Thursday, 01 March 2018 11:01

ChicGeek Comment Riccardo Tisci @ Burberry

Riccardo Tisci Burberry Creative Director The Chic Geek

Burberry announces Riccardo Tisci as Chief Creative Officer effective 12 March 2018. 

Well, the cat is out of the bag and Christopher Bailey’s replacement isn’t Phoebe or Kim, but Riccardo. Something of a Creative Director curve ball, he was speculated to go to Versace, this is an exciting signing - how Premiership?! - because he could take Burberry in any direction.

Left - A sign of things to come? Tisci's Burberry Cromwellian warts 'n' all portrait

While it was all about luxury sportswear at Givenchy, during his 12 years there, his style was more American, masculine and darker in feeling, but it all started to look a bit done when Vetements arrived with its dress-down aesthetic. I think Givenchy wanted to make the brand more feminine and focussed on women’s accessorises. While he grew the ready-to-wear he seemed to neglect the beauty and accessory side.

Burberry is more slanted towards ready-to-wear, so this could be good, but I thought they wanted to grow their accessorises business?

So, Burberry opts for an Italian. Tisci’s studied and worked in Britain before, he used to be a branch manager of Monsoon, which I love, so he’ll have some idea on Britishness and also bring a fresh perspective to it. Out go the Rottweilers and sharks, and in come Corgis, Greyhounds and Beagles maybe?!

I think ‘See Now, Buy Now’, will be shelved and his first, proper full collection will be for SS19. It’ll be interesting to see whether he takes on everything like Bailey did. If the Creative Director does the stores, windows, campaigns, beauty, everything… you get a feel, faster, of how the brand is changing and its new direction. He'll give menswear as much focus as womenswear which is good.

Burberry has a big, new store opening in Knightsbridge, so it’ll be interesting to see if Tisci has time to have any input and make changes before that opens. 

Burberry is Britain’s biggest luxury brand. It’s strongest market is arguably the Chinese, at home and abroad. Keeping these consumers happy, buying and increasing will be the main future goal of any Creative Director. But, if he can please the fashion crowd, and instil much needed excitement, then it’ll keep the business growing and the shareholders happy. I think his window to make this happen will be much smaller at Burberry than at Givenchy and they’ll want to see positive change and fast. Will an Italian do it better?!

See TheChicGeek's Ode To Christopher Bailey - here

Published in Fashion

Meet Me At McDonald's Haircut Peak Sportswear

There’s always a moment in popular culture when you can pinpoint something peaking. It’s usually in hindsight and when something goes from being cool and new to something ridiculed and stereotypical. Remember the hipster beard? This could be the moment for sportswear. 

Left - The Meet Me At McDonald's Haircut

A Great Yarmouth school has banned a haircut called ‘Meet Me at McDonald’s’. The offending style features short sides with a floppy, curly mop of hair on top pushed forwards. 

According to The Sun, it was inspired by a 13 years old grime artist called ‘Little T’ from Blackpool. It looks like a relative of the 80s Scouse perm and, obviously, complements the current fashion of retro looking sportswear. Add a scowl and a few sovereign rings and you’ve got a Vetements lookbook. I can already see Amazon producing these wigs for Halloween or fancy dress costumes. Just as 80s tracksuit wearing Scousers became comedy fodder in the 90s, this could be history repeating itself and what will turn the tide of this current trend.

After the recent fashion weeks, I’ve thought about how much momentum this sportswear trend, in fashion terms anyway, has left to run. Sometimes you need a replacement to push it off and other times people just get bored. I think it has until the end of the year, but we’re definitely at the beginning of the end. Denim will be back soon, no doubt, and as we see more and more examples of sportswear looking Sports Direct bad, see above, the cool will drain from sportswear faster than you can say “trackie bottoms”! 

It’s fortunate they chose McDonald’s, and not KFC, as there probably wouldn’t be anybody there.

Published in Fashion
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 10:33

ChicGeek Comment Sunscreen On A Plane

You should wear sunscreen protection on a plane

Forget snakes, it’s now sunscreen on a plane. I wanted to write this to get my head around what was new and fully understand it. 

New research from the Journal of American Medical Association Dermatology has determined that the harmful rays plane passengers are exposed to can put them at higher risk of skin cancer. For pilots especially, wearing sunscreen is of paramount importance. One hour at 30,000 feet could expose pilots to the same amount of UV radiation as a 20-minute tanning bed session would. And, while a passenger certainly faces less exposure than pilots it’s still important to heed the same advice – especially if you’re sitting in the window seat.

Houston dermatologist Dr. Esta Kronberg says when you're on a plane you should always wear sunscreen to protect you from dangerous rays that you probably won't even notice. "The UVB is what causes burning and you know it and you feel it and you tan and the glass blocks the UVB but the more penetrating rays are the UVA and they do more damage," said Kronberg.

“As you are much closer to the ozone layer the sun’s rays are much more harmful,” Matt Gass, a spokesperson for the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), told Telegraph Travel.

“UVA can penetrate window glass and penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB. UVA protection in a sunscreen will help protect the skin against photo-ageing (skin ageing caused by ultraviolet rays, e.g. wrinkles caused by the sun) and potentially also skin cancer,” according to BAD.

TheChicGeek says, "This is more reason than ever to buy a moisturiser with a high SPF and to wear it all the time. To be able to take into a plane cabin it will need to be 100ml and under. Look for products with a high, broad spectrum protection for UVA and UVB.

Simply apply a marble-sized amount to your face, as well as any other exposed areas such as your neck, chest, hands, forearms, and ears at least one hour before you fly. It’s also important to re-apply the product every two hours, especially on long-haul flights and if close to the window. 

It's not often you think about reapplying sunscreen during a flight, but this is definitely something to do during a long-haul flight and to cover up the rest of your body using clothes or blankets."

Here are a few ChicGeek reviewed products containing SPF here

More ChicGeek reviewed sun protection products here

Published in Grooming
Friday, 16 February 2018 17:17

ChicGeek Comment Preppy With A Small ‘p’

Brooks Brothers 200th anniversary preppy with a small p

Brooks Brothers 200th anniversary preppy with a small p

Fashion doesn’t happen in isolation. Large corporations can influence fashion and push their aesthetic through with the help of wads of cash. This, sometimes, makes the companies bigger and more money and so the cycle continues. But, a shift can often beach the whale and sportswear has thrown the preppy baby out with the bath water. Apologises. 

I’ve written about the troubles with preppy before, Read more hereusually focussing on Ralph Lauren as the flag bearer, quite literally, of the look and its reluctance to change or evolve to suit the current taste in comfort and dress down.

Left - Brooks Brothers' 200th Anniversary Show at Pitti Uomo 93

That was a while ago, and with people soon to get bored of looking like a charity shop reject or a retro sportsperson, it’s inevitable that it will return. 

So, we move to Florence for the 93rd edition of Pitti Uomo. Brooks Brothers is one of the chosen brands to show and they are celebrating their 200th year. Which, for any retailer, let alone an American one, is something to be very proud of.

Under the painted ceiling of the Palazzo Vecchio, a deep presidential blue curtain pulled back to reveal an orchestra playing ‘Empire State Of Mind’. So far, so good. Out came the models in various guises of preppy, yet it had been styled to mute their greatest hits. Cable knits over jackets and suit jackets tucked into trousers, it looked like a collection embarrassed to brushed with the preppy magic.

Brooks Brothers can lay claim to dressing presidents and charting the evolution of American style over the last 200 years. This should have been preppy so good that you’d bounce out of the show and be googling ‘John F Kennedy Jnr’ before you hit the cobbles of Florence’s Piazza della Signoria.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the case. This should have been a celebration of America’s 20th century power and the handsome, dashing evolution of that dressed style into preppy and the history of American fashion.

Brands like Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren need to push in order to return to fashion favour. There’s no point in sitting back and waiting for the tide to come back in on your style. Push preppy, push suiting, push people looking like they give a shit. There was was no fight here.

Preppy isn’t fully dead, it just needs to be really good. There are new American brands like Rowing Blazers, and British brand, Drake’s, is a perfect example. They manage to make preppy feel artistic, creative and beautiful. It’s the colours, the prints and the detail that makes you want to explore the fun and exaggerated side of preppy and, shock horror, put a tie on! Maybe.

Published in Fashion
Friday, 09 February 2018 15:56

ChicGeek Comment Human Cookies

Human cookies l'occitane Regent Street Retail physical stores

French beauty company, L’Occitane, opened their huge - the largest in the world - new flagship store on London’s Regent Street last night. This isn’t just another standard branch, it’s spacious, has a luxurious yet homely finish and even has a Pierre Hermé macaroon counter to boot. It feels like a cross between an airport lounge and a store. It’s definitely somewhere you could happily spend time in.

Left - Upstairs at L'Occitane Regent Street February 2018

Anyway, chatting away, somebody mentioned their boyfriend had come into the store previously and was looking for hand cream. The sales assistant said it was upstairs. As he went upstairs another sales assistant came over and said, “You’re looking for hand cream?”.

Human cookies l'occitane Regent Street Retail physical storesMind reading is a skill that modern retail needs. Clearly, the sales assistant, downstairs, had radioed ahead. Not only is this great service, it’s also a form of human cookies - the chain of information your internet journey/history leaves behind allowing brands to track your movements and also recommend appropriate stuff.

It’s not magic, it’s just clever data, and I, for one, don’t mind having things recommended for me or being reminded I looked at something previously. You can clear your history every now and again if it becomes annoying. 

What this shows is a linked up journey in a physical store. The customer is looking for something and rather being lost somewhere on the journey or not finding what they want, the sales links became strong and would obviously have more conversion in sales with the added bonus of wowing the customer and making them feel they had received great service.

Right - The flower filled ceiling installation from above inside the new L'Occitane Regent Street store

This is what physical stores need in order to compete with online: sales assistants quickly talking to each other, directing the consumer and having that want to please and fulfil expectation. 

I understand many stores are too busy, some of the time, for this type of individual attention, but many luxury brands can offer this type of service if the sale assistants are motivated. It’s about a personal, human touch, which in the future we will miss from online shopping and something that can become a physical store USP.

‘Human Cookies’, as a concept, would definitely put new meaning into a physical store’s customer journey.

Published in Fashion
Friday, 05 January 2018 12:21

ChicGeek Comment The Clothes Mountain

millions of pounds of unworn clothes by men Weight Watchers

I’ve spoken of ‘Fashion Saturation’ before - here’s an article I wrote in 2016 - but, now, it’s official.

According to Weight Watchers, Britons hoard £10billion worth of clothes we never wear: 588 million unworn garments are languishing in the nation's wardrobes with women hoarding 365million and men 223million.

Of the 2,000 people polled – 1,000 men and 1,000 women – 25 per cent said they plan to wear their outfits again once they lose the extra pounds they have gained since buying the items.

Okay, I know it’s Weight Watchers, and they obviously see a motivator for people to lose weight is to get into all these unworn clothes, but it’s also a signifier of the wastage and glut of clothes we have in our wardrobes.

Left - Take a leaf out of Joey's book? Maybe this will be a trend to wear as much as possible to get those unworn percentages down

Men reported wearing just 53 per cent of their clothes, with the 47 per cent of unworn items worth £5.1billion. The most commonly unworn garments were T-shirts, jeans and jackets.

One in ten respondents claimed they did not throw out unworn clothes because they were waiting for them to ‘come back into fashion’.  That’ll be those bootcut jeans then!

Overall, the £10billion figure breaks down to £200 of unworn clothes per adult in the UK.

People are drowning in stuff. This is why retailers aimed at more mature customers are suffering. The Debenhams, Marks & Spencer’s and House of Frasers of the world. 

People have wardrobes full of unworn clothes and adding to this pile is turning many off the idea of relentless consumption.

Retailers aimed at the younger market are doing better - Boohoo, ASOS - as these consumers are still hungry for items and also their mindset is: wear, enjoy, dispose. 

The irony is the less space we have, as homes become smaller, we’re using our precious space to store clothes we’ll never wear. Okay, I understand you can’t wear 100% of your wardrobe 100% of the time, but that 47% could easily be reduced to around 15-20%. Things for special occasions or have sentimental value you’ll keep.

Just look at your wardrobe, there’s not enough days in the year to wear the amount we have.

We need to unlearn this idea of ownership and also close the loop on reusing and recycling clothes. We need processes that make clothes’ fibres easily reduced back to their raw state and then reused and those which don’t fit this process, we limit their use. We can’t simply keeping adding to the unworn pile.

 

Published in The Fashion Archives

Fiorucci Brewer Street Soho is back

Value and price are related, obviously. A high price can offer great value, and vice versa, but many designer brands are very far from this. See more here - Greedy Margins & Brand Blindness

Fiorucci Brewer Street Soho is back

We’re in an age where the arrogance of brands has caused many to push their prices up while lowering their quality. It’s not good enough. So, it was a nice surprise to go into the new Fiorucci store on London’s Brewer Street and see quality product at reasonable prices.

Left - Tired of shopping? Have a lie down

I’d been meaning to take a look since it opened in September. Now owned by Janie and Stephen Schaffer, who had founded the high street chain Knickerbox together in 1986, Fiorucci was one of the coolest fashion names of the 1970s. This is the first store in its rebirth.

Right - The spiral staircase up to the 1st floor in the Fiorucci store on London's Brewer Street

Founded by Elio Fiorucci in 1967, after being inspired by London’s Carnaby Street and King’s Road, the first Fiorucci store opened in Milan’s Galleria Passarella. More stores followed. In 1974, a second location in Milan, a year later in London. Then, in 1976, East 59th Street in New York. The Manhattan store becomes known as “the daytime Studio 54”. It laid down the blueprints for the concept store as we know it today.

Until recently it was just a name check in Sister Sledge’s “He’s The Greatest Dancer” song. But with Halston gone, Gucci overloaded, it’s, now, all about Fiorucci. 

We’ve seen many brands from the 1970s try, and, generally, fail to make a comeback. Ossie Clark never quite made it and Biba stuttered and became an in-house brand at House of Fraser. Many brands make the mistake of trying to carbon copy what was then rather than taking the best bits and thinking about a contemporary shop or experience.

Fiorucci Brewer Street Soho is backFiorucci Brewer Street Soho is backThe new owners of Fiorruci have done this really well. The shop has that disco, playground feeling yet still feels sophisticated and the product all seemed to be Made in Italy of decent weighted fabric and excellently priced - £80 for a T-shirt and £140 for a sweatshirt. 

Left & Right - More images of the first Fiorucci store as part of the brand's rebirth

While £80 is a lot for a T-shirt to many, when you compare it to £250 for a Gucci one that is so thin you can see your hand through it, it seems great value. I’m not sure who is doing their manufacturing, but it looked like the reason why you buy Italian-made clothes.

At these prices it’s something you can get involved and have fun with. Young consumers will be able to afford it or at least save up to it. They are positioning the brand for the long term, looking for repeat custom and offering their consumers something decent for their money. I know if I see a guy in a Fiorucci T-shirt I’ll want to go over and speak to him. It’s cool.

Go check it out next time you’re in Soho.

Published in The Fashion Archives
Monday, 11 December 2017 16:10

ChicGeek Comment Russian Doll Brands

Vision Sportswear at Topman

Walking into Topman’s Oxford Circus flagship, a couple of weeks ago, there was a collection of bought-in brands such as Nicce, Le Coq Sportif and Champion, in an area on the first floor. All familiar, all offering the current taste for branded clothing. 

Left - Vision Streetwear - Scarf £30

There was a large section for a brand I hadn’t heard of called “Vision”. All Balenciaga-type logo tops and branded football scarves, the product was good and definitely where we are right now and what guys want to buy.

I always like retailers to surprise me and give me things I hadn’t heard of before. I just thought it was a street/sportswear brand that was yet to jump onto my radar. 

I went to the Topman SS18 press day, the following week, and there was a special area for “Vision” and, then, the penny dropped: this must be an in-house brand.

It’s clever. It allows brands to do something different, have a clean creative sheet and for it to be detached from the parent brand. It can also, unlike the main brand, be disposed of the minute it starts to wobble. Easy come, easy go.

People are much more open to fresh brands and this is the future for high-street retail. Secretive in-house brands, that look like they’ve been created by a young, dynamic group of creatives rather than be tainted by the connotations of the parent brand. TK Maxx have been doing it for years.

HIIT Burton Sportswear Russian Doll BrandsAnd this takes me to HIIT. A new sportswear focussed brand under Burton’s umbrella. I’m much more likely to get excited about HIIT - it looks really good BTW - than “Burton Sportswear” for example. It also allows the people who work there to push it and be very current without a buyer in the background wailing “It’s not very Burton, is it?”.

Right - HIIT Available at Burton in January 2018

It also allows it to be stocked by third parties such as Zalando and ASOS. It stands on its own right and when its life cycle is over it can be shelved and a replacement or alternative waiting in the wings.

I’m calling these “Russian Doll Brands”: brands within brands offering a new niche and more fashion forward or specialised clothing.

What these do is represent the shortening lives of brand and how they can easily come and go and also, it’s a step away from “collaborations” which many consumers and brands have grown tired of.

Correction - Vision is owned by Authentic Brands Group, a brand development, marketing and entertainment company, which owns a global portfolio of lifestyle, sports, and celebrity and entertainment brands. It is exclusive to Topman in the UK and US, but not in Japan.

 

 

Published in The Fashion Archives

Bally Gucci Greedy Margins Brand Blindness

At a recent press day, previewing the new SS18 collection from the Swiss brand, Bally, I got thinking about how you can slip between the gap. Bally has followed the Gucci model of Wes Anderson statement pieces in bold colours and look-at-me graphics and slogans. But, Bally’s problem is, it isn’t Gucci, and just doesn’t have the attraction as a “name”- I actually like it more for this reason. Therefore they can’t charge the prices Gucci ask and sell in the volumes too. They also have another issue, well, it’s actually a good thing, they are offering a quality made product. 

Left - Gucci Cruise 18

I’m going to call it out. Gucci isn’t good quality. I like Gucci’s ideas, I just don’t think it’s executed to reflect the prices they charge. I’m not naive, I know luxury goods have huge margins, but there’s margins and then there’s margins. No wonder Gucci’s profits are through the roof, they are making products that aren’t as good as they should be in that price category. 

There’s enough Gucci out there, now, to hear of plenty of quality control issues: shoes than run in the rain, tiger patches on jeans repeatedly fixed, leather belts that feel like a free school belt. It’s not just Gucci doing this, but they’re the label flying high and drawing in the masses. They are also creating complicated product that requires time and a level of expertise to make it well and quickly shows its quality.

Bally Gucci Greedy Margins Brand Blindness

I recently posted a tweet following an article on the Business of Fashion - Interesting @BALENCIAGA has overtaken @gucci on the @lyst of most wanted brands.

The article said  “Balenciaga has stolen Gucci’s crown to become the hottest brand in fashion. According to the latest data analysed by BoF in partnership with search platform Lyst — which tracks 4.5 million data points per hour from over 65 million annual consumers, five million products and 12,000 brands — the Demna Gvasalia-designed brand climbed two places to top the hottest brand ranking in the third quarter of 2017.”

Right - Bally SS18

The feedback on Twitter, from many passionate people, was that they wanted Gucci and couldn’t understand this. It must be wrong. Clearly, Gucci is still in demand and they need to maximise this while they can, but this quality issue will speed up their “hot” lifecycle. People will question what they are paying for and many will feel cheated. The fashion crowd are already over Gucci.

A friend recently had a scarf, retailing, probably, for around £400, and it was so thin, it was clearly nowhere near the best quality scarf of that type. It’s almost laughable, and while people have “Brand Blindness” it’s okay, but you free-fall quickly after without quality. Quality makes people return to a brand.

And, this takes me back to Bally. Currently looking for a new owner, they need to decide whether to offer quality and an acceptable price or chase the higher margins, slash quality and see what happens. They’ll never be a Gucci, but they can clearly maximise sales, but increasing margins like many of its competitors. It'll be interesting to see who the new owner is and which direction they decide to take.

Published in The Fashion Archives
Monday, 06 November 2017 15:15

ChicGeek Comment Ideas For Oxford Street

Oxford Street Pedestrianise Pedestrianisation

Oxford Street is the main artery linking west and central London. Everything goes through it: either sucked or pushed out the other side. You can spend hours on the bus thinking you’re on a magical mystery tour rather than a straight road bookended by two Primarks.

Well, “radical” plans are afoot, there are plans to pedestrian Oxford Street from December 2018. Admittedly, only half of it, at first, but this is going to be the retail equivalent of the smoking ban. You think it’s never going to happen, then, all of a sudden, it’s happening and everybody is on board and it’s the best thing that ever happened. The End!

Left - The "Posh" end gets the first pedestrianisation treatment in December 2018

No doubt this has been speeded up by the ridiculously poor air quality along Oxford Street and the need to separate people and vehicles due to terrorism, but this is really exciting, nonetheless.

The section of Europe’s busiest shopping street between Oxford Circus and Orchard Street - that’s the corner of Marble Arch M&S & Selfridges - would be the first to become "predominantly traffic-free". However, north and south routes across Oxford Street will be retained after businesses and locals raised concerns about gridlock on nearby side-streets.

The plans would also see cyclists being forced to dismount on the pedestrianised stretch. The plans are designed to address concerns about rising numbers of traffic collisions, pollution and overcrowding. The proposals for the traffic-free Western section include new seating areas and raising the existing street to pavement level to make it more accessible. An 800 metre-long work of public art, acting as a centrepiece along the entire length of the pedestrianised section, could be commissioned. There will also be new public spaces, cycle lanes, improved pedestrian crossings, wider pavements and extra taxi ranks across the wider West End. 

The first pedestrianised section will coincide with the launch of Elizabeth line services - and increased visitor numbers - through central London in December 2018. 

Let’s be honest, the current Oxford Street isn’t a place you hang about in. You get in and get out. It’s not somewhere you can wax lyrical to tourists about either as it's slightly embarrassing and a busy mess. These plans can transform it from not only the busiest but the most attractive streets in the world. They need to have a contemporary concept and a "vision" - maybe ask Thomas Heatherwick? Or a competition to showcase the best of British architecture and design? - and really think differently rather than a simple repaving and adding extra benches. Let’s make this the centre of British fashion and style. Let’s celebrate our leadership in these areas. Fashion week outside Selfridges? Shopable shows on the retailers' doorsteps? The greenest street in the world? Cafés all along? Street theatres? Christmas markets? A street that comes alive after the shops close? This has so much potential and could be just over a year away. Exciting times.

Published in The Fashion Archives