Seeing is believing, so in the case of toxic air it can be hard for many people to be motivated enough to protect themselves. Despite appalling figures for air quality in many UK cities, this invisible killer, which speeds up the end of life for many thousands of people each year, doesn’t feel like it is getting the attention it deserves.
Things are starting to change though with awareness growing and cities introducing steps to reduce air pollution. Fashion brands too are seeing an opportunity to tap into this desire for people to protect themselves, both inside and outside, from this silent killer.
During the famous London smogs of the 1950s, people could see how polluted their air was, today, things are very different with micro particles from traffic pollution being sucked into our lungs and causing long term damage.
The death rate for a lifetime of exposure to microscopic PM2.5 particles created by diesel engines, coal burning power stations, wood fires, agriculture and building sites is rising in almost three quarters of London boroughs. Scientists say that tiny particulate pollution is especially dangerous as the specks of dirt can be absorbed deep into the lungs, then seep into the bloodstream contributing to heart and lung disease, cancer and aggravating asthma. London’s air pollution is estimated to be responsible for 9,000 early deaths each year.
Left - Airinum - Urban Air Mask 2.0 - £55
In 2017, the worst locations in the UK for nitrogen dioxide pollution was Kensington and Chelsea, followed by Leeds and Doncaster. Globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. It also estimates that seven million people die each year from exposure to such pollution with the majority in low and middle income countries in Asia and Africa, with India being one of the worst culprits.
When Alexander Hjertstrom visited India he was inspired to start his own company to tackle air pollution. ‘Airinum’ founded in 2015 and based in Sweden, specialises in stylish protective face masks. The name is a merger between ‘air’ and ‘inum’, taken from platinum, to signify the highest quality of pure air.
When Hjertstrom moved from Sweden to India his long-gone asthma had started to come back. He realised he was becoming another victim of air pollution. After searching for a means to protect himself, Alex found that wearing an anti-pollution breathing mask was the most effective way. To his surprise, the majority of the masks on the market were very basic and far from perfect in their construction. Their designs were primitive, reminiscent of the masks worn by dentists or miners. Not something you would want to wear everyday.
“The reason the topic has gained interest lately is due to increase knowledge and awareness fuelled by media highlighting some recent studies showing the detrimental impact that poor quality air has on health.” says Hjertstrom, CEO of Airinum.
“WHO listed air pollution as one of the largest health risks we face today, killing more people than Malaria and HIV combined. Once the public start to realise that this is a ticking health bomb, similar to the effect of when people realised the impact of smoking, new measures will be taken.” he says.
“The ‘Airinum Urban Air Mask’ is a high-quality mask designed to effectively clean the air for the wearer. The key thing is our masks offer very high filtration efficiency and thus protection, high comfort with dual exhalation valves and fully face-adjustable straps for a snug fit, and durable & high-quality design with washable & anti-bacterial treated skin and replaceable filters.” says Hjertstrom.
People in Asia, most notably Japan, have been wearing personal pollution masks for many years, but, will Airinum be able to get the rest of the world to?
“The rest of the world is slowly but steadily getting convinced.” says Hjertstrom. “We sell to NY, Paris, Milan and even Stockholm, today.” he says. “As the product become less ‘must use personal protection equipment’ and more of an lifestyle accessory (or necessity), the barrier gets lower and the acceptance level increases. With celebrities around the world using the Airinum masks of course helps, as it destigmatised the mask from ‘weird’ to something cool instead.”
Right - Airinum - 3 additional filters cost - £12 - The working life of a filter depends on many factors such as the pollution level in your surroundings. On average Airinum filters last 100 hours but they advise to change every second week for hygienic reasons
The Mayor of London has recently introduced his ULEZ - Ultra Low Emission Zone - clean air zone in Central London and the British government has put off the majority of urban drivers from buying diesel cars, but what can we do as individuals and will pollution masks become the latest fashion accessory?
“Recently catwalks in Tokyo, Seoul and Paris all had models wearing masks. This shows how this item is slowly becoming part of the everyday fashion outfit, just like a pair of sunglasses.” says Hjertstrom.
When Stella McCartney unveiled her new flagship Bond Street store, last year, it was the first to offer its customers and staff cleaned air. The first indoor commercial space to do so, the ‘Airlabs’ filter is designed to protect both shoppers and store workers from gas pollutants present inside and outside of the store, in particular nitrogen dioxide from diesel fumes on busy Bond Street.
A unique installation of custom-made filters into the store’s ventilation system cleans more than 1800 m3/h of air with very low energy consumption due to the filter’s innovative structure. it removes 95 per cent of the air pollutants and harmful gases and particulate matter inside through a hidden ventilation system with a nano carbon filter.
Sophie Power co-founded Airlabs in 2014 after realising the dangers of air pollution posed to babies and children when she was pregnant with her first child. Sophie became acutely aware of the fact that in the UK, especially in cities, we breathe high levels of nitrogen dioxide, primarily from diesel fumes, as well as other harmful pollutants. The levels we breathe here cause stunted growth of lungs in our children – a study in East London of 8 and 9 year olds showed their lungs were 5-10% permanently smaller when exposed to poor quality air. The younger the child, the more they are affected and most affected are those in the womb.
More than 2 million Londoners live in areas that exceed legal limits for NO2, including more than 400,000 children under the age of 18. More than 50 per cent of London’s toxic air is caused by vehicles. On realising the extent of pollution in London, Sophie left her job in finance to co-found Airlabs together with Professor Matthew Johnson, a Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen.
Today, Airlabs is comprised of a team of atmospheric chemists, airflow engineers and sensor developers based in London and Copenhagen dedicated to clean air solutions. They say better air quality can significantly increase workplace productivity as well as health outcomes, offering potentially revolutionary opportunities for hospitals, schools, office buildings, professional drivers and shops.
"Science is catching up with the reality, which is that the impact of air pollution on people's health is much worse than previously thought. Epidemiological studies take many years, in particular for health effects that develop over many years of exposure. More and more results from these studies are becoming available, feeding into the media news cycle. This has led to a growing public awareness of the issue. A challenge remains how to find out when you are exposed and at what level." says Marc Ottolini, CEO Airlabs.
"That's why we are working on small but highly accurate air quality sensors, with the aim of having one on every corner of the street. When you buy food, a label will tell you what's in it. We need something similar for the air that we breathe. People have the right to know.” says Ottolini.
"Our technology is generating a lot of interest within the retail sector and we have been approached by a number of retailers from shopping centres to stores looking for a clean air solution." he says.
Things are getting worse before they get better. The risk of dying from long-term exposure to London’s polluted air has risen for a second year running. The rate of fatalities linked to breathing in killer particles went up from 6.4 per cent to 6.5 per cent in 2017 according to computer modelled estimates from government body Public Health England. That followed a jump from 5.6 per cent the previous year.
The facts seem to be clearer than the majority of air most of us are forced to breathe in on a daily basis. There’s a helpless feeling of not knowing exactly what we are breathing in and when, and while we could wait for others to sort it out, it seems that we should be taking things into our own hands. Could anti-pollution masks become as common place as SPF and cycle helmets? People in Asia have been wearing masks for many years and we’ve often looked at them skeptically, but now it’s making more sense to follow their lead. If a brand or designer can make this a desirable and ‘cool’ trend, we could start to see many more masks on our streets.
“Hopefully, the more people that start masking up, the sooner our politicians can wake up and create policies that can speed up the cleaning of our air and ultimately our planet as a whole.” says Hjertstrom.
Below - Airlabs technology inside London's famous taxis
The Berlin trade shows are a decent barometer of Northern Europe’s fashion direction. While not known for being particularly experimental or distinctive markets, it’s a good point to see what is selling in more mainstream menswear, post Pitti Uomo, from larger and smaller brands alike. Here are the menswear trends, brands and collabs. to take note of for SS20 from Berlin:
The Branded Utility Sandal
Lead by Teva, with touches of the Japanese, Suicoke, the activity, utility or trekking sandal - take your pick - is replacing the slide as the cool summer men’s footwear of choice. This geeky style was championed by many brands including Hunter, Slydes and Hi-Tec; all showing their own versions of these sandals which require some serious foot game in the pedicure/foot maintenance department.
Far Left - Hunter
Left - Slydes
Right - Hi-Tec
This was a trend first seen at Pitti Uomo. Transparent ripstop nylon used in the main body of the shoe allowing see-through and visible sections throughout. Not sure whether you’re supposed to wear with or without socks?
Right - D.A.T.E.
The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, is fast becoming a hot spot of creativity. Brands such as ‘Deep Naked Denim’ with their hoodies with additional arms to tie around the waist and revealing jeans and ‘Keep’, an accessorise brand using paper-like materials which you can self graffiti and customise are drawing attention to this part of Eastern Europe.
Left - Deep Naked Denim
Right - Keep
Baggy Trousers (Jeans)
We’ve been waiting with baited breath for a new style of jean that will resonate with the mass men’s audience. Enter the baggy 90s jean last seen on Marky Mark.
Lead by Pelle Pelle, an american brand founded in 1978 and now being designed and handled in Denmark, who prides themselves with having been the first urban brand to intentionally design and release the baggy denim pant worn by the stars of 90s hip-hop.
Unfeigned, a Spanish menswear brand, featured higher waisted denim with deep side pockets following this looser aesthetic.
Left - Pelle Pelle
Right - Unfeigned
You’ve got to give this Korean brand credit - pardon the pun! - APRVD says it “secures a wearable aesthetic that combines the utilitarian energy of street style with an artistic spirit upholding the highly qualified production experiences over the decades.” No, me neither, but its play on credit card design is priceless! Soz.
Following on from the Paris Trade Shows - see more here the linen shirt continues to segue itself back into fashion. These colourful shirts, some with matching scarves, are made in Italy by Destin and retail for around €90.
A private label manufacturer and a Portuguese take on a helvetica shoe brand, Perks’ parent company Evereste is 75 years old. This family business is branching out with this, their own label, showcasing their quality sports shoes and smarter leather shoes all proudly made in Portugal.
A young Danish menswear label, ISNURH is a Copenhagen-based menswear brand with a detail-driven approach. The founders, Kasper and Oliver, have created not only a ready-to-wear label collections, but also collaborations with different artists, and bespoke garments made in a tunnel located in Silkegade, Copenhagen.
This Swiss skiwear brand returns with its luxe and loud take on 80s style. Originally founded in St. Moritz in 1969, and now under the creative direction of Michael Michalsky, JET SET’s new logo is comprised of letters in a dynamic contemporary font set against an angular orange-and-black placard and references the label’s Swiss-German heritage in a bold and confident colourway.
LION BRAND SPORTSWEAR
Move over preppy Polo Bear, the abbreviated LBSW, founded in the USA in 1954 by Antonio Rosenbaum, is inspired by ‘Ivy League’ sporting competitions. The original LionBrandSportsWear supplied not only casual wear but also sports equipment for these Ivy League athletes.
After more than 65 years, and now owned by Bastiaan Roessen and based in the Netherlands, LBSW is being relaunched by introducing “'The 1954 Polo Shirt’. This authentic slim fitted polo shirt from 1954 is made from 100% piqué cotton and signed with their embroidered Lion logo.
LEE 101 X TIMBERLAND
While both originally part of the giant VF Corporation group of brands, though Lee has been spun out with its other denim cousin, Wrangler, into the Kontoor Brands group, it doesn’t mean they still can’t work together. Timberland’s outdoor, active and environmental credentials has been mixed with Lee’s denim heritage. The result is something fit for the American Frontier both visually and practically.
YMC X FARAH
YMC has worked their usually quirky aesthetic into Farah’s reliable menswear to celebrate the latter's centenary. Lots of colour and things like appliqué stars play with Farah’s American roots. Founded in 1920 in El Paso, Texas, they originally produced chambray work shirts for the cost of 35 cents. Inflation allowing, these fun pieces will still be at Farah’s successfully affordable price points.
See Paris Menswear Trade Shows SS20 - Here
Since Stella McCartney launched her menswear nearly 3 years ago, it hasn’t exactly set the world alight - See more from TheChicGeek archive here - But, newly independent, she just bought the majority of her company back from Kering, it feels like it has new impetus.
You know I love a Beatle, especially anything psychedelic or related to the Yellow Submarine, and when your father is Paul McCartney, there won’t be any problem with gaining permission to use whatever you like.
Her new ‘All Together Now’ collection follows the film’s timeless message of peace, love and togetherness. This coat reminds me of something the artist Peter Blake would wear. He loves a badge and was also the designer of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album artwork. He is also friends with Stella McCartney.
While crazy expensive - you could get a similar effect by buying lots of old badges from eBay - I haven’t seen this many since I left the Cub Scouts!
Left & Below - Stella McCartney - Arthur Coat - £ 4550
The next time you arrive at your local mainline railway station have a look at the retailers lining the concourse. Where once it was Boots, a few Upper Crusts and a plethora of deep-frying fast food outlets, is, today, being replaced by retailers who previously wouldn’t have been seen dead amongst the pigeon droppings and leaky roofs.
Following the huge success of retail rail developments such as Birmingham’s New Street and London’s Kings Cross/St Pancras, investors, who still want to invest in retail developments, are looking to where the people are and those symbols of the Victorian steam age are ripe for reinvention.
Rail travel is having a renaissance, in the last 20 years the number of people travelling on the UK rail network has doubled, and looks like it will continue to do so with its lower carbon impact and trends such as Sweden’s Flygskam - Read more here - making people think more about their travel decisions and the impact it has on the environment.
Left - Artist's impression of the new Waterloo development of the former Eurostar terminal
According to the Office of Rail and Road, rail passenger journeys in Great Britain in 2018-19 reached a record high of 1.759 billion. It increased by 3.0% compared to the previous year and was driven by a 3.9% increase in the London and South East sector.
London’s Waterloo is the busiest station in Britain for the 15th consecutive year, despite the total number of passenger entries and exits falling by five million to 94.4 million.This fall was in part due to a three-week closure for upgrade work in August 2017, which brought the former Eurostar platforms back into use after they were vacated in November 2007.
In the rest of the UK, Glasgow Central retained its position as the busiest station in Scotland and 11th in the overall list, with passengers using it 32.9million times this year, and Cardiff Central was top in Wales with more than 12.9 million entries and exits, making it 33rd overall.
We’re seeing a new golden age in rail travel and retail and property investors want in. Waterloo has unveiled plans to convert the former Eurostar terminal into a 135,000sq ft shopping mall to open in spring 2021. Called 'Waterloo.London', forty glass-fronted stores and restaurants will form a new “upmarket shopping destination to rival St Pancras International”. The new scheme is being developed by London and Continental Railways (LCR) – the UK government-owned property development firm and the company behind the redevelopment of St Pancras International train station. A mezzanine and public spaces will run along a new pedestrianised street called the 'Waterloo Curve’. Time Out Market will be an anchor tenant, consisting of 17 restaurants and three bars across two floors.
“Waterloo.London will set a new benchmark for progressive retail and transport destinations in the UK,” LCR development director Adrian Lee said. “Brands will have a truly unique opportunity to tap into a market of Waterloo’s 100 million passengers, the 20 million tourists that visit the South Bank every year, and its surrounding vibrant community and growing office population.” he said.
Over in West London, new plans have been unveiled for Victoria station, the UK’s second busiest station with almost 80 million passenger journeys a year, and said to be biggest overhaul in its 168-year history. Developers plan to take off the roof of the station, creating a giant concrete and steel box around the 19 platforms to allow the building of towers above. The Duke of Westminster’s property company, Grosvenor, developer Landsec and Victoria’s Business Improvement District, have held secret discussions over the past 18 months on developing London’s second busiest station. Details are still vague at this stage, but no doubt retail will feature heavily on the lower floors of the station. The current dated looking shopping centre at the back looks tired and isn’t integrated into the station design well enough.
Right - Waterloo.London will feature a TimeOut Market with 17 restaurants and 3 bars
Much needed modernisation of infrastructure has been a catalyst for cities to develop and reinvigorate themselves. Birmingham’s New Street station went from voted one of the worst buildings in the UK to a modern shopping centre with trains attached when it reopened in 2015. A huge John Lewis department crowned the mirrored steel exterior and has become a symbol of the regeneration of Britain’s second largest city.
These redeveloped train stations have quickly become favourites places where people choose their leisure time rather than simply travelling through. The top four UK stations for customer satisfaction according to Transport Focus data were London King’s Cross (96%), London St Pancras (95%), Birmingham New Street (92%) and Reading (92%), all having undergone major refurbishments in recent years.
The most successful rail retail development has to be St Pancras International, the glamourous home to the international Eurostar service. The station’s arcade area was built primarily as a beer store and 150 years later, and £800 million spent, it has, since its 2007 opening, continued to add premium retailers such as Fortnum and Mason, John Lewis, Godiva, Benugo, Nespresso, Fratelli, Chanel, GANT and Hamleys..
Today, it attracts approximately 50million visitors a year and 1 in 6 of those who visit the station do not catch a train. Total retail sales at St Pancras International during the Christmas trading period (22nd October to 31st December 2018) grew 6.3% year on year.
St Pancras International saw strong growth across all retail categories, including a 4.1% year-on-year growth in food sales, and an 8.7% growth in non-food categories. The station’s 6.3% like-for-like growth over the festive trading period, significantly outperformed the wider UK retail sales results, which were flat year-on-year and -0.7% on a like-for-like basis from December 2017.
People are time poor and combining a journey with a great shopping experience is one way to entice money out of people’s pockets. Consumers are increasingly lazy and no longer want to travel just to go shopping - Read more here - they want shopping integrated with the rest of their lives and their increasing desire to travel. Airports hold too many restrictions, so train stations are becoming an increasing focus. You rarely see empty retail units at stations. Developers need footfall and when yours in the tens of millions, it's difficult to see it not working. City centres will shift towards these rail hubs and they will no longer be the entry point but the destination.
The big news from Paris was the arrival of CIFF, the Copenhagen trade show’s latest off-shoot. Joining Tranoi, Man/Woman and Welcome Edition, CIFF transplanted itself to a car garage in the back streets of Paris and brought with it the youngest and most cutting edge of designers from all over Europe.
This fractious and competitive Parisian trade show scene makes seeing the new season’s catwalk shows, plus all the trade shows, a juggling act. Here are the major trends and brands for SS20 from Paris catching TheChicGeek’s eye:
This rather Michael Portillo of fabrics is getting a youthful reintroduction. Thanks to the return of the shirt, and the promotion of its environmental credentials, linen is returning in a more contemporary way. Bright colours and oversized, billowy shapes is offering a refreshing reinvention of linen and making it feel desirable and cool for the new SS20 menswear season.
Top Left - Man1924
Bottom Left - Delikatessen
Right - Péro
While many think of India as a place for colourful yet cheap forms of clothing and textiles, Paris welcomed a couple of Rajasthani labels based on pure handwork in western shapes with the premium price tags to match.
Left - Péro
Péro, meaning ‘to wear’ in Marwari, the local language of Rajasthan, offered a colourful and quirky take on summer dressing for SS20. Using local materials and skills, Péro was launched by Aneeth Arora, a textile graduate from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and a fashion graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi. She calls herself a ‘textile and dress maker’ and what fascinates and inspires her most is the clothing and dressing styles of the local people. The new SS20 collection features cute cartoon characters in a palette of pink and green linens.
Rajesh Pratap Singh, currently based in New Delhi, belongs to Rajasthan in India. A graduate of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, too, he worked in the fashion Industry in India and Italy for two years before introducing his own line of men’s and women’s clothing in 1997.
Singh has created his unique signature style that subtly draws from his Indian roots to craft artisanal garments that stand apart due to their faultlessly clean lines, careful detailing and international silhouettes. Singh is closely associated with Indian fabric mills. Textile experimentation spans both the very high tech as well as the traditional in the form of intensive handlooms. Singh has five standalone stores in India and the SS20 saw the introduction of classical white tailoring with contrasting pinstripes in striking fuchsia pink and orange.
With Nigeria’s growing population set to overtake the USA’s by 2050, according to a United Nations report, and it is forecasted that over half of the expected growth between 2017 and 2050 is likely to occur in Africa, then it makes sense for focus to turn to this part of the world.
Left - Orange Culture
Promoting Lagos Fashion Week, it is only held once a year in October due to the lack of seasons, two designers, Orange Culture and Emmy Kasbit, represented their burgeoning menswear scene.
Adebayo Oke-Lawal, who has been designing since the age of 10, started Orange Culture in 2011, after having worked with several Nigerian designers. The label is more than a clothing line Adebayo insists. It is a “movement” that covers universal silhouettes with an African touch to a creative class of men, translating into a heady mixture of Nigerian inspired print fabrics, colour and contemporary urban street wear. All pieces are manufactured in Lagos, from ethically-sourced fabrics from local Nigerian fabric makers.
Founded by Emmanuel Okoro, Emmy Kasbit makes use of local artisans by bringing traditional staples to the modern age with the use of indigenous fabrics mixed with sartorial classics to create timeless pieces for the new African Man.
He was a fashion focus finalist at Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2017 after which he was awarded the recipient of the Fashion focus fund formerly known as Young Designer of the year.
Dr S is a new, independent, upstart brand born and bred in East London. On a single-minded mission to upcycle, recycle and repurpose reclaimed materials, Dr S is obsessed with regeneration. Each bag is made of over 80% upcycled materials- from discarded offcuts to forgotten rolls found in the storage rooms of cooperating fashion studios.
Bike inner tubes make handles, while seatbelt are reconfigured as body straps.
La Perruque develops artisanal, minimal and timeless leather goods with a focus on functionality and refined details. The products are all handmade in their workshop in Malmö, Sweden, but they are soon to up sticks and move to Paris and open a retail store which will also function as a workshop.
The leathers come from the best international suppliers, they share a supplier with Hermès, and promise their accessorise will age beautifully and get a nice patina over the time. The leathers are natural and have not been covered by a synthetic top finish. It means their colour will evolve with time and sun exposure.
From Copenhagen and the hands of Ulrik Pedersen - previously at NN07 - Sunflower wants to provide something longer lasting within the men’s clothing market. The method of production is as important as the final product, with an instance on sourcing the best quality fabrics, technical innovation and make.
SS20 sees metallic pinstripes and a focus on considered separates for those who still want something smart while imbued with Scandi cool.
Brixton based, this British-Nigerian fashion designer is offering hand-finished and artistic unisex pieces inspired by ‘politics of identity and social climates’.
Following several successful stints at Maison Margiela, J.W. Anderson and Celine, the London- born designer graduated from the prestigious Central Saint Martin's Design school in June 2017 with First Class Honours.
The young designer was recently shortlisted as a finalist in the ASOS Fashion Discovery 2018, and is a triple-award winner of the globally-acclaimed ITS 2018, where she took home a hat trick of awards across both Fashion and Artwork categories - The Diesel Award, The Vogue Talents Award and The ITS Time For Coffee Award.
John Booth X Sunspel
Fashion loves an artist of the season and the Scottish born, John Booth, with his colourful signature FA Cup-earred men is SS20’s. Following on from a recent collaboration with the Scottish accessorises brand, Begg & Co., he has now teamed up with Nottingham’s Sunspel. Offering a large collaboration of T-shirts, swim shorts, camp collar shirt and jacket in Booth’s palette of clashing primaries, it is a refreshing injection of colour in Sunspel’s reliable stable of basics.
See Berlin Trade Shows Report SS20 - here
Kicking off the recent round of SS20 men’s fashion weeks the luxury Italian giant, Prada, opted to show its men’s collection in Shanghai rather than Milan and Saint Laurent chose Malibu, California instead of Paris. The light-tactic Eiffel Tower was replaced by palm trees and Keanu Reeves - very Point Break - as the male models took to a catwalk that followed the lapping waves of the Pacific ocean.
These trips to far flung destinations, under the pretence of targeting that geographical audience, had become something of a signature of women’s Cruise shows over the past few years. A distraction from the rather boring clothes, brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Chanel scoured the globe for the most glamourous and social media friendly backdrops and flew the fash-pack on one giant jolly in-between the usually rigid calendar of traditional global fashion weeks.
Left - Greta Thunberg, 2019's environmental superhero
Taking a brand and its audience to locations not usually set up for fashion’s extravagance is expensive and indulgent, not to mention costly to the environment. These people won’t be travelling economy. Add everybody from the brand, the models, the buyers and the press and the numbers start to drastically stack up and those carbon emissions multiple.
It seems to go against everything fashion is trying to be at the moment. Fashion is trying to show its less wasteful side and is jumping on the sustainable ‘we-really-care-you-know’ bandwagon and it will be interesting how they will be able to justify these types of extravagant shows in the future. Admittedly, there’s always been travel in fashion, and getting people to see things in one place is an important part of fashion, but it’s this travel for travel’s sake that seems to feel out of step.
The Scandinavians have lead the way on this and Sweden’s ‘flygskam’, or flight shame, movement first came to prominence in the summer of 2017 when the singer-songwriter Staffan Lindberg wrote an article co-signed by five of his famous friends, in which they announced their decision to give up flying. Among the famous Swedes opting for other forms of transport were ski commentator Björn Ferry, who said last year he would only travel to competitions by train, opera-singer Malena Ernman (the mother of climate activist Greta Thunberg), and Heidi Andersson, the eleven-times world champion arm-wrestler. Finland has spawned its own version of the expression, calling it ‘lentohapea’.
When the 16-year old Greta Thunberg joined London’s ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protest this Spring she took the train. She also travelled by rail to the World Economic Forum in Davos and the climate summit in Katowice, Poland.
This Swedish trend is having an impact. Passenger numbers at Sweden’s 10 busiest airports fell 8% from January to April this year, following a 3% fall in 2018, according to Swedavia, which operates them.
A survey by the World Wildlife Fund found 23% of Swedes have abstained from traveling by air in the past year to reduce their climate impact, up 6 percentage points from a year earlier. New words entering the Swedish language include ‘tagskryt’ (train bragging) and ‘smygflyga,’ or fly in secret, to describe those not quite over their budget airline addiction.
People are choosing to take the train for environmental reasons. The stats are clear with trains drastically reducing the levels of CO2 emissions. The average CO2 emissions of 285 grams per air kilometre, compare with 158 for cars and 14 for trains.
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, in 2018, found that Swedes' per capita emissions from flying between 1990 and 2017 were five times the global average. Emissions from Swedes' international air travel have soared 61 per cent since 1990, the study said.
The number of journeys on Sweden’s national rail network increased by 5% last year and 8% in the first quarter of this year, according to Swedish Railways. Sales of Interrail tickets to Swedes increased by 45% in 2018 – and are expected to rise again this year. Passenger numbers at state train operator SJ jumped to a record 32 million in 2018 due to “the big interest in climate-smart travel,” they said.
Consumers are demanding that companies and brands lead by example. Klarna, the giant Swedish payment provider, has decided to have its global kick-off in Berlin for the year with all attendees travelling by train.
The budget airlines will be watching this trend, seeing whether it spreads beyond Scandinavia, is not it is lip service and whether younger people will really give up those cheap get aways for staycations or longer train journeys.
Fashion brands will start to acknowledge this trend and reduce unnecessary travel. I predict brands will start to do more things virtually and online.
While, in the UK, the Eurostar has made travelling by train cool - they’ve just added their third daily departure to Amsterdam - the rest of the British rolling stock is more hit and miss to say the least. While many people are trying to stop Britain’s second high-speed rail line, HS2, it could be the environmental argument that pushes it through to the end.
Time is money and with planes being faster, more direct and often cheaper, it’s going to take a seismic shift and a mental rethink to get everybody to feel the flying shame and get onboard - quite literally - with this new trend.
With Italy tip-toeing in and out of recession, Pitti Uomo felt a little skittish on confidence. It had an atmosphere of brands holding on by their finger nails, with many hoping for a strong SS20 season to help pull them through.
Sadly, it’s the quality makers who seem most susceptible to failure. Their high costs, lower margins and small quantities make it a difficult balancing act to continue to stay strong and produce quality product in Italy. These are the brands who are barely known yet sing through the quality on the hanger and all at a fair price. Today, you rarely get this kind of care and attention with a designer name. Here are five made-in-Italy menswear makers we should all be supporting:
Left - Pitti Uomo 96 soaking up the sunshine
Founded in 1957 by current creative director Guido Biondi’s grandfather as ‘7 Bell S.p.A’, a Tuscan atelier, it was the very first producer of Italian denim. Today, they make colourful and contemporary menswear instilled with the best made-in-Italy production.
Right - President's - For the SS20 season, there were bold minimal orange jackets, tie-dyed shirting and hand sketched T-shirts
Based in Venice, Barena, the Italian for ‘mudflat’, has been steadily making inroads into the UK with its stylish and original menswear. Inspired by the Venetian lagoon, Barena says it mimics the qualities of traditional workwear with a modern aesthetic. Loose shapes, quiet precise tailoring, exquisite fabrics, attention to detail and confident versatility are the pillars of their design philosophy.
The menswear designer is Massimo Pigozzo who has been with the Barena family for over twenty years. Trained as a tailor, for Pigozzo it is important to create designs that are simple, understated and easy to wear. Deep fabric research, pattern work and soft tailoring are key to his approach and he says it is not about reproductions or constant alterations.
Left - Barena - For the SS20 season, it was all about contrast with playful tailoring and short sleeved shirts with contrasting collars
Meaning double A in Italian and named after two friends, Alain and Albert, Doppiaa is designed for the whole family, for all ages and all occasions. Based in Milan, Doppiaa has two essential cornerstones: 100% Italian manufacturing, and the painstakingly executed pinpointing and selecting of the highest quality fabrics.
Right - Doppiaa - For the SS20 season, it was brightly coloured towelling tops, pyjama style piped printed shirts and strikingly striped trousers
This is everything the more famous Missoni should be; colourful, stylish and contemporary. Designed by Simonetta Bocelli and Franco Santarini and based in Florence, Sunhouse is a specialist in Italian made knitwear in a rainbow of colours in classic menswear shapes.
Sunhouse is one of the few companies in the world to use traditional 720-yarn looms to 'reinvent' the culture of knitwear. The production is carried out in their workshops in Montecosaro, in the Marche Region. Each individual jacket is cut and sewn by hand.
Left - Sunhouse - For the SS20 season, it was about bold colour stories in signature zig-zagged blazers and delicate polo shirts
BOB is an Italian sportswear brand created by two young Italian guys, Alessio Bonaiuti and Tommaso Bellini. They started their adventure 11 years ago in Prato, with the idea developing from going around vintage warehouses where huge quantities of second hand clothes were divided by colours and then recycled. Going through these warehouses was like being absorbed in a spectacular coloured market that resembled a field of flowers they thought and it was this image was the starting idea to develop a new concept of eclectic and colourful menswear.
Right - BOB - For the SS20 season, it was all about bold, pattern blazers and colourful separates
These are simply beautiful clothes made with care from great ingredients. While you are paying a premium, you are, in fact, getting great value when you consider the expertise and pedigree of these makers. These are the kind of clothes that are a joy to wear and will last you a very long time.