The modern way of shopping for something of quality often involves a little bit, but not too much - you can always ask TheChicGeek, of legwork to find the source. What I mean by this is, the majority of brands don’t make their own products. They use the ‘Private Label’ system of getting quality manufacturers to produce their goods. Often these manufacturers have their own in-house labels, producing products of the same quality without the designer mark up. While not cheap, you’re getting much better value for money.
One brand which fits this bill is the Spanish BIEL-LO. Carrying on a 25-year old tradition of expert craftsmanship, BIEL-LO produces fine quality knitted garments and accessories in the mountains of La Llacuna, Barcelona.
BIEL-LO constructs timeless pieces using small-scale production to provide you with their personal hallmark: each and every item has been made to delight and be cherished. The hand-finished garments are designed to ensure functionality and warmth, year after year.
Left & Right - BIEL-LO AW17
Currently stocked at Dover Street Market Tokyo and NYC, Tomorrowland, American Rag Cie, Merci, My Boon, the new AW17 collection is a collection of the must have earth colours and textured finishes like corduroy.
To be honest, these pictures don't do the clothes justice and it would be nice to see them in a UK stockist where you can see the quality for yourself. It’s also got that slightly eccentric edge and point of difference that you find around the Barcelona area.
Below - The BIEL-LO factory
You've probably guessed that I like a cricket jumper, or two, ATM - click here for a few of my other options for SS17 and how to wear it - so, when I saw this one from Paul Smith, with the must-have seasonal colour combo of pink and green - yes, it does look redder in the picture - I think it could top the list as my favourite.
The thing about this style of jumper is that it can easily become preppy and stuffy. Fail. The trick is to wear it like like you would a sweatshirt and team with jeans or tracksuit bottoms. Think urban rather than genteel.
Left & Below - Men's Ecru Cable-Knit Stripe-Trim V-Neck Sweater - £415
This tank top is kinda amazing. The deep V is back, (check out TheChicGeek's favourite cricket sweaters - here) in knitwear, this season, and this mongrel-type confection of clashing colours and stripes is the perfect bad taste piece for the season. Prada's knitwear is really strong at the moment - the rainbow cardigan from AW16 - here - was a favourite, and this just continues the lust. Wear with sportswear. Clash.
Left & Below - Prada - Intarsia Wool Vest - £655 from MRPORTER.COM
First things first, what exactly is Lurex? Lurex is a type of yarn or fabric which incorporates a glittering metallic thread. It gives the knit a sort of Christmasy makeover which is on just the right side of glittery.
It’s perfect for this time of year, under artificial lights or candles, and adds an element of reflective fun to a suit or evening wear.
I remember Prada produced a collection with lots of lurex in AW 2011 , below, and showed how it could look fresh and interesting in knitwear and accessories. I ended up buying a knitted tie. Lurex on men shows an element of confidence in the wearer and somebody you instantly gravitate to at a party. Get involved!
Here is a selection of what is available this season:
Far Left - Joseph - Lurex Merinos Polo - £195
Left - Vintage - Prada AW 2011
Left - ASOS - Knitted Metallic T-Shirt - £25
Left - Gucci - Lurex Jacquard Tank Top - £440 from LN-CC
Below - Balenciaga - Men’s Slip-on Lurex - £325
Left - AMI - Men’s Round Neck Pull In Lurex - £235
Left - Topman - Lurex Top - £20
The word of the season is 'oversized'. The bigger the better. It just means getting dressed just got easier: one item covers all, well nearly.
We've been a fan of this AW16 collection since we saw it at Pitti Uomo at the beginning of the year. Handmade in Hackney by knitwear designers Anna Wilkinson and Lindsay McKean, Cats Brothers is known for its quirky crochet and colourful knits. Putting the craft into fashion, their pieces are ingrained with humour and style and feel more art-piece than yet another fashion item with a creature or icon.
Credits - Red Monkey Jumper, Oversized Black & White Jumper, Tiger Bag - Cats Brothers, Tracksuit Bottoms - Lyle & Scott, Velvet Trainers - Russell & Bromley
Shot by Robin Forster on OlympusPEN
More images & video below
When it gets cold we reach for texture: corduroy, cashmere & velvet. These tactile finishes make those freezing days all the more bearable. Savile Row tailor, Richard James, has produced this soft, light grey suit in a thick wale corduroy. The fabric of kings, it looks fresh and contemporary in this light colour and matches the London sky, depressingly!
It's been teamed with a long ombre scarf and cashmere jumper and is the new way to wear winter.
Credits - All Clothes Richard James AW16, Trainers - Russell & Bromley
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
More images & video below
Maybe it’s in homage to the latest Oasis documentary, but the roll-with-it thin-knit roll neck is the default easy menswear knitwear trend of the season. (That was quite a mouthful, or in this case, a neck full).
I'm not sure whether Liam or Noel would do a louche jewel-coloured rollneck with contrasting velvet jacket, but I'm sure they'll agree that it looks pretty good. Go for something fine, maybe a Merino wool or cashmere silk mix, if your budget allows for it. Look for golds, reds, pinks or oatmeal and team with a contrasting jacket like in Tom Ford's latest advertising campaign. This is easy, but cool dressing. Trust me, between now and next summer, you'll reach for the reliable rollneck and it'll leave you feeling supersonic!
Left - Tom Ford - Classic Cashmere Turtleneck - $1290
Left - John Smedley - Connell Deep Claret - £145
Below - Hymn - Maximum Roll Neck Burgundy - £50 From John Lewis
Left - Gucci - Cashmere Turtleneck - £485
Left - River Island - Light Brown Ribbed Roll Neck Jumper - £25
Left - Topman Premium - Pink Roll Neck Jumper - £35
It's well established, now, that men can wear pink. Kanye loves a bit of pink on men, but that's enough about him.
It's an easy way of saying that you're openminded, up for trying new things and approachable. Who isn't going to like a man in a pink jumper?
Slightly differing shades, but still on the 'baby' spectrum, we have a super-soft cashmere number from Paul Smith or a great value jumper from Topman. Can't decide? Get both!
Left - Paul Smith - Pink Cashmere Sweater - £315
Below - Topman - Dusty Pink Mini Roll Neck Jumper - £25
In a quiet industrial estate, off a nondescript North London suburban street, sits Albion Knitting Co. Not some relic from the 60s or 70s, that, somehow, managed to survive, but a new venture, with state-of-the-art machines, producing for some of fashion’s biggest names, all proudly made in glamourous Haringey.
Left - Welcome to Albion Knitting Co.
I was invited down by American brand, Peter Millar, to see where some, not all, of their knitwear is made. Producing between 5,000 to 10,000 garments, a year, for Peter Millar, the factory opened in 2014 and also produces knitwear for luxury brands such as Chloe, dunhill and Nicole Farhi.
Right - The feature staircase inside the North London factory
Left - The stairs on the staircase features old pieces of knitting hardware
Knitting, washing and finishing takes place here by the 20 strong workforce. An example of skills and production returning to the UK, from abroad, the whole environment is very open and features a stunning metal staircase with steps incorporating old pieces of knitting hardware.
Right - A final AW16 look from Peter Millar
If you haven’t heard of Peter Millar before, the Richemont-owned men’s brand is busy expanding into the UK. Known for golfwear and currently available at Harrods, they have aspirations to take a chunk of Zegna’s market in that stylish, but won’t scare-the-horses-type of mature menswear. Making in London is certainly a start. If the label says 'Made in England' then the Peter Millar garment would have been proudly made by Albion Knitting Co.
Here to launch their Woolmark Prize winning men’s collection at Harvey Nichols, TheChicGeek grabbed design duo, Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow of American fashion label, Public School, for a couple of minutes to talk Made in the USA, DKNY and state schools
Left - Not your average public schoolboys! Dao-Yi & Maxwell of Public School
Winners of the inaugural International Woolmark Menswear Prize, Public School has been gaining attention over the last few seasons and has been tasked with the makeover of American fashion giant DKNY. The winning Woolmark collection is in their signature black and features machine body-conscious hoodies, sweaters and leggings and is available Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge and Matchesfashion.com.
Where did the name Public School come from? “It’s from the idea of New York being a melting pot. Public School is about not being an intimidating designer name: we wanted to make it something everybody could get into it,” says Maxwell.
Do they realise that public school means something completely different in the UK? I suggested they renamed the label ‘State School’, “We need to change the labels here!” laughs Maxwell.
So, they’ve just taken over at DKNY, will they be doing the menswear and what can we expect?
“No, just women’s. As for men’s, they’re exiting the business. Maybe in a couple of years it will return,” says Dao.
Right - The new Woolmark Prize winning men's knitwear on display at Harvey Nichols London
How would they sum up Public School for those not familiar with the label?
“It’s a men’s and women’s designer collection based out of New York and also the production is done in New York City. It’s around this idea of convergence and mixing,” Dao says.
How do they find production in the USA and doesn’t it make selling in Europe prohibitively expensive?
“Production is difficult in general. But, it’s easier for a company of our size, now, which is small, to keep production in the US,” says Dao.
“We have to get creative. Give a retailer discount if they can buy more to off-set the difference,” says Maxwell.
The Public School Woolmark Collection is available at Harvey Nichols & Matchesfashion.com - Prices - £235 - £740