How To Create An Award-Winning Men's Collection

Published 19th Feb 2024 by Sian Jones

We spoke to the British Hairdressing Awards, sponsored by Schwarzkopf Professional, Men’s Hairdresser of the Year 2022, George Smith, who offered his expertise and firsthand experience of creating an award-winning men's collection. From conceptualisation to execution, he also tells us how his win has impacted his career.

George Smith, Men's Hairdresser of the Year 2022

What's your advice for someone considering putting together a collection? 
Don't even think twice about it. If you've got any desire to get into the creative side of the industry, planning a photoshoot is the place to start. Shooting a collection allows you to do so much. You can enter your work in awards, you can send off to magazines, you can use it for your social content. The sky's the limit. In the salon, day-to-day you don’t necessarily get that creative freedom so it’s a way to let your mind run free and expand yourself beyond your everyday, commercial looks. 
Where do you find your inspiration?
This one’s always a funny question because I think every stylist out there gets asked it and I've heard so many different answers. Some people find it through genres of music, films, TV, social media or influential magazines like GQ. I think it’s a mix of all those things and finding your own train of thought. Most important of all, you have to ensure that you love whatever you put together. Your collection is for you and you're not doing it for anyone else. The point at which people start doing collections to win awards or to please others, that's when the message gets lost, and there’s a danger that you don't love it - and I don't think other people do either. I wouldn’t say my inspiration is any one thing, it’s everything!
Can you shoot on a budget?
Yes, you can. We recently did a shoot in the salon using my camera. It’s nothing top of the range but you can hire kit – like cameras and lighting - for the day to make it much cheaper. But if you’re shooting on a budget, you do have to be a bit creative with how you're going to do it. Maybe get in touch with local colleges to see if you can use their space, for models you can find people on social or through friends of friends. It may be cheaper but will probably take you longer and I’d say you need a back-up plan in place in case something goes wrong. I think there are areas that you can save on by being a bit more creative with the concept of your shoot but also areas where you need to spend. When it comes down to the photographer and some quality models, I would suggest going all in and if you're going to do it, do it properly. If those fundamentals are in place, you'll be able to create a great collection. 
How has your win benefitted your career?
I’d say it’s allowed me to be seen and work with some really interesting brands. As a result of my win, I'm now an ambassador for Matakki scissors. I also work with Babyliss, who have a team full of highly talented people, so for them to even consider me was an amazing thing. I think at the time before I entered, I was probably lacking confidence in my ability, but the win really helped me grow in my belief that these things are possible. You’ve just got to work hard for them.

How do you go about putting together your team for shooting a collection?
You need people around you that you trust. I don't think you necessarily need the most technically gifted, it’s more about assembling a group of people that you can get in your headspace. My team of guys that I take, they're my best mates that I work with day-to-day. They know what I'm thinking before I even have to say, so on a shoot day I know we’re all on the same page. Knowing you have that is super helpful. 
Sian Jones

Sian Jones

Published 19th Feb 2024

Sian is Deputy Editor on HJ and supports Editor, Charlotte, in the delivery of content for the HJ print magazine, website and social media, she is also Editor of Modern Barber magazine. Sian has over ten years’ experience writing for print publications covering Youth & Children, TV & Entertainment and Lifestyle. She graduated with a degree in journalism, and whilst studying was nominated for the Guardian Digital Journalist of the Year award in 2011.

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