“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare once asked. Well, if a name is also a brand, then it has a lot of value, a lot of invested time, effort and emotion. If one is a Ralph Lauren or a Calvin Klein, then this overlap is a source of great personal pride, as well as emotional and financial joy. But for others, such an overlap has proven to be a source of great despair. Such is the tale of Simon Spurr, the once fast-rising star of the New Your men’s fashion scene. He who launched his own men’s designer wear bearing his own name, which quickly became a much-beloved brand, and then, it all unravelled. Now, Simon Spurr the man, and Simon Spurr the brand no longer have anything in common other than a shared past and a shared spelling.
“Simon claims his father’s sense of style, particularly his suits of the late sixties and early seventies, when the lapels were still slim and the shoulders narrow, played a major role in shaping his design perspectives”
Growing up in Kent, England, Simon did not have dreams of one day becoming a fashion designer though he says he had a creative mind and a natural talent for tailoring. He attributes his artistic bend to his mother’s family who were sculptors. Born in 1974, to banker parents, Simon claims his father’s sense of style, particularly his suits of the late sixties and early seventies, when the lapels were still slim and the shoulders narrow, played a major role in shaping his design perspectives.Simon had enrolled as an art student at the Kent Institute of Art and Design. However, while still in his arts foundation course he was pushed to consider fashion instead by two of his female professors. So he applied to study Men’s fashion at Middlesex University and was accepted.
He was hired by Nautica straight after graduation in 1996. Then Yves Saint Laurent under the stewardship of Hedi Slimane came calling. It was Slimane, claims Simon, who directed him to set visions for himself and not to follow trends. This bold new approach had a lasting influence on the young designer, as well as bringing him much accolade. In 2001, he moved to New York City as the head men’s wear designer for cK Calvin Klein. Then in 2003, he was recruited to work on Polo Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label. A year later, he was the Design Director for their Purple and Black Labels.
While at Ralph Lauren, Simon began contemplating his future: whether to climb the corporate ladder where he was told he had a promising future or to cash in on his accumulated clout and experience to venture out on his own. Simon loved blue jeans. He grew up in them, but could never find a pair he fell in love with. So he decided he would make his own. With his plans ready, he partnered with Judd Nydes, a young financial manager and the Nydes-Spurr Group LLC was born in 2006. After some deliberation, they settled on SPURR as their brand even though Simon was fully aware of the risks. His friend, Tommy Fazio, the men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman bought the first thirty-six pairs of jeans which sold out in four days. As sales grew, so did Simon’s confidence, and so did his range, to include knitwear, sportswear, and suiting.
The growth was such that they needed additional capital and expertise. Nydes brought in Hugo Stenbeck to provide additional capital, while Simon brought in Tommy Fazio to manage the front end of the business. They moved to a new headquarters, expanded to 120 stores, and launched a designer men’s line under the SIMON SPURR brand. His apparel was worn by the likes of Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake among others.
“The constant friction between the artistic minded Simon Spurr and the finance-minded Judd Nydes grew as the business grew”
On the outside things could not have been better. On the inside, however, the constant friction between the artistic minded Simon Spurr and the finance-minded Judd Nydes grew as the business grew. There are claims and counter claims as to what really happened, but whatever it was, it was irreconcilable. Then in 2012, seeing no resolution in sight, Simon Spurr walked away from his baby; Simon Spurr the brand.
Without Simon, the brand went into decline. And without the brand, Simon went into depression, lost his spark, and even separated from his wife. He tried to regain his composure as the creative director of a couple of English brands. But the spark was gone. So he took a hiatus in 2016 and travelled. He re-emerged on the other side having regained his passion. He briefly dabbled in a new venture called MarchNYC footwear with his own funds, designed by him, and handmade from calf-skin in Reggio Emilia, Italy. In November 2017, Simon returned to men’s wear as the Creative Director of Eidos, a Neapolitan brand founded by ISAIA.