Without doubt the most famous menswear street in the world, for the uninitiated, Savile Row could be something of an anti-climax. While the name is known the world over as the home of male sartorial elegance, the reality of the street is something quite small, higgledy piggledy and with little on show to inspire or buy. It’s a mishmash of designer brands, traditional tailors and workshops, and empty shop units.
Left - Drake's new Savile Row store
A small side street behind elegant Regent Street, Savile Row has become much bigger than the place itself, and while brands desire to be able to put Savile Row in their addresses and on the sides of their bags, it can a difficult place to make money. There just isn’t that much traffic.
While nothing new, the street has seen something of a brand churn of late. Chester Barrie is closing down, Hardy Amies disappeared and the short lived Abercombie Kids store in the old Beatles’ Apple building is being pushed back into the larger Burlington Gardens store over the road while it turns itself back into offices for their European business.
I was recently invited to drinks at the Kilgour store on Savile Row and while on the way over I wanted to check out the new Drake’s store which had taken over from Alexander McQueen’s menswear store.
One of the bright spots of British menswear, Drake’s, the colourful accessories and preppy menswear business, has just moved around the corner from Clifford Street to a larger space and has built up a strong brand with locations from New York to Tokyo. Here, the new store has cosy striped window-type seats and an entire library of books. It looked like the kind of place you’d want to hang out in, or, heaven forbid, want to spend time in. It's welcoming. The product isn’t cheap, but it’s done properly.
Contrast this with the Kilgour store, which looks like a designer Swiss morgue, and these two juxtapositions perfectly illustrate the new mood in retail design. One reeks of personality and is overflowing with the owner’s touches, while the other is strict to the point of being a retail vacuum.
There was a time, a few year’s ago, when the majority of Savile Row brands were being snapped up by Chinese conglomerates. Fung Capital, the private investment vehicle of the Fung family that controls Hong Kong sourcing and apparel mega-corporation Li & Fung, bought the most including Gieves & Hawkes, Kilgour, Hardy Amies and Kent & Curwen. While they splashed the cash and moulded each for a particular type of customer at the beginning, things have become tougher and they show a tiring of interest. They placed Hardy Amies into administration in January, while selling to Trinity, another Chinese group, the Italian/French tailoring house Cerruti who cancelled their catwalk show and stopped the designer collection’s entire production.
What looked like little, individual outfits on London’s Savile Row often had hundreds of branded stores in China, invisible to outsiders, but they’ve all become quite bland and lacking personality with no clear direction with a continual revolving door of creative directors or in-house design teams. All these brands have become faceless.
Another new bright spark on Savile Row is the new ‘J.P. Hackett No.14 Savile Row’ store in the elegant townhouse Hardy Amies restored. The new Hackett store is warm and welcoming, and is saying “come in”, “make yourself at home” and “relax” with its homely yet elegant interior by designer Ben Pentreath with input from Jeremy Hackett.
Right - Inside Kilgour Savile Row
What Drake’s and Hackett both have is a figure head who is involved and makes decisions and menswear has always latched on to these men who lead.
Michael Hill, the current creative director of Drake’s, who is responsible for the brand's full wardrobe offerings, has a great eye and taste, while Jeremy Hackett has nearly 40 years of experience in the vintage menswear trade and then creating his own eponymous label. And this is what it all comes down to, people. You need a singular, strong vision to offer direction and also a domestic homeliness.
Stark, cold and soulless retail spaces are being replaced by the perennial idea of a traditional shopkeeper welcoming customers into their worlds. Admittedly, Hackett previously had a store on Savile Row which didn’t work, but this new bespoke concept is hoping to elevate the standard Hackett product and, moving the wholesale showroom from Bond Street and combining it with retail, will probably see them save money while in a stunning Georgian townhouse which will look good the world over.
Savile Row can be so much better and it’s always worth remembering what you thought on your first visit there. These two recent additions are adding some colour and Britishness to a street which had become something neither designer nor tailored.
Savile Row needs to hold onto what is good, but also be open to try new things. In 2016, Westminster Council said only new stores will only be allowed to open if they do not replace “bespoke tailoring uses”; “sell bespoke, unique, limited-edition or one-of-a-kind products”; and are “complementary to the character and function” of the zone, but that doesn’t mean 'The Row' should be stuck in a timewarp.
Left - Inside the ‘J.P. Hackett No.14 Savile Row’ store
This isn’t about just preserving Savile Row, it’s about making it more successful. It should be welcoming to all British brands and not look down on commercialisation. The skills that have survived this long will continue to survive and these two new additions show its about individuals going back to the idea of being a nation of shopkeepers rather than anonymous 'brands'.
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Over the past few decades Turkey has become a powerhouse in fashion manufacturing. Thanks to cheap and plentiful labour, quality producers and its geographical location, at the heart of the world, Turkey is, now, the 6th largest fashion supplier in the world and the 3rd largest supplier to the EU, according to World Trade Organization (WTO) data 2016.
The Turkish lira has been failing this year due, in part, to its high levels of government debt and, in August, thanks to Donald Trump’s clumsy rhetoric over the detention of US pastor Andrew Brunson - he has since been released - and his disagreements over defence policy, the Turkish lira plunged even further.
Trump announced his plans to hike tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum to 50 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
The Turkish president, Erdogan, at the time, repeated calls for Turks to sell their dollars and euros to shore up the national currency. “Together with our people, we will stand decisively against the dollar, forex prices, inflation and interest rates. We will protect our economic independence by being tight-knit together,” he said.
“We will impose a boycott on U.S. electronic products. If they have iPhones, there is Samsung on the other side, and we have our own Vestel here,” he naively said.
After vehicles, clothing is Turkeys’ most successful export product, earning 9.4% of the country’s total exports. Of them, knitwear amounted to US$ 8.8bn (5.6% of total export), while exports of woven clothing reached US$6.0bn (3.8% of the total) in 2017. The Turkish lira (TL) is the world’s worst-performing major currency, losing more than 40 percent for the year to date. Five years ago a dollar bought TL2. It is now around TL7.
This clearly makes manufacturing much cheaper for foreign companies if paying in the local currency and an opportunity for Turkey to boost exports. Dollars, euros and pounds are all going further. A source, who didn’t want to be named, said, “I just returned from a trip to Turkey. It's been sad for the Turkish economy, but great for UK companies.
“I've seen the devastating results for some of our own teams working in Turkey, but purchasing and manufacturing becomes even more cost effective and we have seen factories willing to reduce their minimums,” they said.
Data from September 2018 showed inflation surged to 17.9 percent year-on-year in August, its highest level since late 2003. The central bank reacted by sharply increasing its benchmark lending rate from 17.75 percent to 24 percent last month. Turkish companies buying and selling in foreign currencies are less affected. The boon is when they pay their workers in the local currency.
Mukesh Desai, works with companies such as Hackett and French Connection, connecting foreign brands with fabric and manufacturing in Turkey, says, “Local factories buy in pounds and euros so there’s not much difference. It just matters when paying wages in lira and is better by around 5-10%”.
Imports become more expensive, but with Turkey being such a huge domestic fabric producer this will limit its impact on buying the raw material and fabrics.
“Some manufacturers are passing it on, some are not.” says Desai. “Everybody from the British high-street is increasing production and the fabric side is all increasing in Turkey.” he says.
One thing to note, though. “Brands are buying less quantities and are not carrying too much inventory, but they are not going to the Far East as much with Turkey being quicker to market.”
Oguz Yucel of MPY Textile Manufacturing, who produce thousands of woven and knitted pieces daily, says, “We are a Turkish company and produce in Turkey, Bulgaria and China.
“Our customers, from Europe, Benelux, Russia, USA, Canada regions, work in euros and dollars, therefore, we do not produce in Turkish, but purchase in euros and dollars and sell in euros and dollars, therefore we have no problem with production,” he says.
“2019, we are going to be 6% bigger”. says Yucel enthusiastically.
With cheaper labour costs, Turkish apparel manufacturers operating in USD will be the main beneficiaries of the change in the exchange rate, but they will be able to become more competitive and reduce their prices to their wholesale customers. Foreign brands and operators will also be able to negotiate harder and drive better deals.
The one place the Turkish currency crisis is affecting negatively is the domestic economy and local fashion industry. Another source, who didn’t want to be named, works for an Istanbul based, international retailer specialising in men’s and women’s contemporary casual wear. They make everything in Turkey, except the outerwear and produce all sorts of jersey tops, knits, light weight woven tops and dresses, shirts, jeans and non denim bottoms.
“On the retail side, all international brands in Turkey raised their sale prices as a quick response,” he says. “Local brands (like us) kept prices to an affordable point. It helps to keep the customer loyalty and bring new customers in. On the other hand it sums up to a profit loss”.
“On the manufacturers' side all exporting factories had the advantage,” he says. “But, there are difficulties with their local customers pricing the new collections and receiving payments".
"All products' costs were dramatically raised up due to fabrics, yarns and accessories prices all being in USD. The payment terms between local brands and suppliers are another case that sourcing and finance teams have to deal with,” he says.
The local Turkish consumers will feel the squeeze and any ambitions that foreign brands or retailers had for growth in Turkey will have to be rejigged to recognise this.
“It will definitely make customers to buy less fashion products in the short term.” he says. “They (consumers) will target more affordable products and retailers. The volumes will slide from better brands to budget retailers. So, the better brands will grow their entry price point product groups to keep their customers.” he says.
While Turkey has become a more attractive place to manufacture and buy fabric from for international brands, in the short term, those retailers or brands may be restricted in their fabric and hardware choices if their suppliers work in Turkish lira and imports become much more expensive.
While the currency has bounced back slightly, it’s still volatile and this makes investors uneasy. While this lira boon may increase demand and production, lower investment, due to the high interest rates and overall caution within the Turkish manufacturing business and economy, may stall growth in production capacity and restrict businesses from reaping the full benefits.
The domestic market will move further towards lower end, homemade product and will definitely dent the luxury international brands unless they can be replaced by tourists with more liras in their pockets. While you’ll probably be seeing an increase in ‘Made in Turkey’ labels in your clothes soon, it will be to the detriment of the local economy.
Big Coloured Bags
If you're a man carry man-sized stuff around, you need a man-sized bag, obvs. Matching it with your hair is up to you.
From Far Left - Tourne de Transmission, Berthold
LOVE & PEACE
Who was it that once sang, ‘All you need is love’? Well, whomever it was, London needs a bit of a cuddle right now.
Below - Oliver Spencer, Bodybound
Just as orange has become a menswear staple colour, it's now time for primary yellow.
From Far Left - Kiko Kostadinov, Berthold
Androgynous ‘Non Binary’ Club Kids
Men’s and women’s fashion collections are merging so they may as well make it all androgynous, unisex and non-binary. They’ll save a fortune!
Anything goes? Yep! Read more here
From Far Left - Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Art School
Alf Garnett becomes the style icon for SS18.
From Below Left - Per Götesson, Nicholas Daley, Bodybound, Katie Eary
Networking, fashionably so.
Far Left - Miharayasuhiro, Blood Brother
Selvedge tape continues to proclaim you allegiance.
Below - Bobby Abley, Christopher Raeburn
Striped Rowing Jackets
From Below Left - Topman Design, Songzio, Hackett, Kent & Curwen, Kent & Curwen
Border control. Who needs the eye scanner when you can wear this?
Left - Bobby Abley
The first rule of fashion week - always end your show on a high.
Below - Bobby Abley, Liam Hodges
Fashion gets streamlined. Bike optional.
From Far Left - Martine Rose, Daniel W Fletcher, Wan Hung
Fashion loves a few pointless dangly bits.
From Below - Tourne de Transmission, D.GNAK
Who knew big zips could be so slimming?
Both - Miharayasuhiro
It seems we need an occasion to wear a tie, today. So, what better an occasion then, than watching tall posh boys grunt and strain while pushing along the River Thames?
Hackett has teamed up with Henley Regatta for their first clothing tie-up in their long history. Featuring striped rowing blazers - which I’m all about ATM - here - and branded tops, it’s this tie which really caught my eye. The design is fun yet still firmly in the club mould and is a great price for a Made in England tie.
Left & Below - Hackett - Henley Royal Regatta Man Row Stripe Tie - £65
Keep on running, but no hiding! Getting games fit, TheChicGeek, is doing work on his sprints. Always stretch before you style, that's his advice, and keep things loose and light.
Move over Usain! TheChicGeek means business in his Olympic preparation in a simple vest top and dark shorts. Add matching accessories in everything from navy to electric blue. On your marks, get set, GO!!!
Credits - Trainers - Puma, Water - Smartwater, Sunglasses - Oakley, Socks - Huez, Watch - AVI-8, Shorts - Soar, Blue Hooded Top - Hackett Sport, Sleeveless Navy Top - Soar, Rucksack - UTC00, Self-Tan - EQ Evoa, Face Scrub - Clinique For Men, SPF 30 - Clinique
More images & video below
See OLYMPIC GEEK 1
Have electric car, will travel. Continuing his series of #FutureIcons in association with BMW i3, TheChicGeek drove East to see the first of London's new Elizabeth Line which opens in 2018. Dressed to travel in style, TheChicGeek is wearing a navy suit from MRPORTER.COM and silk shirt for when he arrives in warmer climes.
TRAVEL - The only visible Elizabeth Line station, at the moment, is at Canary Wharf in London's Docklands. Designed by Lord Foster, the new station has been built in the dock and features tropical roof gardens and a leisure complex above the new Underground line.
Credits - Suit - Hackett, Watch - Uniform Wares Both from MRPORTER.COM, Checked Shirt - Thomas Pink, Shoes - Russell & Bromley, Wallet - Tumi, Passport Holder - Tumi, Suitcase - Tumi, Hair Clay - Mojo Hair
Quietly, it's electric don't you know, he drove to The Francis Crick Institute just behind The British Library. TheChicGeek has his science head on in this OOTD in a JW Anderson space shirt and Cutler & Gross spectacles. Somebody pass me the plug!
SCIENCE - Named after the man who co-discovered the DNA molecule, The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute, next to St. Pancras station, dedicated to understanding the scientific mechanisms of living things. Its work will help to understand why disease develops and to find new ways to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Credits - Jacket - Hackett, Shirt - JW Anderson, Watch - Uniform Wares, Spectacles - Cutler & Gross all from MRPORTER.COM, Shoes - Russell & Bromley, Jeans - Paul Smith Bespoke, Yellow Candle - Cyrnos Cire Trudon, White Fragrance - Mont Blanc Legend Spirit, Gold Fragrance - Dunhill Icon Absolute, Blanket - Hackett
TheChicGeek was given the privilege of experiencing BMW’s new limited-edition MRPORTER.COM i3 electric car for his latest series of OOTD. Looking sleek in its navy/black colourway with white highlights, the new BMW i3 X MRPORTER.COM is the city car equivalent of a classic tuxedo.
TheChicGeek thought he’d take a spin around the city and take a first look at the latest crop of buildings springing up in London. Much like the new BMW i3, these buildings will become the future design icons of London.
ART - The first stop was Tate Modern’s new extension, opening this year, housing its video and performance art collection.
Get involved #FutureIcons #BMWi3
Credits - Suit - Acne Studios, Shirt - Paul Smith, Watch - Uniform Wares all from MRPORTER.COM Shoes - Russell & Bromley, Change Tray - Typo, Vetiver Insolent - Miller Harris, La Promeneuse Scented Cameos - Cire Trudon, Blanket (background) - Hackett
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
Watch the video below
TheChicGeek always ends the year the same way he started it, in style! Going old school for New Year's Eve, TheChicGeek has opted for a classic velvet tuxedo jacket, in plush claret, teamed with black dinner trousers, white shirt and oversized tartan bow-tie.
Happy New Year and see all you ChicGeeks over in 2015!!!!!
Credits - Velvet Jacket - J. Crew at MRPORTER.com, Shirt - Hackett, Bow-Tie - Thomas Pink, Watch - Links of London, Trousers - Hackett, Socks - Pringle @sockshopuk, Shoes - Louis Leeman
Shot by Robin Forster using #Olympus PEN
It’s the end of the day, literally, and after a long day blogging, TheChicGeek likes nothing better than a good book – TheChicGeek’s Fashion, Grooming & Style For Men – to be precise!
Kicking off his shoes, he still looks the part in his double breasted pinstripe suit and, thankfully, his geeking for the day is done.
Credits – Suit – Atelier Scotch, Shirt - Evocha, Tie – Drake’s, Watch – Maurice Lacroix, Briefcase – Swaine, Adeney Brigg at MR PORTER.COM, Bowler Hat – Hackett, Socks – Stance
Shot by Robin Forster on #OlympusPEN
With thanks to Rocket Gallery