Every year, the bluebells arrive to herald the end of spring, and TheChicGeek takes to the woods. The blur of blue and intoxicating smell are one of the miracles of the season and you should dress to match.
Gifted - Credits - Blue V-Neck - MG Rivers, Yellow Shirt - eBay, Tie - Dries Van Noten from Harvey Nichols, Trousers - American Vintage, Suede Loafers - Dune London, Watch - Kronaby
Not since the late 90s, when it was compulsory to wear smart trousers and shoes to get into your local nightclub or bar, has the shirt been seen as a fashion item. While it has soldiered on over the past two decades in its traditional white collar role as a 4 for £100 offer at various Jermyn Street type outfitters, the shirt is priming itself for a comeback.
Harvey Nichols is reporting a massive spike in sales of shirts with growth in the double digits in its menswear department and new companies are springing up, offering a contemporary take on this historical garment of dress.
Danielle Grantham, Buyer, Harvey Nichols says, “Whilst traditional shirting styles drive interest, we’ve noticed that customers are looking for a point of difference and originality to add to their wardrobe staples so we’ve seen an uplift across the entire Harvey Nichols network on those pieces with subtle elevations; soft handle flannel, bolder colours and designs, grandad collar and a resurgence for short sleeves.”
There’s an entire generation who have never known the shirt as a fashion item brought up on a diet of tees and sweatshirts. “The product offer at Harvey Nichols appeals to both father and son, and with such a broad customer profile across the business we are seeing a more mature casualwear customer and younger contemporary customer shop this category.” says Grantham.
The shirt is diversifying by offering better fits and new materials to broaden its scope and appeal. Hale Clothing is a new menswear brand “created for athletic build men, by athletic build men”. Co-Founder, Frederik Willems, was formerly Head of Design at Pink Shirtmaker where he introduced their ‘Athletic Fit’ shirt, designed to fit comfortably across broad shoulders and a narrow waist. Hale Clothing is taking this concept further.
“I think the versatility of a shirt drives its popularity. It is a bridge between formal and casual dress codes and can work either way. Also men in general like practical dressing and most of the shirts you can wear with a suit and tie and super casual with jeans, etc.” says Willems.
“We have seen a few seasons now that were very streetwear dominated and with the likes of Kim Jones, the design team behind Balenciaga and Vetements starting to mix up streetwear with formal wear. It has filtered down and I believe that has helped shirt sales grow. Also in times of economical uncertainty people tend to dress smart as part of a psychological factor of wanting to portray authority and respect.” he says.
Right - Hale Clothing's shirt design for athletic bodies
“I think shirts can be worn in any way, there are no rules. I see great mixes of pattern with formal and casual wear as well as very crisp and minimal use of shirts in the silhouette or look. There are lot of oversized and short sleeved shirt out there at the moment.
“After the explosion of oversized and sportswear inspired fashion, many brands and designers are going back to slick dressing. Formal menswear is also becoming more elevated and mean with that, that the likes of Givenchy show some great menswear tailoring and fashion during their women’s couture and RTW shows.” says Willems.
Luxury shirt specialist, Thomas Pink, has completed a re-brand to 'Pink Shirtmaker'. The LVMH-owned retailer has refreshed the logo, stores, packaging, labelling, brand imagery to reflect the new direction. The retailer has also introduced women’s shirts to their collections to take advantage in this new demand for shirts.
Revolutionising the speed and ease of getting fitted for a shirt is Formcut. From their City of London showroom, they can design a shirt individually tailored to you in a short 15 minute visit. Combining the world’s finest artisanal materials with cutting edge 3D Body Scan Technology, Formcut is owned by the American Size Stream company, which has over 100 years of combined engineer and software developer experience in 3D body scanning and measurement extraction technology. They are the global leader in accurate, affordable body scanning technology.
During the consultation, you’ll have a full body scan, choose your fit and material and within a matter of weeks a shirt arrives. Formcut uses the best 10 fabric mills in the world, including Grandi Rubinelli and Albini with custom shirts ranging in price from £89 to £140 depending on the fabric choice.
Left - The Formcut body scanner
On the other side of the spectrum is the new going out shirt and silk is the material of choice. This indulgent and louche look taps into that rock star feeling peddled by the likes of Saint Laurent and Celine and celebrities like Harry Styles and Timothée Chalamet.
The Silk Shirt Company is a new British start-up specialising in the finest Italian silk shirts. Ajay Valecha, Managing Director, says, “Shirts have endured the test of time and are suitable both for work and play. Our shirts are made of the finest silk made in Italy and are meant for the emperor in you. Whether you are a neo imperial warlord, master of the universe or just trying to look ridiculously fly at a dope house party, The Silk Shirt Company aims to be the zenith of shirts for you.”
While expensive, the silk shirt offers flexibility to leave it dangerously open and display another big trend in menswear, necklaces and jewellery.
Right - The Silk Shirt Company - Luxury Silk Shirt - £800
While the shirt took a back seat to the T-shirt and sweatshirt over the last few years, it is starting to regain territory. People are willing to pay more for a shirt than a T-shirt because it feels like you’re buying something with more work to it. It also feels more longer lasting, an investment piece, less disposable and more versatile in how you can wear and style it in comparison to other types of tops. The message is clear, put a collar on it.
Read more expert ChicGeek Comments - here
HERMETICA, says it is the first of its kind – a digitally focused fragrance brand, with 13 unique fragrances – that will be delivering internationally due to its alcohol-free fragrances.
From the fragrance stable of Irish/French couple, John and Clara Molloy – founders of MEMO International which has brands such as MEMO Paris and Floraïku. See what TheChicGeek thought about Floraïku - here Hermetica is a collection of molecular fragrances inspired by the ancient practice of alchemy, which sought to transform basic metals into precious materials and to find the ultimate elixir of life
This hybrid formula, using unique patented technology - Innoscent™ - where synthetic molecules are extracted from natural source, developed by Symrise, is a first-ever in the fragrance industry. The alcohol-free formula reveals immediately the heart of the fragrance.
The result of this modern-day alchemy is four collections of 13 long-lasting and powerful perfumes plus, Source1 – a unique scent that can be found in all of the fragrances.
Left - Hermetica - 100ml - £155
Each Hermetica scent is presented in an emerald green lacquered bottle with a golden metallic cap debossed with the Hermetica logo. The bottle is housed inside a golden perforated cylinder reminiscent of the molecule that carries the perfume to your nose.
TheChicGeek says, “When you’re presented with 13 fragrances it’s difficult to know where to start. There’s a random ‘personality’ questionnaire to go through on the website which asks you questions to help define your fragrance. Mine came out with ‘Source1’, which, funnily enough, was the first fragrance I tried from the box of 13. Lucky?! Maybe.
The ‘Source1’ is found in each fragrance, ranging in concentration from 20 to 60%, and contains bergamot essence, amber and a fresh wood.
They say because of the complexity of an alcohol free fragrance, this took more than two years to create, due to its new and innovative formula that enables the top and mid notes to appear instantly, revealing the heart of the perfume after the first spritz, making it unique to every individual.
They offer a ‘discovery kit’, containing all 13 perfumes, and can be purchased through the website, allowing consumers to smell each scent, before buying; the cost is then offset against the price of a full priced fragrance.
I was drawn to ‘Greenlion’ with its patchouli, juniper berry oil and amber wood, but there's so much good stuff here. This has the pedigree and is another welcome addition from the MEMO founders. I love the names and I’m still enjoying discovering them all.
As the for the digital bit, they’re launching in Harvey Nichols later on this month and extending the MEMO counter to be 50% HERMETICA, so they’re not purely online, but they want to position themselves as digital native as they’re sold internationally due to its alcohol free formula and can be therefore be shipped globally. Personally, I would just buy the sample set and enjoying playing until those run out.”
Sample Set - £25 Redeemable against the price of a full sized bottle
Rolls Royce’s best customer, the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was the compelling, albeit fairly silent, star of the recent Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country.
Dressed in his long-flowing finery he was surrounded by his adoring followers all wearing a spectrum of reds.
Left - The cult's followers wearing their red colour palette
Also known as Osho, the story followers the Bhagwan, his one-time personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela and their community of followers in Rajneeshpuram, aka Antelope, located in Wasco County, Oregon during the 1980s.
Right - The Bhagwan
This commune was a place of free love and followed the teachings of the Bhagwan. His taste for the finer things in life - 93 Roll Royces! - is part of the madness of it all.
Left - Uniqlo - Men Supima Cotton Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-Shirt - £9.90
The reason they wore reds was to represent “the colours of the rising or setting sun”, as well as beaded necklaces with a locket containing a picture of the Bhagwan's face. It’s fascinating how everybody is wearing something different while conforming to the same colour chart.
I’m expecting Pantone to release a ‘Bhagwan Red’ next year, which would be a crimson/berry red. But you can get in early by buying anything on this colour chart with no logos or branding.
Left - Berska - Bomber Jacket - £19.99
The community imploded, but I won’t spoil it. Let’s just say it makes me rethink about eating from the salad cart at the local Harvester!
Left - American Apparel - Cranberry Hoodie - £34
Left - Spoke - Coral - £89
Left - ASOS - Skinny Smart Trousers In Strawberry Red - £20
Left - YOURTURN - Dip Dye T-Shirt In Red - £12 from ASOS
Left - Ted Baker - Proshor Chino Short - £69 from House of Fraser
Left - Rivieras - Classic 10 Canvas Loafers - £50 from matchesfashion.com
Left - Buscemi - 100mm Guts Red Leather Hi-Top Trainers -£670 from Harvey Nichols
More Get The Looks - The Assassination of Gianni Versace - here
Created by David Beckham in partnership with L’Oréal, HOUSE 99 is said to take a holistic approach to grooming, merging British barbershop culture and style with hair, skin, beard and tattoo creativity to build a home for every man’s next look.
Twenty one products named after David’s favourite year; he has ’99’ tattooed on his hand to mark a momentous year in both his personal life and career. He married Victoria, his eldest son, Brooklyn was born, and Manchester United won the treble.
The current HOUSE 99 must-haves include: Going Big Thickening & Purifying Shampoo, Get Groomed. Purifying Beard Scrub, Seriously Groomed Beard & Hair Balm. You get the idea…
Left - HOUSE 99 - Going Big Thickening Daily Shampoo - 250ml - £16, Get Groomed Purifying Beard Scrub - £18 Exclusive to Harvey Nichols until March
Quinoa and spirulina form the heart of HOUSE 99’s formulas, chosen specifically by David Beckham for their health-boosting properties, as a prominent sportsman. These natural protein-rich actives combine the essential constituents needed by hair and skin that can’t be synthesised by the body.
TheChicGeek says, “Does the world need 21 new grooming products from David Beckham? Probably not. Will it be successful? Probably. The thing about the current grooming market, this massive need for new shelf space will displace or replace existing brands. I’m not sure why L’Oréal didn’t just put David Beckham into their Men Expert range or make the new Barber Club his imput. Both need more identity, editing and personality.
But, I can see why they’ve done a separate range when I look at the prices. It’s more expensive than I initially thought or looks - £17 for a face wash, £22 for moisturiser.
I tried three products: Greater Look Face Moisturiser, Purefectly Clean Face Wash and Truly Brighter Eye Balm. The only thing of interest was the peppermint tingle in the face wash. The ‘Eye Balm’ is a bit too thick for such a delicate area.
Overall, I’m not sure where this fits. It’s priced to compete with Clinique and Lab Series, but it's packaged to compete with Nivea and Bulldog. I’m not sure what you’re paying a premium for other than for Golden Balls’ name. I also think launching 21 products at once is overwhelming and it’s a lot for anybody to take in. Modern grooming needs to be simple.
The tattoo products make sense with Beckham as the face and if they do box sets for gifting, I can see this being a popular present come father's day or Christmas.”
Lara Djandji, Menswear Buyer, Harvey Nichols
“From Raf Simons, SS18 saw the re-launch of key pieces from Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album and I can’t get enough of the entire collection – my favourite piece being this jacket - it’s the perfect mix between fashion and music. For real fans, we’ve also bought the cap to complete the full look.”
Left - Raf Simons - New Order Oversized Denim Jacket - £1135
“Amiri’s exceptional quality and craftsmanship of each pair of jeans makes it easy and chic to wear them everywhere – from a flight to a night out.”
Left - Amiri - Broken Black Distressed Skinny Jeans - £645
“I love this iconic Dries Van Noten look – it’s so effortless yet still elegant and can easily be worn with the signature boxed shoulder coat to transition between seasons.”
Below - Dries van Noten - Reedley Checked Wool Coat - £1010, Carlton Printed Ramie Shirt - £565, Patrini Checked Wool Trousers - £390
“I love this vintage inspired jacket by Dior. Designed by Kris Van Assche, it references the punk and rave designs of the 70s and 80s, but also makes anyone looks instantly cool.”
Bottom - Dior Homme - Jacket - £490
Another California based and made basics brands? Sound familiar? Read about The Death of American Apparel here
This time it’s different. Driven by Founder and Creative Director, Adam Vanunu, Cotton Citizen is about experimenting with colour and mastering the art of garment dying. A curated palette of super saturated, eye-catching coluors are released every season, created exclusively with their exclusive dye house’s capabilities.
Inspired by destinations around the world, Cotton Citizen is designed and produced in Los Angeles. Each Cotton Citizen piece is as unique as the person who wears it.
An off-shoot of his family’s American Dye House business, which he took over when he was 20, Cotton Citizen launched with a T-shirt line in 2012, sold exclusively at Fred Segal.
Adam still develops all the dye colours and washes the mens and womenswear collections by hand. He picks the fabric and launders it before he cuts and sews it, just so all the shrinkage gets out.
When Cotton Citizen dye, they provide a colour fascinator to the washes so that the colour doesn't bleed or fade and it stays as rich as the first day you got the shirt.
Everything is made in the U.S. from 100% cotton.
TheChicGeek says, "I really like the vivid oranges and greens with coloured flecks for SS18 and while it is relatively expensive you are paying for the individual attention to each garment."
Left & Right - Cotton Citizen - Sweatshirt - £170, Jogging Trousers - £170 Available at Harvey Nichols
Danielle Grantham, Menswear Buyer, Harvey Nichols
“This season, we’ve introduced New York label Saturdays NYC to our casualwear offer. Look to this brand for effortlessly cool lifestyle pieces to upgrade your weekend wardrobe. A parka is always an essential autumn/winter investment and this olive cotton one from the brand is no exception.”
Left - Saturdays NYC – Olive Cotton Parka - £530
“Logomania isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Buy into this trend with Parisian cool brand A.P.C that is renowned for its simple yet stylish staples. Paying homage to the brand’s first collection; this white flocked T-shirt is part of the Hiver 87 capsule collection celebrating the brand’s 30th anniversary and will undoubtedly be a future classic.”
Left - A.P.C – White Flocked Cotton T-shirt - £80
“Manchester based brand Private White VC nails luxury casualwear. All its collections are sourced and handmade in England, creating contemporary classics designed to last for years to come. This season, their rich ochre corduroy shirt ticks two key autumn/winter trends in one.”
Left - Private White VC - Orange Corduroy Shirt - £260
“Elevating our casualwear offer is Officine Generale, champions of classic wardrobe staples, beautifully designed and made out of the finest fabrics, the brand offers core pieces to be worn in everyday life. This brushed blush pink jumper can be worn with tailored pieces or dressed down with jeans and trainers.”
Left - Officine Generale - Shetland Pink Wool Jumper - £235
“Danish label Norse Projects is an expert in pared back functional basics for the modern wardrobe spanning across RTW and accessories. This merino wool beanie is undoubtedly an essential purchase for the winter months, it’s so soft that you’ll never want to take it off.”
Left - Norse Projects - Navy Merino Wool Beanie - £50
TheChicGeek says, “Based around organic soaps, SCRUBD is a new British grooming brand. Founded by entrepreneur, Mark Helvadjian, his previous company was ShippingEasy, an online fulfilment platform, after he couldn’t find premium all-natural grooming products created specifically for men. Two years ago the journey began and, now, launches with 9 products - 4 of which are soaps - exclusively at Harvey Nichols.
Left - SCRUBD grooming based around organic soap - Exclusively in Harvey Nichols - Soaps - Cedarwood & Grapefruit, Lemongrass & Lime, Oakmoss & Spearmint, Charcoal & Black Pepper - £17, Face Scrub - £24
I was sent 2 soaps and the face scrub to try:
I like the branding, it’s simple yet distinctive. The soaps are man-sized and will last a decent amount of time. I can’t see in the blurb how the ‘Hand-crafted all-natural, organic triple-milled soap block’ has been made specifically for men’s skin? I must be missing something.
I don’t usually use soap as it dries out the skin. This has an element of dryness, but it isn’t too bad. I like the all-natural, organic idea and the smell is subtle - it could actually be stronger.
There’s a novelty to using soap, when you don’t usually, especially in certain areas! These big sizes will be more cost effective than any body wash. They are fairly premium for a soap - £17 - but it is “hand-crafted” in England and organic.
The "Face Scrub" is pretty standard. It’s nice and soft and cleanses and washes off easily. I usually judge a new grooming range on its moisturiser which I didn’t try here, but I like the idea of bringing soaps back and centring the brand around these.”
Last week, Harrods unveiled the expansion of its Salon de Parfums area on the top floor of the store. Seven new fragrance boutiques have been added including Penhaligon’s, Armani Privé, Burberry, Sospiro, Frédéric Malle, Bond No.9 and, brand new and world exclusive, Floraïku.
Left - The new Floraïku boutique at the extended Salon de Perfumes in Harrods
The Japanese-inspired, Floraïku, has been created by John and Clara Molloy, the couple behind ‘Memo Paris’, available at Harvey Nichols.
Directly inspired by Japan, the collection of eleven fragrances are based on Japanese poems - haiku - engraved on each bottle. Three ‘ceremonies’ make up Floraiku: Secret Teas and Spices, Enigmatic Flowers and Forbidden Incense, each
of them composed with three different perfumes.
The colour of the bottles, navy blue, white and black ensures recognition. A final ceremony is added to the previous three: Shadowing. Composed of two perfumes, with a red bottle, it allows, if they are affixed near a fragrance of one of the other three collections, to make it deeper or lighter.
Right - My favourite - Between Two Trees
Unveiled in a box inspired by a Japanese bento box, each fragrance of 50ml is presented with its travel spray, which also serves as a stopper. A refill of 10ml for the vaporiser completes this box. All perfumes and travel refills are refillable.
Left - Sit down for tea & a biscuit & sample the fragrances
TheChicGeek says, “This is a new take on fragrance and at first I thought it was Japanese. Japanese fragrances are usually very light. Because this is French, they are of a more European strength.
They are beautiful, so too is the packaging and the boutique. Looking like a tea house, you sit at the counter and are served tea and a biscuit - always a winner - while a wooden stand allows you to work through the collection. My favourite was one of the ‘shadows’ - ‘Between Two Trees’.
This is expensive, around £250, but without the usual bling you find at this level and smells very natural. I find it interesting how confident John and Clara Molloy must be to appropriate Japanese culture like this. It’s a difficult thing to get right when its not your own culture. I really like it, but I would love to know what the Japanese think”.
Below - The testers are arranged on this board to experience the different categories & 'shadows'
Left - The fragrances come in a bento style box with the travel spray stopper & cartridge