New Labels To Know
In case you have missed them, new labels that are making waves.
While it’s cool to ride a bike, there’s nothing chic about getting knocked over. Now the nights are longer and darker, we need something easy, small and practical to make ourselves visible. BOOKMAN is a simple pair of lights that are small enough to put into your pocket, but bigger enough to make all the difference.
Left - You can put them wherever you like - BOOKMAN - Raging Red - £17.50
Founded by a group of four Swedes – David Axelsson, Fredrik Lindström, Johan Lidehäll and Victor Kabo, BOOKMAN started when 3 of them had about half a semester left of their degree in Industrial engineering and together with another friend, that also didn’t want to get a proper 9-5 job, they instead tried the entrepreneurial route. Most of them are dedicated cyclists and they all share an interest in design, which gave them the direction for the brand.
They thought that were so many gadgets and accessories for bikes in the market, but there was so few that they would like to put on their own bikes. They wanted to make accessories that would compliment the bike instead of detract from it. They did some projects on the side to get the money for tooling and after a lot of samples getting sent back and forth they were happy to place the first order of lights in the spring of 2011. The rest they say is history and the brand now sells magnetic metal reflectors and cycling T-shirts.
Available at iConsume
There was a time, not that long a go, that if you wanted a pair of swimming shorts after the July sales, you were left with either a pair of dodgy looking 'professional' Speedos or a tiny selection of ugly, drawstring-type shorts.
Fast forward to about 5 years ago and we've seen an explosion in premium men’s swimwear brands. This is swimwear as fashion statement; swimwear to be seen in, rather than to swim in. During this time, men’s swimwear has become a category in its own right and an important part of the holiday wardrobe.
Left - Cariocas playing the game, Frescobol. Should be in the Olympics. Where do we sign up for this?!
Lots of brands have been springing up to supply this new demand. As the world's eyes turn towards Brazil for the next World Cup and Olympics, who better to inspire our next holiday purchase. Frescobol Carioca, has just opened a store in London’s Marylebone. TheChicGeek caught up with one of the founders, Harry Brantly, to find out more:
CG - What is your background? What did you do before Frescobol?
HB - We set up Frescobol Carioca having both worked in finance, but we could not see ourselves wearing suits for the rest of our lives. I was born in Rio de Janeiro and Max is a Carioca – a resident of Rio - by heart. It was on one of our trips together to my house in Rio that we came across our idea of bringing the real carioca way of life to the world.
When we first started selling handcrafted wooden frescobol bats, in 2008, we were both still working in the City – I was in private banking at UBS and Max worked for property firm DTZ . We would work on this project on the weekends, which was great because it allowed the business to grow while we were in the safety of our jobs. It also meant we had things really well planned-out before we left our jobs in 2009.
The summer before we left, we were getting five or six sales a day on the website, having done no PR, no marketing and with a skeleton website and a very basic product offering – this showed us the potential of the idea. So in September 2009 we embarked on the Frescobol Carioca project!
CG - You launched in 2009, where did the idea for Frescobol come from?
HB - The idea came about when I gave Max a set of frescobol beach bats for his birthday one year. In the same way that every house in Brazil has a football, most houses have a set of frescobol beach bats, particularly in Rio, where people can easily access the beach. Our bats are made to a much higher specification, hand crafted one by one from left over pieces of wood. They are then heat branded with our logo and finished with a special resin. They are works of art!
Right - Inspired by the streets patterns of Rio. Tailored Ipanema Swim Shorts - £145
So why not make this carioca game known to the world? We wanted to bring not just the beach bats, but build a whole carioca universe. The interesting thing about Rio de Janeiro, are the rich influences in terms of culture, music, art, body and nature, and this ignites a deep curiosity from around the world.
CG - What does the name mean?
HB - Frescobol is the sport born in the spectacular beaches of Rio de Janeiro, played by everyone, all the time. Carioca is the local name of an inhabitant of Rio de Janeiro.
Left - The Frescobol wooden bats
The name of our brand is not just about the game of beach bats from Rio but we want to translate a whole way of life; we want to show the world that in Rio people live life in a different way, enjoying the mixture between, city, beach, body and soul. It's a very aspirational lifestyle, which we think the world wants to experience and hear more about.
CG - What do you think British men have to learn from Brazilians?
HB - We think there is a lot to learn from the Brazilians, not just about how to dress in the summer but about living and enjoying life in a different way. Our brand is not just about a tailored pair of shorts or a beach towel. We want our customers to truly enjoy their time on the beach, learning from the cariocas, who do it the best. Cariocas wake up blessed by Rio’s nature and go to bed after a caipirinha by the sea with friends.
CG - What makes your shorts so special and different?
HB - Rio de Janeiro is the world capital for beach wear, for the body culture, for this obsession with beauty. Our products, from the beach bats to the swim shorts, are made with one objective - translate this carioca spirit, this cool beauty. We want our customers to feel good on the beach. That’s why we spend a lot of time developing special fabrics, shapes, colours and patterns that reflect the best of the carioca way of life.
Right - Orange polo shirt - £85
CG - Why do you think swimwear has become such an important category in menswear?
HB - This is a big trend, not just in fashion, but also in the whole male universe. Men are taking better care of themselves, spending more on personal items from fashion, interior design to cosmetics. Today’s man wants to experience new things. Swimwear is an important arm of this new consumer behaviour and we are trying to link up this desire for innovative items together with a culture which most people don’t know much about beyond Brazil’s football and Havaianas! We are here to surprise our customer with the best of our beach lifestyle.
CG - Tell me more about the British tailoring element?
HB - England is known for its creative fashion scene and London for the tradition in men’s tailoring from Savile Row. On our trips to the beach we were tired of seeing our friends wearing long and baggy surf-style shorts, so we went back to the drawing board and realised that tailoring was a trend we could help evolve thus bringing a new sophistication to the beach with a Brazilian twist. We therefore invited Oliver Benjamin, a well known British tailor to help find a way to mix the beauty of British tailoring with the freedom of traditional swim shorts.
CG - Where do you find your inspiration?
HB - Our inspiration comes from Brazil - the sun, the sand, the sea. It comes from the view from Arpoador, the Bossa Nova, the caipirinha with friends after work, from the coconut trees, people’s shadows on Ipanema beach sidewalk. Our inspiration is Rio de Janeiro, our homeland, where our heart lives. Do you know any better inspiration for a beachwear brand than Rio?!
CG - What’s next for the brand? Tell me more about the new store.
HB - We are planning amazing things for the near future. We want to become not just a beachwear brand but “the beach specialist”. Our idea is to provide our customers with everything they need to go to beach anytime of the year. From the boardwalk inspired prints on our trunks and our quick dry Linen Towel to our top tips of where to have the best lunch in Ipanema or which beach to visit on Ilha Grande.
Right - Artist's impression of the new store in Marylebone
That’s why we are opening a new store in London, which will be our extension of Rio’s beaches. We want people to come along, to have fun, read a book about Rio, have a Caipirinha or a coconut water - we want to show people how to enjoy the beach in the Frescobol Carioca way. All our employees are Brazilians, and they are truly ambassadors of this way of life. We hope to have you around soon!
The majority of designers don’t really design anything. They simply reinterpret or alter classic styles to bring them up-to-date. What you are doing, when you buy from these brands or designers, is, you are buying their taste. It’s that eye for style that people have that you are buying into. Designers such as Tom Ford, Michael Bastian and Christopher Bailey have great taste and that is really what they sell.
Left - Scott
Well, we spotted Scott Fraser Simpson at the Goodwood Revival, a few years ago, and snapped him for our StreetGeek pages. You just know somebody has that eye for style from the way they dress and he had it. It’s that thing people call ‘cool’ and it’s getting rarer and rarer. It was great to learn, recently, that this young man has started his own label. From one cool cat to another, TheChicGeek met up with him for a chat to find out more:
Right - Scott being snapped, in vintage, for TheChicGeek's StreetGeek a couple of years ago
CG - Tell us more about you and what you do? - How old are you? Where are you from? Where do you live?
SFS - Well... I’m 23. I was born in Hong Kong and lived there up until I was 13, when I then moved over to Brighton, England. After 4 years there I moved up to London where I've been pretty much ever since - despite moving to Amsterdam for 6 months a couple of years ago.
CG - You run a vintage menswear site called Style & Classics. Tell us more about that. Where do you find the majority of your stock from?
SFS - Style and Classics was started whilst I was working in Amsterdam at an ad agency. I spent a lot of time searching through Dutch vintage stores and flea markets and came across quite a variety of nice vintage pieces - mostly eastern European suits and jackets. Around that time I decided that the agency I was working at wasn't the best fit for me, so I chose to quit the job and start buying and selling vintage. Vintage has always been a passion of mine, but on more of a personal level. I'm always on the look out for pieces and mainly collect 50s-70s Italian/American knitwear, however have quite a variety of suiting and outerwear which I find inspiration in for my current collection. The site’s focus is mainly on knitwear and am happy to collect the pieces and document them at the same time before selling them. I currently own about 100 pieces, the other pieces I have for the site are stocked at Blitz London on Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane. At the moment, my stock comes mostly from America. I've made a few strong contacts with some people out there and they know the labels and the look of the pieces I'm after.
Left - One of Scott's vintage finds
CG - You must have a few choice pieces yourself, what’s your favourite?
SFS - Lately, even though good quality vintage is getting harder to find, I've found some of my best pieces. What I find amazing in these knits is the colours and the attention to the finest detailing. From the 5 toned pocket welts, to the small button under the collar to stop the front button placket ruining the line of the collar. My favourite at the moment has just arrived, it's a very simple piece, but when you look at it close up it's surprising how complex it is. It has about 3 different knitting weaves in it and has a tab that fastens the knit together, which is a detail I've never seen, let alone even thought of myself! Another one is this vibrant coral orange colour with white piping and details. Another piece that I've got is an orange and green check suit jacket with canary yellow lining made for a USAF officer whilst he was on a base in Lavorne in Italy. I got it in absolute mint condition and is a complete one off. It's pieces like these that keep me searching daily.
CG- Is that the day job?
SFS - This is not the day job. Although it would be great to do it full time, I enjoy the balance I have with it. I'm currently doing quite a few jobs at the moment. I DJ weekly in London and around the country at clubs and bars, playing mainly 50s & 60s R&B, Soul and Latin Boogaloo vinyl records - this is another of my 'collections'. I also work at a 60s styled menswear shop/brand working on the PR, marketing for them. I've started working as a design reporter for M&S recently, working with them in their new East-end (London) design studio. Oh and I've been a model for the last 5 years all amongst this. So keeping busy.
CG - Scott Fraser is the name of your new accessory brand – Tell us more about that?
SFS - It's not actually an accessory brand, even though it may seem that way at the moment. I launched about 6 weeks ago and planning to create a more of a balance between menswear and accessories shortly. I founded the brand 2 months ago under a concept of Retrospective Modernism – the notion of keeping one eye on the past, but the other firmly set to the future. The brand and the collections are a result of an obsession to detail, and are inspired by mid-century design, quality and aesthetics. The aim of the collection is not to replicate pieces from yesterday, but to reinterpret these timeless icons of design, using them as a source of inspiration for today-ready clothing, luggage and accessories. S.F.C. cements these essential details into current ready-to-wear pieces, in order to preserve them for decades to come.
Right - Scott modelling one of his new duffle bags
CG - Why did you start with the duffle bag?
SFS - The duffle bag was created firstly, for myself, as I struggled to find a decent bag available out there. So the obvious answer to this was to design and create my own. I had intended to start out with a selection of jackets for the collection, but it proved to be pretty difficult to find the right place to get these made, that had both quality and also an understanding of what I was looking to create. Due to working in the East-End of London I knew that there were a variety of leather workshops in the area. It was there that I came across a workshop where I met the two brothers that now make my duffles, along with a few more accessories and concept leather pieces I'm working on.
CG - Where and how is it made?
SFS - The bag is made from 100% British materials. The leather is sourced in London and the 15oz tight weaved canvas for the body of the bag is sourced from Manchester. The bag pattern was cut by myself, along with the canvas for each bag. The leather is then cut and the bag assembled by these two brothers in the workshop. Finally, the front pocket is stamped by myself with the logo before every duffle goes out.
CG - Where are they sold?
SFS - At the moment, I'm looking into stockists for the duffles and am in talks with a few quality and key menswear shops in London. The next step will be to take it outside of London - out around the country and even further a field into Europe and Asia. Although before doing this, I'm wanting to produce a larger capsule collection.
Left- Scott's new collection of duffle bags come in 7 colours. This is Natural and costs - £169
CG - What next for Scott Fraser?
SFS - Next up, the focus is menswear. I have found a South-Coast based manufacturer who I'm working on getting some samples made with. My next piece is a work-wear styled jacket and I'm planning on releasing 2 more jackets after that. I've got plans for suiting, a range of trousers and waistcoat sets and a range of knitted ties/accessories.
CG - Is there anything else we should know about you and the Scott Fraser brand?
SFS - Anything else you should know about the S.F.C can be found on:
Instagram - scottfrasercollection
Twitter - @scottfrasercltn
ESK is a collective of Scottish creatives making some of the most beautiful and detailed knitwear. ESK make everything in Scotland under the same roof and source their yarns with care, trying to use the small, but rich seam of spinners left in this country. They only use natural fibres and the design inspiration is gathered by looking at the natural world that surrounds them whether this be the Scottish landscape or in contrast the urban cityscape.
Left - ESK X Monocle Cardigan - £240
Managing Director, Stuart Maxwell, has been working with yarn and making knitwear for over 20 years. "Running our family-owned small knitwear factory has had its share of ups and downs over the years, but being deeply involved with textiles and working with great people really is as good as it gets and is my constant source of inspiration." he says.
Creative Director, Lorraine Acornley, has been designing for the last 16 years for the likes of Alberta Ferretti, Joseph, Pringle of Scotland and Albam. "We want to make the best knitwear without any compromise. It's great to be working with people who are the best in their field and in turn all striving to produce our best work." she says.
ESK have just collaborated with the business magazine, Monocle, on a waistcoat and cardigan, available in grey and navy. Made with the finest cashmere and extra-fine merino, details include a pencil pocket and real horn buttons.
Right - ESK X Monocle Vest - £200
Below - Everything from ESK is made in Scotland including this throw