One certainty is the trainer/sneaker/casual shoe juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down. Young men are now the biggest purchasers of footwear - Read more #ChicGeekComment The Mass Male Sneakerheads - and trainers are driving this addiction.
A new trainer label to know is Oliver Cabell. Founded in England, but now based in the US, Oliver Cabell was started in 2016 by Scott Gabrielson, who left his job at a non-profit and moved to England to start a business. With no fashion, retail, or start-up experience, Scott relied on his passion for balanced design and quality products to launch Oliver Cabell.
Left - Oliver Cabell - Ash - £145
In 2015 Gabrielson came across a news story from the 1970s highlighting a heavy night out for actors Oliver Reed and Steve McQueen. He had long been inspired by the rebellious duo, who spurred a generation to take the road less travelled. In the 1960s Reed and McQueen played the characters Oliver Twist and Martin Cabell, and he combined the two and came up with "Oliver Cabell".
As for the night out? It turns out even the “King of Cool”, Steve McQueen, proved no match for the Oliver Reed life force. The story goes that McQueen flew to London to discuss a project. Putting business aside, for a bit, the duo went on a marathon pub crawl, which resulted in Reed losing his lunch on McQueen. The project was never finished.
Right - Oliver Cabell - Amazon - £145
All Oliver Cabell footwear is made in Spain using Italian materials, and for every piece they create, they reveal their costs and tell the story of the people behind it. (This is part of the new trend of brand “Pricing Transparency” - Read more about it here ChicGeekComment Pricing Transparency)
Doing the intelligent thing of releasing new styles gradually, Oliver Cabell are launching, in two new colourways, Amazon and Ash, in their Rennes retro looking trainer. Made with 3oz suede, full-grain leather, and rubber shore A outsoles, all are sourced directly from the Tuscan region of Italy.
With an entire space raft of films and TV series relating to space travel arriving on our screens, this season, there’s something always cool about dressing for the Space Race. With Ryan Gosling in ‘First Man’, where he plays the first man to land on the moon, Neil Armstrong, and Sean Penn off to Mars in ‘The First’, it feels like the appetite is strong for leaving this planet.
Pretty Green, a brand always offering something interesting and surprising, has this silver overhead jacket which is one part end of the marathon, one part 90s raver and a whole lot of fun.
It’s interesting how you can become stylishly invisible wearing something so reflective and distinctive. Geekspeed!
Left & Below - Pretty Green - Overhead Jacket - £200
French colourist, Christophe Robin, has worked with Kylie Minoque, Tilda Swinton, Catherine Deneuve and, historically, the 90s Supermodels’ hair colour. This is his men’s product. It’s a shampoo with rassoul clay - draws out impurities a bit like a face mask - and Tahitian algae, which is very nutrient-rich, so great for strengthening and thickening hair.
Left - Christophe Robin - Thickening Paste Shampoo - 250ml - £42.50 from Harrods
TheChicGeek says, “This is a real treat. While the colour and texture looks a little disconcerting - you’ll know what I mean when you see it - it’s very thick and brown. It’s like a nutty chocolate spread.
It quickly foams up into a shampoo. With 95% natural-origin ingredients, it is concentrated with pure rassoul clay. Rich in minerals, it is said to gently absorb impurities that suffocate the scalp and immediately brings fullness and body to the roots.
Forget Christophe Robin, I felt more like Pooh Bear dipping my hand in the honey pot using this. It’s a jar, so needs a juggling act in the shower, but this feels expensive and rich. You don’t need much, maybe a large pea size and it states there are around 30 applications in the jar, so is expensive.
This feels really thick and indulgent, there’s not a particularly strong smell, though it does say a blend of woody notes and amber.
I didn’t find it particularly thickening, but then my hair is really thinning. I think you need that bouncy, curly, French boy hair like Timothée Chalamet - here to make it work!"
Easily the most anticipated retail destination - we can’t use ‘shopping centre’ anymore, can we?! - of the year, and the final piece of the huge Kings Cross jigsaw, Coal Drops Yard mirrors the life of the entire area. From industrial power to warehouse parties to sanitised private/public spaces, this could be a micro model of London as a whole over the last 100 years.
Now reimagined by Thomas Heatherwick, who has joined the two ‘Kit-Kat’ pieces with a sweeping roof which lightly touches across the divide. This was the kiss Kings Cross/St Pancras was waiting for and not that cringeworthy sculpture greeting you as you disembark off the Eurostar.
Opening today, with over 50 new stores, it’s currently only about 50% open, and the most stunning aspect, the Samsung store inside the roof, is far from finished.
Firstly, the architecture is great. What could have been clunky, the roof is elegant and sweeping. Reslated in the original Welsh tiles, Heatherwick works his magic and creates something modern yet respectful to the original. This is the human scaled, brick built industrial Britain that is a joy to bring back to life.
Situated just down from Granary Square and up from the main stations, Coal Drops Yard opens out into a generous V shape with two main levels of shops and restaurants. This feels like the type of retail space you want to give yourself time to explore.
There’s also another space on the other side of the main block called Lower Stable Street that is for smaller and start-up businesses. It has touches of the Southbank with the concrete.
There are a few restaurants - Barafina, Casa Pastor and wine bar The Drop, but it feels the mix is too heavy on the retail, today, especially with the need to drive traffic. People don’t need to go shopping anymore, but they do need to eat. You could easily use the space in the middle for market type concepts.
They’ve made an effort to have a mix of brands - COS, Paul Smith, Tom Dixon, Cubitts, Universal Works, Rains, Aesop, Maya Magal, Miller Harris and Le Chocolat and there are a few that are new to me.
You want to explore, but there’s no element of surprise. The retail mix is dry. It’s from the Monocle school of aching design, devoid of personality. This feels like stylish retail from 10 years ago. We’re in the age of Gucci, of bonkers, of wanting-to-get-my-phone-out-and-take-a-picture-mental, not a single one of the finished shop fits was worthy of an Instagram. Even Paul Smith has produced one of the most conservative shop fits I’ve ever seen from him. You’d think he would have tapped into the rave culture history of the site, especially when you consider so many of his more casual clothes would have been worn there.
This is for one type of design customer and I don’t think that’s as aspirational as they think. It’s also needs a destination store. There was lots of talk from the lease manager about going to Paris for inspiration. When didn’t they resurrect Colette here or try a Dover Street Market type concept. It needs a pilgrimage store, or whatever that is in 2018, to get people up from the stations.
I really think Coal Drops Yard has missed a trick by not tapping into the nostalgia for the area. Those clubbers are now in their 40s with money to spend and families to bring. There are exhibitions regarding the history in the Visitors Centre, back in Granary Square, but I would have done more on site to remind people of their happy times spent at The Cross or Bagley’s nightclubs.
As I said, it’s not fully finished and all these things will evolve. When listening to Thomas Heatherwick give his welcoming talk I thought about the reinvention of Covent Garden, which he then mentioned, and was a huge success, and then I thought about the early 90s, when they tried to turn a similar concept, Tobacco Dock, into a similar retail destination. It was the wrong location at the wrong time. This is in a better position, but like I said, they need enough people to know about it to want to walk up from the stations.
I think we’ll see more food outlets eventually and also they need something like a vintage market, similar to Spitalfields, to raise the element of discovery and keep you coming back.
Read more ChicGeek Comments - here
Suitable for all skin types, 9 is a light satin-feel oil-based serum for the delicate eye and lip area. It is formulated from a unique blend of four modified plant oils (Coconut, Olive, Kahai and Echium) and high levels of five scientifically substantiated active ingredients that are proven to reduce puffiness, re-hydrate and firm the eye and lip area. Ingredients include marine micro-algae (CF) to smooth out the appearance of lines, geranylgeranone to promote cell longevity, liquorice (GG) to brighten, induce radiance and for even skin tone, aloe leaf to gently hydrate, soothe and reduce puffiness and poppy to firm the delicate areas.
Left - Katerina Steventon - 9 Radiance Eye & Lip Serum - 15ml - £65
Dr Steventon says, “9 is a unique, hybrid formulation that combines traditional plant based healing with 21st century clinically proven active ingredients to help repair and prevent signs of ageing. The four natural plant oils have been specifically selected to increase the penetration of the five active ingredients deep into the skin to promote a youthful appearance.”
TheChicGeek says, “The queen of facial massage, Steventon is quickly become the go-to for anti-ageing serums. This targets the eyes and lips and is, as always, not just about applying the product, but also taking time and massaging the targeted areas. (I’m not very good with this and feel like I need a dressing table and half an hour to really do this justice).
You need very little, just one drop each, for both the eyes and lips. Warmed in your palm and gently patted onto the areas, this is fragrance free, but you’re inclined to add more, as a drop doesn’t seem like enough.
I was conscious of it on my eye area for sometime after application, and, while not uncomfortable and heavy, it was a continual reminder. I wondered if I’d put too much on, but any less and you feel like you’re not really applying anything?
I think this is a long term product, and I like the way its for eyes and lips, which are the most delicate areas. It's about learning a routine and religiously sticking to it. I don't suffer from any dark circles and puffiness around the eyes so I can't report any noticeable differences, in the short term anyway."
It was while watching the Alexander McQueen documentary at the beginning of the summer - Read TheChicGeek Review here - when I wondered where the subsequent crop of young designer brands were.
The British based designers who were the generation after McQueen and showed so much promise - Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Mary Katranzhou, J.W. Anderson etc. - and despite some investment, just haven’t been able to scale up their brands in the same way McQueen and Stella McCartney were able to.
Left - Christopher Kane's only permanent store on London's Mount Street
I realised that this was a signifier of how the luxury market has changed and the days of nurturing fledgling brands into ‘Mega Brands’ are over. It illustrates the saturation in the market and it’s all about making big brands even bigger, today. “If you’re not going to be a billion dollar brand, then it’s probably not worth our time", is the new attitude. It probably explains the reason why Michael Kors recently bought Versace. Read more ChicGeek Comment here
David Watts, Founder, Watts What Magazine, says, “I suspect that this is more to do with the parent company realising that these businesses are not scaleable - or to the extent of other portfolio brands and cutting their losses.”
“In the current very challenging retail market and designer wholesale model not being as robust as it used to be, brands need to shore up cash and also give themselves a buffer,” says Watts.
“For the larger groups though, bigger really is better,” says Sandra Halliday, Editor-in-chief (UK), Fashionnetwork.com. “When they take on a brand, they want it to have billion dollar potential, or at least to occupy a strong niche that will guarantee high profit margins. The stakes these days are too high to do anything else,” she says.
When the Gucci Group invested in McQueen, Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga in 2001, it signalled the moment the luxury fashion industry was in full expansion mode and opening stores all over the globe. Following that, there was a raft of investment in the generation after, with Kering - formally Gucci Group - investing in Christopher Kane in 2013 and LVMH investing in Nicholas Kirkwood and J.W. Anderson in the same year. Everybody was billed “as the next…” but it just hasn’t materialised. Well, not in consumers’ heads anyway.
Now, brands are going into reverse; fashion’s answer to “Conscious Uncoupling”. Stella McCartney just bought back the 50 per cent she didn’t own from Kering and rumour has it, Christopher Kane, is in talks to buy back the 51 percent stake from the French group after a 5-year partnership.
Right - J.W. Anderson single store in East London
Halliday says, “I think in Stella McCartney’s case there was a genuine desire to run her own show and given the strength of her brand, that’s understandable.”
“For Christopher Kane it’s probably more about Kering focusing its resources and its time on its big winners, and that makes sense with Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga doing so well and Bottega Veneta needing lots of TLC,” she says.
“It give them a certain freedom and with the knowledge and experience learned (hopefully) as being part of a large group that they know how to be more careful with finances and astute with merchandising and keeping overheads down,” says Watts.
“Staying small, focussed and niche with a direct to consumer model could work for some brands, but it’s also very tough to make serious money at that scale,” says Watts. “Of course, there are possibly different and extenuating circumstances for why these brands find themselves in their current predicament. What does it tell you that LVMH and Kering cannot make Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane, Edun and Tomas Maier work…..gonna be tough for them as independents however the chips may fall,” he says.
Announced this year, LVMH has severed ties with Edun, Bono’s ethical fashion brand, and Kering has closed Tomas Maier, previously the Creative Director at their other brand, Bottega Veneta. These brands will have to regress back to start-up mode and think small again if they are to survive.
“In many ways, the future prospects of small designers hoping to break into the big time are quite depressing as the barriers to doing that are very high.” says Halliday. “But, on another level, the internet offers opportunities that didn’t exist just 20 years ago. The combination of a well-run e-store and a physical flagship can actually be a very cost-effective way of reaching the maximum number of consumers.” she says.
“Even if smaller labels can build profitable businesses, the chances are that the end result will be a hoped-for takeover by a bigger group, or by private equity investors, as that’s the kind of investment that’s really needed to make the transition into bona fide big-name brand,” says Halliday. “And all of that doesn’t even factor in what might happen if the luxury boom runs out of steam at any point,” she says.
Those brands fitting somewhere between these smaller designers and the giant groups are making their play for their futures too. Versace has already taken shelter in a bigger American group and other Italian family brands are sensing this shift and deciding on which side of the billion dollar divide they aspire to be on. Missoni opened its ownership up to Italian state-backed investment fund FSI for a cash injection of €70 million, in exchange for a 41.5 percent stake and rumours continually circle around Ferragamo suggesting they are looking for investment or a new owner.
Belgian designer, Dries Van Noten, recently sold a majority stake in his eponymous fashion brand to Spanish cosmetics group Puig.
“Dries Van Noten is 60 and after 30 years if he keeps creative control and remains chairman of his brand, then cashing in a huge stake gives him financial security, and also Puig brings cosmetics, beauty and fragrance know-how,” says Watts. “It could be huge for a brand such as Dries Van Noten - it’s a win win for him on paper.”
“Most people who are outside of the fashion (production) industry really have no idea both how complicated it as and how hard it is to make money,” says Watts. “Fashion wholesale is broken and fashion retail is in freefall,” he says.
Disappointingly, the focus has moved away from talent to bankability. Young designers who were previously given a leg-up with investment look too high a risk and expensive for today’s investors. It seems that only those brands breaking that billon dollar turnover ceiling are worth focussing on. You can increase profit margins by making less, but in larger volumes and become a more dominant force. It is more of a risk having fewer brands, but you can win bigger and Kering is clearly taking pole position right now.
Read more ChicGeek Comments - here
I picked up on this jacket straight after Oliver Spencer’s show during LFWM. I mistakenly thought it was a Norfolk jacket - here - but it doesn’t have a belt, just an internal drawstring giving the illusion of a cinched in waist. By accentuating the waist it makes you look thinner and taller.
Manufactured in the UK of 100% wool, the fabric is a handsome black and white checked Donegal-type tweed and looks much better on the model than it does on the website. This is the kind of coat that will get better with wear and will look great with the pockets full of everything you can throw in it.
Left & Below - Oliver Spencer - Photographer's Jacket Banbury Charcoal - £459
This minimal western or cowboy shirt has become Raf Simons' signature style since taking over at Calvin Klein. A slow burner, and despite it being seen on the Kardashians, it feels modern yet retro at the same time. It's almost like a space uniform with its flat pockets and details. There are lots of colour combinations and I'm surprised more high-street retailers haven't copied it.
ASOS DESIGN had this homage with contrast pockets and matching yoke for that Calvin feel without the out of this world price tag.
Left - Calvin Klein 205W39nyc - Western Two Pocket Shirt - £485 from Brownsfashion.com
Below - ASOS DESIGN regular fit colour block western shirt in black - £25
When party season hits - it won’t be long - we often forget about our dancing feet. For something simple and fashionable opt for a dose of sparkle in the sock department. Lurex or ‘Glitter’ socks add a Michael Jackson element to your shoe and look great particularly with slip on loafers and cropped trousers. Gucci pioneered the look with their logo lurex socks and while there are a few styles for men, the majority are women’s, so just buy the largest size and they’ll stretch.
Left - Gucci lurex logo socks - Chintz optional!
Below - Gucci - Lurex Interlocking G Socks - £100
Left - Ignore the high-heels - Leg Avenue Xmas Lurex Glitter/Shiny Ankle Pop Socks/Anklets - £9.25 from eBay.co.uk
Left - ASOS DESIGN - Sports Style Socks in Glitter - £4
Below - ASOS DESIGN party socks in glitter zebra design - £4
Need some more sparkle in your life? - Read Menswear Trends Daytime Sequins
Need more inspiration? See Best Dressed Chic Geek Jeff Goldblum rocking party season
Dr. Goldfaden's cult exfoliator contains crystals that polish away dead surface skin, leaving skin brighter, appearing clearer and younger-looking. Formulated with line-filling hyaluronic acid to deliver long-lasting hydration while nourishing seaweed and organic red tea extract offer antioxidant nourishment.
Left - Goldfaden MD - Doctor’s Scrub - 50ml - £35
Powerful ruby crystals, the purest, most valuable mineral crystals that can be applied to the skin, and commonly referred to as “The King of Gemstones” are used due to their impressive metaphysical and healing properties. This deep penetrating exfoliating treatment allows for post treatment products (i.e. anti-aging serums etc.) to better penetrate deeper into the skin, enhancing overall treatment results. Additionally, the crystals mimic those commonly used in in-office microdermabrasion treatments, delivering the same results in the ease of one’s home.
Daily use will make skin feel firmer and appear stronger, working towards a radiant complexion. Good for all skin types.
TheChicGeek says, “You know I love a doctor brand, and this is a new one on me. I was told this ‘Doctor’s Scrub’ was their cult product and I really wanted to try it.
This is interesting because it’s really smooth, yet really rough. It’s kinda hardcore scrubbing, but feels controlled because the texture is very uniform. The perfectly spherical shape of the ruby crystals makes them excellent exfoliating agents as they successfully remove dead skin cells evenly, along with dirt and oil without aggravating or tearing the skin. Dr Goldfaden is all about the naturals too, which is good.
It is relatively expensive for a scrub, but, for guys who like a really rough and satisfying scrub, then this is definitely for you.”