What type of garment is key to your personal style?

Whether it’s T–shirts, jeans, shirts or sweaters, anything made of the most unbelievable cotton.

How many pieces of unbelievable cotton do you have in your wardrobe?

Hundreds.

What is it specifically about garments made from cotton that you love?

The feel of it against the skin. These are items that are worn purely for one’s own enjoyment and comfort rather than how they look. I increasingly buy garments based largely on how they feel

What are the defining specifications for the most unbelievable cotton?

It’s like a binary code and when you touch it you just know, yes or no. Cotton often becomes unbelievable after it has aged. I have jeans that I have owned for 15–20 years and the cotton is only just starting to become unbelievable. Similarly, you can get newer garments that are unbelievable. J.CREW has really amazing cotton. Right now, I am wearing two items made from unbelievable cotton. One is a new sweater by AGNÈS B. that is thick and slightly coarse – I felt it in the shop and bought three straight away. Underneath that is a 25–year–old PAUL SMITH shirt; it’s more starched and stiff but also incredibly smooth. So, there aren’t any rules. I think it is definitely a Proustian thing; it’s specific to each person and how it makes them feel. Just as foods and smells trigger personal memory, so does the tactility of clothing. I think that is something to be indulged.

Do you know where your attachment to this kind of cotton comes from? How did this come about, you think?

It’s probably from my dad. Both my dad and my grandfather were really athletic. My grandfather was a sprinter in the 1932 Olympics and ADI DASSLER was best man at his wedding. My father did decathlon in the military and was an acquaintance of RENÉ LACOSTE. So through these strange connections to sporting dynasties I grew up with loads of vintage sportswear. I wore castaways and second hand items like sweaters and polos. They were made of the most unbelievable cotton. These are the kind of items you will see sold for exorbitant prices in vintage menswear stores in Tokyo and Osaka because the cut and the fabric are something else. A tip for spotting old LACOSTE is that the crocodile logo has LACOSTE written in cursive script on the body of the crocodile. If you find anything with that logo, buy it. It will blow your mind.

Do you think you are alone in your obsession for cotton?

Through my work I spend a lot of time setting up archives and working closely with groups from very specific subcultures, and I always end up talking to them about clothes and my cotton obsession. When I was setting up the Cornell Hip Hop Collection, which is the biggest archive in the world devoted to the history of hip hop, I spent 5–10 years hanging out with hip hop legends which was wonderful. All they talk about is men’s clothing. They don’t talk about other MCs, they don’t talk about women, and they don’t talk about music. They just talk about clothes.

Have you ever been tempted to get rid of all your clothes and start again from scratch?

Not so much. However, I have lost a lot of the clothing that I once owned. I had big collections of punk T–shirts that have gone into the punk archives I made for Cornell University and Yale because the punk T–shirt is such an important part of the punk narrative. But I have kept hold of an original Punk Magazine T–shirt from ’76–’77; of course the cotton is unbelievable. It’s starting to crumble a bit, but then again so am I.

What amazing tip for wardrobe maintenance can you share?

Don’t be afraid of lavender. I know lots of people think it smells slightly granny–ish but it doesn’t. Putting some in your wardrobe and drawers will keep your clothes smelling fresh and moths away. You just have to make sure to change it regularly.