Monday, 16 July 2018 10:36

Trend Mr Matchy-Matchy Co-Ord Sets

Trend matchy matchy co-ord sets River Island Jaded London

I remember a few years ago, at a River Island press day where they were previewing their new summer collection, I spied a patterned short sleeved shirt and matching shorts in the same fabric. It was the first time I had seen a holiday suit like this and it looked fun and fresh.

Left - River Island - Jaded Red Tropical Short Sleeve Shirt - £45, Shorts - £35

Trend matchy matchy co-ord sets Topman Jaded LondonI remember badgering them to let me know when it was released and it turned out the matching shorts never went into production. Damn. They did, thankfully, send me the sample, FYI. WIN!

Anyway, men’s holiday wardrobes have come a long way and, now, matchy-matchy ‘Co-Ord’ shirts and short combos sets are everywhere. 

They’re a little bit like holiday pyjamas you can wear out and show a fun and confident side. Holidays are a time to experiment and these suits are a comfortable no-brainer. Get involved.

Left - Topman - Jaded Baroque Shirt & Shorts Co-Ord Set - £75

 

Trend matchy matchy co-ord sets Boohoo Jaded LondonLeft - Boohoo - Top - £15, Shorts - £12

Trend matchy matchy co-ord sets ASOS DESIGNLeft - ASOS DESIGN - Retro Sports Print Co-Ord - £34

Trend matchy matchy co-ord sets silver sequins Jaded London

Left - Jaded London - Sliver Sequin Shorts - £50, Shirt - £60

Friday, 13 July 2018 15:16

Hot List The Chain Loafer

Chain Loafer Menswear Must Have Autumn 2018 Tom Ford Harrods menswear

Tom Ford is a designer and brand who does his/its own thing. It knows its customer and it services their needs and wants for items of clothing that are expensive, luxurious and suits their lifestyles. He doesn’t usually chase trends, but you know he always has one eye on them.

He knows exactly how to update a classic to make it relevant.

This is his version of the classic Gucci snaffle loafer. A style of shoe he knows well after spending all those years in charge. The chain adds an element of bad taste which is so prevalent in fashion, today. This type of chain loafer appeared on the SS19 catwalk at Martine Rose and I also saw them in the G.H. Bass SS19 collection recently in Berlin.

These are luxury chav loafers and you need to team them with sportswear or other items of bad taste. If you really want to max the trend get them in coloured snakeskin - if you can afford them!

Left & Below - Tom Ford - York Chain Loafers - £590 from Harrods

Chain Loafer Menswear Must Have Autumn 2018 Tom Ford Harrods menswear

Sit on My face North Face Death of Superbrands

Take the escalators upstairs to the first floor in Harrods and a sign above the entrance to the women’s designer floor reads ‘Superbrands’. Inside, individual, luxury fashion brands are housed in marbled-lined shop-in-shops giving consumers the full brand experience. 

How these ‘Superbrands’ are anointed I’m not sure - it could be sales or how much they wanted to contribute to the fixtures and fittings - but, what we were willing to accept maybe ten year’s ago feels out of step with how we feel about brands right now.

Left - North Face or Sit On My Face?

Selfridges opened a similar ‘Superbrands’ room during the noughties, but has since dropped the moniker.

We’re moving into an anti big brand age and being labelled a ‘Superbrand’ isn’t the compliment it once was.

Fila Fendi Hey Reilly Death of Superbrands

“Superbrands…who are they? Self appointment does not make you a Superbrand. And really was it just an industry ‘thing’.  Did consumers really know or care who the Superbrands were?  Did consumers really buy into this???  I think probably not. It struck me as quite ‘self congratulatory,” says Jo Phillips, Creative Director, Cent Magazine.

Right - The Hey Reilly Fendi/Fila collab for AW18

“The newer generations want brands that are traceable, responsibly care for the environment with ingredients, content etc, that is traceable and kind to the earth. Some want to have one offs so they can be seen as elite, first adopters, trail blazers etc or there are those who want individual products so they look for independent brands, small runs etc so they don’t feel like clones. Sadly some want to wear brands head-to-toe, emblazoned with logos so we all know ..how much money they have??? But, its beginning to look a little tired, like those people that act like a sandwich advertising board for a brand..especially if they wear them head to toe…its all a bit tragic,” says Phillips.

First published in 1995, and now in its 19th edition, ‘The Superbrands Annual’ highlights brands from a wide range of sectors that have become the strongest and most iconic in their field. The brands are voted for by marketing experts, business professionals and thousands of British consumers. There are two separate surveys: Consumer Superbrands (the UK's strongest B2C brands) and Business Superbrands (the UK's strongest B2B brands).

“A Superbrand must fundamentally deliver a good quality product or service but they also must be famous, come to mind ahead of the competition and be emotively engaging and distinctive, for example have a personality or tone of voice that is unique (think Virgin Atlantic vs Delta), or have a purpose that people can identify with and buy into.” says Stephen Cheliotis, Chairman of Superbrands UK.

Things have changed since 1995 and while many brands once wanted to make it onto the Superbrands list, it feels like the energy for consumers is turning towards start-ups and young, dynamic brands rather than something larger and established. People have become suspicious of big companies and this form of back slapping feels somewhat arrogant.

“While the fundamentals of what makes a strong reputation and what drives a positive perception have not in my view fundamentally changed, much of the context of marketing and buying has shifted substantially. For example, the channels or tools used to communicate with consumers has changed and there are now many more options, the consumers’ demands have has also rightly risen. With increased competition, not only has the bar been raised, but brands are increasingly called to account for poor delivery, for example through social media.” says Cheliotis.

Darling Carling OiBoy Death of Superbrands

“In many ways, brands are still, besides people, the most important asset a company has. A strong reputation in the market is essential to success. In this country we often focus too much on short-term success and short-term metrics, but really focussing on creating a distinctive brand with a clear purpose, point of view, personality and proposition should be a fundamental board consideration.” says Cheliotis.

As part of this change in thinking we’re seeing smaller brands or artists hijacking or playing around with established brands’ logos and slogans. These comical or clever playing with words have made many people think about brands’ messages and what they really mean. It’s part of our age of #fakenews, growing suspicion and rage against the establishment. 

Left - OIBOY - £28

Since graduating from the Royal College of Art, Reilly has carved a unique position in the world of illustration and graphic art by playing with what is real or not in brand terms. His recent Hey Reilly AW18 collaboration with Fendi sees a play with the sportswear brand Fila. Both brands merge into a cool and playful outcome. It takes a level of confidence for brands to accept and give these tweaks their blessing. Other designers or artists such as Philip Normal, Proper Mag and OiBoy are all offering a British sense of humour on other people’s branding.

Based in South London, and founded by George Langham, OIBOY recently made its debut at Selfridges. “We all like to categorise everything into boxes, it makes us comfortable, but what makes a model super? "She's a ‘Supermodel’ not just a regular model”. Maybe adding 'super' to a brand or a model allows them to demand higher fees or prices because they are now super?! It's all bullshit really, BUT without these unaffordable (to the masses) 'superbrands', there wouldn't be brands like OIBOY, which is seen as affordable and accessible.” says Langham.

Is this about a lack of respect for brands who have spent many years and millions of pounds establishing themselves.

Yoots Boots OiBoy Death of Superbrands

“I’m not sure it’s a lack of respect from our side of things, we see what we do as something lighthearted and harmless fun. What seems to be happening is privileged kids glamorising the working class, even glamourising poverty in some cases, you can see this with the trend of every fashion shoot being on a council estate or pie 'n' mash shop or wherever, it's like going on a safari for them, seeing how the ‘others’ live…” he says.

Left - OIBOY - £28

“Well ,we used to take any brand that rang a chord with us and British culture/humour, hoping that the brand(s) would see the funny side of what we had done, at the same time, realise it’s guerilla advertising, we never look to discredit nor try to pass ourselves off as them, yet lately we’ve had some issues from 2 ‘superbrands’... the first one which is an American preppy brand who were fairly nice to us and asked us to kindly remove items from sale off of our site, the other, which is a French tennis brand, they tried taking us to the cleaners, so I guess to answer your question; we now can’t mess with clothing (super)brands, so we best stick to beverage companies from now on.” says Langham.

"It's just another marketing spin, why is Mark Ronson a 'super' producer not just a 'producer'? I like the idea of some super hero character producer coming in to save the day, but not really a super brand.” he says.

This reaction is about brands not taking themselves too seriously and being able to laugh at themselves. Many larger brands have built themselves a straight jacket of branding and guidelines and aren’t flexible enough to respond to the new consumer’s desires. This is about having a personality and being confident enough to join in the joke. They had this trouble when social media first appeared and they needed to have a singular voice.

Paul & Shark Proper Mag mug Death of Superbrands

Superbrands is a dated concept and as such illustrates the change in the way we view established brands. Today, you don’t want to be seen as being too successful. You want to be part of the struggle and that’s also why many big brands are starting smaller brands all the time. Just look at H&M and its growing stable.

Many Superbrands have lost sight of its product and got wrapped up in the brand too much. They need to disrupt themselves. I think we’ll see many of these brands falter unless they give more attention to the final product and particularly its quality and longevity. 

Right - Proper Mag Mug - £8

I wrote about ‘Russian Doll Brands’ - here 

Thursday, 12 July 2018 11:58

Tried & Tested Dunhill Century

dunhill century fragrance men's scent perfume review

TheChicGeek says, “The last dunhill fragrance, 'Icon', back in 2015, set the standard for the modern range of dunhill men’s fragrances. I was a fan - see more here and four incarnations later, it’s time for something new.

‘Century’ is their latest offering. The perfumer is Carlos Benaim and features refreshing top notes of bergamot, grapefruit and mandarin. A base of sandalwood, warming olibanum - frankincense - and fragrant neroli sits on sandalwood, musk and cypriol

As somebody at the press launch said, this smells like a posh body wash. The type that stays on your skin in a soft, soapy and background kind of way. That's not to be derogatory and there are plenty of people who don't want shouty fragrances. This is very subtle and warm, with the mixture of neroli and sandalwood, and, pleasingly, is an easy wearer in a quality and sophisticated way. It's just not something you'll be able to pick out distinctively in a line-up, but it's still good at what it does.

The bottle is one of the best I’ve seen for a while. It’s very Verner Panton - the designer was a major influence for SS19 - see SS19 Milan/Paris Trends Scrapbook here - and looks like a paperweight from the 1960s. It’s disappointing the magnetic, curved top doesn’t fit perfectly into the recesses on the side. This probably says more about me being on the spectrum than anything else!

This is an accomplished fragrance from dunhill and makes their collection of fragrances some of the best packaged in the mainstream men’s market."

Left - dunhill London - Century - 75ml EDP - £59 

Available now exclusively to Harrods. Launches nationwide from the 6th August 2018

It’s time to show chest - see also TheChicGeek’s obsession with silk shirts - here - and, so, we’ve seen the stealth rise of the camp collar shirt over the last couple of summers. What first arrived in classic Hawaiian styles and floral patterns has morphed into fashion shirts and smarter plain versions.

If you thought a camp shirt featured pink flamingoes, drank Pina Coladas and listened to ABBA, you’d be wrong. This is the shirt style of the summer and you need to get involved. It’ll continue over into summer 2019 too.

Also known as a Cuban, Cabin, Cabana, Bowling or Lounge shirt, it’s a square shaped, short-sleeved, simple placket shirt worn untucked. I’m not really sure where the camp bit is from the origins are from warmer climes and it suits a more relaxed yet dressed approach.

Top Camp Collar Shirts Basic Rights

Left - Basic Rights - Short Sleeve Camp Collar Shirt Mustard - £99

Top Camp Collar Shirts Neighbourhood

Left - Neighbourhood - Camp-Collar Printed Voile Shirt - £185 from MRPORTER.COM

Below - Commas - Camp-Collar Cotton Short - £191 from matchesfashion.com

Top Camp Collar Shirts Commas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Camp Collar Shirts Reiss

Left - Reiss - Haydon Cuban Collar Shirt - £85

Top Camp Collar Shirts Orlebar Brown

Left - Orlebar Brown - Travis Towelling - £175

Below - Barena - Camp-Collar Mélange Linen-Blend Shirt - £215 from MRPORTER.COM

Top Camp Collar Shirts Barena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Camp Collar Shirts Dunhill

Left - Dunhill - Paisley Print Short-Sleeved Lounge Shirt - £250

Top Camp Collar Shirts Gucci

Left - Gucci - Oxford Bowling Shirt With Patches - £700

Top Camp Collar Shirts River Island

Left - River Island - Green Stripe Short Sleeve Revere Shirt - £25

 

 

 

 

 

Top Camp Collar Shirts Topman

 

Left - Topman - Pink Sunset Short Sleeve Shirt - £30

 

Monday, 09 July 2018 13:47

Hot List Rivieras Napoles Pablo

Best summer shoes Rivieras

The French give good summer shoe and one of my favourite brands is Rivieras. Specialising in espadrille-type slip-ons, they have a standout modernity, quality and playfulness with their colours and finishes.

Seeing the full stand at the recent Pitti Uomo show was a reminder how nice these shoes are. It’s only when it finally gets hot that you can picture yourself wearing these shoes. I particularly like this ‘Napoles Pablo’ style with its delicate woven mesh and tricolour effect. The quality Spanish construction includes Terrycloth lining and sheepskin inner sole. Wear with chinos and a camp collar shirt.

Best summer shoes RivierasLeft & Below - Rivieras - Napoles Pablo - €110

 

Monday, 02 July 2018 11:27

#OOTD 119 Party Time

Menswear OOTD The Chic Geek suiting tailoring best topThey say the suit is on its way back, but the most important thing for tailoring brands to do is simply is give us suits that we want to wear. It sounds simple, but, if it's good, we'll wear it. I designed this suit with The Drop see more here 

Based on something I already had in my wardrobe by Tom Ford, I had it remade in brown with a pink lining. The new trends coming out of the recent shows were for longer jackets in a double-breasted shape, see more here Whatever you do, just make sure the jacket covers your arse!

Lucky, it coordinates with the coloured elastic on my new Chelsea boots. Now, where's that party?

Credits - Suit - The Drop, Silk Shirt - Pretty Green, Boots - Base London

Menswear OOTD The Chic Geek suiting tailoring best top

Menswear OOTD The Chic Geek suiting tailoring best top

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Prada

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Dior Homme

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Fendi

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Hermes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear SS World Corp

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Maison Margiela

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Jacquemus

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Prada

Male Daisy Dukes

Putting the duke into Daisy Duke, okay, so they're usually denim, but these shorts are seriously short.

Top Left - Prada, Dior Homme, Fendi, Hermès

From Left - SS World Corp, Maison Margiela, Jacquemus, Prada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Prada Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Alyx Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Balmain Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear CMMN SWDN Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Off White Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Valentino DenimSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Versace Denim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Bad Denim

Is there any other type of denim these days? It keeps on getting worse and it ain't going away.

Above - Prada, Alyx, Balmain, CMMN SWDN, Off-White

Left - Valentino, Versace

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Summer Roll Necks Prada

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Summer Roll Necks Prada

Summer Roll-Neck

Burnt neck? Don’t worry the summer roll-neck's got you. These were made for a British summer.

Left - Both - Prada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Summer Dries van Noten brown

Brown Art Suit

I just love this. Simples.

Left - Dries van Noten

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Summer 1960s Prada

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear SS19 Raf Simons Verner Panton

'60s shapes

Verner Panton was the inspiration at Dries (left) and this carried over to Prada and Raf. 

Left - Prada, Raf Simons

Long Cuffs

If you've seen more untucking than Rupaul's Drag Race, it's now time to let those French cuffs hangout. Goodbye cufflinks!

Below Both - Alexander McQueen

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Alexander McQueen

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Alexander McQueen

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Cape Alexander McQueenSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear CMMN SWDNSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Maison Margiela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arm Caping

Caping was once massive eyeroll at fashion week, but, now, you can put your shoulders in!

From Left - Alexander McQueen, CMMN SWDN, Maison Margiela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Raf SimonsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Raf Simons

The Scarf With Coat Attached

Trust Raf Simons do give us something we didn't know we needed. It won't blow away!

Below - Raf Simons, Raf Simons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Dries van Noten Green CoatSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Raf Simons Green Satin CoatSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des Garcons

Green Man

How many green coats do you own? Exactly. Nothing welcomes spring like the Green Man. May Day alert!

Left - Dries van Noten, Raf Simons, Comme des Garcons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Raf SimonsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Dolce & Gabbana Green ManSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Thom Browne Green Man

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow VersaceLeft - Dunhill, Dolce & Gabbana, Thom Browne, Versace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Raf Simons

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Dior Homme

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Ermenegildo ZegnaYellow

Yellow hasn't mellowed, in fashion terms, it's just got brighter.

From Left - Raf Simons, Dior Homme, Ermenegildo Zegna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Raf Simons

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Raf Simons

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Jacquemus

Left - Hermès, Thom Browne, Jacquemus, Versace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Ami Baby Bucket HatSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Baby Bucket Hat FendiSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Bucket Hat Stella McCartney

Baby Bonnets

Don't be a dummy, get a bucket hat with the baby ties.

From Left - Ami, Fendi, Stella McCartney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des Garcons

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des Garcons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Longer DB

This season saw the beginnings of something more grown-up and less novelty. It starts with the double-breasted, longer jacket.

Above From Left - Ami, Dior Homme, CMMN SWDN, Dunhill, Versace

Below - Left - Kenzo, Louis Vuitton, Paul Smith, Stella McCartney, Thom Browne

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des Garcons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear CMMN SWDN shiny shirtSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow shirt WooyoungmiSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Dior Homme

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shiny Shirt

We've had latex and leather trousers, now, it's time for the shiny, plastic looking shirt.

From Left - CMMN SWDN, Wooyoungmi, Dior Homme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Maison Margiela Half HalfHalf & HalfSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Alexander McQueen

Yin & Yang your look. It's as clear as night and day.

From Left - Maison Margiela, Alexander McQueen

Deconstructed Army

You won't find this in any army surplus shop, but it makes you want to get in the big outdoors.

Below From Left - DSquared2, Neil Barrett

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear DSquared2 align=SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Neil Barrett Army

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Versace Home Knits

Home Knits

Just say 'Auntie Donatella knitted it for me, daarling!'.

From Left - Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Versace

Tuesday, 26 June 2018 13:15

ChicGeek Comment The Chinese Way

Retail Market The Cheapest of the best

They say the Chinese only buy the cheapest or the best. It’s simplistic, but it is the direction all retail markets seem to be headed in. The British market has been evolving into this for a while, now, and those stuck or stranded in the middle are suffering or dying.

The middle has been squeezed or forced to choose their direction of travel as we all race to the bottom or top.

The cheapest often requires huge volumes and multinationals and the best requires a perception of quality, luxury and good service.

As a brand or retailer, you have two questions to ask yourself, today: are we the cheapest? This can be split into different categories depending on where the brand sits and, are we the best? This is more complex and can mean many different things and is subjective. If you can’t say yes to both or either, they you need to start making some serious changes.

Imagine a Venn diagram: two circles, one the cheapest, one the best and price running up and the down the side axis. Any brand coming into the area where the two circles overlap is in a safer and strong position. Those within one of the circles has a focus, while those floating somewhere out of either need to work out which one they want to be in, and fast.

Let’s look at the cheapest option. This is why Sainsbury’s is getting into bed with Asda. The larger scale promises savings of around 10% to the consumer, and will help them compete with Booker/Tesco and the German food retailers, Aldi and Lidl. It’s an example of mid-market retailers needing to pair up or die.

In fashion, New Look revenue to the year 24th March 2018 was down -7.3% to £1,347.8m. New Look has not only announced store closures, but it’s also just said in its recent financial report and turnaround plan, that ‘Pricing (will be) lowered to offer significantly better value with 80% of product to retail under £20’.

Eighty percent of product under £20 will really put the brand toe-to-toe with Primark and, I think, it’s the right move for them. You have to go down fighting, but they’ll going to have to shift more product at these cheaper prices. Before, New Look wasn’t the cheapest, and it wasn’t the best in terms of being the most fashionable or desirable fast-fashion retailer. It used to be one of the cheapest, but then Primark came along.

It tried to be more fashionable, but at a time Boohoo, ASOS were growing and offering high fashionability at ridiculously low prices.

New Look says it wants to 'return to (a) value-led fast fashion and wardrobe basics offer with full price focus’. The margins will be so small they’ll need all the full price they can get.

H&M, long one of the darlings of fast retail, has seen its shares down nearly 20% this year and the company has said it will need to slash prices to reduce inventories, damaging profit margins. It has an $4.3 Billion in unsold stock and needs to be careful that its size won’t be its downfall. 

It also explains its focus on different, ‘best’ sister brands like Arket and COS. H&M isn’t in the same position as New Look, yet, but they need to make sure it’s still seen as one of the best in terms of affordable fashionability and also offering value. 

Marks & Spencer is another one trying this new best and cheapest approach. The clothes have arguably got much cheaper and the food is still perceived as the best, but it’s this balance that is hard to achieve within the same brand, especially knowing what consumers come to you for.

House of Fraser’s recent announcement to close 31 stores is a reflection of the growth of John Lewis both offline and online. John Lewis has continued to open in towns, in or near those House of Frasers, and House of Fraser isn’t cheaper or better. It probably explains the closure of the huge Birmingham store as John Lewis opened a shiny new shop at the railway station just a couple of years ago.

House of Fraser will need to pair up with somebody (maybe Debenhams?) or disappear altogether. Sports Direct, Mike Ashley, has shares in both and will no doubt be pushing for it and then they really can compete on price and dominate their local markets.

So, who is getting it right? Zara, for the best in fashionability and speed and John Lewis in customer service and being ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’. But, like a game of musical chairs, it’s changing all the time.

As for the ‘best’, this is what many luxury brands rely upon. This could be quality, use of materials, origin etc. Many ‘luxury’ brands have lost control of these in the race for large quantities and bigger margins. They have to be careful because a few poorly made, overpriced products will ruin the perception of any brand.

But, you can also find the cheapest within this market. For example, Johnstons of Elgin, one of the best Scottish producers of scarves and blankets. It makes for everybody from Hermès to Burberry. While a scarf from them is not cheap, say £100, it’s far cheaper than one with a designer name on. They are also the best at what they do and the reason why these brands use them.

Or, a brand like Paul Smith. When looking at a multi brand website like Mr Porter, it feels like one of the most affordable brands on there. I think its recent troubles has seen it get more competitive and tread that fine line between affordable and exclusivity. They are also the best at colour. 

Or, you could can look at the total top, at the most expensive and exclusive. This is the pinnacle of the market and to be true to both would only be made in very limited numbers. This is chasing a very small number of big-fish consumers and, as such, it limits  the size of the business. But, this can also to used to sell ranges of cheaper products, such as perfume or sunglasses, but even these categories are harder, now that people aren’t so hung up on brands.

This simplistic approach to the market cuts through some of the wood to see the trees in a highly competitive and changing retail landscape. So, the next time you look at your own brand or somebody else’s, you know which two questions to ask.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018 14:23

Label To Know The Silk Shirt Company

White Shirt Silk The Silk Shirt Company

One of the things I love about Pitti Uomo, the menswear trade show held in Florence twice a year, is the exceptional quality from brands you’ve never heard of. I almost wish I had a shop to sell all these brands, but, disappointingly, you need a very tasteful and trusting customer to make it work, because many consumers are hooked on known brands.

It’s comforting to know that high-quality still exists and is to be found in small and, often, new companies.

Left - The Silk Shirt Company - White Luxury Silk Shirt - £800

White Shirt Silk The Silk Shirt Company Sam Rothstein Robert De Niro Casino

One such company is The Silk Shirt Company. Doing exactly what it says on the label, it was incorporated in January 2016 in London ‘with the intention to produce the finest luxury silk shirts and to establish itself as a top tier luxury clothing brand’.

Left - Feel like a casino owner - Sam Rothstein, Robert De Niro’s character in Casino

You’ll probably already know about my obsession with silk shirts ATM - Read Trend The Return of 'The Sexy Shirt’ and these really do look the business.

Paisley Shirt Silk The Silk Shirt Company

Established by Ajay Valecha, of Indian decent and born and raised in Accra, Ghana, who moved to London in April 2014. The Silk Shirt Company’s shirts are made in Italy with the finest silk from Como. 

There range is currently mostly block colours with a few patterned varieties. They had some beautiful baby blue and pink shorted sleeved shirts for the new SS19 season which are giving me pure Sam Rothstein, Robert De Niro’s character in Casino. They are expensive, but they look it. 

Right - The Silk Shirt Company - Luxury Silk Shirt - £800

www.thesilkshirt.com