The latest subject in our profile series is Luke Alland, a London-based writer and photographer and the founder of The Accessible Magazine. From documenting street style at London Fashion Week to travelling as far as Uzbekistan, Luke’s work takes him far and wide, and that has instilled in him a refreshing eye that’s reflected in the pages of The Accessible Magazine. The debut issue launches this June, and we can’t wait to pick it up. In addition, Luke discusses how the Camber belt will become a staple for him this season.
Hi Luke, thanks for taking part in this. It's hard to know where to begin with you as you're a multi-disciplined creative and the sum of many parts. So please break it down for us: who's The Exiled Brit, and where's the curious name come from?
My pleasure! The Exiled Brit name originally came from when I lived abroad in Bremen, Germany and then in Mexico City. I started a menswear blog and didn't want to use my name, as I wasn't showing my face at the start! However, I'd always been interested in clothes in general, which started when I was in the Air Cadets as a teenager. Looking after the uniform, making sure my trousers were pressed, badges are sewn on, and shoes polished used to give me a weird satisfaction, so that interest continued into my 20s, and I started exploring my own personal style more and more. That turned into me being behind the camera, as I always enjoyed that part of the process, which has turned into what it is today.
Your body of work as a menswear photographer is impressive, with many reputable names under your belt. How would you describe your work style in this regard, and what makes menswear interesting to you?
I've always been interested in documentary-style photography, and my style has definitely changed over the years as I go deeper and deeper into the world of photography. I prefer quite moody shots that you could describe as a glancing style. Many of my shots that people like have a fleeting feel to them, almost like mind's eye snapshots. I fell into menswear from meeting more and more people from the industry, developing relationships with them, and just documenting them and their styles.
Following that, what are a few character traits you admire and look for in a modern menswear brand?
A holistic approach is always something I keep an eye out for. I want to be immersed in someone's world and their beliefs. There are so many brands that are multi-hyphenated in regards to their approach to creative direction – drawing inspiration from many different worlds, like film or music for example.
Last year, you launched The Accessible Magazine with Rikesh Chauhan, who's featured before in our Journal. We've read that the magazine was "born out of the disconnect between things being en vogue and actually in vogue." Can you extrapolate this for us?
As someone interested in print, specifically photography within print, I became very disillusioned with the lack of recognition photographers get on this side of the pond, especially in comparison to the US, for example. We wanted to put something out that has the pull required to make it a sustainable business without having to water down our vision but also giving the consumer value for money with not only the amount of content they will get to see but the quality on offer—from the content itself to the quality of the physical product.
What can we expect from The Accessible Magazine this year? Word on the grapevine is that you will make your first foray into print…
Yes! The plan was always to create a physical yearbook, with the first to be released in June this year. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes over the past few months getting that ready for the launch in the summer. We want a lot of it to be a happy surprise for everyone, so I will keep tight-lipped about some of the exclusives that will be in the first edition. However, it's something that we think anyone will enjoy with stories from around the world that don't have a barrier to entry.
Is there a project you've worked on with said camera that stands out in your career?
I think covering Pitti Uomo and the opportunity that presents itself to cover not only the event but able to photograph Florence in that gorgeous light is probably my highlight of using it so far. Aside from using the Leica, however, two trips for stories in Uzbekistan and Jordan are definitely the two standouts; these are absolutely incredible places to visit, which makes it such an experience when capturing the essence of life there through the lens.
Who are a few of your photography heroes, and why? Do you try to emulate their work somehow, or are you happy to be just an admirer?
In regards to individuals, there are photographers who I now know personally, such as Jamie Ferguson and Jonathan Pryce, who influenced me massively at the start of my journey and continue to do so. However, I have quite a wide variety of influences I am currently exploring through a new video series on Instagram called Through The Lens, shining a light on some lesser-known photographers I've admired for a while.
On to the belt. Can you tell us why you've chosen Camber in pitch-black leather, what you've decided to wear it with today, and what role it will play in your wardrobe going forward?
Most of my leather products – from camera bags, boots, weekend bags or notebooks – are black. As such, I wear some form of black leather five to seven days a week! Today I'm on a photoshoot so it's perfect to see how it will fit in. I've gone with a staple of mine, white Levi 501's, black Chelsea boots, a mockneck and a Private White Moleskin Bomber jacket, carrying my trusty camera bag from The Observer Collection. The Camber fits perfectly into that aesthetic, and I can see it being a staple accessory for me in the summer evenings, which I absolutely can't wait for.
Over recent years you've become increasingly more immersed in working with menswear brands. What are some ways that this has influenced your sense of style?
Naturally, anyone's journey with clothes and style is influenced by the groups they surround themselves with. I'm fortunate that with some brands I work with, I can choose certain pieces to keep. However, I would say the friendships I have made as a photographer with many tailors both on and off of Savile Row have given me such a solid foundation and springboard to ask questions and experiment with different styles with their expert opinions. Now I am much more interested in subtle hints of colour that then pair and use colours as a base that I wouldn't have previously done.
How important is it to you to know that a product – a camera or a leather goods accessory – has been made ethically and sustainably?
Massively important, a lot of the brands I work with have an emphasis on it or are brands that focus on the quality and longevity of a product. If I can own one item of every essential, I have for the rest of my life. You can't get more sustainable than that.