It’s hard and premature to judge a brand on their first collection. It takes around 2 or 3, ideally, to be able to assess properly and get a median point of view or an idea on whether you like it or not and want to commit, i.e. buy. The fashion set usually rush to rave, if it's good, or sit back, offer non-committal politeness and hope they advertise, if it isn't.
Far Left - Stella McCartney swallow print shirt - £485, Left - Twisting her melons! Chloe, circa Spring 2001, when Stella McCartney was the chief designer
I, unfortunately, couldn’t make the launch of Stella McCartney’s new menswear collection, so I’m judging on the SS17 lookbook and the couple of pieces they had at the recent matchesfashion.com press day.
Stella McCartney is a feminine label and because I’ve known this has been coming for a while, I’ve got my head around that being in the neck of the garment.
If you had asked me a few months ago what this was going to look like, I would have said something like Roland Mouret’s now defunct Mr. men’s collection: all dark, navy suits, safe and quality basics modelled on Stella's very stylish husband, Alasdhair Willis, who is in charge at Hunter.
Surprisingly, it’s a big collection that isn’t playing safe and is offering something for ‘members’ and ‘non-members’. It's just the entrance fee that many may have a problem with!
It’s expensive, which makes sense because of the womenswear positioning. Is the target customer the male to the female customer or the partner of the female Stella customer? If he's the male equivalent, he'll want to buy his own clothes. If he's the partner, you'd be a confident woman taking quite a risk taking this lot home. Zipper trousers, anybody?!
What we have is something that looks like West London’s version of East London. It's all a bit 'popping out for a pint of milk and a packet of fags on Primrose Hill', which is Stella McCartney's set. When I saw the swallow shirt, pictured, it brought to mind one of Stella McCartney's Chloe tops with bananas on from her time at the French fashion house.
It's a tough time to launch menswear. Many well established brands are finding it difficult to shift fashion at these prices. It needs to be the best or special, or both. Kering, McCartney's parent company, obviously want her to expand. First kid's, now men's.
This could falter by falling in the gap between not being fashion enough for those who want serious, standout pieces and not being wearable enough for those men with deep enough pockets to afford it. Let's see how this develops.
You can pre-order the SS17 collection now.
Left - Stella McCartney - Bonded technical trench coat - £1605
Right - Will you join Stella McCartney's menswear club?
Right - The kind of bag most brands giveaway for free. Yours for £290 - Stella McCartney - Tomorrow Print Backpack
Below - Stella recreated the famous Beatles crossing at Abbey Road, London for the launch of her new men's collection. Grooming by Aveda
TheChicGeek says ‘YAY!’ to Jaeger’s new home on Marylebone High Street. Situated on one of the smartest shopping streets in London, the new two-storey Jaeger store stocks the full menswear collection.
Jaeger asked TheChicGeek to pick his favourite pieces from the new store and their latest AW16 collection.
Right - A palette of navy, with highlights of orange, show Jaeger's expertise in knitwear and ease of dressing with a comfortable buttoned cardigan and large pocketed cargo trousers
TheChicGeek took to the streets of Marylebone to showcase his new look featuring a pair of Lou Dalton X Jaeger wool cargo trousers, a ginger coloured T-shirt (Obvs!) and soft wool cardigan.
It seems ginger and navy are the colours of the season as he bumped into his doppelgänger over at the Chiltern Firehouse! Twinning is most definitely winning.
Find out more here
Open now - 12 Marylebone High Street
Get involved #JaegerStyle
Left - Twinning is winning when TheChicGeek met the doorman at Marylebone local, Chiltern Firehouse
Below - TheChicGeek doing his best Gene Kelly impression - minus the rain - in new season Jaeger menswear
Coach Creative Director, Stuart Vevers, has been slowly building Coach's fashion credibility. Expanding the American brand's fashion collections, including a full menswear show in London, the British designer is adding cool to Coach's accessory heritage.
This season was all about contrast leather jackets and buffalo checked knitwear mixed with an element of 90s grunge.
Get involved #TheChicGeekCollections
Credits - All clothes & shoes Coach AW16
Shot by Robin Forster on OlympusPEN
Paris is always the most serious of fashion capitals. Never one for irony or a sense of humour, when Paris does something, it does it with a serious face. That aside, thanks to a few international designers, a few glimmers of fun poked through.
Call of the Wild
Safari, wild beasts, dodos?! Which animal would play you in the fashion Jungle Book?
Left - Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Walter van Beirendonck, Louis Vuitton
No need to shrug those shoulders as your neck disappeared seasons ago.
Putting the gay into 'Gay Paris', Joseph has nothing on this technicolour.
Left - Paul Smith, Lanvin, Balmain, Thom Browne
A new way to do prints. Thinking natural dyes and historical influences.
Left - Dries van Noten
Big Trouser Bulge
Pack everything in.
Left - Givenchy
There is something about this wash which is so wrong yet so right at the same time. Think Dynasty/Dallas denim.
Left - Balmain
If life gives you lemons, then wear yellow?!
From Left - Paul Smith, Hermes
From Left - Off White, Haider Ackermann
Those tails are wagging for this new cropped evening style.
Left - Balmain
(See more from Milan - here)
Italians do it better. This seems to be the theme coming out of Milan fashion week where the Italians have taken the bull by the horns and produced some of the best menswear we’ve seen from them in a long time. You may as well go down in style!
Here are TheChicGeek’s trend highlights:
Think avocado and prawn cocktail sauce.
From Left - Gucci, Bally, Gucci
The seventies got a refresh and contemporary update. Chevrons were the order of the day.
From Far Left - Neil Barrett, Fendi, Dsquared2, Neil Barrett
(See TheChicGeek meet Neil Barrett just before this collection - here)
Knowing Fendi this is probably made from kittens. Get the robe out of the spa and take it to the street.
More bleach. It's one way of cleaning your clothes. (See how London did it - here)
From Left - Gucci, Dsquared2, MSGM, Bally
The most stylish men are always prepared. Now get over prepared!
From Left - Moncler Gamme Bleu, Ferragamo, Prada, Ferragamo
Nobody dresses up anymore, said no one, ever. It's time to get imaginative and experiment with new shapes including ruffles and tails.
From Left - Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci
Jazz, great! From literal at Dolce to art-deco Marcel waves at Fendi. I thought I'd throw a painting from the era by British artist Duncan Grant for additional inspiration.
From Left - Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Missoni, Fendi, Ralph Lauren
Rediscover your waist. Suck it in and stick a letter on it.
Left - Bally
Nobody does narcissism like the Italians!
Below - Giorgio Armani
Where was everybody? That could have been the final statement when it came to London’s latest round of men’s shows and presentations. Having dropped from 77 to 57, the number of brands showing was a reflection in the current oversupply of fashion brands and collections. LCM felt a little vacant and, unfortunately, what was left didn’t exactly set the menswear world on fire.
Here are a few trends TheChicGeek spied to take us into the new year:
It's 40 years since punk first burst on to the British streetwear scene and to celebrate designers have been getting creative with a bottle of Domestos.
From Left - Casely-Hayford, Mihara Yasuhiro (See how to make your own pair of bleachers - here)
Tracey Emin rang, she wants her spare bed back! Could it be a comment on generation rent and the nomad status of today’s young and creative generation or maybe it was simply the lazy option. Expect to see 'Dreams' as the headline sponsor of the next LCM or London Fashion Week Men’s as it is now called.
From Left - Per Götesson, Edward Crutchley
Nothing says 'playful' like Terry towelling. And while a playsuit maybe taking things too far, if you've got the legs...
From Left - Sibling, Topman Design
Flag To The Mast
Tie your sartorial flag to the mast and dress like a walking United Nations.
Both Craig Green
Colouring in is so 2015! Get that Sharpie out and start to doodle to your heart's content.
Below - Coach
Zips go man-sized, this season, and take centre stage.
From Left - Mihara Yasuhiro, JW Anderson, Mihara Yasuhiro
Large lapels yet streamlined shapes make this a contemporary seventies revival.
Fashion tribes take inspiration from ethnic jewellery and the play with masculinity and decoration.
Left - Casely-Hayford, Wales Bonner, Charles Jeffrey
The colour combo of the season. Bubblegum to fuchsia, lime to forest, these two colours work in every combination.
Both JW Anderson (See more from this trend in Milan)
The first day of LCM, London's men's fashion week, started. At the end of a long day TheChicGeek's thoughts about the menswear business at the moment and how we need to move away from 'Instagram' fashion and get back to the fundamentals of design.
TheChicGeek turns 7, this month, and to celebrate I have joined forces with one of my favourite menswear brands, Farah, for a party at their flagship store. in Earlham Street, Covent Garden.
In the run up to the party, TheChicGeek and Farah will be running a daily competition, for 7 days, to win £200 worth of Farah clothing.
How do I WIN?!!!
All you have to do is visit the store on any of the 7 days (18-24 May), find TheChicGeek’s birthday gift box and have your picture taken with it, posting to Twitter or Instagram, tagging @thechicgeekcouk @farahmenswear and #thechicgeekxfarah for your chance to win.
As well as some great pieces of clothing from Farah, you’ll also win 2 tickets to attend TheChicGeek’s birthday party on the 25 May. Good luck!
* The party is invitation only.
For competition T&Cs visit http://www.farah.co.uk/terms-and-conditions.html
A new exhibition charting the emergence of the modern male wardrobe has opened at the Jewish Museum in Camden, London .
This new exhibition tells the story of men’s fashion and the emergence of the modern male wardrobe – taking visitors on a journey from the tailoring workshops of the mid-19th century to the boutique revolution and mod culture of the Swinging 60s. The story is told through the huge number of Jewish companies who were at the forefront of the major developments and changes in the design, manufacturing and retail of men’s clothing from the mid-19th to late 20th century.
Right - Cecil Gee, who helped bring the 1960s Italian Mod look to London, in his Shaftesbury Avenue store in the 1960s. I love the birdcage
For over 100 years British menswear set trends which led the world – and many of the most influential figures of that period were Jews, from Montague Burton and Moses Moss to Cecil Gee and Michael Fish.
Left & Below - Mr Fish outfit & label on a 'Kipper' tie from his store in Mayfair
TheChicGeek says, “I hadn’t been to the Jewish Museum before and, as far as I know, this is the first exhibition they’ve had dedicated to menswear. It’s a concise and compact exhibition starting with the early mass suit producers such as Burton and Moses Moss up to the colourful Peacock Males of Carnaby Street.
It’s a simple timeline with lots of images and a few films illustrating the processes these manufacturers invented and also giving a feel of the time these things were happening.
I didn’t realise so many of the Carnaby street sixties brands such as Mr Fish, Granny Takes A Trip, Lord John etc. were all Jewish and it’s always a joy to see this colourful chapter in British menswear.
The exhibition is perfectly timed as the Mr Fish label is set to return under new ownership. The original Michael Fish is said to not be very well and he doesn’t have many examples of his own work left, unfortunately. The exhibition does has a couple of pieces, including one of his famous ‘Kipper’ ties, lent by the Victoria & Albert museum. While Jewishness doesn't necessarily have an influence on the product, this is a celebration of the Jewish community's input into British menswear over the last 150 years."
Until 19th June 2016
Knightsbridge based department store, Harvey Nichols, has been busy excavating their basement. Long the home of their menswear offering, this cavernous yet claustrophobic space is, we are told, being completely made over ready for its unveiling in spring 2016.
Left - Harvey Nichols' new store in Birmingham which gives us the direction stylistically of the Knightsbridge store's new men's basement.
So, what’s new? I recently attended a presentation of theirs describing how the new spaces are going to look. Bye, bye shop-in-shops and branded concessions: long the bastion of mega-brands, physically claiming prime spots in-store to be replaced by easily changeable spaces and the mixing of brands.
I'd like to think of it as a more democratic form of shopping: allowing labels to speak to people solely on product alone without the pre-judgement of walking over to a branded section or the muscling out of smaller brands by placing them in the parts of the store these mega-brands don’t want.
The big brands won’t like this. They will sell less. There will now be an equal playing field between them and whichever new brands Harvey Nichols decide to stock. It also allows Harvey Nichols to drop brands faster, regardless of size, to keep pace with the speed of fashion and allowing new brands to bring excitement and interest into their physical store.
People are tired of seeing the same brands everywhere regardless of how expensive they are. It also allows a form of curation rather than simply a mini-mall of the same designer names which you can find the world over.
Harvey Nichols know they can’t compete with the likes of Harrods and Selfridges on menswear floor space, so, they are making theirs more flexible and less static. This is a very clever idea.
Right - More interiors from Harvey Nichols Birmingham. Let's hope London looks this good
In order to survive shops need to become destinations. They need to offer something you can’t find anywhere else: something new, fresh and inspiring. They also have to flow, both visibly and physically, and, ultimately, part time-poor people with their cash.
One of the more interesting ideas they have is putting all the same things together. So, white T-shirts, tuxedos etc., all at different price points, selected by Harvey Nichols, are together with the sales assistants explaining the differences between them all.
Fashion’s big names have long earnt their corners of the big stores, but they sell more and remain powerful because they have the best positions and are, therefore, stuck in a positive cycle which is very hard to break, making retail spaces look the same every time and everywhere. It all becomes quite predictable and menswear buyers and the retailers want something different and exciting while still retaining the spend.
Harvey Nichols is seeing this refresh as an opportunity to try something new. No doubt they’ll be some difficult discussions with brands, but I hope they hold their ground and give these ideas a chance to prove that the customer, now, buys into good product rather than brands. Menswear just got a level playing field!
Opening April 2016