From sport to style: Paul Galvin's point of view
Our fashion editor talks to Paul Galvin about his transition from the sphere of sport to style
Paul Galvin didn't set out to reinvent the wheel in fashion terms - and he hasn't.
The 35-year-old Kerry footballer has filled his debut collection for Dunnes Stores with lots of personal attitude, something he displayed in bucketloads on the GAA pitch. And similar to his physicality and sparky, no-nonsense demeanour on the field of play, Galvin is equally as direct when discussing sartorial style. Drinking tea with him at the Dunnes HQ, he grabs the proverbial ball and dives headlong into the 'style' conversation.
"I don't think I love fashion. Fashion is not a word I like. I don't think this is fashion. I think this is menswear and I think there's a difference," says Paul.
Nodding across at rails of his 'Vanguard' collection which has been well received at Dunnes Stores shops and online since its launch two weeks ago, Paul is very forthright in his first interview about transitioning from footballer to a retail brand bearing his name. So does he see himself as a designer or a storyteller?
"I think a storyteller and I think in this regard, more of a creative director than a designer. I don't know if I will ever want to be a designer, as such. I do respect people who have gone to college and worked and done the grind. I respect them and I've never put my hand up and said 'I want to be a designer' but I just always felt that if you have an interest, which I had, in menswear, what are you going to do with this? Are you going to write, are you going to be online or are you going to actually try and get involved in the creative process and make products and try to influence what's happening on the street - and transfer this point of view? And it is a point of view."
In GAA circles, Galvin is known for his point of view, some of which landed him in trouble with refs and attracted a massive following. As a result, he is the most followed GAA player on Twitter, with 92,300+ followers.
Now firmly ensconced in retail, Paul is working on his third season collaborating with Dunnes Stores. With AW15 on the rails, SS16 is coming along nicely and, interestingly, the name Vanguard will not remain. It was the inspiration for his debut collection, he explains, and while there has to be signature to the collection, going forward, Paul says "the concept will be different and the story will be different".
"I'm not desperate to reinvent the wheel at all. Do you know what, it's just about the point of view and expressing that and trying to tell a story and creating. If anything, it's a new shape for men and to think about shape and this leaner leg, bigger sole - and that is the direction of this because I don't think Irish men think about the shape of how they dress. They will buy a print or a jacket or a trousers but I don't think they think about how they look wearing it, the shape they make."
An original thinker who never failed to turn heads with his own take on customised pieces, especially those tight, ankle-grabbing skinny jeans, Paul confirms that he received "countless" commercial approaches over the years to work in fashion "but they weren't for me".
Having once been a student of fashion retail, he surveyed the landscape and Vanguard came about after Paul sent a copy of his book, In My Own Words, to Margaret Heffernan at Dunnes Stores. He wrote a note commenting on the progress Dunnes Stores had made in fashion generally and, in particular, menswear.
"I said that I have been at the vanguard of the movement myself for the last few years and that I thought Ireland was ready for the menswear revolution."
The response was immediate. He worked with Richard Doran, head of menswear, and less than 12 months later, Paul is busy working on AW16 for Dunnes. "They gave me a lot of responsibility, a lot of respect and a lot of licence, so I've been allowed 100pc point of view."
Galvin has tweaked where appropriate. The trousers are probably more relaxed than his own signature style, he acknowledges, and he moved the signature seaming on the 'Moto' motorbike jeans up the leg because he doesn't like the impact zone seaming directly on the knee.
Sporting references in the collection were inevitable. The monochrome shirt (pictured right) with the stripe across the front is "a salute to the Kerry jersey" (below right).
Paul recalls with bemusement how he arrived at Dunnes Stores initially with an offering - "an effort of clothing I would call it" - of around 10 pieces in black and white that he got made for himself over the previous few years and the 'offering' served to illustrate his vision or, as he sees it, his "point of view".
Explaining the double-layer sleeves on the T-shirt and hoodie, Paul says, "I was watching a lot of NFL and I really liked how the NFL, especially the quarterback's jersey sleeve, was quite short but they were wearing a second skin underneath and I thought it looked good."
The longline T-shirts are something he loves and one style in the collection features a sublimated print in cotton with vents at the side. His favourite piece is the cashmere and wool mix coat with brass buttons which, at €199, is the top end of the price range and a black hoodie deserves a second look because of its brass zips running up the sides.
"When we started talking about footwear in here in Dunnes, the only thing I wanted was that there'd be no heel, only a wedge sole. I think the Nike Air Max is influencing formal and informal footwear a lot.
"I had shoes with heels but I just don't like heels so I took them to a cobbler in Kerry and had a wedge fitted in to fill in the heel. I had so many white shirts and I just kept messing around with them, cutting sleeves off some of them, cutting collars off others. I took one down to a tailor with a pair of trousers and I told them to sew the leg of the trousers across the shirt."
Did he get ever get funny looks, or comments about his requests? "No, they never really said anything. If they were, I didn't hear them," said Paul who doesn't rule out writing another book, but not in the short-term.
"I want to get back writing, online probably. I'm going to roll out a new website. It will be different and it will be menswear-dedicated. I read blogs most days like Four Pins or Cool Hunting, Huh magazine and iD."
I can't leave without asking for a hint about Galvin's upcoming SS16 collection.
"It's less streetwear."
Paul has been into customising his clothes for years but what drove him to that, or, for that matter, doing a collaboration?
"Just probably not being able to find things of interest to me, on the high street."
So whose clothes does he like? Thom Brown perhaps? Kanye West's Yeezy 2?
"Nah, I would say Public School from New York and the two lads behind it, David-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne have taken over as creative directors of DKNY. I liked Jerry Lorenzo's Fear of God label but I'm not gone on the fourth collection." Paul doesn't rule out expanding into lifestyle so long as he has "credibility".
"I'd have ideas. I think there is a way to do it. I'm not going to come along and do bed sheets."
The Vanguard collection has attracted lots of female interest, especially the €80 olive green bomber with sherpa fleece lining, something his fiancée, Today FM broadcaster and TV3 presenter, Louise Duffy has expressed interest in wearing.
So what will fashion-forward Paul Galvin be wearing to his wedding over the New Year?
"Oh, I don't know," says Paul, his face breaking into the biggest beam. "I genuinely don't know. I think I'll talk to the people here about it but I'll be wearing a suit. I'm looking forward to it. Louise has been asking me about it, so I must get it sorted."