Creating an Image with Clothes
Ian Tod is a freelance stylist who is based in Edinburgh and works in Scotland. He has produced some creatively innovating work that helped him make his mark within the industry. With a recognisable Scottish heritage style he has been bringing a traditional spirit to new projects. He describes why he think there has been a conscious movement toward fashion recently in Scotland and why the country and in particular Edinburgh, attracts people. He talks of how his job is often less than glamorous, requiring a lot of hard work.
If you were to interview someone, for your job what qualities would you look for?
My job is about creating an image with clothes and not simply relying on the clothes to own the shoot. You’ve got to make clothes work for you.
If I was to hire someone I would definitely look for someone who is hard working – I’d say that’s the most important quality for a freelance stylist. I could not stress enough how building a good reputation has helped me in terms of constant work, so things like turning up to shoots on time and prepared is really important. I can’t stand laziness and avoid working with people who short cut work.
What is the Scottish stylist’s scene like?
I know a few really great stylists who like me, work specifically in Scotland. They work really hard and produce great Scottish work but I don’t think we can talk of a Scottish stylist scene as such – not as a set group of people anyway.
There are a lot of people who aspire to be stylists because they have this glamorous idea of turning up to shoots, picking out a few expensive clothes and being paid a tonne of money. The reality is far from this!
Why do you choose to be based in Edinburgh?
I love Edinburgh for many reasons. I studied in Edinburgh and have built a lot of ties within the industry. Edinburgh is a great city for fashion. It is internationally recognised but it also has a niche, particularly in styling. Edinburgh has a unique style that I like; it’s influenced by the vintage scene undoubtedly but also with an element of modern. It gives me opportunity to experiment and stand out.
How would you describe your style? How is it distinctive?
I wouldn’t say that I have a particular style; it all depends on the brief of the job. Sometimes the job is wide open and I can do with it whatever I like. The rest of the time however, the client is specific and I have to create a more directed image.
I always try to help piece together the clients’ image as well as doing what I like. I suppose if you like something then you want to work with it and working with clothing I like, is what makes my job exciting.
If we consider for example, the Chanel takeover of Barries of Hawick and the “Metiers d’ Arts” show in Linlithgow, would you say there is a conscious movement toward Scotland in terms of fashion?
First off, Scotland is visually very beautiful, that alone makes it a country worth visiting for fashion reasons or not.
The history is colourful and adds a lot of character too – that’s something that will always be valued in terms of creative arts – a history. Secondly the fabrics and textiles produced in Scotland are some of the best in the world. No one else produces tartan and tweed to the same level, again this is linked to history. I also have to say, without being biased, that some of our art institutes’ produce very talented graduates who lead the way in Scottish innovation. Although most of these designers find themselves in London to break into the industry their roots still draw attention to Scotland.
Where do you shop?
As you know there is a massive vintage scene in Scotland, and I love vintage; so naturally for that. In Edinburgh, Armstrong’s Vintage is where I find a lot of my clothes both for myself and for work. I also like the typical high street shops such as Urban Outfitters and American Apparel, but I find the occasional gem in Harvey Nichols or local charity shops.
Which fellow stylist do you admire most and why?
For me styling is like music – you can like one song without having to like the singer. I don’t look at styling as being one person’s style and being for or against them. I prefer to be more open minded to each individual job.
Ian Tod was interviewed by Rona Leslie during the first half of 2013 for a project between Heriot Watt University and Modeconnect.