“Pretty scary, but also thrilling,” is the thought that leaps to Kit Butler’s mind as he remembers his fashion debut, a formative moment for him when opening for Coach’s AW15 show. “A vivid memory is asking Stuart Vevers [creative director at Coach] and Karl Templer [the celebrated stylist who often works with the label] if I could go second instead of first.” The pair, who were overseeing the unveiling of the brand’s inaugural menswear collection, affectionately tittered at the suggestion, before firmly stating that Butler was to lead the line, a move that the model, then 16, said he now wholly appreciates.
Single breasted silk jacket, £2,600. Jacquard linen trousers, £980; Silk & cotton blend knit jersey t-shirt, £450, all GIORGIO ARMANI; TOD’S Fabric & suede trainers, £510; SAINT LAURENT Acetate sunglasses; LOUIS VUITTON City Keepall crossbody bag, £1,550; SWAINE Oxford leather holdall, £2,680; On luggage trolley: GLOBE-TROTTER Centenary carry-on suitcase, £1,495; BENNETT WINCH Cargo large weekend bag, £475; TOD’S Leather Di travel bag, £3,020
Since that entrance to the scene, Butler, 25, has crisscrossed the continents, becoming a hit throughout the circuit, consistently booking in work on location, the runway, and in front of the camera’s flash in the studio. He’s been beachside in Malibu for Ralph Lauren, photographed in little more than a pair of trunks for Versace, splashed across magazine covers and, at the time this article went to print, he appeared on Arket’s shoppable pages.
“I like to be pushed outside my comfort zone,” he says of the varied work he’s been able to file in his portfolio, “because I think that’s where growth happens. I love going to location shoots, and I love to be out in the wilderness. But at the same time, I think the chaos of fashion week is awesome.”
Virgin wool & silk twill tuxedo jacket; Giza cotton pleated bib shirt, £780; Virgin wool & silk twill tuxedo trousers, £1,250, all by BRUNELLO CUCINELLI; THOMAS PINK Silk satin bow tie, £65; VACHERON CONSTANTIN Fifty-six self-winding watch, £11,900; Rings and necklaces, model’s own
A career in view of the fashion pack – as was, and still is, the case for many models – was never the track that Butler, who was born in Oxford, saw himself hurtling down, at least during his earlier years. “My plan was to move like everybody else – you go to school, you go to university and you sort of follow that process,” he says. Yet, his roadmap, which included pursuing a degree in sports science, was upended when he was scouted and his uncle convinced him that an opportunity of that ilk may never come again, whereas studying would still be available later. “So, particularly at the age of 16, having just looked to get a summer job to earn my own money, I went and I quickly started working a lot.”
Rugby, too, was a love of Butler’s that he had to forgo. “I was playing at a reasonably high standard and was incredibly passionate about it, along with my whole family,” he says. “I was a bit gutted to see all that work then be irrelevant and go to the wayside.” But, he adds, circumventing the rucks and mauls in favour of a sartorial-focused pursuit has been worth it. “Nothing comes without sacrifice – and to pursue a modelling career, [it’s] honestly been a bit of a saviour in my life [in terms of the opportunities it’s brought to both me and the family].”
Though he may be at an age that is considered raw and fledgling in other lines of work, Butler has been doing the rounds for the better part of a decade, and, these days, rather than consuming every single opportunity that glides his way, both he and his team are at a point where they’re able to decide if they want to lean on the brakes a little bit and strategise clearly, carefully and slowly on how they’d like to approach the coming months and year. “Together, we’ve come up with some good answers,” he says, a man who, when speaking for this interview, had recently shot alongside Iris Law for Dylan Purple, Versace’s fragrance for women.
CLDP @MRPORTER.COM Home satin trimmed Lyocell twill robe, £380; TAG HEUER Steel & ceramic Carrera Chronograph watch, £5,350; Rings and necklaces, model’s own
When it comes to off-duty hours, periods in which he isn’t art-directed around in flowing silhouettes or finely constructed formalwear, Butler leans more towards an easier edge. “My own personal style would be more like a relaxed fit – in the sense that less is more. I enjoy getting into those louder outfits for work and for events, but my style would be a bit more understated.” Translating his personal taste into something tangible for the wider public, namely through a clothing line produced in tandem with a rising designer, is a firm aspiration to be fulfilled somewhere along the line. “I would love to flex my sort of creative muscles,” admits Butler. “I did art throughout school and I’m very passionate about design. I would just love to release my own collection to allow people to see more of what my personal style would be,” he continues, before alluding to the idea he’ll use the Italian concept of sprezzatura (embracing imperfection) as his springboard.
SUNSPEL Superfine cotton vest, £40; RALPH LAUREN PURPLE LABEL Gregory pleat silk linen trousers, £470; BOTTEGA VENETA Frame glasses; BREITLING Top Time B01 Ford Mustang watch, £6,250; Rings and necklaces, model’s own
CLDP @mrporter.com Home satin trimmed Lyocell twill robe, as before; SUNSPEL Pinstripe boxer shorts, £50
Alongside these designer aspirations is the serious pursuit of adapting his billboard presence to a big-screen one, a challenge undertaken by others in his industry, namely Cara Delevingne [Suicide Squad and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets] and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley [Mad Max: Fury Road], both of whom have helped move the needle on the idea that modelling is to be a seen-but-never-heard profession. So far, he’s been signed to the renowned United Agents, with his own agent representing bankable names such as Eddie Redmayne, and he’s read for a “big film,” he reveals. “I’m not sure what’s happening yet, but I’m in the running.”
“I’ve always been very passionate about film”, he says of his want to try this specific discipline. “I’m very much for trying and failing instead of not trying at all. You learn so much from your mistakes or failings or shortcomings – more so than you would from your wins. So, in that sense, yes, I would like to give it a go.”
With thanks to Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
This feature was taken from Gentleman’s Journal’s Summer 2023 issue. Read more about it here…
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