If you wanted that summer feeling to last you well into the autumn, then those standard jute-soled espadrilles may get a little soggy come all the wind and rain. This was the thought MULO founder, Tobias Cox, 35, had when he was unable to wear his favourite summer shoes in the changeable climate of London.
Left - MULO - Suede - Cobalt - £115
Inspired by a sailing trip across the Atlantic, which saw another pair fall apart, Cox became determined to create a version that could stand up to wear and tear yet retain the charm of the original.
With no formal fashion training, Cox made a DIY prototype by cutting up his waxed cotton Barbour jacket to see if the weatherproof qualities of the material would translate to footwear. Further product testing proved that by using waxed cotton the shoes were not only durable but also aged beautifully.
This breakthrough instilled the belief that each part of the shoe should be enhanced in the same way. Over the course of two years Cox deconstructed the espadrille and rebuilt it using only the best materials, working with specialist suppliers to customise each component.
The result was a simple yet elegant slip-on.
TheChicGeek took time out to ask Tobias a few more questions:
CG - Where does the name MULO come from?
TC - It is the spanish translation of the word 'mule' - humble, pretty and hard working. It captures our goal for the shoe, and seemed a fitting homage to the Catalan heritage of the espadrille.
CG - What did you do before founding MULO?
TC - I have no formal fashion training and worked in management consulting, but always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
Right - MULO x David Kafri - Tribal - £115
CG - When did it start?
TC - The idea for a modern version of the espadrille came during a sailing trip across the Atlantic. I was wearing a traditional pair that very quickly fell apart and it made me realise that as a concept the shoe does not really work. I wanted to create a version that could function whilst respecting the simple charm of the original. It was several years in development and launched in 2013.
CG - What’s the difference between a MULO espadrille and any others?
TC - We don't use the traditional rope sole, we work on an Oxford last which makes the shoe a properly structured one. We are an elevated staple that combines the fit and feel of a sneaker to the summer essential. We rebuilt the espadrille on an Oxford last, lending structure and a fitted shape, and customised each component using premium materials to make it best in class.
Our limited edition collections using bold prints and images add personality. We recently collaborated with Design Miami/Art Basel. We applied a print by Pierre Frey named Chromatropic to our shoe, an assemblage of palm trees, sunsets, and foliage, cut from current Pierre Frey designs and pasted together to resemble wildly coloured camouflage. The shoes were made using different parts of the print, meaning each pair was one of a kind. They were a statement piece that immediately sold out.
CG - Where are they made?
TC - Our shoes are entirely handmade in Portugal. It takes 20 steps to make our shoe - from cutting and stitching to lasting. We work with a family run factory who share our values and take pride in their craft.
CG - What inspires you?
TC - Good design and craftsmanship.
CG - Where is the business based?
TC - London.
CG - What does becoming one of Walpole's Brands of Tomorrow mean?
TC - It is an honour to be recognised by such a reputable institution - Walpole is a unique alliance of over 170 of Britain's finest luxury brands, with companies such as Burberry, Jimmy Choo, The Savoy and Harrods among its membership. We are at a very exciting stage of development and are constantly navigating opportunities whilst also needing to stay nimble. Walpole is providing us with invaluable counsel and a wealth of resources to successfully expand in the luxury marketplace.
CG - What are the future plans? Own retail outlet?
TC - Our goal is to follow former Walpole Brands of Tomorrow - Orlebar Brown, Charlotte Olympia, Mr Hare, The Business of Fashion - and become recognised as a leader in our field. We plan to build the business selectively, through retailers and online, to maintain our premium market position and push creative boundaries.
French snow and cold weather specialist, Moncler, has produced capsule collections before. I was a big fan of Moncler V, a few years back.
Left - The new Moncler A capsule collection is deliberately oversized
The latest - Moncler A - a capsule line for the AW15 season, is a team up with AMI, founded in 2011 by Parisian menswear designer Alexandre Mattiussi.
Right - Fashion’s all gone a bit Wes Anderson and this collection is testament to that with the oversized logos and beanie hat styling
The collection features an oversize fit as the hallmark of the range; jackets have wide shoulders and trousers a low crotch for a loose fit. The collection’s other details include oversized zips and cream linings throughout.
The classic Moncler shield logo has been enlarged and features a vintage-look embroidery finish.
TheChicGeek says "This is a great collection. It has just the right amount of exaggeration and there's something very desirable about the Moncler logo and all the quality retro touches. It's also built for the cold as with all the outerwear from Moncler".
Left - Moncler A - Tricolour Wool Zip Cardigan - £580
More ChicGeek picks of the new Moncler A collection below
While a lucrative market, it is very difficult to enter the luxury leather goods sector fully formed. Gladstone London has done just that with its premium men’s accessories using the finest Italian leather.
Left - The signature Gladstone London hardware is handcrafted in Florence to jewellery standards. Each piece is crafted on a lathe in solid brass and finished in pewter. (I think it looks a bit like a Kalashnikov!)
Founded, just this year, by John O’Sullivan, who has over 30 years experience in luxury fashion, working for brands such as Harrods, MCM and Tanner Krolle, Gladstone London is said to reflect ‘a sense of relaxed and timeless elegance for the urban male, focusing on the reinterpretation of iconic shapes, long forgotten, but re-launched with a conscious expression of contemporary urban life’.
Right - G1 - Icon - £950
Sleek totes feature pewter plated brass zips and elegant travel bags are lined with Alcantara.
"After a lifetime working at luxury accessories brands and watching the priceless heritage of artisans working leather into timeless pieces, I saw many a design and craftsmen retire and with them, techniques lost.
"Often, pieces came back for repair, some over 100 years old, but the designs were still inspiring and still fit for purpose. It was the passion of these craftsmen and the vintage pieces that came through my hand which incorporated simplicity and an understatement of design which felt so right for now, that I set on a path to reinterpret these timeless luxury pieces with the help of a contemporary urban designer”, says John.
TheChicGeek says, “What I like about Gladstone London is the designs are classics yet still feel fresh. The styles have been given a light update and the minimal branding let them speak for themselves in terms of design and practicality. While expensive, when you consider they are handmade in Italy, they offer better value than many other brands in this market and it feels like you are paying for the design and craftsmanship rather than just the name".
Left - G48 - Hours - £1095
The entry level price point for Gladstone London is the G5 wash bag which starts from £285 up to the G48 Travel Tote priced at £1095.
The first AW15 collection is exclusively stocked at Harrods
Iain MacKay is the person behind Logan MacKay Menswear. The name Logan comes from his mother’s side of the family and MacKay from his father’s. Only 24 years old, he established the brand after coming out of university where he had studied ‘Business Entrepreneurship’.
Left - AW15 - Navy Wool Bomber with Beige Shearling Collar - £650
“Although I haven't been to a fashion college or studied any fashion related courses, I learned pattern making/cutting from a family friend who had been in the industry - now retired - for over 40 years”, he says.
“Initially, I focused on designing coats and jackets (AW/15 and SS/16), but due to demand I, now, intend on producing a full menswear collection for AW/16,
“My design ethos is fairly simple, I like to create garments that I would personally love to wear and hope that transcends to the customer. I also strongly believe in supporting British factories, therefore all of the collection is manufactured in a small factory in Bethnal Green”, he says.
Right - A Preview of SS16
TheChicGeek says, "When producing small quantities of quality product, Britain and in this case, London, is ideal for controlling and fine tuning the final item. Iain obviously has an eye and with his business background it will be exciting to see where he takes his eponymous label".
Thankfully Gloverall has realised that there’s only so many duffle coats we can buy (they do make the best by the way) and only so many times they can wait for this classic outerwear item to come back into fashion on the back of a Paddington Bear movie.
So to fill that void and expand the offering there is a new label from this proudly British manufacturer called Gloverall 1951.
Left - Gloverall 1951 - Monty Duffle Coat - £430
Vintage inspired and delving into its rich sports-led archive, this made in England collection takes its lead from a set of black-and-white photographs chronicling the early days of the British Grand Prix.
The images from the 1950’s capture moments both on and off the race-track featuring motor-racing cause-célèbre of the day, Tony Brooks. Photographed wearing Goverall‘s iconic Monty duffle coat, Brooks is captured alongside racing legends Sterling Moss and Mike Hawthorn while racing at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1957.
For AW 15, the launch collection updates the iconic Monty duffle coat, featuring appliqué racing-inspired motifs and pins.
Additional outerwear highlights include a selection of all-weather raincoats, sporty mid-length car coats, a tailored sports blazer, a quilted rally jacket, a wadded parka and the race-inspired Paddock jacket. Premium british fabrics run throughout: tweeds from Abraham Moon, Fox Brothers and Harris Tweed feature alongside waxed cottons by Halley Stevens and bonded cottons by British Millerain.
Right - 1951 Sweatshirt - £150
The complete collection also includes a range of casual utility shirts with faint echoes of the 1950s alongside a beautifully executed selection of Aran and Guernsey knits, Fair Isle and striped options as well as a crew-neck knit emblazoned with the collection’s 1951 slogan.
When did Margate become the epicentre of cool? This once unloved seaside town has seen a renaissance, not only with its minimal Turner Gallery and reopened and vintage inspired Dreamland theme park, but its collection of quirky retro and vintage shops.
Left - Eau De Parfum/GPS 23’34”N - 100ml - £160
Well, it was only a matter of time before Margate would spawn a collection of local brands. The first to catch my eye is Haeckels. Kent’s answer to Aesop, Haeckels is a premium, natural fragrance and skin care brand.
Using local ingredients, most prominently the ‘hand harvested’ seaweed, all Haeckels’ products are formulated in their cliff top lab in Margate where they only use and distill locally growing botanicals, offering the very best anti-oxidant properties.
They hold one of only two licenses in England to harvest seaweed from the English coast. (Margate’s coast is genuinely unique: built on a giant 14 mile long Jurassic chalk reef which makes up 20% of the UK chalk reefs which means its able to nourish families of seaweed not found anywhere else in the world).
The local seaweed forms the base ingredient of the skincare range based on the tradition of 'Thalassotherapy' derived from the Greek word meaning ‘sea’ or ‘ocean’. Thalassotherapy treatments use ocean water, seaweed, ocean mud and marine minerals to treat ailments and enable the body to replenish, remineralise and revitalise to enhance good health for body and mind.
Haeckels was founded in 2012 by film maker, volunteer beach warden and coastal enthusiast Dom Bridges. When Haeckels was starting out Dom would collect seaweed and local botanicals along the Margate coast and bring them bring back to his family kitchen to experiment. Dom’s wife, Jo, soon said it was time to get a proper lab and turn a passion into a business as every saucepan in the kitchen was starting to smell like a skin care product. Taking his wife’s advice he acquired the 'Lab on Cliff Terrace' in 2013 where more product formulas were developed to complete the range.
Right - Chalk Room Diffuser - 100ml - £100
The company has now grown: taking on members of staff whilst still playing an active part in the local community by organising beach cleans and taking part in marine conservation surveys.
Haeckels currently has two stores: one in Margate, the other in Shoreditch and has just gone into Selfridges. They are planning the world's first Victorian sea bathing sauna on Margate beach. Watch this space.
For the last couple of summers men's footwear has been about plastic pool sliders and Birkenstock type buckled sandals. Well, on my recent visit to Pitti Uomo in Florence I spied a new cross between the two. Could we possibly label it the 'slandal' or 'sander'?!!
Left & Below - Moses - £35 (You can e-mail the website to see which men's sizes and colours they have available)
Called Moses, they are one complete plastic unit in a rainbow of colours. They are made from a breed of plastic called PCU, a superior grade of sustainable eco friendly plastic injected with air, creating a unique combination that creates a durable and ultra comfortable new feeling when you walk.
Behind the brand is Sarah Gurt, originally from Paris. She acquired her professional education as a shoe designer in 1999 at Cordwainers College and Central St Martins and has since worked as a shoe designer for companies in Europe and the US such as Thierry Mugler, Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta.
After 14 years, Sarah decided it was time to come back to her adopted home of Israel and start a brand that related to her local lifestyle and that could resonate with people around the world: a brand that embodied the aesthetics and vibes of her city, Tel Aviv.
The sandals are washable and smell of milk and honey, quite literally, thanks to the combination of PCU plastic and natural oils and perfume injected into moulds which are placed on rotary injection machines. They come in a rainbow of colours and I expect see these next to every pool next summer.