How Simon Carter fashioned a global menswear brand

It could have been a completely different life story for menswear designer Simon Carter if he had been able to follow his first choice of career path.

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“I wanted to be a doctor, but I didn’t get the grades,” he says.

Instead of being able to study medicine at university in the early 1980s, Mr Carter had to settle for a course in immunology – the study of the immune system – at a college in London.

And living in the affluent west London area of Chelsea, getting a part-time job at a vintage clothes shop soon inspired him to entirely swap the world of science for a career in the fashion and jewellery industry.

“People used to come in and sell stuff at the shop, and one day a guy was selling motorbike brooches,” says Mr Carter.

“I fell in love with one, and my manager said I could have it instead of my day’s wages. I got so many compliments, and I thought – what if I sold my own brooches?”

Today Mr Carter’s eponymous fashion, jewellery and accessories label enjoys annual global sales of £15m. Best known for its colourful patterned shirts, celebrity fans include UK comedians Paul Merton and Richard Ayoade, and actor Gary Oldman.

It is a far cry from when he started out in 1985, trying to sell his brooches on Chelsea’s main King’s Road shopping street.

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