As the barman at the five-star rated Boulcott Street Bistro (one of Wellington’s top restaurants), Sam is constantly exposed to high-end fashion. But brand names don’t interest him. Instead it’s the beautiful subtleties of the perfect cuff-link or the patterned lining of a suit jacket that stand out. For Sam, subtlety speaks volumes.
"I like the nondescript. We're a 25 year old restaurant so you want to keep things classic and timeless. It just looks more professional. At the same time you don't want to look like just a normal server but you're not meant to stand out. You want to be seen without being seen. The bow tie is the way I get to express myself at work. I love bow ties. It's a simple statement piece because I just wear white and black. 

I usually also have a red builder's pencil behind my ear because I always have to write things down. And it’s become a safety catch now and part of my look. I just always have one there. One day at work I was wearing a black one and one of the girls I work with said 'put on your red pencil' which I thought was funny because it’s just a pencil but it’s become a sort of accessory and because it's so loud and everything else is so plain you need the pencil just to offset the plainness.

I think that's what fashion is all about. You want to be different and sometimes it’s done it a very subtle way."

Conversation with bar manager Sam Kopua.