It’s 12.30pm on a bank holiday Monday and Mick Jagger and I are talking horticulture.
“I was lucky because I had a nice garden. I think I would have gone nuts without that,” says the Stones frontman. He sounds exactly how I expect him to and, for one of the most famous men on the planet, is surprisingly easy to talk to. So much so that I have to check myself before launching into a monologue about my own lockdown gardening attempts. The man who gave us super hits such as Honky Tonk Women and Brown Sugar doesn’t need to hear about my fig tree. Or my adopted kittens.
Of course, it would take more than a global pandemic and a cancelled tour to keep this Rolling Stone down, with or without the nice backyard. This year, the rock ’n’ roll legend has released a remastered version of the band’s 1973 album Goats Head Soup and three major new singles, including Scarlet — a previously unreleased collaboration with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, with a viral music video starring Normal People heartthrob Paul Mescal drunk-dancing in a Claridge’s hotel suite.
Now Jagger is swapping the stage for the shopfloor, with a new flagship in the heart of Soho, which opened yesterday a stone’s throw from the band’s old rehearsal space above a pub in Broadwick Street, and the former Marquee club which was home to their early gigs. “We used to rehearse in Soho, eat in Soho, go to pubs in Soho, do a bit of shopping around there,” remembers Jagger. “There was a showbiz tailor (Dougie Millings) where we used to get two-piece suits made and a shop run by some Hungarian immigrants that used to knock up really nice shirts made for you so it wasn’t just all off the peg.”
He’s calling from “somewhere in the Mediterranean” though “it’s pouring with rain actually” and, in true quarantine spirit, he’s waxing lyrical about sweatpants. “Since lockdown began, we’re all just going for comfort — and I don’t just mean the band. We’ve just thrown style out the window. I haven’t worn a jacket in ages,” he says, laughing. “In my online buying mode I’ve just been buying loads of sweatpants. I’ve got a big selection now, I’ve never had so many sweatpants.”
Fans of Jagger’s inimitable pre-lockdown style will, however, be relieved to hear there’s more to RS No.9 Carnaby Street than elasticated waistbands. Situated at the location its name suggests, the hip, hyper-modern space — chosen by Jagger because “I didn’t want to have it stuffed and look like a cheap T-shirt shop” — extends beyond your average band merch. There’s a core collection of limited-edition styles emblazoned with the exclusive 9 Stones branding plus a classic collection based on bestsellers and iconic graphics from previous world tours.
Stones Red — a newly christened official Pantone colour taken from the iconic logo first used on the inner sleeve of the Sticky Fingers album — gets its own line spanning bomber jackets to babygros, while a Fall collection of faux-shearling trimmed denim jackets and plaid overshirts will appeal to trend-hungry shoppers. There’s even a host of collaborations, with the tongue motif en-graved onto Baccarat cocktail glasses and splashed onto Stutterheim raincoats. On opening day, there were queues down Carnaby Street for what Mick’s flogging.
I’m keen to know what own-brand merch Jagger plans to add to his collection of sweatpants. “There are some T-shirts I quite like and a couple of hoodies that I wouldn’t mind having. Oh and there are face masks too, of course.” Though it’s not all his cup of tea — of the eye-popping Stones Red collection, the 77-year-old admits: “I can’t see me wearing that one myself …” adding: “You have to appreciate that not everyone has your taste. There’s no tie-dye though, you’ll notice.”
But this is Mick Jagger we’re talking about. Surely taste is relative when you’re the original style icon? “I’m not the original,” he corrects me, “there were many before me.” Still, would he consider himself the most style conscious of the group? “I guess I am. Though everyone’s got different ideas. Charlie’s very fashion conscious, Ronnie’s got his own style. Everyone’s got their own look.” And do his kids — who include models Georgia May and Lizzie, whose mother is Texan OG supermodel Jerry Hall — agree that he’s the coolest man on the planet? Or is he just a cringey dad?
“My daughters are pretty kind about my fashion choices. But daughters are much more unkind to their mothers than they are to their fathers I think,” he says with a laugh. “Because they can empathise with their mothers’ choice of clothing and say, ‘No, don’t wear that,’ while the other side is saying, ‘You’re not going out like that are you?’ But they’re pretty good with me. Though with some of my stage clothes they go, ‘God, that’s not so great.’
“But that’s the thing about stage clothes. You have to imagine them in a completely different environment, not standing in front of the mirror in your front room.”
Could he choose a favourite look from his 60-year back catalogue, I wonder? “Wow. That’s pretty tough,” he confesses. “I mean, obviously there were some genuinely weird looks. Time changes so much that nearly all fashion is kind of laughable a few years later. The classic men’s suit hasn’t really changed much in the last 50 to 100 years, but once you start veering off from that you’re going to look back at it five years later and think ‘how could I have worn that?’ The Seventies had great original style and also horrendous mistakes. But when I put on my Eighties suits I think, ‘I really like those shoulders.’ You can always revert to looking good in a classic suit with a bit of a twist if you accessorise it right.” For now, however, he’s sticking with the sweatpants.