Thursday, 23 January 2020 17:10

Tried & Tested Lustre Solo

Review 
Lustre solo acne treatment tried testedThe ‘Lustre Solo’ is a new wireless acne treatment product. It uses advanced blue light technology in a mobile device, allowing “acne sufferers to treat their skin on the go”. 

The solo works by killing bacteria under the skin. The spot causing bacteria, P. acnes produce a normally harmless chemical called Porphyrin. When safe natural visible blue light at 415 nm is shone onto the skin the Porphyrins become excited – this active porphyrin has been clinically proven to destroy the bacteria.

When Porphyrins become excited they attach to the spot causing bacteria and begin to destroy it. Acne begins to clear and continued blue light use can help reduce P. acnes growth and stop new spots forming.

Left - Lustre Solo - £79

TheChicGeek says, “They are selling this as a treatment on the go, but when it’s on your face it looks as though a computer mouse has been attached to it. Not sure you’d want many other people to see this, but you’re certainly not handicapped by it.

You attach the simple sticky strips which also sticks the Lustre Solo to your face. There are enough strips for 30 treatments, then they are £16 for 60 new strips.

I wasn’t sure whether you left it in one place for the daily 20 minute treatment or you were supposed to move it around the problem areas. This wasn’t explained.

I moved it around three main areas of my face over the course of 2 weeks. I targeted the forehead, and both cheeks, where I have the most breakouts. It was simple to use and pain-free, easy to turn on and then turned off itself after the 20 minutes.

I didn’t notice any noticeable differences. They do say 2 weeks is a minimum course, so it could require a longer time. After 30 days, you need to start buying new strips.

I know my acne breakouts are related to food intolerances and allergies and I’m still trying to workout which ones are the biggest triggers.”

Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Lustre for review

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Thursday, 23 January 2020 14:48

ChicGeek Comment Dying Destination Streets

Dying Streets Floral Street Shop at BluebirdNews in, Jigsaw is closing its Bluebird concept. After 15 years, the majority of those spent at the quiet end of the Kings Road in Chelsea, it recently moved more central to the prime site of the refurbished ‘Carriage Hall’ on Covent Garden’s Floral Street.

Left - Inside Jigsaw's Shop At Bluebird, Carriage Hall, Floral Street closing this week

Named after the art-deco car garage it was once housed in, it relocated in May 2018 and was part of the landlord Capco’s relaunch of Floral Street alongside the first central London outpost of Petersham Nurseries. 

Stocking a mix of designer labels and maison objets, after just over 18 months in this location, The Shop at Bluebird, to give it its full title, is closing its doors for good this week. 

Dying Streets Floral Street Shop at Bluebird Paul SmithA concept store without a concept, its short spell on Floral Street clearly illustrates how a once thriving, premium fashion street in a central location is struggling to pull in the shoppers. The store will turn into a larger Jigsaw store format.

Right - Discrete sign advertising the brands on Floral Street

Floral Street, a charming cobbled street just off the busy James Street, has been a fashion destination since the late 1970s. A pioneer of the area, Paul Smith opened his first store in London at 44 Floral Street in 1979. Over the next 20 years, Floral Street became one of the coolest fashion streets in London. Agnès B, Nicole Farhi, Jones, a cult designer menswear retailer, and Jigsaw Menswear were just some of the stores to make this street blossom. It’s slightly off-the-main-drag location was part of its charm.

Today, many tourists and shoppers walk straight past to the busy market area with its plethora of beauty brands or upwards to the more high-street Long Acre. Peer down Floral Street and it doesn’t look like much is there.

Floral Street isn’t alone, the same thing has happened to South Molton Street in Mayfair. On a map they geographically look as central and in the mix as anything else, but they, seemingly, get so easily passed by. Since the millennium these streets have gradually lost their appeal and declined.

Even Browns, the main pull of South Molton Street is moving. It has occupied its collection of small stores since 1970 and is now moving out. Running from Bond Street Tube station, on the corner of Oxford Street, diagonally down towards Brook Street, South Molton Street has long been a stylish cut through. Today, it has become more synonymous with people giving out free mini samples of soap than chic retail destination.

Browns is closing its collection of awkward stores to move around to a new, singular location on Brook Street. Now owned by online giant Farfetch, Brown’s new store will open this summer in time to celebrate its 50th anniversary. 

Dying Streets Floral Street Shop at Bluebird Paul SmithWhile not being able to comment on the reason they are moving out, Holli Rogers, CEO of Browns and CFO of Farfetch, says “it really is telling that we found this incredible location to be our new home as we also look to celebrate our 50th anniversary. It was important that we stayed in the heart of Mayfair bringing our clients on this exciting journey, whilst honouring the path we’ve been on and looking to the future of Browns as a pioneer of luxury multi-brand retail with a technology viewpoint. Being in one dedicated space, we are excited to be able to offer a vital and engaging customer experience that draws on the store of the future technology whilst also playing homage to the history and story of both the location and fundamentally Browns.” 

Left - Paul Smith's original London shop opened in 1979

Dying Streets Floral Street Shop at Bluebird Kent CurwenSo what will become of South Molton Street as even more empty shops pile up? Landlord Grosvenor is proposing investment in a ‘South Molton Triangle’ as the delayed Elizabeth Line finally opens in summer 2021 bringing many hundreds of thousands of more people into the area. But, they’ll need to entice them to venture down South Molton Street and not lose them to Oxford Street. 

Right - Landlord advertising Kent & Curwen's Floral Street on the busier James Street

Bounded by Davies Street, Brook Street and South Molton Street and well-known as the home of Grays Antiques Market, this part of Mayfair was always a pedestrianised break from busy Oxford Street.

Grosvenor launched a public consultation in the summer of 2018, no doubt expecting the new underground station and line to be finished sooner. Simon Harding-Roots, executive director, Grosvenor Britain and Ireland, said at the time, “Our proposals are at a very early stage and we want to encourage feedback on how new investment could best serve the community above and beyond the opportunity to better manage increased pedestrian numbers. It is important to us that local voices are incorporated into the planning submission we will ultimately make.”

“The West End is currently ill-equipped to cope with the levels of pedestrian traffic we already see every day, let alone the arrival of thousands of extra visitors expected from the Elizabeth Line. Many of Mayfair’s pavements are too narrow, routes were built for a different era and, perhaps counter intuitively, there are not enough services for those living in and visiting the area.

Dying Streets Floral Street Shop at Bluebird Glossier“We recognise the potential of the South Molton Triangle to address a number of the issues the local community faces. By proposing new investment here, we will be able to better protect and enhance the character and simple enjoyment of living and working in one of the most desirable places in London and the West End.”

Right - Glossier beauty pop-up open until February 9th

These areas need more than simply people management, new pavements and street furniture and it feels like landlords, Capco and Grosvenor, have been focusing on larger and juicer parts of their estates rather than these streets which are more on a Victorian and Georgian scale. At the same time streets like Chiltern Street and areas like Coal Drops Yard have developed and are doing what these locations used to do.

The American beauty brand Glossier recently opened a pop-up on Floral Street, open until February 9th, 2020.

These forgotten about fashion streets were once a destination for those looking for the new cool. Being surrounded by hugely popular shopping areas, there is no reason why they can’t return to this. 
These streets need to find a new reason to be and then channel people accordingly. They need to work out and provide what is cool in 2020.

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Tuesday, 21 January 2020 16:34

2020: The Year Of The Shoulder?

Year of the menswear shoulder Kaushik VelendraAre your shoulders boring and natural sized? Yes? Then you need to start thinking about inflating them like your ego for 2020…

At designer Kaushik Velendra’s AW20 London presentation during LFWM the shoulders were pronounced and rounded.

“Naturally fascinated by this dichotomy, my intention was to find a way to recreate those sexy and masculine shoulders, elegant elongated proportions and bold muscles using modified tailoring techniques and fabrication,” said the designer.  “My collection investigates the infinite possibilities of linking the two modes together, creating a ‘new generation’ of a modern, futuristic, sophisticated, and luxurious man.” 

Year of the menswear shoulder Kaushik VelendraKey to the collection was the juxtaposition of traditional Indian embroidery techniques in collaboration with the lauded atelier of Vastrakala, founded by Jean-François Lesage. Velendra’s removable shoulder moulds which, like armour, are designed to accentuate the human form are perfect for those style tackles fashion throws at you.

Left & Right - Kaushik Velendra AW20

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Thursday, 16 January 2020 22:28

ChicGeek Comment Pitti The K-Way Way

Pitti Uomo K Way showOn a chilly January Florentine night besides the swollen river Arno, the modernist Palazzo della Borsa played host to the first ever K-Way catwalk show. Known for it colourful and affordable rainwear and its signature yellow-orange-blue striped taping, this was K-Way’s way of celebrating the revamp of the brand and a sort of anniversary for them. (The brand was founded in 1965)

Left - The Classic pac-a-mac - K-Way's first catwalk show - Pitti Uomo 97 Jan. 2020

While many think of Pitti Uomo as a place for peacocks to pose by the curved pebbled concrete and classic made-in-Italy tailoring, the real money is being made by brands that offer mass appeal and big margins. This is aspirational, usually, made-in-China fashion, that has multiple variations on the same product. The consumer feels like and is happy that they have a lot of choice, while the brand’s core is simplified and strengthens the idea of ‘owning’ a category. Customers are clear on what they do, yet want to know what the new variations or collaborations are for each season. They are happy to have multiples of the same styles and shapes and have the same things as everybody else. It’s like joining a club.

It was founder Leon Claude Duhamel’s decision to brand the lightweight, nylon pac-a-mac that gave birth to K-Way after seeing people struggling in the rain through the streets of 1960s Paris.

Pitti Uomo K Way show

At the Florence show, both Duhamel, and the Italian Boglione family, which now owns it, were present after a collection featuring youthful and fashion-lead rainwear. Italian influencers in Coyote-lined K-Ways watched as every variable of a K-Way was sent down the catwalk. These weren’t the pac-a-mac types of old, though it will sell plenty of those, but more the limited runs of fashion product with the K-Way DNA centre stage, even if it was taped prominently to the models’ flies.

The Bogliones - who also own Petersham Nurseries in Richmond - own K-Way as part of their BasicNet business. This Italian sportswear group owns Kappa, Robe di Kappa, Superga, and, recently bought Sebago from Wolverine. The group produced consolidated revenue growth of 14.7% in the 2018 financial year. In the first three months, Q1 2019, revenue was €74.6 million, a 38.9% increase driven by the recent acquisition of Sport Finance, the group’s distributor in France, UK and Spain. 

Right - More directional K-Way for AW20

BasicNet saw strong 2018 growth globally; USA revenue increased by 36%, Europe 13.4%, Asia-Oceania 17.1% and Middle East and Africa 56.3%.

The founder of BasicNet, Marco Boglione, was only 20 when he was invited to join the company Maglificio Calzificio Torinese (MCT). MCT specialised in hosiery and underwear until seeing the potential of designer jeans during the 1970s boom and came up with ‘Jesus Jeans’. 

Marco applied himself to the sportswear side of the company and was part of the nascent industry of sponsoring athletes with branded product. Under the Kappa brand they sponsored American Carl Lewis as well as football teams such as Juventus, AC Milan and Barcelona.

Marco left MCT to start a company making football merchandise, but when MCT started to struggle he, along with his brothers, bought it out of receivership and created BasicNet in 1995. Since then it has been acquiring brands with K-Way having been acquired in 2004.

K-Way’s signature ‘Le Vrai Claude 3.0’ jacket is £75. Made in China of a simple, lightweight pac-a-mac material, the margins must be huge. Success breeds success and dominance in this sector of mid-priced branded sportswear. You can sell huge volumes and retailers like the ease of brands being clear on what they do. It’s also a fun and colourful product. The same could be said for brands such Crocs, Eastpak, Herschel and Sebago. Lots of colours and finishes in the same consistent, known and liked styles.

While many new fashion brands aim for ‘luxury’, it is too dominated by the three main groups - LVMH, Kering, Richemont - who will only increase their muscle and monopolies. The volumes are too small to grow quickly and too much money is tied up in less product. The ideal is to scale quickly and this is what BasicNet has cleverly done with its brands. It’s tapped into the desire for brands at a price people are happy to pay while making good profits.

Pitti Uomo K Way show Colorful Standard

While without the overt branding, a newish brand trying this idea of lots of colours with simplicity in styles is Colorful Standard. Made in Portugal, it recently opened a store with Oi Polloi in London. Founded by Danish entrepreneur, Tue Deleuran, in 2017, it is now sold by 500 retailers across Europe with stores in Paris and Zurich.

Colorful Standard organic T-shirts retail at €30 and the sweatshirts are between €60 and €80 in a rainbow of colours. Made in Portugal in a factory Deleuran bought in 2008, he also produces private label for many luxury brands.

Left - Colorful Standard for quality organic basics in lots of colours 

Expanding, new Colourful Standard categories for AW20 include boxer briefs, socks and Oxford shirts. By having the illusion of lots of choice it entices the consumer to be happy to add to their 'collection'. It also becomes a go-to when the product is good and people are satisfied. Asking people to pay 4 times the prices of Uniqlo with feel good extras of organic cotton and charitable associations seems to be working. It looks Helvetica familiar and fills the American Apparel gap or that once held by the likes of GAP.

What these two examples illustrate is the opportunities in this mid-priced market. Healthy margins in large volumes is the dream for any fashion business. Despite the naysayers, people will still pay for product they like, it just needs to be good. Oh, and colourful!

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LFWM London Men's Fashion Week of the week Edward Crutchley

One of the last designers standing at LFWM doing anything remotely luxurious and expensive looking is Edward Crutchley. He’s stealthily built up a fan base and business selling beautiful and theatrical clothes stocked by the likes of Harrods, matchesfashion.com and Browns. Patterned chintzs and medieval looking prints are an extravagant, yet wearable, display of his fashion craft.

LFWM London Men's Fashion Week of the week Edward CrutchleyThe Charles I hair - or was it Brian May?! - and exaggerated Freemasons’ Fezs - Shriners - made you yearn for beautiful things again. (There’s still a customer).

The furs were real - this could explain the refined walnut lined location of the Skinners' Hall - and provided by Kopenhagen Fur. Black and white checks and lewd artly printed silks are a signature of Crutchley's.

Silly, and as basic as it sounds, but, considering the state of the quality and output from many ‘luxury’ brands, this all looks good enough to buy. Finally!

Pass me the American Express.

Tuesday, 07 January 2020 18:27

ChicGeek Comment LFWM ‘Positive Fashion’

LFWM London Men's Fashion Week Positive Fashion British Fashion CouncilWith a schedule now slimmer than one of the teenage models, London Fashion Week Men’s, or LFWM, needs to find a new reason for being. We’ve done diversity, inclusiveness and sustainability, but now, thanks to the BFC, there’s an over-riding umbrella term called ‘Positive Fashion’. Designers such as Nicholas Daley, Bethany Williams, Bianca Saunders and Ahluwalia all had PW (Positive Fashion) after their names on the schedule.

Launched in 2013, the BFC’s Positive Fashion initiative is “a platform designed to celebrate industry best practice and encourage future business decisions to create positive change”.

Left - The BFC's new LFWM graphics

Positive Fashion is led by 3 strategic pillars - sustainability, equality and diversity and craftsmanship and community - it says, In a statement from the BFC, “The BFC takes the lead in setting the standards for an industry that strives to represent equality and diversity on the global stage. Championing the importance of every person in the sector as a vital and valuable part of our industry entitled to be treated with respect and dignity.

“Supports the community of talent, skills and craftsmanship that make up our unique industry. Our initiatives are designed to develop connections and understanding between designers and manufacturers taking a holistic approach to the long term viability of the sector. We celebrate the wealth of talent and capability that is unique to British designer businesses.”

While this manifesto all sounds totally earnest and worthwhile it does reek of wishful thinking and what does it actually mean?The green movement is only going to get bigger and the fashion sector, said to contribute £32.3 Billion to the UK economy in GDP and supporting 890,000 jobs, is firmly on its naughty step. We’ve had a lot of lip service, but sadly, without government legislation, the industry will put off the difficult, and more costly, things until tomorrow. 

To further ram home the point, the British Fashion Council has announced its intention to launch the Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF). “The BFC recognises that the fashion industry engages consumers daily, and whilst it is often seen as forward thinking, it also appreciates that through global supply chains the industry can have a negative impact on the planet.”

“Through the IPF, the BFC aims to create an industry blueprint by bringing together expertise from different areas to help brands in the industry navigate an often confusing to understand topic and kick-start a much-need comprehensive step-change. Informed by research, expert opinion, industry insights and the significant industry experience of individual businesses and organisations, the power of collective effort will amplify independent activity.”

It’s a lot of marketing speak, but it does have an influence if the costs aren’t too prohibitive. ‘Sustainability' has been a part of the BFC’s strategy since 2006. Their ‘Esthethica’ showcase put sustainable fashion at the heart of London Fashion Week before evolving into Positive Fashion in 2013. This is the first time I have seen it mentioned anywhere.

But, what has exactly happened over those past 7 years and how much carbon emissions, or however you want to measure it, has been saved?

Back to fashion week and many designers are thinking about how to minimise their footprint, but they’re also trying to survive very tough times. LFWM is currently very sustainable because nobody buys any of it. But jokes aside, the ambition is there and it feels like we’re in something of a technological and supply chain cul-de-sac. Patrick Grant’s premium E Tautz label was called ‘Brand New Second Hand’. In the show release he said, “As a designer I feel acute pressure to act. We need to change the message. No more fiddling while Rome burns. Big fashion can do ‘sustainable’, it can do ‘ethical’, it can do ‘conscious’. It all helps make consumers buy MORE. 

“But what big fashion cannot do is small. It can’t slow down. What they will never do is tell you to ‘buy less, keep for longer, cherish, repair, pass on’. That however is exactly what we must do and what we’re asking you to do. E Tautz clothes will not change so much from season to season that you feel you need to buy something new. In fact we’re suggesting the opposite.”

Grant has worked with Astco, one of the UK’s largest clothing recyclers, to make new pieces from unwanted textiles. He’s also enlisted the Rolls-Royce of darning, the Royal School of Needlework, to give them that patched/repaired feel. What he should have done is shown last season’s samples with the repairs from actual wear and tear from being lent out to the industry. It’s fine to talk about buying less when a coat costs £1500, but when the collections are often funded by more affordable, high-street collaborations it can often sound hypocritical.

But, everything fashion does is hypocritical. The idea of replacing something while it is still perfectly useful will always put fashion into the negative fashion bracket. ‘Positive Fashion’ could easily go the way of ‘sustainability’ and become as meaningless as it sounds. Nobody is going to disagree with making fashion positive, it just needs to be explained. We want detail.

“The world is burning. Fashion plays a BIG part in this.” said Grant in his show's press release, “But as Ranieri sings in ‘Oh My Love’ ‘from nature we should learn, that all can start again’. Even Fashion.” 

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