must have vintage menswear winged shoes talariaThis is the best type of shopping; an investment and something originally beautiful. You already know I’m obsessed with vintage and the element of discovery and a new auction catalogue from Kerry Taylor Auctions in Bermondsey is like sartorial porn. So, treat yourself to something for Christmas. You deserve it!

Here are TheChicGeek’s picks of the sale and why:

TheChicGeek says, “Nothing is original in fashion, well, not totally. When Jeremy Scott put his wings on his adidas trainers, he could have glimpsed these gorgeous pair of talaria beach sandals. (Talaria are winged sandals, a symbol of the Greek messenger god Hermes -The name is from the Latin tālāria, "of the ankle".) Can you imagine the rest of the swimming costume?"

Lot 62 : A rare pair of Phillips' Silver Wing rubber bathing shoes, English, late 1920s

A rare pair of Phillips' Silver Wing rubber bathing shoes, English, late 1920s. moulded with maker's details to the soles, of black rubber with white painted edgings and silver wings to each side.

Estimate: £800 - £1200

TheChicGeek says, “I’m a little bit obsessed with Schiaparelli, ATM. I’ve been reading her ‘Shocking Life’ autobiography and she seems like a whirlwind of style and creative ideas and very much where we are, right now, in fashion. This is one of those fun things we take for granted today, but just look at the year it was produced”.

must have vintage menswear Schiaparelli telephone compactLot 69 : A rare Salvador Dali for Schiaparelli 'Telephone Dial' compact, 1935.must have vintage menswear Schiaparelli hall of mirrors dress

The design of this compact in 1935 marks the first collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali. That same year saw the opening of Maison Schiaparelli at 21, Place Vendôme, Paris.

Estimate: £2000 - £3000

TheChicGeek says, “More Schiaparelli. I get the impression any woman who commissioned an outfit from Schiaparelli would be the interesting woman in the room. It’s a shame the name didn’t have the same life as her rival, Chanel, as it would have made for much more creative fashion”.

Lot 70 : A fine and rare Elsa Schiaparelli couture 'Hall of Mirrors' jacket and matching dress, 'Zodiac' collection, Autumn-Winter, 1938-39

Presented in August 1938, it drew on two main themes - astrology and the magnificent Palace of Versailles. The seventeen massive archways of the Galerie des Glaces, each filled with twenty-one mirrors, must have inspired the baroque cartouches on this jacket front. Provenance: Vera Bowler who married John Wesley Worth on 4th May 1935. Her husband was regional Manager for Carreras Ltd., Britain's largest manufacturer of cigarettes. 

Estimate: £50000 - £70000

TheChicGeek says, “Move over the Milk Tray man in this James Bond like aprés-ski outfit. You can just imagine George Best or Tom Jones in something like this”.

must have vintage menswear Pierre Cardin jumpsuit men'sLot 107 : A fine and rare Pierre Cardin man's knitted jump suit, 1969-70.

Estimate: £7000 - £10000

TheChicGeek says, “John Galliano seems to be exciting everybody at Maison Margiela, ATM, so it’s nice to see some early stuff from this British master. £1200 in 1990? That would have been a fortune”.

must have vintage menswear John Galliano banana coatLot 159 : The John Galliano 'Banana' coat showpiece, Autumn-Winter, 1989-90.

Provenance: Gifted by Mr Galliano to a friend who worked with him. The coccon-shaped 'Poiret' coat in banana-yellow Melton wool with collar formed from tall cartridge pleats (retail price advertised at £1200). Galliano described this coat as a 'punctuation mark for the show’.

Estimate: £2500 - £3500

TheChicGeek says,”It was only a fews years ago that Christopher Raeburn put inflatable rubber coats onto his London catwalk. This is pure Michelin Man and full of those 80s proportions when Issey Miyake was at the height of his influence”. 

must have vintage menswear Issey Miyake inflatable jacket 1987Lot 172 : A rare Issey Miyake man's inflatable rubber jacket, 1987.

An identical jacket was worn by Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys in 1987 in a performance of 'Rent' on the 'Live from the London Palladium' TV show..

Estimate: £10000 - £15000

See more ChicGeek vintage picks here

 

 

 

 

 

Superdry strategy bored brand Julian DunkertonSuperdry has been a British retail phenomenon. In under a decade, the brand went from its first store in Covent Garden to a huge multi-storey flagship on London’s Regent Street.

Established by James Holder and Julian Dunkerton, the Superdry name first appeared in 2003. It has been an unstoppable juggernaut since then, racking up yearly sales of over £750 million (2017) and operates in 55 countries.

Left - Superdry went from a single store to a huge Regent Street flagship in under 10 years

At the beginning of this year, the remaining founder, Julian Dunkerton, announced he was stepping down from the company. In a statement, Mr Dunkerton said he had “other demands” on his time, and stepping down was “the right point for me to transition my focus and responsibilities”. Handing the reins to new Superdry chief executive Euan Sutherland, Dunkerton bowed out quietly until this October when Superdry issued a shock profit warning blaming warm weather and bad foreign exchange hedging. Shares in the group crashed 20%. 

Dunkerton has been vocal in his disagreement with the direction the company is heading in, saying, “I cannot sit back and watch my shareholding — and those off all the pensions invested in the company — be dissipated”. He’s trying to gather other shareholder support to return to and steer the company in his direction, but, have they got their strategy wrong or has the Superdry brand simply peaked and run out of steam? 

Mat Heinl, CEO at global creative business Moving Brands, an independent, global creative company, says: “It has become unclear who Superdry is for and it feels like its brand and purpose has been entirely lost. 

“There, now, seems to be a clear disconnect between what made the brand successful and its core base of customers. With the mid-market being hit hard by competitors, brands like Superdry fall into a sea of sameness,” says Heinl.

The strategy in question has been Superdry’s move into fast-fashion. In September, Superdry hired Brigitte Danielmeyer as its new chief product officer to launch a new fast-fashion range called "Superdry Preview”. Formerly Tommy Hilfiger’s global head of womenswear, Danielmeyer, leads the new Superdry Preview label aimed to attract a “younger, more fashion-driven” customer through limited-edition capsule collections. The range will go from design to delivery in just six weeks and be supported by a social media campaign targeted directly at 16 to 24-year-olds.

Yet to be tested, with no results yet for these ranges, Dunkerton thinks it’s a mistake for Superdry to move into the competitive fast fashion arena. He thinks Superdry should stick with fewer, core ranges in store and massively increase the designs and varieties (known as SKUs) being sold online.

“Last Christmas we were at a point where we could hit fast fashion online. We were such a strong brand that we could really increase our SKU count. But they [the new management] did the reverse.

“If you put that product online you would expand brand awareness and create excitement online while combining it with the classic store base.” he said.

Not everybody disagrees with the fast-fashion approach. Natalya Johnson, Marketing Manager, Shopest, who create location- based shopping experiences helping “independent stores to stay vibrant, profitable and nearby”, says “Early on the brand appealed to their target demographic which at the time was young men and women aged around 16-30. 

“Over time, their consumer has changed, developed new interests and shop in a new way. Although brand identity is strong, the brand has failed with adapting into the fast fashion cycles, meaning their products seem to be outdated,” she says.

“Superdry are beaten by big brands such as ASOS and Zara, who not only offer consumers constant variety, but also a difference of style. 

Superdry strategy bored brand Julian Dunkerton

“Superdry do have great potential to revive the brand, tapping into current trends in the fashion industry that would attract their ideal consumer. It seems that they keep missing the mark in trends that would complement the brand e.g. streetwear and also brand collaborations. 

“Once the product becomes more relevant, the brand can offer new innovations in store and develop stronger marketing strategies. In conclusion, Superdry appear to be very stagnant at the moment, but definitely have the potential to make things right,” she says. 

The shares now sit at roughly 780p. They began the year above 2000p. The October profit warning said it expected to make £83 million in profit this year, well shy of the near-£110 million expected. 

Superdry is heavily reliant on sales of heavy winter items such as jumpers and jackets, making 45% of annual sales. It said “unseasonably hot weather” in the UK, Europe and the east coast of the US was hitting sales.

“Superdry is a British phenomenon who’s growth has been nothing short of miraculous,” says Anthony McGrathpastedGraphic.png, Lecturer and Editor-in-Chief of Clothes-Make-the-Man.com. 

“In their heyday, celebs galore were spotted in their trademark casual wear and they set up home in a huge flagship emporium dedicated to all things Superdry on the retail Mecca of Regent Street. BUT! They have rested on their laurels and the whole nature of the beast, that is fashion, is that it changes at a break neck speed. Tastes, styles, trends change and unfortunately Superdry haven’t. So, yes, I do think Dunkerton is right,” he says.

Right - Is Superdry too reliant on coats and jackets?

Dunkerton, who retains an 18.5% stake, said “The management team remains hell-bent on their strategy, publicly supported by the chairman; but the numbers and the market warnings speak volumes. It is very clear that the company needs to change strategic direction; I have a clear and simple plan to correct the problems, and I have been explaining my plan to shareholders over the last couple of weeks.

“This company and brand has such a great opportunity - we must grasp it now,” he said.

This added pressure onto the Superdry management comes at a time when the retail landscape is looking schizophrenic. Long one of the darlings of the British retail scene, could this just be a case of the brand losing momentum and consumers growing tired of the Superdry brand regardless of the strategy? Has the ubiquitous Superdry branding reached its zenith, and, regardless of what the brand does, exponential growth can’t go on forever?

“Another challenge for brands like Superdry is the rise in people turning away from highly disposable and consumerist brands as they become aware of the massive pollution and poor working conditions associated with those brands which emphasise profits over ethical business practices,” says Heinl.

“To claw back momentum, Superdry, and other struggling brands, could do a number of things to help them stand out in a crowded marketplace. They could become a champion of sustainable fashion, improve and showcase high quality products, define a distinct design direction or take a leadership position in improving supply chain transparency and quality,” he says.

Dunkerton said, “My model means less wastage. It is far easier to manage and you have lower stock risk.

“There are too many products in the stores with short shelf life. You shouldn’t try and change it all the time. Get the product right and be confident in it. There’s no reason a jacket in October shouldn’t stay until March. Now, you see jackets on sale already. Can that be right?” he says.

Shareholder Aberdeen Asset Management is supporting current management, saying Dunkerton left after multiple profit warnings. Superdry chief executive Euan Sutherland has said “it will take up to 18 months for the benefits to come through” and Superdry chairman Peter Bamford said: “The Board of Superdry has huge respect for Julian Dunkerton as an entrepreneur and founder of the business. Julian has raised a number of issues with the board regarding strategy since he left the business. We have reviewed and discussed these issues and, while we have sympathy with some of his points, we have a different view on the best strategy or approach to addressing them. 

“Superdry is an ambitious, global, multi-channel brand and the Board believes that Julian’s view of strategy has not evolved with the needs of the business. We remain fully committed to our successful global digital brand strategy and the board is confident that Superdry has in place the right leadership to ensure the continued development of our highly relevant brand.”

The management will have to start seeing the fruits from this new strategy and fast, otherwise shareholders will push for change. The next set of results will either quieten Dunkerton or add fuel to the fire for a reversing of the company direction. Superdry is too reliant on coats and jackets, but this has also helped them grow to the size they are. Regardless of strategy, what if consumers are simply bored with Superdry? That’s going to be an even harder job to fix. 

Mary Poppins Menswear Pearly King Jacket ASOSIt must be the excitement surrounding the return of Mary Poppins, but nothing says ‘London’ like a pearly king. This ASOS Design jacket updates the look from buttons to sequins. The western jean jacket style keeps it more casual, and it looks much more expensive than it is.

This is somewhere between Saint Laurent meets Roberto Cavalli meets Balmain and I promise you won't feel like a Dick Van Dyke!

Let’s Chim Chim Part-ee!

Left & Below - ASOS DESIGN western jacket with gold sequins in black velour - £60

More Mary Poppins Inspiration - Trend Carpet Bags

Mary Poppins Menswear Pearly King Jacket ASOS

Monday, 12 November 2018 11:15

Best Dressed ChicGeek Jeff Goldblum

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal printsSometimes in danger of believing his own hype, Jeff Goldblum, is a cool customer. On a recent Graham Norton Show, Goldblum totally nailed this year’s evening look. A snakeskin jacket was teamed with a lurex shirt and tie combo and striking zebra socks and matching shoes. 

Left - Jeff on Graham's sofa showing the zebra shoes and matching socks

What, on paper, shouldn’t work, totally does and shows it’s all about the sparkle and animal prints, this party season. This is confident evening wear and shows everybody at the office party what a lounge lizard you are. 

Get the look below:

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints

Right - Smart evening wear with character 

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints River Island

 

 

 

Left - River Island - Black Snakeskin Print Skinny Fit Blazer - £85

 

 

 

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints Saint LaurentLeft - Saint Laurent - Damier Lurex Shirt - £685

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints Moss BrossLeft - Moss London - Black & Silver Knitted Tie - £20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal printsLeft - Dr Martens Core Fusion Zebra Creepers In Black - £112 from ASOS

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints Saint LaurentLeft - Saint Laurent - Men’s Deck 20 Loafers In Black Suede And Black And White Zebra-look Calfskin - £795

 

 

 

 

 

 

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal printsSplash or Cash? The Snakeskin Shirt 

ASOS men's lurex socks ChristmasFinishing touches - See more Menswear Trend Eveningwear Lurex Socks

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 11 November 2018 21:29

Tried & Tested UNITY Grooming

Review Unity grooming Mathieu Flamini Mesut Özilmen's grooming expertFounded by footballers, Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Özil, UNITY, is a new men’s grooming  brand that has been “designed to put people’s health and our planet on the right path to a sustainable future". 

The range is comprised of 11 vegan friendly products that feature the highest grade of up to 100% natural origin formulations free from SLS & SLES, parabens, PEGS, mineral oil, silicones, synthetic colours and artificial fragrance for maximum results and performance. 

In a bid to reduce the use of virgin plastic, the brand sought out a bio-plastic alternative made from sugar cane that is 100% recyclable, thus minimising the carbon footprint of the brand. Alongside the product, UNITY strives to keep sustainability at its core throughout the business, with customer deliveries arriving in fully recycled craft boxes with bio-degradable and non-toxic starch chips as packing fill.

The brand also believes in the importance of giving back, with 1% of all company revenues going towards causes that seek to make a true difference to people and planet

Left - UNITY - Hair Boost – Shampoo, £10.95, Body Boost – Shower Wash, £8.95, Skin Defence – Face Moisturiser, £11.90, Skin Detox – Face Wash, £10.95

TheChicGeek says, “In our post Blue Planet world, plastic is vilified as the devil of all packaging. If only solving our plastics problem resolved the whole of our environmental issues… But, we have to start somewhere and these guys seem passionate about this subject.

Surely the most environmentally packaged grooming product ever is the humble bar of soap? Used for millennia, is it not the reason Lush made all their products solid? The problem with trying to care for the environment is - and, let’s be honest, anything in the right direction is a good thing - you put yourself out there to be ripped apart. Anything packaged and part of consumerism can be lambasted for simply existing. I think it’s important to say you care, but you also have to acknowledge you’re part of the problem. People will still need to wash and clean themselves and how a brand facilitates this can be minimised. Ernest Supplies’ pouches spring to mind.

Launching with 11 products isn’t really saying "minimal" to me, especially when there’s a shower wash for the morning and and separate one for the evening. (British people only shower twice a day on holiday, FYI).

The main parts of the tubes are made from sugar cane, - Bulldog is another brand I know who is using this too - but the tops are a 25% mix and there’s a beard oil in a glass jar. This goes back to the main problem we have of mixed recycling issues.

The branding is pretty nondescript - it feels a bit 10 years ago - and the packaging is a bit anonymous and generic. There’s no indication of the main ingredients on each product, leaving you to guess the main scent, and saying ’99% Natural Origin’ just makes you think what’s in the other 1% then?

As for the products, they’re not bad and I think they offer value. I tried 4 out of the 11. I sampled the face wash, shampoo, body wash and moisturiser. It feels natural, hence the looseness of some of the consistencies, and the smells are light and not overpowering. 

I like the smell of the face wash and moisturiser. The former is a mineral clay in a light toffee colour and the latter is coconut. There’s no lingering smell from the body wash.

This feels like a reliable range, I just wished they’d tried to be more dynamic with the branding and packaging to reflect the passion they have and also to standout in a crowded market. Whispering your green credentials won't change anything”.

www.oneunity.com

Below - UNITY Founders Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Özil

Review Unity grooming Mathieu Flamini Mesut Özilmen's grooming expert

Friday, 09 November 2018 16:53

Label To Know Phipps International

Phipps International menswear label to knowIt was while at the Copenhagen fashion trade show, CIFF, previewing the forthcoming SS19 collections, when I noticed Phipps International. It was a print featuring extinct animals and the quirky and current twist on Americana and the great outdoors that made me stop and take note.

Left - Phipps International - Cotton-terry track top- £620 from Matchesfashion.com

I soon discovered that the previous collection, AW18, had been bought by matchesfashion.com and is available now.

Phipps International was established in 2017 by Spencer Phipps. Born and raised in San Francisco, he studied at Parsons School of Design in New York City graduating in 2008 with a nomination as “designer of the year” for his final year collection - an initial exploration of sustainable fashion.

He started his career at Marc Jacobs as part of the menswear design team and after, relocated to Antwerp to work with Dries Van Noten. 

Phipps International menswear label to know

Currently based in Paris, Phipps, was founded on the principles of respect and curiosity for the natural world. 

“We are exploring the concept of sustainability and environmental responsibility in the realm of style. Our goal is to change the way we as a culture consume by creating products that are made with respect for the environment, that can educate and enhance lives. We are always striving to improve our practice as we move forward and, as a modern fashion company, we are simply trying to do the right thing,” says Phipps.

Right - Phipps International SS19 - The extinct species print shirt that caught me eye at CIFF

What started as a small T-shirt project between friends has rapidly grown to become a modern, globally conscious fashion brand focused on building a like-minded community with the goal of re-connecting consumers to nature and the world around them. 

The products are said to be made with integrity and are created with consideration for the environment using sustainable manufacturing practices and eco-friendly materials. Many of its producers are certified by GOTS or other environmental certification organisations which help to ensure that our products are made ethically. 

Phipps International menswear label to know

In addition, most of their garments are made in Portugal which, as a country, is a global leader in the development of sustainable practices. All of their manufacturers there are required by law to recycle their waste appropriately, re-use treatable water, use alternative energy as much as possible, and follow fair trade labour practices. 

Left - One of the jackets of the season SS19

 

Turkish lira crisis for fashion manufacturingOver 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 pastedGraphic.pngIstanbul 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.

Monday, 05 November 2018 17:36

Splash or Cash? The Best Cord Trousers

Best Cord Trousers Incotex MenswearFinding well cut, good fitting and quality trousers is the Holy Grail of menswear. If a brand can give good trouse then they can pretty much do anything, in my geeky opinion. Trousers need to be flattering and reliable and good trousers are usually taken for granted. You soon appreciate them when you try on a bad pair.

Best Cord Trousers Spoke MenswearThis season, corduroy continues its march and here are two of the best at different price points.

Left - Incotex - Slim-Fit Stretch-Cotton Corduroy Trousers - £265 from MRPORTER.COM

Right - Spoke - Corduroy Fives - £99

For the Splash, and not the sexiest and most memorable of names, is Incotex. The finest in understated Italian manufacturing, Incotex is part of the Slowear family, and as such is the best in Venetian style and make.

For the Cash, Spoke is a British brand, making in Portugal, with lots of choices of fits, and has quickly become the go-to for a quality pair of well made and great fitting trousers at an honest price.

Trousers are pretty boring but we need them to work and makes our arses look good. Hopefully this will save you time and frustration in your search.

Menswear product of the week Grenfell tartan Royal Stewart overshirt shacket jacketNobody buys a coat until after Christmas anymore. Why deal with the storage until you really need it?! But, as the weather turns cold and the Earth tilts away from the sun, you need that extra layer. 

Long has the checked shacket or over shirt been dominated by the bruising black and red American Buffalo check, but, being patriotic, and also with the growing, returning trend of tartan, the Royal Stewart deserves a look in.

This reliable looking shacket will look great over just a T-shirt or knitwear to show off its full Krankie qualities!

Left & Below - Grenfell - Overshirt - Royal Stewart Tartan - £225

Menswear product of the week Grenfell tartan Royal Stewart overshirt shacket jacket

Friday, 02 November 2018 17:11

ChicGeek Comment Tours De Force

Fashion factory tours Private White ManchesterCharlie Bucket spent his last coin on a chocolate bar in the hope that it would contain a golden ticket and gain entry behind the guarded gates of Wonka’s magical factory. If Roald Dahl were to write the story, today, Veruca Salt, the spoilt brat with the "I want it NOW, daddy!!!" attitude, would probably want to see behind the walls of Louis Vuitton or Chanel rather than Cadbury’s or Nestlé.

Her wishes were granted, last month, when LVMH expanded the fourth edition of its ‘Les Journées Particulières’ open days event. Seventy six venues across four continents held 'open days', with 38 never having been open to the public previously.

The event saw 56 fashion houses, including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Tag Heuer and Nicholas Kirkwood, taking part. New experiences included the opening of the Les Fontaines Parfumées in Grasse, the perfume creation workshop shared by Parfums Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, the Louis Vuitton prototype workshop in the centre of Paris and the Louis Vuitton workshop in Ducey, Normandy. It was also possible to reserve an exclusive tour of La Colle Noire, Christian Dior’s last residence in Montauroux.

Left - Inside Private White V.C. in Manchester

‘Les Journées Particulières' launched in 2011 and is a LVMH marketing exercise in harnessing the desire and interest from people to see the inner workings of brands they admire and respect. It’s this element of being able to see things you feel aren’t usually on display, demystifying the processes and laying bare the inner workings of these brands that gets people to make the effort to visit.

Watchmaker, Vacheron Constantin, recently tapped into this enthusiasm by auctioning the ultimate watchmaking experience by putting two VIP tours of its workshop in Switzerland up for sale. The brand hired Sotheby’s to auction the experiences, which comprise two separate lots that it claims represent a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to witness its work up close. Each involves a behind-the-scenes tour through the Vacheron Constantin Maison, accompanied by style and heritage director Christian Selmoni.

It’s this ‘magic’ that people want to see and the attraction and interest in seeing how things are made and a celebration our industrial history is expanding as more brands open up their factories to the public. It gives products a halo effect of ‘special’ and really cements the brands into people’s minds and memories in a positive way.

I always say, when you go to a factory, it’s a bit like going to a friend’s house for the first time: you really get a fully rounded and immersive experience and a lasting memory. It’s a familiarity you can’t get in a shop or by simply wearing the product.

Fashion factory tours

Solovair produce their shoes in Northampton under their parental badge of The Northamptonshire Productive Society (NPS) founded in 1881 by five men in Wollaston, Northamptonshire. Ashleigh Liversage, Online Marketing Manager, NPS Shoes Ltd. says, “As more and more brands move their manufacturing outside of the UK it is important to us that our customers can come see for themselves how their footwear is made by our skilled workers in our factory in Wollaston, Northamptonshire.

Right - Exterior of the Private White V.C. factory in Manchester

“Our Managing Director takes the group on a tour through the factory offering an exciting insight into all areas of shoe production,” says Liversage. “The NPS Factory tour follows specific content-related criteria, giving guests access to all shoe production technologies: the ‘Clicking’ or cutting Room, Closing room, Levelling / Making Room, Shoe Room, while machines have made production more efficient, the fundamental process has remained the same at our factory for over a century,” she says.

“The feedback from our customers is why we continue to offer the tour, they love to see how and where their footwear is made and hear about the history and heritage of NPS Shoes,” says Liversage. “Even those with no particular interest in footwear have commented how interesting the tour is. We have people come from all over the UK to attend our tours and even had visitors from Canada once!” she says.

Over in Manchester, Private White V.C., has the last remaining clothing factory in the world’s first industrial city. Mike Stoll, Factory MD, says the reason they have a factory tour is, “To raise awareness: we actually are real and make our special garments near Manchester City centre.”

“Most people that make the tour either make a purchase or send someone who does. It spreads the word,” says Stoll, but, “It only works if you have something to see. This building is unusual and the way we currently manufacture is unique.”

North of the border, Johnstons of Elgin produce some of the world's finest knitwear and blankets. George McNeil, Johnstons of Elgin, Retail Managing Director, says, “Rarely does the public get an insight into how their products are made, and the entire craft behind the process, and so this is a chance to see quality in the making and also to understand our rich and unique history.”

Visitors get to see “Everything!” says McNeil. “Our cashmere goes from raw fibre, through dying, teasing, carding, spinning and hand finishing by the latest generation of craftsmen, all in our Elgin mill.”

“If a brand has the personal touch to each and every product, like ours, it is hugely beneficial to educate the consumer,” says McNeil. “We are in fact the last remaining vertical mill in Scotland to take raw fibre to finished product – from goat to garment – making this traditional process unique in current times. As consumers continue to prioritise where their belongings come from, and become more curious about the work that goes into them, they will demand to know more and brands will answer.” he says.

Not all brands can offer this openness though. Brands often produce for other people, called ‘Private Label’, and many brands like to keep their producers and suppliers out of the public domain.

Fashion factory tours Johnstons of Elgin

“As a manufacturer for over 160 different brands, we actually don't allow factory visits because of the issues they can cause,” says Rob Williams, Founder & Chief Financial Officer, Hawthorn International, who produce apparel for various brands. “Many fashion brands prefer for their manufacturer to keep their identity private, so that their costs cannot be revealed and so that their designs can't be shared between brands who all use the same manufacturer,” says Williams.

“Because privacy and confidentiality is so important to our clients, we found that it caused a huge logistical problem to organise factory visits without the visitor seeing any intellectual property of our other clients,” he says.

Left - Johnstons of Elgin's mill in Elgin, Scotland

Factory tours work because of a growing niche of people’s fascination with being educated about the things they buy. It works for brands who want to tell their story and, often, explain why you are paying a premium for the products. Admittedly, you get shown what they want you to see, but, it's this openness and sharing that creates an atmosphere people want to buy into.

This is the National Trust for the fashion geeks amongst us and it’s growing in popularity. Johnstons of Elgin has tea shops and restaurants attached to their mills which can also be a revenue maker for the company.

The tour makes the product come alive, you can picture what you’re buying being made and this really is the ultimate souvenir. People love a factory tour with a final stop at the factory shop for a bargain. Who needs a stately home when you can have a Victorian shoe factory?

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