admin / 11 March 2024

Applause was still resounding at Steven Stokey-Daley’s autumn/winter 2024 show in Florence tonight as the news was breaking that Harry Styles has invested in “a minority stake” in the designer’s quirkily British SS Daley brand. It’s kind of a natural – although unusual – story of a mutual admiration that’s grown up between a heartthrob popstar to a generation, and a young fashion designer.

It’s been very much organic,” said Stokey-Daley. “One of the really nice things is, Harry approached me and sort of made it apparent that he was a fan of what we’re doing. And of course, I’m very much a fan of his.” Stokey-Daley is 27 to Styles’s 29-years-old; close in age and eye-to-eye on the enjoyment of championing a new cosily-cool, trad-modern stamp on British dressing.

Their relationship tracks back to 2020, when Stokey-Daley had just graduated from Westminster University within a hair’s breadth of the first pandemic lockdown. Things could’ve gone very wrong for him at that point – despite the rave reception he got from the few who’d seen the accomplishment of his queering twist on British aristocratic school and sporting codes. He returned home to Liverpool and started posting his collection on instagram – within weeks, his radically super-wide pleated Oxford bags were garnering orders from young men from the US to South Korea, all similarly locked down.

That was the point at which a friend told Stokey-Daley that the stylist Harry Lambert had posted an instagram call-out for emerging designers to submit their work to him for a project he was working on. Lambert soon called Stokey-Daley and asked him to send pieces from his grad collection for something else: Harry Styles’s video for his track “Golden”, shot in Portofino. “When it came out, he completely widened the spotlight for me,” the designer remembers. “There was a huge acceleration in my orders. And it just escalated from there.” Styles was seen – and obsessed-over by fans – running around in SS Daley’s breezy pleat-fronted cotton-linen shirt and a pair of floral printer Oxford bags. “They were made from curtains my grandmother found in a charity shop in Liverpool. She was brilliant at doing all my sourcing of vintage materials at that time.” (The “Harry” trousers and shirt are now stopping crowds of schoolchildren in their tracks at the Rebel: 30 Years of London Fashion exhibition at the Design Museum.)

It seems silly to say “and the rest is history”, because this was under four years ago, and Stokey-Daley has only just turned 27. His drama-led productions have since caused sensations, and Harry Styles has kept on popping up in the brand: his mallard cardigan, a suit and other things. But with this announcement of financial investment, his support is now of another order. “It means I’ve been able to relaunch my direct-to-consumer website, and take on staff,” Stokey-Daley says. With the new polish of the made-in-Italy tailoring he showed today, along with his signature Oxford bags and cute bunny rabbit and gambolling lamb sweaters, it’s a boost that’s sure to enable him to get to the next stage of fulfilling his promise – and all of the orders that’ll flood in once the Harry Styles news gets out.

SSDaley24_28129.jpg SSDaley24_28229.jpg SSDaley24.jpeg