line, we will also be carrying a small selection of other brands; like La Paz, Fjallraven, Monokel Eyewear, CommonCut Shoes and a few more. My brother has been doing the buying for that.

Afield SS17- Ace prints 

Afield SS17- Ace prints 

The new website will have an on-line bespoke shirt making facility, where you can design your own Afield shirt and input your own measurements. A nice feature but it takes some technical knowhow, both on the web and the tailoring side.

We will also have a new guest mix series from some of our favourite DJ’s/Club Nights/Record Labels etc. We have actually already started uploading some of the first mixes to our Mixcloud page (you can stream them from here), they will also be available for download once the new site has launched.

In addition we have been working on making sure our SS17 factory production is on time. The SS17 collection will be stocked in 60+ stores across Europe and the USA. A full stockist list will be on our website once launched.

And lastly I have just finished the preliminary designs on our AW17 collection; we are just waiting on samples now. Then it’s the lookbook shoot in December, and menswear tradeshows starting in January. We will be doing Pitti, Seek, Jacket Required and possible one in the US.

So, yes, it’s been a pretty busy last year.

Famous or non, who do you envisage wearing Afield?

I would love to see Menswear Dog wearing some of our clothes. No joke.

Apart from that, I don’t know … guys who like their clothes with understated branding and don’t like to pay silly prices for the privilege. They like good design, decent quality fabrics. Avoid the high street chains like the plague - with the exception of Uniqlo and Cos, of course!

I think I may have just described myself as the answer to this question!

If you had to showcase just one piece from the Afield SS17 collection, which would it be and why?

Any of our shirts from the collection; the quality of production is fantastic, and they come in a variety of styles and excellent fabrics. They fit great, too!

Afield SS17 - Jumpers and shorts, because you're never guaranteed warmth in the U.K

Afield SS17 - Jumpers and shorts, because you're never guaranteed warmth in the U.K

Afield SS17 - Your Summertime suit sorted

Afield SS17 - Your Summertime suit sorted

Afield is a Brighton-based brand, and I think that shines through in your fun, easy designs. Do you think Brighton has been an influence, and if so, why?

I visit Brighton regularly for work, but I have never lived there. I actually live in Istanbul, and the main inspirations behind previous collections - be it Afield or tuktuk - has been travel and having a more global eye and feel for things.

The Afield design philosophy is “Look Further” and by that I suppose we mean, travelling further and going out of your comfort zone to look for your inspiration. Don’t just be inspired by what is in front of you.

Tell us a little about your personal style, what are you rocking today?

I like to keep things relatively understated; good quality fabrics and a nice tailored fit will win me over most of the time. I have been known to wear the odd jazzy printed shirt, too.  

Todays outfit consists of: Clarks Torcourt, tuktuk Socks, Uniqlo Chinos, APC Leather Belt, tuktuk T-Shirt, Afield Crew Neck Knit, Cos Hat, Mackintosh Jacket.

And finally, looking at fashion a little more generally, what do you think of the state of British menswear at the moment?

I don’t follow it too intently if I am being honest, I like to concentrate on what we do and switch off a bit when I can.

There are some great brands around, Oliver Spencer, Y.M.C, Folk, Universal Works are all brands that consistently produce good quality garments and I have been known to send money on.

Paul Smith is an obvious person to name drop, and I’d say he is one of the main inspirations behind starting my own brand. I was obsessed with his brand through my late teens and early 20’s, mainly the multi-coloured stripes branding. I used his branding and identity as an example of ‘how to get it right’ for many of my university projects. John Smedley is another one too; classic menswear, timeless, and oozes quality.

So, yes, there are some great classic and contemporary brands knocking about in the UK. You can now add Afield to that list, too!