Let’s face it - pun intended - nobody wants to wear a face mask, but, we now have to when we are in enclosed spaces. So, how can do something simple to make it a more pleasurable experience? How about rolling on some of your favourite essential oils every time you wear or wash it?
Small enough to pop into your pocket, simply roll on your chosen oil and inhale the aroma. You'll love it. Here are TheChicGeek's five to try:
Right - I’m seeing these everywhere: adidas' face masks are proving popular. Adidas - FACE COVERS M/L 3-PACK - £14.95
Grown on London’s southern green belt, nothing is as relaxing and intoxicating as classic lavender. Support local business while chilling you the fuck out.
The Give Me Strength
Anatomé specialises in essential oils, and their black pepper and may chang 'Energy + Strength' is said to energise and support the nerves and mind to motivate and boost low energy levels. We could all do with some of that while running around Tesco.
The Ready To Roll
The invigorating blend of rosemary, lavender, geranium and grapefruit will revitalise your spirits and energise your body and mind.
The Ginger Ninja
Aesop’s ‘Ginger Flight Therapy’ is tailored for turbulent flights, but works just as well for those of us not going anywhere anytime soon. Contains essential oils, including ginger root, lavender and geranium to reduce stress and also calms upset stomachs.
Lift your spirits with a bright fusion of zesty orange, floral rose. geranium and warming nutmeg essential oils. Made in England.
MOON(TM) launches in the UK with the Teeth Whitening Pen, Stain Removal Whitening Toothpaste, Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste, Activated Charcoal Rinse, Clean Slide(TM) Waxed Floss, Clean Slide(TM) Waxed Flossers and Soft Bristle Toothbrush set. Prices range from £6 to £20.
The entire collection is PETA certified Cruelty Free & Vegan. Elixir X(TM), which can be found throughout the toothpaste and mouth rinse collection, is filled with antioxidants like cleansing black tea and cranberry extract, plaque-reducing coconut oil, calming and healing Dead Sea Salt, and soothing ginseng and echinacea. The formula is also packed with green tea, peppermint and tea tree oils that provide an invigorating boost and fight bad breath.
Left - The full Moon range
TheChicGeek says, “When you see Kendall Jenner in the brand’s imagery you presume there’s some serious budget behind this new ‘oral beauty’ brand. Moon, ‘a name that reflected unchartered territory and something groundbreaking. The MOON is the future. The moon is where everyone is trying to go.’ is from Shaun Neff who founded his own skate/surf label called Neff in 2002. A ‘Brand Whisperer’ - I am banning that BTW and all the (TM)s! - Shaun has also had involvement with brands such as Sun Bum, Béis, Pattern and florence by mills.
Right - The top of the teeth whitening pen
Now, his focus is on Moon with its range of 7 oral health products. I tried 2 products from the range; The Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen and Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste.
The toothpaste is pretty much a standard black charcoal toothpaste, while the whitening pen does add the ‘oral beauty’ element to the brand. A wand with a button applicator at the bottom and brush at the top, it has a vanilla mint fragrance. You brush on the clear gel, wait 30 seconds before closing mouth and 10-30 minutes before eating or drinking.You can apply up to 2 times per day for 4 weeks. It does say ‘Do not use in combination with coffee, tea, cigarettes or other substances that many impact whitening effect.”
I can see the black packaging appealing more to guys than women, but the teeth whitening pen has ‘KENDALL’ prominently on the cap. This is a comprehensive range and the prices aren’t crazy. The dental market could do with some sexing up and Moon definitely makes these types of products more appealing.”
Moon - The Kendall Jenner Teeth Whitening Pen - £20, Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste - £11 Exclusive to Boots
Below - Dangerous driving? Kendall using her pen
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Moon for review
Just as Boohoo shutters all Karen Millen and Coast stores and relaunches both exclusively online, it could be worth rethinking their strategy. We often think of physical retail going head-to-head with online. It’s one or t’other. The digital upstart appeared, grew quickly and is making the former, and in many cases painfully, contract as we head towards a new balance of consumer retail. But, before you decided to close all your stores in your retail network, there’s something you should know. Ninety per cent of all UK retail spend if influenced by a store and, according to research by CACI Consulting Group, across the UK, online sales are 106% higher within a store’s catchment area. Fashion, in particular, was 127% higher.
CACI Consulting Group provides solutions to make the best possible location planning and customer targeting decisions for brands and this UK wide survey was conducted with over 2,500 consumers across 20 different brands. They are calling it the ‘Halo Effect’ and it describes the uplift in online sales due to the presence of physical stores. “We know that stores facilitate showrooming and click & collect and we can quantify them as well, but what was less known until today is the uplift that stores have on what were considered ‘pure play online sales’ – or what we characterise as the ‘sit on the sofa with an iPad, get it delivered to your house or office shop’. These sales are twice as likely to take place within a store’s catchment than outside it – demonstrating the effect that physical stores have in driving online sales.” says CACI.
The catchment area is defined using drivetimes based on where 80% of customers who spent in store come from according to the survey data. The size of the catchments therefore varies by brand so, for example, John Lewis has a much larger catchment than a Boots.
“The presence of a physical store gives a customer the security of knowing that should something go wrong there is a store you can go to. In addition, seeing the store as they go to work and shopping puts the brand front of mind and builds trust with the shopper, and store led marketing in the catchment area reinforces the brand. All of these secondary effects drive online behaviours up. It is no coincidence that bar a few notable exceptions some of the biggest online brands also have national store networks: Argos, John Lewis, Next. This is also why Amazon are increasingly exploring what a network might look like.” says CACI.
Fashion, in particular, was noticeably higher at 127%, why is this? “We believe that fashion is higher because it is more of a discretionary purchase. This has two impacts – you are more likely to see it, consider it and then purchase later, at home (a subconscious showrooming) and you are also more likely to return it, particularly if you live within a store’s catchment. Therefore, being near a store triggers increased engagement.” says CACI.
For every £1 spent online outside a store’s catchment, £2.06 is spent online inside a store’s catchment. According to CACI, consumers still value a trip to the shops. Although frequency is down, average spend is up per visit and net promoter scores in shopping locations have increased by almost a third. Suggesting we’re more, rather than less, satisfied when we visit. “In this environment the role of the store can be far more nuanced. No longer a place that just shifts stuff, it is simultaneously a marketing hub, fulfilment centre, experiential destination and showroom.” says CACI.
Norfolk Natural Living's founder, Bella Middleton says, "The fact that online sales are 106% higher within a store's catchment is not a surprise. Nor should it be. It is evidence that the internet simply cannot replace the trust and community feel of visiting a physical retail store.
"At Norfolk Natural Living, we have a retail store in Holt, Norfolk, and a website selling our products internationally. Despite some incredible media coverage having grown awareness of our sustainable products internationally, we still see more orders from within the Norfolk area than any other region.
"To me, this is an opportunity for retailers to remember that the internet isn't everything. It is fast, convenient and comparatively easy to manage your business online, but people still cling onto that desire for trust and community. Even if they ultimately put their card details into a website rather than a card reader.” she says.
It appears that people also like local online. “As an online retailer based just outside of Sheffield when we have looked at our regional sales we found it really interesting the sheer volume of sales we have in counties close to home compared to further away and when our website shows us the locations our customers are from there is a spike in cities within a 35 mile radius.” says Lucy Arnold from Lucy Locket Loves, a women’s sportswear brand.
Could these kind of stats be the motivator to see pure play online retailers open physical stores? “We already are and the false distinction between on and offline will only blur further.” says CACI. "If you are a pure online retailer today, you only have 15% of the available spend in the market open to you because 85% of consumer spend touches a store. In addition, your competition online will often already have a store network and operate at a competitive advantage in marketing and brand awareness. In those circumstances why wouldn’t you go play in store?”
Is there any evidence where stores have closed and online sales have gone down? “Mothercare is the clearest one. As they embarked on a store closure program, they have seen online sales fall as well.” says CACI.
Is this information compelling enough to keep stores open is the real question? If rents and rates drop then stores will have a far brighter future and this type of online ‘Halo Effect’ will be another reason to keep stores open or be reopened. Having the shops in the right places to maximise this catchment area theory is key and reducing overlapping stores will be the obvious step for those with a larger retail network. It’s all about finding the perfect balance and looking at physical and online working together rather than against each other.
Take the escalators upstairs to the first floor in Harrods and a sign above the entrance to the women’s designer floor reads ‘Superbrands’. Inside, individual, luxury fashion brands are housed in marbled-lined shop-in-shops giving consumers the full brand experience.
How these ‘Superbrands’ are anointed I’m not sure - it could be sales or how much they wanted to contribute to the fixtures and fittings - but, what we were willing to accept maybe ten year’s ago feels out of step with how we feel about brands right now.
Left - North Face or Sit On My Face?
Selfridges opened a similar ‘Superbrands’ room during the noughties, but has since dropped the moniker.
We’re moving into an anti big brand age and being labelled a ‘Superbrand’ isn’t the compliment it once was.
“Superbrands…who are they? Self appointment does not make you a Superbrand. And really was it just an industry ‘thing’. Did consumers really know or care who the Superbrands were? Did consumers really buy into this??? I think probably not. It struck me as quite ‘self congratulatory,” says Jo Phillips, Creative Director, Cent Magazine.
Right - The Hey Reilly Fendi/Fila collab for AW18
“The newer generations want brands that are traceable, responsibly care for the environment with ingredients, content etc, that is traceable and kind to the earth. Some want to have one offs so they can be seen as elite, first adopters, trail blazers etc or there are those who want individual products so they look for independent brands, small runs etc so they don’t feel like clones. Sadly some want to wear brands head-to-toe, emblazoned with logos so we all know ..how much money they have??? But, its beginning to look a little tired, like those people that act like a sandwich advertising board for a brand..especially if they wear them head to toe…its all a bit tragic,” says Phillips.
First published in 1995, and now in its 19th edition, ‘The Superbrands Annual’ highlights brands from a wide range of sectors that have become the strongest and most iconic in their field. The brands are voted for by marketing experts, business professionals and thousands of British consumers. There are two separate surveys: Consumer Superbrands (the UK's strongest B2C brands) and Business Superbrands (the UK's strongest B2B brands).
“A Superbrand must fundamentally deliver a good quality product or service but they also must be famous, come to mind ahead of the competition and be emotively engaging and distinctive, for example have a personality or tone of voice that is unique (think Virgin Atlantic vs Delta), or have a purpose that people can identify with and buy into.” says Stephen Cheliotis, Chairman of Superbrands UK.
Things have changed since 1995 and while many brands once wanted to make it onto the Superbrands list, it feels like the energy for consumers is turning towards start-ups and young, dynamic brands rather than something larger and established. People have become suspicious of big companies and this form of back slapping feels somewhat arrogant.
“While the fundamentals of what makes a strong reputation and what drives a positive perception have not in my view fundamentally changed, much of the context of marketing and buying has shifted substantially. For example, the channels or tools used to communicate with consumers has changed and there are now many more options, the consumers’ demands have has also rightly risen. With increased competition, not only has the bar been raised, but brands are increasingly called to account for poor delivery, for example through social media.” says Cheliotis.
“In many ways, brands are still, besides people, the most important asset a company has. A strong reputation in the market is essential to success. In this country we often focus too much on short-term success and short-term metrics, but really focussing on creating a distinctive brand with a clear purpose, point of view, personality and proposition should be a fundamental board consideration.” says Cheliotis.
As part of this change in thinking we’re seeing smaller brands or artists hijacking or playing around with established brands’ logos and slogans. These comical or clever playing with words have made many people think about brands’ messages and what they really mean. It’s part of our age of #fakenews, growing suspicion and rage against the establishment.
Left - OIBOY - £28
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art, Reilly has carved a unique position in the world of illustration and graphic art by playing with what is real or not in brand terms. His recent Hey Reilly AW18 collaboration with Fendi sees a play with the sportswear brand Fila. Both brands merge into a cool and playful outcome. It takes a level of confidence for brands to accept and give these tweaks their blessing. Other designers or artists such as Philip Normal, Proper Mag and OiBoy are all offering a British sense of humour on other people’s branding.
Based in South London, and founded by George Langham, OIBOY recently made its debut at Selfridges. “We all like to categorise everything into boxes, it makes us comfortable, but what makes a model super? "She's a ‘Supermodel’ not just a regular model”. Maybe adding 'super' to a brand or a model allows them to demand higher fees or prices because they are now super?! It's all bullshit really, BUT without these unaffordable (to the masses) 'superbrands', there wouldn't be brands like OIBOY, which is seen as affordable and accessible.” says Langham.
Is this about a lack of respect for brands who have spent many years and millions of pounds establishing themselves.
“I’m not sure it’s a lack of respect from our side of things, we see what we do as something lighthearted and harmless fun. What seems to be happening is privileged kids glamorising the working class, even glamourising poverty in some cases, you can see this with the trend of every fashion shoot being on a council estate or pie 'n' mash shop or wherever, it's like going on a safari for them, seeing how the ‘others’ live…” he says.
Left - OIBOY - £28
“Well ,we used to take any brand that rang a chord with us and British culture/humour, hoping that the brand(s) would see the funny side of what we had done, at the same time, realise it’s guerilla advertising, we never look to discredit nor try to pass ourselves off as them, yet lately we’ve had some issues from 2 ‘superbrands’... the first one which is an American preppy brand who were fairly nice to us and asked us to kindly remove items from sale off of our site, the other, which is a French tennis brand, they tried taking us to the cleaners, so I guess to answer your question; we now can’t mess with clothing (super)brands, so we best stick to beverage companies from now on.” says Langham.
"It's just another marketing spin, why is Mark Ronson a 'super' producer not just a 'producer'? I like the idea of some super hero character producer coming in to save the day, but not really a super brand.” he says.
This reaction is about brands not taking themselves too seriously and being able to laugh at themselves. Many larger brands have built themselves a straight jacket of branding and guidelines and aren’t flexible enough to respond to the new consumer’s desires. This is about having a personality and being confident enough to join in the joke. They had this trouble when social media first appeared and they needed to have a singular voice.
Superbrands is a dated concept and as such illustrates the change in the way we view established brands. Today, you don’t want to be seen as being too successful. You want to be part of the struggle and that’s also why many big brands are starting smaller brands all the time. Just look at H&M and its growing stable.
Many Superbrands have lost sight of its product and got wrapped up in the brand too much. They need to disrupt themselves. I think we’ll see many of these brands falter unless they give more attention to the final product and particularly its quality and longevity.
Right - Proper Mag Mug - £8
I wrote about ‘Russian Doll Brands’ - here
Welcome the new season with a wardrobe refresh and update your basics with Joules' new menswear collection. TheChicGeek picks the 5 pieces you need to see you through the next fews months and how to wear them:
1. The Rugby Shirt
Strangely, thanks to footballer, David Beckham, the rugby shirt has seen a return. Perfect for our new dressed-down smart, the collar and long sleeves give it a formality while the sports origin makes it an easy dressing option.
2. The Solid Boot
As British as puddles and puddings, the sturdy boot is a hardwearing and trusted addition to your A/W wardrobe. Crafted from tan-coloured leather, the classic broguing and contrasting natural sole follows the tradition of the best British boots.
Wear with dark blue jeans either turned up to show off the full boot or over the top.
Left - Barnes Lace-Up Boots - £110
3. The Sloppy Joe
Perfect for those Sundays vegging out, waiting for the roast to cook, this Sloppy Joe hoodie will become your sofa-surfing favourite.
The incredibly soft cotton mix sweatshirt has a cross-over hooded neck and a front kangaroo pocket.
Go for a size larger and wear oversized.
4. The Coloured Trouser
This pair of cotton jeans-style trousers certainly cuts the mustard in this bold hue. Slim, but not too tight you can roll the hem or leave them au naturel. If anybody asks they’re ‘Crème anglaise’!
Pair with a shirt for something more formal and a knit for lazier days.
5. The Final Touch
With the Glorious Twelfth just around the corner, our attention turns to the great outdoors and its wildlife. These intarsia stag socks are perfect to get you out of your style rut - pardon the pun! - and are made with bamboo which makes them hypoallergenic and thermo-regulating.
These would add personality to a suit or are perfect for those country walks and will add some colour to your sock drawer.
I’m not sure where the Monkey boot got its name, *quick Google* and no decent explanation. They were the standard issue Czechoslovakian army boot of WW2. That's all I can find out.
I’ve been wearing mine all winter and they seem to go with everything. They dress down a smart trouser without looking forced and keep a jean looking smart without looking sloppy.
Their history as a skinhead’s boot of choice doesn’t hurt, plus they’re really comfortable. When I was at the Pitti menswear show in Florence, last summer, they looked fresh and contemporary and there were a lot of brands producing them for this spring season.
There’s something solid and traditional yet also street about the monkey boot. They’re the kind of boot you don't notice at first, but the more you look, the bigger the appreciation. These polished toe cap version from Grenson have a nice contrast between the front and the grained leather and the solid, wedged sole adds a modern touch.
Left & Below - Grenson - Andy - £225
An oldie, but a goodie, Ludwig Reiter is an Austrian shoe brand founded in 1885. The first Ludwig Reiter, a master shoemaker from Bohemia, established a workshop in Vienna. In the 1920s, Ludwig Reiter II transformed the firm into a small shoe factory.
Left - Founder, the first Ludwig Reiter
In the 1960s, Ludwig Reiter III, expanded the company, making it one of Austria’s most renowned shoe producers. In 2011, the company moved into the renovated Süssenbrunn Manor in Vienna. There some 60 employees produce around 30,000 pairs of shoes annually.
Right - Maronibratesr Boots - €698
Today, Ludwig Reiter—the only factory for welted shoes in the German-speaking region—is managed by the 4th and 5th generations of the original family.
Keeping to the company’s traditions, a classical Ludwig Reiter shoe is welted using the Goodyear method. This artisan method remains the best way to give the shoe both mobility and stability. In this method the upper leather and the leather insole are first sewn together with a continuous leather band—the welt (single stitching). Only then is the welt connected to the sole (double stitching).
Thus the upper part of the shoe and the outer sole are connected not directly but indirectly, and hence flexibly, with each other. This means the shoe can follow the foot’s complex movement when walking.
Left - An old Ludwig Reiter après ski advert
Brad Pitt is wearing a pair of Ludwig Reiter boots in the film, Inglorious Basterds.