James Bay On Male Chokers, Crocs And Why His Famous Fedora Won't Be Appearing In His Topman Collection  


As he makes his design debut for Topman, James Bay chats exclusively to InStyle about Crocs, the perils of skinny jeans and the secrets his famous fedora could tell. Plus, he plays a rather genius game of 'Bae or Nay.'

Hold Back The River (sorry!) because James Bay isn’t your regular ‘indie’ singer-songwriter. Towering at “6 foot two inches in heels,” as he proudly tells me, with a cheeky smile breaking his god-given bone structure, James isn’t one of ‘those’ deep musicians. Take, for example, the repetitive references to S Club 7 and their iconic TV show, Miami 7, that pepper our interview. In case you're interested, Hannah was his favourite S Clubber. Not exactly TVs-being-thrown-out-of-the-hotel-room stuff is it?


'90s pop acts aside, James Bay has achieved more in his 26 years than many have in their entire lives. And, now the former Burberry model can add another accolade to his considerable CV, along with the platinum album sales, BRIT Awards and Grammy nominations: Topman designer. All at the same time as working on his eagerly awaited second album.

Bay follows in the footsteps of Radio 1 DJ and all-round cool guy Nick Grimshaw by launching a capsule collection for the high street store. In it, you'll see his love of Bowie manifested in a sequin bomber jacket and seventies inspiration taking the form of a fetching suede jacket that even gals will covet. James’ only regret about his debut clothing collection? “Not having glitter glue when I was designing.” What an absolute lad!


But what of that famous fedora? There must be a whole range of wearable hats in his debut collection, right? Nah. Not a single one. Standing before me, sans said hat, Bay explains that actually, contrary to what you might think, he only owns one fedora. “I only have one hat. I don’t want it to sound disgusting, it’s clean enough, but I suppose that’s it's secret: it has no mates!” Oh, the things that hat must have seen...

What you will find, though, in James' Topman collection are skinny jeans, and he road tested his Topman skinnies by lunging around the house - but is still plagued by VPL. “I hate that line you get from the wrong boxer shorts. I haven’t committed to the right type of underwear yet!” We feel you, Bay.


Indeed, though Bay is quite the ‘Bae’ when it comes to style, you can’t quite take this guy’s words as garment gospel. While we played ‘Bae or Nay’ (I'm weirdly proud of that title!) in this week’s Joshington Hosts (watch the full video above), when I asked for James’ opinions on key menswear trends, the singer commented: “Crocs are ok, aren’t they? I held one once and they were really light!” Well, now we all know what he slips into when coming off stage... 


With his heels kicked off and his Crocs filmly on, we wanted to know a little bit about the music that really gets James Bay going? Here are the singer’s ‘ultimate’ tracks: 

James Bay's ultimate break-up song is…

"I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. It’s probably my greatest guilty pleasure too, but you can’t not love that song – it’s such a massive power ballad! I loved that song even when I was at school, but I kept it to myself – I was just air grabbing in the playground on my own! Weirdly, nowadays, the song just makes me quite sad, so you’ve got to be in the right mood – you’ve got to want to be in that overly emotional mood."

James Bay's protest song is…

"We Shall Not Be Moved, is an oldie but a goodie. If I was going to write a protest song now it would probably be about how male chokers aren’t necessary. But then again, they do look good sometimes – so it would be a really rubbish protest song –I don’t think you can protest about fashion. Or I could write one about Crocs and have real crocodiles in the video!"

James Bay's ultimate party song is…

"There are a lot of songs that get me going. It’ll be anything off Michael Jackson’s first album, Off The Wall. If I had to pick one it would be, Burn This Disco Out, you’ve got to check that out! It’s such a great late disco track. I can’t moonwalk though – my brother can and he still hasn’t taught me! I will stick to the finger point in the mean time."

James Bay's designing track of choice is…

"When I was designing the Topman collection I was listening to a lot of David Bowie. I was listening to a lot of early Bowie so, Let’s Dance, Man Who Fell To Earth and The Man Who Sold The World. Bowie has always informed my personal style. When it came to creating my look as a musician I thought about people who try to voice what their music is about through clothes. You look at David Bowie or Michael Jackson who had distinctive and different looks for different eras of their music and I’ve always loved that. So it was all hats, long hair and jackets with my first album."

James Bay x Topman is available from 17th August 2017.

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