When East London became cool it was the area near Old Street, stretching to Hoxton Square and Curtain Road, that became the main focus. Rivington Street was the central style artery with fashion shops and bars.
Fast forward 15 years and it’s jumped to Redchurch Street, Shoreditch High Street and Kingsland Road. The area became somewhat dead, but, now, it’s starting a new renaissance.
Left - Alfie Douglas - Large Backpack - £380
Charlotte Road, just across from the new Nobu Hotel and running along to Rivington Street has seen Anatome - the new health and wellbeing brand from Brendan Murdock open - and, just by chance, as I walked past the other day, Alfie Douglas - a made in London leather bag brand, which I’d never heard of before.
Launched in 2014, Alfie Douglas is a family named and run, handmade leather goods brand, ethically sourcing all components and designing in their studio in London.
The collection includes everything from oversized totes, backpacks and duffle bags to camera cases and tool-kit covers. The latest collection features styles designed to suit a busy life, each distinctive in the way they look and ingenious in the way that they can be adapted and customised to every individual carrying them.
The minimal, utilitarian designs made from beautiful hand stitched leather are classic, functional bags that demonstrate a subtle and distinguished luxury.
Made in London from Italian leather, what I noticed most was the thickness of the leather and the simplicity of the designs. While slightly feminine shapes, if you choose a larger size it becomes more masculine. This is leather that will last and, while not cheap, offers great value.
Below - Alfie Douglas - Zero Large - £300
This article isn’t a discussion on the pros and cons of real fur and offers no moral viewpoint on its use. I acknowledge that this contentious issue/material is divisive and has passion on both sides.
The real ‘fur’ industry has seen massive growth, since the beginning of this century, driven by international consumers and trims on accessories and coats. It is now a $40 billion industry. It was inevitable that it would have a backlash and there would be a reaction to it, most notably from younger consumers.
I put ‘fur’ into speech marks because it’s a very broad term and while some brands may no longer use mink they continue to use the skins of other animals and there’s no definitive reason for the choice of some animals making the used list and not the others. Read more here - ChicGeek Comment Fur Debate: You Either Use Animals Or You Don’t
Brands such as Gucci, Versace and Martin Margiela have decided to announce they will no longer use real fur. Donatella Versace recently said, “Fur? I am out of that,” she said. “I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right.”
“Naturally we were disappointed to hear that Versace has said it won’t use real fur in collections. However, the majority of top designers will continue to work with fur as they know it is a natural product that is produced responsibly. When Donatella Versace says ‘I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion.’ presumably her company will soon stop using silk and leather?” says Andrea Martin from the British Fur Trade Association.
“It is disingenuous to claim that leather is a by-product of the meat industry, a cow still had to die to provide the product. Silk cocoons are placed in boiling water to help unravel the thread with the silk worm inside,” says Martin.
Italian accessories brand Furla has formally declared that it will be banning fur from its collections from November of this year, which would coincide with the launch of its Cruise ’19 collections. This follows decisions by Michael Kors and Yoox Net-A-Porter, which has declared that all its stores and websites would be real fur-free zones.
“I think some of the brands have gone fur free under pressure from anti-fur trends, and some are genuinely concerned. If brands don’t want to use animals for fashion then they need to consider leather, exotic skins, silk, sheepskin, makeup and products, all of which use animals. I also think human welfare is important to consider when producing fashion, and this often gets forgotten.” says Rebecca Bradley, a London based fur designer.
So, why are luxury brands really dropping the use of real fur?
I think it is pure economics and the high margin greed of today’s luxury industry. It’s the same reason many restaurants are pushing vegetarian and vegan options: the margins are higher and therefore the profit. By charging slightly lower prices for something which is much cheaper to make, the margins increase. There are only so many €25,000 full-fur coats a brand will sell and the ceiling price is sensitive, so you can’t factor in the same margins you would on your other products. If you make it in faux-fur you'll get a higher margin and a bigger percentage of profit. You’ll also sell more and probably generate more money overall.
The irony is, the reason a real fur coat is so expensive is because of the high welfare standards of the European producers. Luxury brands wouldn’t be able to use cheaper real-fur from other sources witout criticism and scrutiny.
“Fur coats may seem expensive, however the price of a fur coat should reflect a high standard of animal welfare, and therefore with a beautiful, high quality fur, many skilled people are involved with production, including a furrier, and finisher to create a fur coat that will last for many generations, ” says Bradley.
Fur, for the majority of brands, is a very small part of their businesses and therefore it’s not difficult to heroically declare you’re no longer going to use it. It’s also easily replaced by a cheaper, synthetic alternative while not altering the price very much or at all. You can paint the use of a fake fur trim as an ethical choice rather than a cost saver to the consumer. It’s cynical I know, but it’s working.
PETA’s Director, Elisa Allen, says, “Fur is dead, dead, dead. As well as making sense for designers' conscience, ditching fur makes business sense, as today's consumers are demanding animal and eco-friendly clothing for which no animal has been electrocuted, strangled, or caught in a steel-jaw trap. From Armani to Versace, the list of fur-free designers is growing every day, and innovative vegan fashion is on the rise. The tide has turned irrevocably, and there's no going back.”
Many brands used the word ‘sustainable’ when announcing their decision to no longer use real-fur, but again, this is another term in fashion that is very broad and has little full meaning until you see the detail. I’m not sure a fake fur coat is particularly sustainable, but then again it does depend on the material.
But, you also have to acknowledge that nobody needs to wear a real fur coat. We could easily survive without real fur, but it’s interesting how, out of all the animal products we use, this is one of the most offensive to some and creates the biggest reactions and protests.
The real fur industry continues to grow in China and with other newly rich consumers and markets. It is now a US$17 billion-a-year industry in China and Haining, near Shanghai, is its hub.. Fur companies will be a bit like tobacco companies: the falling sales in established markets will be replaced by growing sales in new and even bigger markets in Asia.
Chinese animal welfare standards are very different from European standards. European producers have very strict regulations and it’s an industry which has to be transparent in order to ward off criticism.
“We respect the fashion industry’s attempts to become more responsible for the products they produce. Animal welfare is of critical importance and the fur produced is farmed to the highest welfare standards.” says Martin.
“With growing concern about the environment and plastics we believe it is more responsible to move back to the use of natural, biodegradable materials. Fur is the natural and responsible choice for designers and consumers.” says Martin.
Ditching fur is quite a lazy way for luxury brands to try to be more ‘sustainable’ and look like they care about the environment.
“I think that companies and consumers becoming educated and aware of origins of products and materials is a fantastic thing, but the focus needs to be across the board, ensuring standards of human, or animal welfare and environmental impact.” says Bradley.
Many brands are seeing real fur as something they live without and it’s more hassle than it’s worth if the profit and quantities aren’t there. You can pick holes into both sides of the fur debate. While a positive move for many, the decision to no longer use real fur is really a cleverly spun business decision and driven by their continued obsession for huge margins.
Read more expert ChicGeek Comments - here
When you're a ginger, you can match your Millenial Pink to your nipples! Bring out the baby pink pastels in various shades this spring. Add touches of coral to highlight and contrast and look for classic, collegiate shapes in jackets and sweatshirts.
Accessorise with a handful of balloons!
Left - Credits - Shoes - Base London, Jacket - Scotch & Soda, Sweatshirt - Scotch & Soda, Trousers - Moss Bros
Have you ever wondered where you come from? Ancestry DNA offered me the chance of reviewing their DNA testing service and finding out my geographical genetic make up.
When people used to take the piss out of me at school for having ginger hair I used to think at least I know where I come from from how I look. Imagining my ancestors to be fiery Celts or Ancient Britons, my red hair is a visible throwback to my British ancestors. Or so I thought. Would this ruin my romantic vision of myself?
The testing is really simple. Everything comes in a simple, small box and you spit saliva into a tube, up to a certain level, screw the top on to release a blue liquid into the sample, I guess to stabilise it, and then you put it into the pre-paid box and post.
It said it would take 6-8 weeks and I received regular e-mails updating me on the process and when I could expect it. I was fast-tracked because I was press and it wasn’t long before my results came through.
I was told I have quite a high percentage of Great British DNA in comparison to the average Brit. (See the chart left).
My results were 61% Great Britain - Northern England & the Midlands - this is correct as my paternal grandmother was born in Bury, Manchester. I was expecting more from the East of England as that’s where my surname is from.
Then finally, 1% Asia South. It circles India, so it could be a connection with the British Empire, but definitely not something I know directly about.
So, ultimately, I’m 99% from the United Kingdom. I’m a fucking pedigree! I jokingly told my friends I’ll be downloading the forms for Crufts for next year. Expect sponsored posts from Pedigree Chum coming soon!
But, seriously, none of this really matters, but it’s something interesting to think about and also opens up conversations within your family.
I sent Ancestry DNA a few further questions after my results had come through.
Can consumers ask further questions or is this another cost?
There should be enough information online, but there is a support team that can help with consumer questions free of charge.
How far does it go back?
What’s the margin for error?
AncestryDNA uses advanced scientific techniques to produce your results. We measure and analyse a person's entire genome at over 700,000 locations. During the testing process, each DNA sample is held to a quality standard of at least a 98% call rate. Any results that don't meet that standard may require a new DNA sample to be collected.
Then we compare your DNA to one of the most comprehensive and unique collections of DNA samples from people around the world, to identify overlap. As our database of DNA samples continues to grow, you could receive updates with new information.
Is my DNA stored somewhere now?
The results of your DNA test are stored in a secured database — your AncestryDNA results are stored in a secured database, which employs a number of security measures. As well as protecting the information from unauthorised access from those outside of AncestryDNA, we strictly limit access to this database from within the company as well.
The lab processing your DNA doesn't have access to your name, address and other contact information — DNA samples are tested in a secure third-party testing lab in the United States. We separate your name from your DNA sample throughout the testing process. Instead, we use a unique Activation Code provided in your kit to track your DNA through the testing process and in storage.
Your DNA sample is securely stored — After testing is complete, any remaining DNA from your test is archived and stored in a temperature-controlled, secure facility with 24-hour monitoring and limited access.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) — United States law (the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act or “GINA”) generally makes it illegal for health insurance companies, group health plans, and most employers to discriminate against you based on your genetic information. Learn more about GINA here.
You have the choice to delete your DNA test results — Once a DNA test result is deleted, that choice is permanent. You will no longer see the results in your account. Also, your DNA matches will no longer see your username among their list of matches. So be sure you want to delete a DNA test result before you do it, as there is no way to recover the data after it’s deleted.
If you have given your consent to participate in ongoing research efforts and you delete your DNA results, your consent will be withdrawn and your information will not be used in future research. Please note, however, that information cannot be withdrawn from studies in progress, completed studies, or published results.
Your raw DNA data is secured by a number of security measures while in our possession. For example, your DNA sample is identified only by a bar code—even our testing laboratories don't have your identity. We also store all DNA data in encrypted databases to ensure restricted access, even within the company. These protections will remain for the copy of your raw DNA data that we possess but you will need to secure the raw DNA data if you choose to download it.
Will the ethnicity results tell what information is specific to my maternal or paternal line?
The type of DNA that is being tested looks at ethnicity across both maternal and paternal lines. It does not currently isolate ethnicity results to only your maternal or paternal line.
My results were pretty boring, but they are also believable and fit what I already know about my family. We’re still close to a time when people didn’t move around as much and these geographical areas match.
It costs £79, and I think it would make an interesting gift for somebody who is impossible to buy for. The 6-8 week wait is quite long.
Ancestry DNA obviously want you to sign up for the additional, paid-for features on their website and for you to link into other family trees and information. While the Americans are very much into their ancestry, the British are more confident about where they come from and are less interested in proving their origins.
AncestryDNA says it can estimate your origins to more than 350 ancestral regions around the world—5x more regions than the next leading test.
I enjoyed telling my family and, being from a working class background, it’s interesting how private previous generations were with regards to their origins and also where they came from. This is the time when people's birth certificates didn’t match the name they used on a daily basis.
Somebody has already contacted me from New Zealand saying we have a genetic match on my paternal grandmother, but I’m also slightly cautious receiving e-mails from people I don’t know.
Overall, this was efficient, fun and a correct insight. It reflects the #me culture we currently live in.
Ancestry DNA Kit - £79
Below - My results
Rolls Royce’s best customer, the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was the compelling, albeit fairly silent, star of the recent Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country.
Dressed in his long-flowing finery he was surrounded by his adoring followers all wearing a spectrum of reds.
Left - The cult's followers wearing their red colour palette
Also known as Osho, the story followers the Bhagwan, his one-time personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela and their community of followers in Rajneeshpuram, aka Antelope, located in Wasco County, Oregon during the 1980s.
Right - The Bhagwan
This commune was a place of free love and followed the teachings of the Bhagwan. His taste for the finer things in life - 93 Roll Royces! - is part of the madness of it all.
Left - Uniqlo - Men Supima Cotton Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-Shirt - £9.90
The reason they wore reds was to represent “the colours of the rising or setting sun”, as well as beaded necklaces with a locket containing a picture of the Bhagwan's face. It’s fascinating how everybody is wearing something different while conforming to the same colour chart.
I’m expecting Pantone to release a ‘Bhagwan Red’ next year, which would be a crimson/berry red. But you can get in early by buying anything on this colour chart with no logos or branding.
Left - Berska - Bomber Jacket - £19.99
The community imploded, but I won’t spoil it. Let’s just say it makes me rethink about eating from the salad cart at the local Harvester!
Left - American Apparel - Cranberry Hoodie - £34
Left - Spoke - Coral - £89
Left - ASOS - Skinny Smart Trousers In Strawberry Red - £20
Left - YOURTURN - Dip Dye T-Shirt In Red - £12 from ASOS
Left - Ted Baker - Proshor Chino Short - £69 from House of Fraser
Left - Rivieras - Classic 10 Canvas Loafers - £50 from matchesfashion.com
Left - Buscemi - 100mm Guts Red Leather Hi-Top Trainers -£670 from Harvey Nichols
More Get The Looks - The Assassination of Gianni Versace - here
This new woody aromatic leathery fragrance was designed for Jimmy Choo by Nathalie Lorson. On top, clary sage’s aromatic imprint strikes a balance between freshness and refined texture. The tonic transparency of bergamot brings a breath of fresh air and contrasts with the spicy warmth of black pepper. The intense texture of leather reveals itself in the heart of the fragrance, assuming an extreme masculinity enhanced by the urban elegance of grey amber and the vegetal woody facets of cypress. The creamy sensuality of sandalwood provides a distinctive and addictive dry-down, supported by magnetic vanilla and vetiver.
“I composed this set of textures around three impacting elements: the aromatic and velvety texture of sage leaves, the grained and raw texture of leather and the smooth texture of sandalwood to create a masculine and modern addiction,” explains Nathalie Lorson.
TheChicGeek says “This is the Jimmy Choo Man reimagined as a carefree skateboarder. I’m thinking Rocco Ritchie or one of the Beckham boys. I thought the blue element would denote an aqua fragrance, but it’s a leather wood. It’s slightly older and more mature than the skateboarding image suggests.
There’s a sweetness of the vanilla, but it’s a classic mid-market leather fragrance that I think works better on clothes than on the skin. Nothing pokes its head above the leather parapet and I’m not sure what’s ‘blue’ about this fragrance, unless it’s your knees after a turn on that skateboard!”
Left - Jimmy Choo Man Blue - EDT - 100ml - £66
It feels like we’re one data breach, revelation or exposé away from deleting Facebook. Not to mention all the other platforms. Some of us have been on these social media channels for nearly a decade and we’re tired. Social media is starting to feel a bit of a chore and people are reassessing their relationship with it. The novelty factor is waning and it seems like we’re bored of seeing the same images repeated and, even those who’ve made it their business to ‘influence’, via social media - ‘Influencers’ - seem bored themselves of making and posting the same images.
“There’s definitely a sense of content and Facebook fatigue and more importantly, a loss of trust. As a first-gen blogger, it was trust that built our communities ten years ago and that was in no small part because at that time blogging was purely a passion project, not for commercial gain,” says Navaz Batliwalla, editorial consultant and blogger at Disneyrollergirl.net
“The reason social media content has become formulaic is down to the cynical commercialisation of it all. To reach mass eyeballs, your content has to be fairly mainstream which is why so many blogs and legacy media have adapted similar aesthetics and tones of voice. It’s diluted the uniqueness and personality. Inevitably, it becomes a slog to create that sort of formulaic content too, so the creators themselves get bored - and it shows.” says Batliwalla.
Instagram has clearly peaked and it being the centre of brands’ and people’s focus is changing. There are only so many flat-whites or magnolia trees people are going to be interested in. It’s all got very annoying and basic.
Instagram recently made changes so people can no longer manipulate engagement and artificially increase following. Those who think they’ve got more engagement than Elizabeth Taylor will now have to rely solely on the whims of their ‘followers’ and it’s almost certain they won’t be able to sustain their likes and followers in a market that is mature and growing bored.
“For me, the big content killer has been the algorithmic changes. Bloggers who relied on Instagram for their main income have panicked as their engagement plunged since the introduction of Instagram’s changes last year. I noticed certain tactics like comment pods and lengthy over-shary posts, a kind of desperate click-bait attempt to keep followers interested. It’s also the reason for so many more ‘look at me’-type posts because selfies and outfit posts tend to get better engagement on Instagram. But again, with certain influencers, it just doesn’t come naturally and it’s a turnoff to their followers. I'’ve been there myself! Finally, the sheer volume of sponsored posts is exhausting to read. It’s too much.” says Batliwalla.
For me, it was when they allowed you to save your best Instagram Stories - ‘Story Highlights’ - that I felt like this had become a job and required too much thought, rather than something fun and interactive. The more things they introduce, the heavier it all becomes. You see people tapping away on their Facebook accounts on their phones on the train: liking pictures, commenting and keeping up. It’s like a full-time job. People will reduce the amount of their free time they spend on these sites.
Even the biggest ‘Influencers’ can’t rely on their numbers. Just look at people like Ella Mills - Deliciously Ella - 1.3m Instagram followers, closing her delis, Millie Mackintosh, reality star and influencer - 1.3m Instagram followers, folding her clothing line, and the ultimate influencer of all Victoria Beckham - 19.6m Instagram followers, made around 60 workers redundant recently after new investors ordered a review of the business.
We do have to acknowledge the green-eyed monster in the reporting of Influencers, especially by traditional press. These attractive people living their best life and getting paid to do it. Beats working in McDonald’s. But, it’s got crowded, they’re not cute forever and we’ve all seen that ‘wow’ picture before. Ultimately, unless they’re traditionally famous, have a respected talent or you fancy them, why the fuck do you care about what they are doing? It seems strange that so many people are supposed to care about people they don’t know. They don’t.
Christophe Brumby, Creative Strategist at Amplify (brand experience agency for clients like Facebook, Google and Spotify) says, “As publishers see their influence wane and as Influencers fight for control, everyone is taking matters in their own hands… What we are seeing as a result is a new age of convergence where publishers such as Refinery 29 are turning their staff into influencers and where influencers are starting their own publishing ventures with the likes of Street Dreams, a collective of creators rooted in photography, bringing their community offline through a print magazine, photo walks and shows. It may not be long before we see publishers and influencers teaming up together to maintain relevance with their audiences while reducing their dependence on social platforms.”
“Social media did not invent influence but in bringing the ‘social’ into traditional media, they dramatically changed the rules of the game. Social media have atomised and democratised influence, effectively transferring power from the traditional media to every individual user; turning everyone into a potential influencer capable of measuring their personal media value,” says Brumby.
“Despite a rise in marketing spend, many influencers argue that the current model is not sustainable as platforms and brands are taking advantage of a highly fragmented landscape where they do not hold much leverage as individuals. On the one hand, they are increasingly reliant on the platforms that ultimately own their audiences and dictate the rules of engagement, often feeling at the mercy of sudden algorithm changes," says Brumby.
In a recent article in the Financial Times about the death of Influencers, it quoted a fashion PR director saying, “Whatever you do — don't market yourself as an Influencer. Stick to journalism. That's a proper craft.” There's definitely a feeling of distancing themselves from the label 'Influencer'.
Robin James, digital content producer, Youtube creator and blogger says “I don’t use social media in my personal life. It’s not real life and I find it exhausting, It takes a lot from you without giving back and a feeling of you’re missing life. That said, there’s a flip side, Instagram Stories is the real side of what ‘Influencers’ are up to.”
“Audiences are going through Instagram double tapping without reading and being social media zombies. In terms of business, I produce stuff with more thought and heart and not just a pretty picture. That sort of production and quality of content will survive. I tried to take the production down slightly to be more connected to an audience and become a bit more raw,” he says.
James recently qualified as a barber to give himself more expertise in the grooming arena, “I decided to do that to have a lot more authority, and become an expert in an area. One was editorial and secondly, was commercially: I can do this, I can cut and style it. I trained for six months.”
So, what’s next? What would we do with all that spare time if we reduced our ‘socialising’?! I think there’s a place for something like Facebook, but more a Wikipedia model of philanthropy. Run just to wipe its face, it would be more like what a lot of people think Facebook is rather than a huge marketing site.
I think we’ll see a return to searched for, permanent, or as permanent as the internet allows, content. People looking for something and finding a trusted voice.
Everybody is striving for authority and longevity. I think those ‘Influencers’ who have nothing to say or say nothing with disappear. The rest will have to evolve to beyond just the visual and sound bites as the audience matures and also, no doubt, the next wave of young consumers will be into something else.
Will we see the end of thirsty attention seekers seeking validation on Instagram? Probably not, but I think it’s definitely had its moment. Marketeers, who always take a while to catch up, will continue to chuck money at this for a little while yet, but it’ll fall off soon.
But where do we go next? Good print isn’t dead, but, ultimately, it’s digital.
“I’ve noticed a renewed interest in long form content, more like essays. People are yearning to read blogs again. Informed opinions, observations, not just news and product reviews. I write a monthly insights email (called The Beauty Conversation) with two beauty industry colleagues and we’re nurturing our community to build trust and engagement. It’s not about numbers at all, but the relevance and quality of our audience and our niche content.” says Batliwalla.
Everything has become so disposable and ultimately forgettable. This is the modern life we live, but it will bounce back, not fully, but partially.
Can you remember when you met somebody new and you’d say “What’s your Instagram?” That's stopped. I can’t be bothered anymore. It’s full and I don’t want to waste more of my time deleting accounts. As the Instagram hysteria subsides it will take the pressure off ‘reach’ and ;followers; and plateau into a record of pictures for genuine friendship groups.
All those ‘Influencer Marketing’ companies that have popped up with have to move into digital marketing and have a broader scope. I used to joke that there were more platforms than Clapham Junction. It just doesn’t feel funny anymore.
Read more expert ChicGeek Comments - here
David Morris, Senior Footwear Buyer, MRPORTER.COM
“Takahiromiyashita TheSoloist offers exceptional fits and expert attention to detail, and this cardigan is the perfect example. It’s been intarsia-knitted in Japan from smooth silk in a monochrome palette meaning it can be layered or worn with just a t-shirt - a versatile SS18 piece.”
Left - Takahiromiyashita TheSoloist - Slim-Fit Argyle Silk Zip-Up Cardigan - £1365
“Arc’teryx are specialists in performance clothing without the compromise in aesthetics and this shell coat from their ‘Veilance' line is the perfect lightweight spring addition. Made in Canada, it is water and wind-resistant to see you through spring’s tempestuous weather and if the sun does decide to appear you can simply fold it into its own internal pocket.”
Left - Arc’teryx - Veilance Monitor SL Packable Water-Resistant Shell Coat - £560
“Nothing gets you excited for summer more than a new pair of sunglasses and this handmade, round frame pair by Cutler And Gross are in my wish list. They have a timeless appeal which will leave you sipping pina coladas in style.”
Below - Cutler And Gross - Round-Frame Acetate Sunglasses - £310
“Sandals are key trend for SS18, these from Prada are amongst my favourites which we have to offer at MR PORTER. Made from durable black webbing on a contoured leather insole, these will look great with either a smart slim pair of trousers or a pair of well-fitting shorts.”
Left - Prada - Leather Trimmed Webbing Sandals - £415
“This Our Legacy silk yellow shirt has been dyed to give it a washed out, lived in feel, another key trend for SS18. It’s my top pick to master understated style for the warmer months ahead.”
Left - Our Legacy - New Silk Shirt - £190
Every man should be buying a silk shirt this season, read more why here
Have you met Gym?! No, me neither! As we slide into summer look gym ready in classic sportswear items. Whether lounging around or actually doing something, heaven forbid, team with coloured lenses and a fun baseball cap for a cool geeky look.
Credits - Hat, T-Shirt, Jacket, Shorts - All Gymphlex, Chicken Legs - Model's Own, Shoes - Base London
When I saw an article advertising a new fashion documentary on André Leon Talley I knew we’d reached 'peak fashion documentary' territory. The larger-than-life (in-life?) American Vogue editor-at-large has a film called “The Gospel According To André” coming out in May.
Left - The new Alexander McQueen documentary by Embankment Films Read TheChicGeek Review - here
It charts his humble beginnings growing up in North Carolina to being one of America’s most well known fashion characters.
He just adds to the many designers, brands and egos who have released documentaries over the last few years. We all know how the treatment goes: a new designer diarising their first ‘crucial’ collection, a celebration of an eccentric fashion ‘icon’ or a big opening or event and the drama surrounding it. It’s all played out in the 90 minutes or so of devoted film. Done.
It’s all very watchable content, even for those who wouldn’t know their Simone Rocha from their Ferrero Rocher. Most recently we’ve had Westwood, Blahnik and Noten get the fash-doc once over, and with a new McQueen one on it’s way, the output shows no signs of slowing down.
"Fashion has become something of an entertainment industry, and the fashion doco' is an effective way of educating an audience keen on learning about the fashion industry's players, its big brands and the myths that surround them. Expect a lot more,” says Jamie Huckbody, European Editor for Harper's BAZAAR Australia.
Netflix and the like needs content and fashion is a truly visual medium with many can’t-make-them-up type characters perfectly cast in their Devil Wears Prada roles.
I wanted to write something about the rise of the fash-doc and its growth for while, but it was a visit to the London Book Fair that got me thinking about the reason why we’ve hit peak fashion documentary.
It’s basically replaced the fashion book for the younger generation.
There are definitely less fashion monographs being produced on brands and designers ATM. Large, definitive books just don’t seem as cool anymore, and feel almost dead in comparison to the documentary.
There’s also been a generational shift. Under the elegant expanse of Olympia, I looked at all these books and I thought, who is buying them? It’s the older, wealthier generations. The ones who have the luxury of time, money and space.
Right - The Gospel According To André, coming out in May
‘Generation Rent’ - younger people - aren’t buying these books anymore. Even if they could afford them, they’ve got nowhere to store them and they certainly don’t want the additional baggage of cart shelves of expensive books around every time they move. They often don’t even have enough room for the coffee table, let alone the door stopper books to go on it.
Why buy a weighty and expensive Taschen or Assouline when you can watch the documentary? You’re only going to look at the book once, anyway, most probably. You can stream a video anytime you like, plus we are all so used to consuming content in this way.
Huckbody disagrees, saying “"Over the past three years, I've been working very closely with the millennial generation as a university lecturer, and there is still a huge appetite for books; especially books that offer an insight into 'other worlds'. This might be anything from the black and white photography of Karlheinz Weinberger to the books that are published alongside fashion exhibitions such as the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty book. For a lot of 'Generation Rent', the book offers a different experience to a picture glanced momentarily on social media."
I agree that social media is a very quick, disposable and, sometimes, unsatisfactory medium for fashion history and I’m not going to go to the extreme and pronounce the book dead, (just yet!), I’m just saying the fashion documentary has proven massively popular and it’s a modern case of you've bought the designer T-shirt now watch the documentary on it.
Traditional forms of consuming information are changing and adapting and the fashion book was always ripe to be replaced by film. Film can illustrate movement, show catwalks, people and really gives consumers a feel for what they are seeing. Add the music of the time, interviews and you get a 360 view, albeit one the brand or designer wants you to see, but then, hey, books can be just as commissioned or narcissistic.
Not all films meet with the subject’s approval. We recently saw Westwood fall out with the makers of her documentary and encourage people not to see it. It had the opposite effect, gave it more exposure and we all know that it’s good for her anarchic image.
Some of these documentaries won’t do its subjects justice, others will surprise you with how interesting they actually are.
What is great is, by replacing the book, fashion has got a much larger audience. It would have been a select, passionate few buying these books originally, but now everybody has access to give the documentary the first 10 mins and see if it piques their interest enough to watch it until the end.
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Talking of fashion documentaries, TheChicGeek just reviewed Antonio Lopez: Sex, Fashion & Disco
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