News in, Jigsaw is closing its Bluebird concept. After 15 years, the majority of those spent at the quiet end of the Kings Road in Chelsea, it recently moved more central to the prime site of the refurbished ‘Carriage Hall’ on Covent Garden’s Floral Street.
Left - Inside Jigsaw's Shop At Bluebird, Carriage Hall, Floral Street closing this week
Named after the art-deco car garage it was once housed in, it relocated in May 2018 and was part of the landlord Capco’s relaunch of Floral Street alongside the first central London outpost of Petersham Nurseries.
Stocking a mix of designer labels and maison objets, after just over 18 months in this location, The Shop at Bluebird, to give it its full title, is closing its doors for good this week.
A concept store without a concept, its short spell on Floral Street clearly illustrates how a once thriving, premium fashion street in a central location is struggling to pull in the shoppers. The store will turn into a larger Jigsaw store format.
Right - Discrete sign advertising the brands on Floral Street
Floral Street, a charming cobbled street just off the busy James Street, has been a fashion destination since the late 1970s. A pioneer of the area, Paul Smith opened his first store in London at 44 Floral Street in 1979. Over the next 20 years, Floral Street became one of the coolest fashion streets in London. Agnès B, Nicole Farhi, Jones, a cult designer menswear retailer, and Jigsaw Menswear were just some of the stores to make this street blossom. It’s slightly off-the-main-drag location was part of its charm.
Today, many tourists and shoppers walk straight past to the busy market area with its plethora of beauty brands or upwards to the more high-street Long Acre. Peer down Floral Street and it doesn’t look like much is there.
Floral Street isn’t alone, the same thing has happened to South Molton Street in Mayfair. On a map they geographically look as central and in the mix as anything else, but they, seemingly, get so easily passed by. Since the millennium these streets have gradually lost their appeal and declined.
Even Browns, the main pull of South Molton Street is moving. It has occupied its collection of small stores since 1970 and is now moving out. Running from Bond Street Tube station, on the corner of Oxford Street, diagonally down towards Brook Street, South Molton Street has long been a stylish cut through. Today, it has become more synonymous with people giving out free mini samples of soap than chic retail destination.
Browns is closing its collection of awkward stores to move around to a new, singular location on Brook Street. Now owned by online giant Farfetch, Brown’s new store will open this summer in time to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
While not being able to comment on the reason they are moving out, Holli Rogers, CEO of Browns and CFO of Farfetch, says “it really is telling that we found this incredible location to be our new home as we also look to celebrate our 50th anniversary. It was important that we stayed in the heart of Mayfair bringing our clients on this exciting journey, whilst honouring the path we’ve been on and looking to the future of Browns as a pioneer of luxury multi-brand retail with a technology viewpoint. Being in one dedicated space, we are excited to be able to offer a vital and engaging customer experience that draws on the store of the future technology whilst also playing homage to the history and story of both the location and fundamentally Browns.”
Left - Paul Smith's original London shop opened in 1979
So what will become of South Molton Street as even more empty shops pile up? Landlord Grosvenor is proposing investment in a ‘South Molton Triangle’ as the delayed Elizabeth Line finally opens in summer 2021 bringing many hundreds of thousands of more people into the area. But, they’ll need to entice them to venture down South Molton Street and not lose them to Oxford Street.
Right - Landlord advertising Kent & Curwen's Floral Street on the busier James Street
Bounded by Davies Street, Brook Street and South Molton Street and well-known as the home of Grays Antiques Market, this part of Mayfair was always a pedestrianised break from busy Oxford Street.
Grosvenor launched a public consultation in the summer of 2018, no doubt expecting the new underground station and line to be finished sooner. Simon Harding-Roots, executive director, Grosvenor Britain and Ireland, said at the time, “Our proposals are at a very early stage and we want to encourage feedback on how new investment could best serve the community above and beyond the opportunity to better manage increased pedestrian numbers. It is important to us that local voices are incorporated into the planning submission we will ultimately make.”
“The West End is currently ill-equipped to cope with the levels of pedestrian traffic we already see every day, let alone the arrival of thousands of extra visitors expected from the Elizabeth Line. Many of Mayfair’s pavements are too narrow, routes were built for a different era and, perhaps counter intuitively, there are not enough services for those living in and visiting the area.
“We recognise the potential of the South Molton Triangle to address a number of the issues the local community faces. By proposing new investment here, we will be able to better protect and enhance the character and simple enjoyment of living and working in one of the most desirable places in London and the West End.”
Right - Glossier beauty pop-up open until February 9th
These areas need more than simply people management, new pavements and street furniture and it feels like landlords, Capco and Grosvenor, have been focusing on larger and juicer parts of their estates rather than these streets which are more on a Victorian and Georgian scale. At the same time streets like Chiltern Street and areas like Coal Drops Yard have developed and are doing what these locations used to do.
The American beauty brand Glossier recently opened a pop-up on Floral Street, open until February 9th, 2020.
These forgotten about fashion streets were once a destination for those looking for the new cool. Being surrounded by hugely popular shopping areas, there is no reason why they can’t return to this.
These streets need to find a new reason to be and then channel people accordingly. They need to work out and provide what is cool in 2020.
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
Judging by the queue, Jeffrey, and his gang of club kids, is still the golden ticket for East London menswear. The status even matches his yellow hair job.
The catwalk featured dancers and props, which looked like they were there for the marriage of Sarah Brightman to that Starship Trooper she fell in love with.
Metres of tin foil and oxygen pipes mingled with men’s, women’s and anything-in-between wear in a collection which looked more accomplished and retail than ever before.
A standout was a denim jacket and matching jeans and also his tailoring for the contemporary Westwood-type customer.
Jeffrey just needs to be careful the amateurish elements don’t take the focus away from the important stuff, but the new push to way-out-there commercial certainly suits his design sensibilities.
What did TheChicGeek wear? Credits - Coat - Gloverall, Sweater - Kent & Curwen, Sunglasses - Retrosuperfuture, Watch - Kronaby, Shirt - Jigsaw, Shoes - Sperry, Belt - Coach
See LFWM Day 1 - here
See LFWM Day 2 - here
Daniel Fletcher had a play with short, tailored jackets and long, side-poppered trousers ending in open flares which made the models look about 7ft tall. It was almost freakish proportions and lost some of its elegance, especially at a time when shorter jackets are starting to look a little dated. Standout items included silk shirts - or maybe they were very sheer cotton - featuring breasts and rope designs, while in accessorises briefcases were emblazoned with ‘Danny’, from a designer who has the potential to give us more desirable pieces.
This was Sharon Wauchob’s first men’s collection and she’d teamed up with Savile Row tailors, Norton & Sons, owned by E Tautz’s Patrick Grant, to finesse the tailoring.
The Irish designer showed, in ethereal surroundings, All Saints, just off Oxford Street, a collection that perfectly complemented the backdrop. This was one of the highlights of the entire week and the most grown up, yet it felt contemporary, desirable and luxurious, in the old fashion sense of the word.
Standouts were the super-creased shirts with silver threading and a sheer evening shirt showing off this season’s new erogenous zone, the male back.
A sea of ugly trainers sat down to watch the Liam Hodges collection. Feeling ‘Crapped Out’, it was a play with bad taste - British roast pork tan lines and tribal face tattoos, anyone? - but, there was plenty to buy into - the sports socks and badges - and even a Gucci-type hibiscus homage which was decidedly less polished and more interesting. Best thing I’ve seen from him.
While the temperature on Floral Street for Qasimi’s show climbed, so did the colour palette on the catwalk. Lots of oranges in earthy and spice tones played with larger shapes and Arabic slogan hoodies referenced the designer’s background. There’s a growing momentum to the Qasimi brand.
What did TheChicGeek wear? Credits - Suit - Jigsaw, Bag - River Island, T-Shirt - Band Of Outsiders, Neckerchief - Etro, Woggle - eBay, Spectacles - Lunetterie Generale
See LFWM Day 1 - here
Looking online, it appears they’re a sell out. Yes, a sell out! Raf Simons’ AW17 arm-warmers, those accessorises we never knew we needed, and making us think differently about our forearms, aren’t available online anymore.
Left - Raf Simons AW17
That £250 you had burning a hole in your pocket, can be saved, thank god, with a bit of customising and working some magic on leg warmers and socks from eBay.
They do sell ‘arm-warmers’ on eBay, but they all seem a bit too short and tight, and actually designed to keep your arms warm. Duh! So, I started to look at large leg warmers, which you’ll be able to pull over your coat's arms.
It’s just trying to find a pair that is loose enough - the online pictures aren't great, but if it goes over an adult's thigh... - to fit over the arms of a coat that is key, and as seen in the Raf Simons show.
Left - Raf Simons - Knit Sleeves - £244
I went for the black 'Referee' socks, which I'm going to cut the feet out of and then loosely sew around the cut.
They cost me just over £2, including postage, and are a good way to jazz up an old coat, especially with men's fashion weeks coming up.
I think they would look best on a classic long wool coat, in a dark colour, like we saw on the catwalk. I have a perfect one from Jigsaw.
So, at just over a pound an arm, and 100 times cheaper than the originals, get covering those forearms. What have you got to lose?!
From Left - eBay - A selection of Girls/Ladies Referee Socks & Leg-Warmers from around £1.15
Right - Raf Simons AW17
We haven’t had a big fabric trend in menswear for a while now. Gone are the days when colours or fabrics would become ubiquitous for that season and every store and brand would toe the same line. But, there are exceptions, and corduroy is having a good stab at bringing itself back.
Lead by Prada, corduroy, in all its brushed softness, is perfect when coming in the reds and rusts of autumn. A tactile fabric, corduroy is hardwearing and can flit between casual and smart in all its bookish charm.
I love the fact the Germans called corduroy “Manchester” which was the home of “Cottonopolis” and a major manufacturer of corduroy for many years.
Left - Prada Menswear AW17
Corduroy can add bulk so be carefully when choosing a shape or style. For something cooler and more casual look for jeans jackets with matching trousers. I really like what the Spanish brand Lois are doing.
Below - Good News - Rhubarb Tan High - £60
Left - Lois Jeans - Jumbo Cord Brown Corduroy Jacket - £95, Dallas Jumbo Brown Corduroy Trousers - £65 from Stuarts London
Below - Vetements - Darted-Knee Cotton-Corduroy Trousers - £1200 from matchesfashion.com
Left - Drake’s - Single-Breasted Green Cotton Cord Jacket - £595, Green Cotton Cord Suit Trousers - £255
Below - Junya Watanabe - Cotton-Corduroy Baseball Cap - £130 from matchesfashion.com
Left- Prada - Slim-Fit Leather-Trimmed Cotton-Corduroy Suit Jacket - £1805 from MRPORTER.COM
Left - Jigsaw - Garment Dye Corduroy Button Down Shirt - £79
Below - ASOS - Tapered Cord Trousers In Rust - £30
Left - Marks & Spencer - Straight Fit Corduroy Trousers With Stretch - £35
Fashionistos, clear your diary! As we stand on the eve of the new SS18 men’s show season be part of the excitement of London Fashion Week Men’s - LFWM - thanks to St James’s. Join TheChicGeek on Saturday, June 10th, as Jermyn Street is transformed into an al fresco catwalk.
The centre for London’s menswear for centuries, the St James’s area is steeped in history while still being one of the best contemporary men’s shopping areas in the world. Combine an afternoon of shopping with an inspirational see-now-buy-now catwalk show featuring some of the best British brands including Turnbull & Asser, John Smedley, Lock & Co and John Lobb as well as contemporary, newly arrived names including Paul & Shark, Jigsaw, Sunspel and Barbour International.
The two shows are at 1.30pm and 3.00pm and the tickets are free. You just need to register - here What are you waiting for? See you there!
Nearest Tube - Piccadilly Circus
Left & Right - Previous St James's presentations featuring the men's retailers within this prestigious area of Mayfair
If you can’t make either of the shows visitors will be able to drop into the shops of St James’s for a variety of special in-store activities such as a shirt cutting demonstration from a Master Shirt Cutter at Harvie & Hudson and complementary wet shaves at world renowned perfumery Floris. Jermyn Street will also play host to some of London’s best street food retailers all offering a bespoke St James’s menu, making sure the day will be a feast for all the senses.
Somebody pass me a spanner! Or, should that be my blow torch?! Part of Jigsaw’s new ‘Raw State’ workwear-inspired collection, this jacket is looser than a traditional denim jacket, comes in Italian cotton and garment dyed to this amazing smokey colour that feels authentic enough to be worn by an Okie in the Grapes of Wrath: dustbowl chic, anybody?!
The shape is cropped and sits nicely on the waistband. I tried it on yesterday and it comes up big. Take a size smaller.
Left & Below - Jigsaw - Raw State Welder Jacket - £249
I often get asked via my AskTheGeek section how to remove bobbles from clothes. Well, how about getting a coat that couldn't possibly bobble anymore?!
This beauty from Jigsaw is one of my favourites of the season and a total men's must-have. Made from a large bouclé fabric, it feels like a cross between a jumper and coat: perfect for those days to cocoon yourself against the cold.
Keep things simple underneath, such as here with a polo knit and slim jeans or trousers, and you'll be fine and dandy when it's cold enough to wear it.
Left & Below - Jigsaw - Luxe Bouclé Wool Double Breasted Coat - £298
If only Andy Warhol was alive today to see the rise of the selfie. A pioneer of self promotion, the king of pop art knew exactly the power of his own image.
TheChicGeek, on the other hand, has become a pop icon in the men's bloggersphere, thanks to his stylish persona. The coolest geek in town, he knows exactly how classic and chic a black leather jacket, Breton striped top and denim jeans can be.
Never one to shy away from the camera, watch as The Chic Geek turns himself into a work of art.
Credits - Leather Jacket - H&M, Top - Scotch & Soda, Jeans - Energie, Watch - Hammond & Co., Sunglasses - Police, Socks - The London Sock Co, Trainers - Converse, Wallet - Jigsaw
Shot by Robin Forster on OlympusPEN
With thanks to Sonsoles Print Studio, Peckham
More images below