Friday, 20 April 2018 16:25

Tried & Tested MARRAM Co Shaving

Marram Co Shaving Cream review

Launched in 2017, MARRAM Co offers a luxury, personalised natural shave with the finest of essential oiled infused foams and chrome hardware kits. Hoping to transform shaving into a pleasurable ritual, MARRAM Co believe that the preparation behind the shave is key and have created shaving creams to match your mood, all manufactured in the UK. 

Left - MARRAM Co - "Power Up" - Metal tubes and quality fragrances makes this shaving to remember

Using organic essential oils sourced from 212 organic farms all over the world, the creams are therapeutic even for the man with the most sensitive of skin. Choose from “Wake Up Call”, “You’ve Got This”, “It’s Cold”, “Power Up”, “Night Out”, "The Morning After”, “Time Out” and “You Might Get Lucky”.

TheChicGeek says, “When you think about shaving products it’s interesting how, for something we literally put under our noses, quality fragrance hasn’t played a more dominant role.

Marram Co Shaving Cream review brush made in ukNamed after the grey-green tufts of Marram grass found on British coastal sand dunes, MARRAM, also a palindrome - the same forwards as backwards - is a collection of shaving creams offering distinctive and quality scents. 

The brand centres on the traditional barbering routine of cream, bowl and brush. Most guys won’t be bothered with this faff on a daily basis, but it’s definitely for a time when you can enjoy the ritual.

The brushes, razor handle and bowls are really top quality and are priced to match. The razor takes a Gillette head and everything, including the shaving creams, is made in the UK. 

Right - MARRAM Co - Brush & Bowl Set - £250

While the hardware is expensive, I like the way they’ve made the shaving cream realistic in pricing - in two sizes, £8 for 20ml and £20 for 100ml - it also means you can play with the fragrances and try a few. 

There are 9 different scents, all with fun names, 7 are permanent and a couple are limited-editions. It’s light and foams up nicely and easy to apply with your hands.

I think people are willing to pay more for products with quality scents. I feel £20 is good for 100ml, here, and those essentials oils are the things that transport you, for a few seconds at least, to another place and makes shaving less of a chore and more of a pleasure. The heat and steam of shaving is ideal for these essential oils to really do their best work.

This reminds me of the shaving cream from Buly that smells like marzipan that I like - read more here - and my favourite is “Wake Up Call” with its earthy vetiver fragrance.

I think MARRAM & Co are onto something here. I like the branding, I like the metal tubes and I like the fragrances. I just need to shave more!”

Below - MARRAM Co - Shaving Cream - 20ml - £8 100ml - £20

Exclusive to MRPORTER.COM

Marram Co Shaving Cream review

Online shopping is allowing luxury brands to get away with lower quality

It’s subjective, I know, but if you’ve bought something from a ‘luxury’ brand, recently, you will probably notice the quality isn’t quite what it once was. On the unstoppable growth trajectory of higher prices and sales, the quality hasn’t stayed consistent: no doubt increasing already inflated margins.

I’m not naive, I understand you pay a premium for a designer name or brand, but there was always a minimum quality to the product, leaving you, the customer, satisfied and at least without the feeling of being ripped off.

I’ll give you an example. I bought one of those new GG buckle Gucci belts online, 18 months ago. I hadn’t felt it, or seen it, I just ordered it online. It was a simple black belt after all. You think you know what will arrive.

What turned up felt like a free pleather school belt. I’m not being facetious, but there was no quality there. When you’re charging £250 and you can’t even offer a decent strip of leather to take the strain of holding your trousers up, there’s clearly something wrong.

Why didn’t I send it back? When it arrived at home, in insolation, seduced by the packaging, and Gucci was so-hot-right-now, you just shrug your shoulders and think, "okay, so it’s not the best, but it’s what I wanted and it’s cool ATM". (Damn you hype!)

It’s when I look back, and think about that belt, I feel, that if I’d handled and seen it in the shop, I probably wouldn’t have bought it in the first place. I would have felt the quality and moved on.

And, so to my theory - the growth of online is allowing mainstream luxury brands to get away with lower quality products. Consumers are more accepting in their own homes, they have nothing to compare it to at the time and the thought and hassle of sending something back is making people keep things they wouldn’t have necessarily bought in a physical store.

“Shopping is very much a human multi-sensory experience so it follows that we want to use as many of our senses. Emotion plays the dominant role in our buying decisions so the in-store experience will always be far superior to the online experience. As Boxpark MD Roger Wade put it ‘Shopping online is like watching fireworks on TV’ says Andrew Busby, Founder & CEO of Retail Reflections.

There’s no doubt online has contributed to the massive growth of these brands, whether on their own websites or third parties. Last year Gucci’s online sales posted triple-digit growth on their branded website and that’s without all the other online retailers. Gucci didn’t hit €6.2 billion turnover in 2017 on physical stores alone.

“This all depends on your definition of ‘Mainstream Luxury’. The word ‘Luxury’ is banded around all too often. True luxury is confined, generally, to bricks and mortar shopping, hence the resistance of major houses to enter the online market. When I consider ‘Luxury’ I think of brands such as LV, Chanel, Loewe etc,” says Darren Skey, Founder/Director of Nieuway Limited, and former Head of Menswear at Harvey Nichols.

“I wouldn’t class brands such as Off White, Amiri, Vetements as ‘Luxury’.  What we are seeing is the luxury brands such as Loewe and LV seeing the growth potential of hype products and as such are designing products with this in mind.  This leads to more quantity produced and a lower quality, compared to their main ranges,  Fashion details are hard to produce on a large scale.  Unfortunately, there is no correlation in price reductions, as you would expect with economies of scale,” says Skey.

It’s hard to prove this point, but it’s an interesting factor to think about. Net-a-Porter group recently introduced a new service  for their “Extremely Important People”, where the delivery person waits to see whether you want the item or not, after they deliver it. It’s an instant reaction to the item(s) and it would be interesting to know whether this has increased or decreased returns. Obviously, they want the latter.

Quality is subjective and brands vary. But I think we’re seeing an overarching trend towards higher margins and lower quality from brands trying to still offer ‘luxury’ and compete with other brands’ stratospheric growth in turnovers.

There’s also a generational shift to think about. Since 2016, the global luxury market has grown by 5%, with 85% of this growth generated by Millennials according to a report by A LINE, a global branding & design studio. These younger consumers don't have as much experience and product to compare the quality to and brands are taking advantage of this.

“The expectation of the younger consumer is also changing and I think this is an interesting observation. For the younger consumers it is more important to have the latest hype piece regardless of the quality.  And, as we know, the majority of the Millennials shop online,” says Skey.

Brands have made it easier to return products, but unless it’s the wrong size or nothing like pictured, I think people are more accepting in terms of quality.

“I don't think that shoppers are unwilling to send things back once purchased online. Fashion is not cheap and I don't believe we are in an economy where this can be an option. I also think retailers are making the process of sending product back easier,” says Skey.

‘I am predicting a backlash to the returns culture we are currently witnessing - both from retailers and environmentalists. The average returned purchase in the UK passes through seven pairs of hands before it is listed for resale. According to Iain Prince, supply chain director at KPMG, "It can cost double the amount for a product to be returned into the supply chain as it does to deliver it”.’ says Busby.

What brands have to remember: when you’re not cool or hot anymore, the thing that will keep consumers returning is quality. This lowering of quality is short-termism and greedy and will ultimately be a big factor is diminishing future sales and brand loyalty. 

I’ve also written about brands which offer great value, like Fiorucci. here

Thursday, 19 April 2018 09:22

Exhibition Fashioned From Nature

Fashioned From Nature Victoria Albert Museum Review Exhibition

We know what our clothes are made from, you only have to look at the label, but do we know which materials are the least and most damaging to the environment? Probably not.

Fashioned From Nature Victoria Albert Museum Review ExhibitionThe new fashion exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Fashioned From Nature, gets serious about the impact fashion is having on the world. It starts off fairly simply, looking at the raw and natural materials used in clothing and decoration from the 17th century onwards, and quickly charts the growing appetite for the rare and exotic to decorate the wealthy’s clothes.

Left - Historical dress inspired by nature and new discoveries

Right - Fashion protesting against itself

It’s interesting how our love of nature and the beauty we see in it has made people want to wear it and at the same time destroy it. It's very difficult to strike a balance.

This isn’t your standard fluffy fashion exhibition or one dominated by big names, it’s a thought provoking look about what things are, where they come from and their impact on the environment. But, it’s done in a way that isn’t preaching or has a strong agenda.

Lace barkIt’s sponsored by the European Confederation of Flax and Hemp, but I feel they could have done more to highlight the benefits of wearing flax. (I didn't see hemp mentioned at all). Most commonly made into linen, flax is one of the easiest and least damaging forms of materials to grow and is definitely something we should be wearing more of. It would have been nice to see more with regards to how you can use it, different finishes and something more than being the material of a few seasonal summer shirts and suits. There’s a wall you can touch at the very beginning made of flax. It feels like really dry horse hair.

Left - Lace Bark grown from a tree

Right - Toxic Evening Coat, Madame Grès, 1936

Madame Gres toxic dressThings I learnt from this exhibition: I’d never heard of ‘Vegetable Ivory’ or ‘Lace-Bark’ before. I didn’t know the bones used in corsetry are called ‘Baleen’, after the type of whale.

Upstairs there is a lot going on. Some pieces are simply inspired by nature while others show new materials made from by-products or waste. ‘Vegea’ uses grape waste from the wine industry to form a leather-substitute and their ‘Grape’ gown is on show, as well as a Ferragamo piece made from ‘Orange Fiber’ derived from waste from the Italian citrus industry and an H&M Conscious dress made from recycled shoreline plastic.

I think educating people - cotton uses ridiculous amounts of pesticides and water - about what they are wearing is important and it would have been good to have seen different materials: wool, flax, cotton compared with one another. These are the main choices people have when shopping.

Fashion in its nature is wasteful and destructive. There’s no logic to moving on from perfectly wearable clothes and buying new ones  other than to stay ‘fashionable’. But, that’s how it works and it’s also a huge business employing many people.

Vegetable IvoryWe need to be realistic, the odd dress made from recycled plastic bottles isn’t even scratching the surface. We need to look at clothing like other recyclables. Take the components and raw materials apart and reuse into new garments. This would require less fresh materials and would also close the loop on the fashion industry.

Left - Vegetable Ivory

Right - The flax wall

Flax fibreI think it’s naive to ask people to buy less. We need to improve environmental practises, push less destructive options and reuse and recycle more.

Fashion is dictated to by money. The minute it becomes more cost effective to do something, then it will happen. Let’s just hope that's sooner rather than later.

Fashioned from Nature - Victoria & Albert Museum - Fashion, Gallery - 21 April 2018 – 27 Jan 2019 #FashionedFromNature - £12

Below - The 'GuppyFriend' which stops micro particles being released from your washing machine into the environment

Guppyfriend Washing Bag

Tuesday, 17 April 2018 22:24

Review Antonio Lopez Sex, Fashion & Disco

Antonio Lopez Fashion Sex Disco documentary

What they’ve done with, I’m guessing, limited visual material is remarkable. Even a featured Andy Warhol art film/doc is of such bad quality it looks like the first season of Rupaul’s Drag Race. So they’ve done well to find enough contemporary film footage or pictures to fill this and keep your attention. Obviously, there are new interviews with people who were there at the time, but it’s sad and disappointing that the two main characters are no longer with us.

Left - Antonio & Jerry

I’d heard of Antonio Lopez before and was aware of his style of drawing. I knew the era he was producing in, but that was about all. I didn’t really know who he worked with and for whom.

James Crump’s documentary centres on Paris and New York between 1969 and 1973, viewed through the eyes of Antonio Lopez (1943-1987). A native of Puerto Rico and raised in The Bronx, the story centres on him and his personal and creative partner, Juan Ramos (1942-1995).

Antonio Lopez Fashion Sex Disco documentary

Being an illustrator Lopez would never have been in the public eye personally, unlike many of the designers he was copying. His illustrations were well known, but it felt like he was always at the mercy of the commission, whether that was for a magazine or fashion house.

Right - Lopez's partner, Juan Ramos

Unlike Warhol, who also started as an illustrator, Lopez didn’t push himself centre stage. Warhol knew there was money to be made in people’s narcissism and vanity. Lopez seems to stick to the safety of what he knows. Maybe there wasn't enough time, well, between all the shagging, at least!

I like how the documentary moves between New York and Paris, but I wanted more from the main disco time of the late 70s and early 80s. The disco is Paris’ Club Sept, but you don't really get a feel for the place. 

It gets wrapped up quickly at the end without the same level of detail. What was he working on? Did he fall out of fashion?

There is a brief moment when you feel like you’re watching a documentary about YSL and Karl Lagerfeld. (Love the beef between these two). These giant fashion planets pulled many different stars into their orbit and Lopez and his entourage of models and lovers were just some of them.

It was fun to see and hear from the group of female models Lopez championed - there's one who reminds me of Angie Bowie - and would have looked mega diverse even by today’s standards. The documentary is worth watching just for Jerry Hall’s arrival. Man, was that one beautiful woman. There are models and, then, there are supermodels. She’s like Botticelli’s Venus combine with a classical Greek siren with a dash of Texan Barbie. She’s captivating, especially in this where she's just starting out on her modelling career. This is where the film starts to end. It’s a shame, along with Grace Jones and Karl Lagerfeld, that she isn't interviewed for the film.

Antonio Lopez Fashion Sex Disco documentary

Lagerfeld seemed to distance himself at the end of Lopez’s career which is probably why he’s lasted so long in the fashion business. I imagine you have to be pretty cold and heartless in order to maintain your position. In the film he uses Lopez to illustrate his work at Chloe, and, being good at what he does, he knew they were the zeitgeist of the time and then when to drop them, accordingly. 

Upsetting the photographer, Bill Cunningham, who is a prominent interviewee in the film, Lagerfeld wasn’t there when Lopez was diagnosed with AIDS.

The film is definitely an extensive insight into Lopez's fashion circles of the late 60s, 70s and early 80s: who knew who, who fucked who and who made it through. There are, annoyingly, not enough recorded visuals of his process and you want to hear more from the man himself. You don’t get a feeling of how much he produced and how his magazine illustrations complemented the fashion of the time. The artworks look like a mix between 70s Art Nouveau and porn illustrations, but you can see his precocious talent.

The film, again, illustrates how much talent we lost during the AIDS crisis and also fulfils our insatiable thirst for retro glamour. We live in age where we are obsessed with looking backwards at talented and beautiful people, quenching our need for what we feel today's modern landscape is sadly lacking.

Left - One of Lopez's illustrations

Tuesday, 17 April 2018 08:39

#OOTD 112 Back To The Future #Sponsored

OOTD menswear coats jackets House of Fraser Tommy Hilfiger

Our love of the 80s continues. From the music to the films to the fashion, it’s the decade that keeps on giving. 

The big trend, fashion wise, is 80s sportswear and this is the look you should be following. 

Go for larger fits, especially in coats and jackets - I’m wearing a large here - with strong, contrasting primary colours.

This jacket by Tommy Hilfiger is from House of Fraser and perfectly illustrates the new look while heavily referencing its vintage archive.

Team with dad jeans, branded socks and retro trainers. Don’t forget the gold chain or necklace for that final, confident flourish. Read more why here

Are you ready, Player One?!

Credits - Jacket - Tommy Hilfiger from House of Fraser, Jeans - Topman, T-Shirt - Umbro, Necklace - Topshop, Socks - Fila, Trainers - Diadora, Cap - J Crew

OOTD menswear coats jackets House of Fraser Tommy Hilfiger

OOTD menswear coats jackets House of Fraser Tommy Hilfiger

OOTD menswear coats jackets House of Fraser Tommy Hilfiger

OOTD menswear coats jackets House of Fraser Tommy Hilfiger

OOTD menswear coats jackets House of Fraser Tommy Hilfiger

OOTD menswear coats jackets House of Fraser Tommy Hilfiger

OOTD menswear coats jackets House of Fraser Tommy Hilfiger

 

Ordo toothcare toothbrush subscription review tried tested

Ordo says they want to revolutionise the dental hygiene market with their online subscription service and streamlined electric toothbrush ‘Starter Pack’, containing the Ordo aluminium electric toothbrush, travel cap, 80ml whitening & sensitive toothpaste (2-month supply), 25ml travel toothpaste (2-week supply), portable silicon stand and AAA battery, which all fits conveniently through your letterbox.  

The Ordo toothbrush has an aluminium anodised handle and uses sonic pulse technology with one-speed setting allowing brushing at the optimal speed with 25,000 pulses per minute; while a two-minute timer signals every thirty seconds as a reminder to cover all four quadrants of your mouth for the best brushing technique as advised by dental experts. 

Left & Below Right - Ordo - Starter Pack - Available in three different colour ways – Silver, Rose Gold and Charcoal Grey - £30

Ordo toothcare toothbrush subscription review tried testedBeing battery-operated means there are no messy cables or charging ports. It’s travel friendly: at the gym, work or travelling remotely. 

New heads will be delivered straight to your door every two months as part of their subscription plan alongside new batteries.

The 'Refill Pack’ delivered every 2 months for £10 includes an Ordo brush head, travel cap, AAA battery, 80ml whitening & sensitive toothpaste and 25ml whitening & sensitive travel toothpaste. You can cancel or modify your plan anytime. 

TheChicGeek says, “Firstly, this is a really good idea: a subscription toothcare service sending brush heads, batteries and toothpaste. I’m surprised somebody, especially one of the big boys, hasn’t thought of this before. We never change our brush heads enough and buying the branded ones are really expensive. This makes it easy and the prices are pretty good.

I’m glad it’s using sonic pulse cleaning as this is my preferred type of toothbrush. The others always seem a bit digger truck to me.

The positives: great idea, good design, neat, small and travel friendly. Negative, and it’s a big one, it’s not a very satisfying clean. It’s too weak and therefore the brush is too soft. I tried it for 3 days, but it just wasn’t as good as my Philips Sonicare and I was pining after it.  

Ordo has got everything else going for it, I particularly like the Millennial pink stand, it just needs more strength.”

Page 1 of 55