He was Made in Chelsea but Hugo Taylor is shaking things up with a move to Notting Hill and a flying start in the design business…
Lead image: Tim Roney
Hugo Taylor is changing things up. He recently moved to Notting Hill, where he is embracing the area’s creativity to hone his design eye, and is starting to shed his Made in Chelsea persona.
So what drew him and his girlfriend Millie Mackintosh north of the park? ‘I think we both wanted something different and a new chapter,’ he says. ‘A lot of friends have moved out of Chelsea now and it’s an older crowd. In Notting Hill, a lot of young people made the move before it went nuts in price so we have friends here.’
He tells me how he has been focused on the interior design of his new home recently. Clearly, styling is something that Taylor has a natural eye for if his Instagram account is anything to go by, but is it something that he has always been interested in? ‘Definitely,’ he says. ‘Both Millie and I really care about style and we both work in fashion. I’m trying to hone in our joint style.
‘My dad’s place on Golborne Road is next to Stella McCartney’s studio, so that has always inspired me. It’s one of the hippest, nicest places to live.’
Today, Taylor is best known for his sunglasses brand, Taylor Morris, which is going from strength to strength. The eyewear is now in Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdales and is forging partnerships with iconic British brands such as Morgan Motors.
Taylor met his business partner, Charlie Morris, when they were taken on to re-launch the infamous Chinawhite. ‘I fell in love with Charlie, he’s such a rockstar and the friendship went from there,’ says Taylor. ‘We didn’t realise we would be working until 5am most mornings though and in the end, I had to ask Charlie to wear sunglasses in the office because his tired eyes were so offensive to me! We began wearing them all the time and realised that we had an awful lot of pairs between us.’
We are not a faceless label or a massive team, so you really know where this product has come from. We started as we meant to go on. It’s personal
In true Chelsea style, the official business plan was born over a bottle of rosé in Ibiza. ‘We’d both lost a frame each from Persol, an early inspiration for Taylor Morris,’ he says. ‘We thought it would be great if we could find the frames we’d spent £300 on for around the £100 mark. We felt we could do it with the same quality.’
It’s important to Taylor to listen to everyone else’s design story, and support small upcoming businesses in fashion. One thing that really sets the brand apart is their use of social media and their candid collaborations. This year has seen them garner support from the likes of Emily Ratajkowski, Sarah Mikaela and Rob Knighton. But it hasn’t been entirely plain sailing…
‘We did a trip to Namibia to shoot one of our campaigns and in the middle of the desert, we realised we had no water,’ laughs Taylor.
‘We had models, countless pairs of sunglasses, photographer, lighting… and no water. Just in that moment, it was one of my favourites. It sums everything up. No matter how prepared you think you are in business, really you’re often just complete rookies. You need those laughable moments, surrounded by your friends.’
What does Taylor attribute the success of the label to? ‘I think it comes down to the mix of Charlie and I, we are not a faceless label or a massive team, so you really know where this product has come from,’ he says. ‘We started as we meant to go on. It’s personal.’
Taylor, more mature and reticent than I expected, seems to have come a long way since his days on Made in Chelsea. I wonder if his time on the show has helped him with the business? ‘It was a great experience and it meant that I got to learn a lot about media, so it definitely helped me,’ says Taylor.
‘But at first when Taylor Morris started out, it was all about how the Made in Chelsea guy and his friend had set up a sunglasses range. Now, when we are written about, it’s British designers Taylor and Morris, which is something we worked really hard to get to and feels like a bit of a milestone.’
Clearly, he is always up for a challenge. ‘I’m learning now that you actually have to do something if you want it done,’ says Taylor. ‘When you’re young you just think it will happen, but I’m trying everyday to make sure I achieve something every single day.’