Monday, 06 November 2017 16:22

Label To Know Patria

Patria British Armed Forces Made in UK shoes

Good things coming to those who wait goes against everything modern retail has taught us. To test this theory, Patria is a new website crowdfunding made in the UK products in aid of Armed Forces Charities. All employees of Patria are veterans and 10% of profits go to the brand’s chosen charities which include The Royal Navy Charity, The Soldiers Charity and the RAFBF.

"Patria is a uniquely British company. We were founded by veterans, employ only veterans and 10% of our profits go to the main armed forces charities.  All of our luxury pieces are 100% British made.  We wanted a name that ties this together. Patria is derived from the Latin 'Pro Patria' or 'for one's country'," says Founder, Richard Thackray.

Left - Patria’s Cordwainer or shoemaker has been hand-making the finest footwear in Northamptonshire for over 130 years - £275 (Takes 12 weeks)

Launching on Remembrance Day, Patria hopes to deliver the best price in the market and have zero waste. Patria only makes onshore in Great Britain using the best materials and works with leading UK artisanal manufactures - leading to less impact on the environment and a better value product. 

Patria British Armed Forces Made in UK sweatshirt dog

Cashmere jumpers start at £200 and Merino wool from £100.

Patria prides itself in being a non-seasonal brand. Not about trend led pieces, but staple quality and timeless garments that are built to last. The brand even offers mending services to their customers.

Right - Patria ‘Jack’ Sweatshirt - £120

 

Published in Labels To Know
Tuesday, 31 October 2017 13:13

Label To Know Parterre

Grown in UK fragrance brand Parterre Keyneston Mill

Based on a 50 acre estate called “Keyneston Mill" in Dorset, Parterre - translated as “on the ground” - is a new and experimental British perfume brand aiming to grow many of the ingredients themselves. Two thousand plant varieties to be precise.

Founded by husband and wife, David and Julia Bridger, their backgrounds are farming and graphic design, respectively, Parterre launches with three fragrances, all limited in number and stocked at Fortnum & Mason.

Left - Not the Crystal Maze - Keyneston Mill, Dorset

TheChicGeek says, “Who knew you could grow vetiver in the UK? I always thought it was a tropical grass found in places like Haiti. Soon to be open to the public, Keyneston Mill looks set to be a destination in itself and not just for perfume fans. I can see a Monty Don special coming on!

No budget has been spared here with Sir Elton John’s ex-gardener Stuart Neilson and former RHS botanist Nanette Wraith being brought on board. Design plays an important part in the core of the garden with Renaissance Italy and Kandinsky referenced while the rest of the acreage is put to growing in volume.

Based on botanicals, obvs, the three fragrances, produced in collaboration with leading perfumer, Jacques Chabert, are “A Tribute To Edith”, geranium and rose, “Run Of The River”, bergamot mint and orange flower, and, the most masculine, “Root Of All Goodness”, bergamot, vetiver and leather.

Parterre British botanical fragrance company exclusive Dorset

I admire Parterre because they will be at the whim of the unpredictable British weather and, as such, they’re still trying to work out what works and what gives a decent standard of product. They’re also producing the oils themselves using steam distillation.

Right - Parterre - "Root Of All Goodness" - 50ml/100ml - £95/£160

Like the majority of gardens, things will get better with age. Everything seems quite new and experimental, and while the French will probably scoff and turn up their noses, literally and metaphorically, just remember they did that once to English sparkling wine and look how far that has come.

It would be nice to see which of the ingredients are homegrown - maybe a Union flag next to them? - I do think they’re missing a trick not doing at least one fragrance with 100% British grown ingredients, but I’m sure, in time, that will come. Also, they should use a British perfumer or try doing it in-house.

This plugs into the British obsession with plants and gardening and being able to visit and see the place will only add to the attraction. Of the three fragrances, the most masculine is the “Root Of All Goodness”, but I was drawn to the rose one. Men can wear pink and smell of roses, these days. I like the branding, it is fairly feminine, but the hand calligraphy numbering on the bottles is a nice touch. I’d just love to know what they could do with the stinging nettles, bindweed and Japanese knotweed in my garden!”

Published in Labels To Know
Friday, 13 October 2017 13:50

Label To Know Eiger Classic

Eiger Classic Alpine Inspired British knitwear

You don’t run before you can walk in fashion, let alone ski! Founded in 2014, Eiger Classic is a small British and British-made brand inspired by one of the founders' grandmothers.

“The brand is inspired by my Granny and her photos from when she was British downhill champion. She was also a keen photographer and we have loads of old photographs of these amazing expeditions they used to go on. We were totally inspired and wanted to try and recreate the timeless alpine look and as a result ‘Eiger Classic’ was founded." 

Left - The Viscount Montgomery - £95 -  “Warm on the slopes, cool as f@ck in the bar”

“We produce a range of leather products, but our main focus is merino wool jumpers that are all produced in Britain,” says Chris Pratt.

Chris and fellow founder, Tom Evans, still juggle full time jobs, a farmer and creative director, respectively, while producing a range of knitwear and small leather goods.

“We got into menswear because we wanted to buy products like we are producing and couldn't find anyone doing them so it was a case of doing it ourselves.

“Our range will stay pretty much the same. We will just look to add a few styles each year, we have two new jumpers coming out in the next couple of weeks. We are not looking to produce products that go in and out of fashion, we are looking to produce products that reflect a classic alpine age and are made to last,” says Chris.

Chris’ Granny’s name was Joan Shearing, and then Joan Hanlin. She was a British Downhill ski champion and won on borrowed skis in her 40's. Super Gran!

www.eigerclassic.com

Below - The Arnold Lunn - £178

Eiger Classic Alpine Inspired British knitwear Ski Retro Vintage

Published in Labels To Know
Wednesday, 19 April 2017 10:33

Label To Know BeauFort London

Beaufort London Leo Crabtree The Chic GeekIt was at the launch of the new men’s grooming destination, Beast, - more info here - in Covent Garden that I was introduced to Leo Crabtree, the man behind the Beaufort London fragrance brand. There were a few samples of his fragrances in the selection of products to try and I was impressed by the originality of the scents. Historically based, they are a dramatic concoction of rich and smokey scents inspired by Britain’s maritime history. I wanted to know more, so, TheChicGeek asked Leo a few questions:

CG: What’s your background and why and when did you start Beaufort London?

LC: My background is mainly in music and I studied history at university. BeauFort London came about as a vehicle to market some homemade grooming products I was making around 4 years back.  I found myself getting bored of the stuff that was available at that time and I thought I could do a better job. This project then developed into something a bit different, particularly when I started to learn about making fragrance. This area really interested me and I’ve kind of followed this path for the last 3 years.

CG: Where does the name come from? 1805 is a special year for you, why is that?

LC: The brand’s name comes from the Beaufort Scale which was thought up in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort - a way that sailors could gauge and report the wind strength. It’s still in use today.

This idea of invisible strength resonates and seemed appropriate for a brand that initially was only selling very firm moustache wax. The metaphor works nicely for fragrance too.

Aside from this detail, 1805 was also a pivotal year for British fortunes at sea… following the win at the battle of Trafalgar (October 21st 1805) British sea power was established and continued unchallenged for a century or so… I think these naval events still echo in the way we Brits perceive ourselves. And there’s something about the early 19th century that fascinates us - it seems to pop up a lot in popular culture at the moment.

CG: How many fragrances are in the range?

LC: The ‘Come Hell or High Water’ Collection consists of 5 Eau De Parfum each representing a different aspect of our relationship with the sea:  Tonnerre (Trafalgar/warfare), Coeur De Noir (adventure stories / tattoos), Vi Et Armis (The opium / sea trade), Lignum Vitae (ships clocks / time) and Fathom V (The Tempest - weather). We are launching a 6th later this year too and we recently released a leather discovery set of the whole collection - refillable 7.5ml vials of each which is really popular.

CG: What is the idea behind the packaging?

LC: Well the caps were at one point going to be made out of pieces of old ships, but this didn’t work all that well. So, now, they are made from ash, which is a bit more stable and safer to reproduce.

The boxes ended up becoming almost like books or possibly sarcophagi - this is a pretty important thread in all this. The past, history, books, it’s all in here. I like to include snippets of things I’ve read, pictures inspired by the events that inform the fragrances. Each box is embossed with a little latin phrase which I found on a medal that was given to those who fought at the battle of Trafalgar. All these little things build a coherent picture of the brand I think. 

CG: I like Tonnerre, which is inspired by the battle of Trafalgar, how do you get that smokey effect?

LC: Lots and lots of birch tar. This is an intensely smokey material made by boiling birch sap.  This has been used a lot in the past to create a ‘leather’ effect (Famously in Chanel’s 'Cuir De Russie’ - historically Russian soldiers used Birch tar to waterproof their boots). In the case of Tonnerre the perfumer uses it in far far higher concentration than anyone has before to produce a gunpowder effect. I love the intensity of it… and the smell of tar immediately reminds me of boats.

Tonnerre Trafalgar fragrance 1805 Beaufort London The Chic Geek GroomingCG: Any highlights from the others? What is the most popular and why do you think that is?

LC: We actually use birch tar in a lot of our fragrances. That smokey tar effect is almost our signature so if you’re looking for fresh you’re in the wrong place…

Vi Et Armis is really popular, I think because it’s so ‘in your face’ and unusual - dark as all hell. And Fathom V is an intensely strange aquatic fragrance which seems to be doing well too. We use a lot of strong materials, a lot of wood, tobacco, spice and booze. I think people like our brand because we offer something very different to traditional fragrances.

CG: You also sell other products like candles and moustache wax, how did these come about?

LC: The candles were due to popular demand, we had a lot of people who loved the scents asking if we could make them, so we tried it, and it seemed to work. Again, it hasn’t really been about planning these products, they just seem to make sense, and so we do them. I like experimenting with ideas.

CG: Has it been easy to produce in the UK?

LC: The perfume industry is rooted in mainland Europe for sure, but there’s a rich history of British perfumery and some really interesting newer British brands.

It was always a key aspect of this project that we would only work with British companies, and that has made things tricky (and almost certainly more expensive) at times. But it can be done, and I’m proud of it. 

Our perfumers are based just outside of London, our boxes are made by hand in Sheffield, our bottles are filled and packed in the Cotswolds, the candles are made in Derbyshire and the moustache wax cases were made in Coventry.

CG: What do you think about the current perfume industry? Is it welcoming to niche producers? Is there too much product?

LC: When I first launched the range we went to Paris fashion week to have a look around. I was talking to a guy who works for a very long established French perfume house and he said to me quite unequivocally, “now this is war”, which seemed pretty ridiculous at the time. However, as time has passed, I think he’s right. There’s so many brands all trying to get a piece of the pie and the pie isn’t all that big in the first place. New launches happen all the time and it seems like (as with everything else) attention spans are short and the temptation is to churn out ’newness’ (a word I particularly hate) to grab attention fleetingly. 

In the next few years, we may see some of these brands falling away as saturation point is reached. In my mind, starting a brand is the easy bit. Establishing longevity and maintaining engagement with your customer over a significant period of time is much harder… Time will tell.

CG: Is there any advice you would give to men about choosing fragrance or how they apply or use it?

LC: As with anything, the most rewarding experiences are those you invest some time in… do some research, get some samples of things that intrigue you. Spend a bit of time getting to know the fragrance in different environments as the best fragrances can develop massively throughout a day. Don’t rush… I’ve always said that YOU should wear the fragrance, don’t let IT wear you which is particularly important with these strong, heavy fragrances. There just too much for some people… they should blend with your character somehow rather than take over.

CG: What’s next for Beaufort London?

LC: Put it this way, we have been researching Georgian vices… I can’t say much more than that but it’s going to be an interesting couple of years!

www.beaufortlondon.com

Niche men's fragrance Beaufort London The Chic Geek

Published in Grooming

Katerina Steventon Serum Anti Ageing reviewBased in East Yorkshire, Dr Katerina Steventon has launched an anti-ageing serum to address concerns about wrinkles and vertical lines. Named ‘4’ after the four regenerative plant oils - jojoba, rose hip, camellia, echium and four technologically advanced active ingredients - marine micro algae, Indian gentian leaves, Renovage, (the brand name for trepenone, developed by the French skin care company Sederma and used for anti-ageing and skin stress) and liquorice and it is promoted alongside her ‘Faceworkshops’. Over her career she has worked at La Prairie, Shiseido and Smith and Nephew wound healing.

Left - Katerina Steventon 4 Anti-Ageing Serum - 15ml - £52.90

TheChicGeek says, “A new Doctor brand, Katerina Stevenson says over 20 years' experience has gone into this serum. It’s light, non-greasy and is applied before your moisturiser twice a day.

For Katerina it is all about the massage and the ritual of applying the product and with it being an oil-type consistency, this makes it easier to do this. 

It’s labelled a serum, but I would call this an oil. I like oils as they feel nourishing and feed the skin. They feel more physical than a normal cream type product. 

Katerina says it’s a hybrid product: serum in the morning, massage oil in the evening. The ‘Vertical Line Massage’ - she shows you how to do this on her site - is a prep before the product, but also an exercise for the facial muscles. I’ve seen this promoted before, when Creme de la Mer launched their Renewal Oil - see review here - but I didn’t do this with this product.

It says you need only a few drops of the rape seed coloured product, but I felt I needed more and the more I used the less it felt like an oil. It has a good consistency, absorbs well and smells good. Interestingly, people said how well I looked a few days after using this. A coincidence maybe?

These type of products are for the long-term, but I like a product somebody puts their name and face behind. A lot of these products you have to have an instinct for on whether they are working. This one I would say yes and would definitely look into trying the massage techinques. People can't expect to reduce ageing by simply and lazily apply a product. It makes sense you need to exercise, like the rest of your body, in order to keep it firm and looking its best.”

Published in Grooming

Cats Brothers Men's KnitwearThe 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 belowOversized knitwear hand knit OOTD

Menswear hand knit OOTD AW16OOTD Blogger The Chic Geek Cats BrothersOversized jumper OOTD The Chic GeekStyle icon The Chic Geek jumperGeek style icon black & white knit

Published in Outfit of the Day
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 19:39

TheChicGeek Visits Burberry’s Makers House

burberry makers house soho gardenThere are two types of Britishness: urban London Britishness, which is too often clichéd and touristy, involving bowler hats, red telephone boxes and the like, and, then, there's the Britishness of the countryside, which comprises of green rolling hills, National Trust properties with colourful herbaceous borders all soundtracked by the theme of The Antiques Roadshow. 

Left - The not-so-secret garden at the entrance of Burberry's pop-up Makers House

The British countryside is basically a giant garden dotted with the history of people aiming to perfect their little corner of it and that's why we all love to be tourists in it, regardless of where we are from. 

Makers House Burberry menswearAnd, it is this Britishness that Burberry has mined for its latest show and show space, which has been opened to the general public for a week afterwards and is called Makers House.

Right - Makers are gonna make. The day I went it was bookbinding

Located in the old Foyles book store on Charing Cross Road, on the edge of Soho, Burberry has teamed up with British craft collective, The New Craftsmen, showcasing their hand-working skills, making everything from tassels to keys to scissors. There are different people displaying different skills, on each day, creating theatre in the bottom of the space.

burberry shearling makers houseJust to be clear, these people didn’t produce anything for the new Burberry collection, but it’s an illustration of the type of skills involved. I guess Burberry needed huge volumes and a long lead time if they were able to be the first brand to fully deliver their new ‘See Now, Buy Now’ concept worldwide, all at the same time, both offline and online.

Left - One of the standout pieces of the menswear show

Burberry fabric print V&AYou can buy their products in a small shop here, but I think Burberry missed a trick by not including a few of their own products. Maybe a few of the classic pieces.

Right - A print taken from the V&A archive and used in the collection and on the show seating

Alongside them is a pop-up branch of Thomas’, the Burberry café from Regent Street, which has to be one of the best of the big brand versions of this type of thing, offering seasonal British fare all served on British made tables and chairs, and in this case, leading onto a garden of white busts and classical plaster casts contrasted with lush green planting that welcomes you at the entrance.

burberry chic geek staircaseIt’s like Daylesford Organic has comes to Soho, hostas and all, in this mix of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Nancy Lancaster’s decorating skills, (she was the owner of Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler), and a celebration of the great and good of British history all lined up like a friendly who’s, who. I feel like we may have been given a glimpse of Christopher Bailey’s Yorkshire lifestyle. He has to spend all those millions somewhere after all. This is the fantasy perfection of British country living that we never seem to tire of and one which Burberry has used as inspiration before such as Charleston in Sussex or gardening at Sissinghurst.

Left - TheChicGeek on the poetry staircase doing his best Rapunzel impression!

burberry ruffUpstairs, where the catwalk show was, 83 mannequins show off the full collection of men’s and women’s wear, 250 pieces in total, where you can look at the details and touch the fabrics. Everything is available now, if you can afford it, and the collection was Bailey’s usual strong balance of wearability and fashion. Think artist-like relaxed shirts with ruffled collars and cuffs interplayed with brocade and cropped shearlings and slouchy trousers. I particularly like the orange/biscuit coloured shearling and 30s style printed pyjama shirts. The green carpet design was taken from a garden print from the V&A.

Right - The Tudors are back! Taking the ruff with the smooth

Burberry makers house sculptorBurberry took a risk on the ‘See Now, Buy Now’ concept, but I think they’ve pulled it off. Unlike other brands, this show season, who have made it a token gesture to gain attention and PR, this is full on and took some organisation. I guess many items had to be comprised or changed to fulfil the tight delivery dates, but it doesn't show. 

Left - Pieces of Michelangelo's David looking over his shoulder while a sculptor builds up his clay maquette 

Nancy Lancaster's bed burberry I like the way it’s been opened up to the public. You spend all that money on the show space, you may as well as justify it by making it customer facing, especially now they’re selling the items straight away. I can’t wait to see how they will top this in February.

Many other luxury brands will be watching this enviously and wondering whether they could or should do the same. 

Right - Nancy Lancaster's bed from her house, Ditchley Park

In a post-brexit world I think Burberry should take this whole concept on a world tour. Tokyo, Shanghai, and Mumbai would relish this little outpost of Britishness, pots plants and all. We have to remember there’s a big world outside of London.

Burberry Makers House Open Until 27th September 2016, 1 Manette Street, London, W1D 4AT

classical figures burberry makers house

How many of these great British figures can you name?

Published in Fashion
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 14:09

Label To Know English Utopia

english utopia tweed jacketThe English countryside has a timeless quality reflected in the garments designed for it. While practical, many of these, most notably jackets, have become fashion items and are worn all over the world, in both the countryside and urban places, yet still grounded in our green and pleasant land.

Left - The quilted Prufrock Tweed Country Coat - £425 

The British wax jacket is the one the majority of people think of and never shows any sign of waning from popularity. I was recently introduced to the British outdoor brand, English Utopia. Concentrating on wax and tweed country jackets, it has grown over the last couple of years through its attention to detail and British made jackets.

English Utopia currently turns over £650k per annum and has doubled in size every year since its launch in 2013. The label launched in Europe first, via a network of sales agents, and in the US in 2014. The UK launch commenced in 2015 and the label now employs 6 members of staff.

The wax cotton and quilted garments are entirely made in the UK. English Utopia only uses one UK factory, one that Gary - the founder - has had a manufacturing relationship with for over 20 years. All of the woollen garments are made in Lithuania in a family run factory that’s Scottish owned. This particular factory is a specialist at combining natural fibre garment manufacturing with technical /performance expertise.

Founder, Gary Newbold, ‘the Leicester lad’, as he calls himself, is a self-taught designer who left school with ‘nowt’. Long before Wiggins and co captured the cycling zeitgeist, Gary represented team GB becoming a pro cyclist at the age of 18. He competed in sportives including the legendary Milk Race Tour of Britain and lived in France for eight years.

Upon hanging up his wheels at the age of 28, he dabbled in a bit of pattern cutting and in put himself through night school to secure a place at York University. He honed his freelance design talents before landing the top creative job at Barbour in 2000.

Gary has steered the creative vision for renowned heritage brands including Farlows of Pall Mall, and Kneissl (the world’s oldest Ski brand) where in 2009 he was appointment Head of Design. In 2001 he joined John Partridge, where he helped resurrect the label, a perennial favourite of HRH The Prince of Wales.

Gary Newbold English UtopiaHe still cycles 25 miles to work, though these days he’s swapped Lycra for English Utopia waxed cotton.

The English Utopia name is an amalgamation of his two passions. Firstly, his love of what it means to enjoy the English landscape – from the Cotswolds to Cornwall and Glastonbury to Glyndebourne – English Utopia is a brand firmly rooted in the countryside.  Secondly as a designer, the initial vision for a collection is often distorted during the production and marketing process. This ‘utopia’, the original sentiment behind a creation, is something he does his utmost to preserve.

The balloon logo was inspired by seeing them in the summer months air balloons taking off from York races, near his studio. But in addition to this beautiful spectacle, for Gary the balloon symbolises creative freedom. In an age of corporate restraint where there isn’t a place for the unmeasurable, allowing ideas the space ‘see where they go’ is a precious thing.

The company is based in the Yorkshire town of Harrogate and draws inspiration in its designs from the surrounding countryside. 

Right - Gary Newbold

www.englishutopia.com

Published in Labels To Know

Albion knitwear made in LondonIn 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.

albion knitting staircase the chic geek menswear knitwearLeft - 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

albion knitting made in haringey the chic geek menswearLeft - 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.

peter millar made in UK knitwear the chic geek menswearRight - 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. 

Published in Fashion
Wednesday, 18 November 2015 11:19

Hot List - The Grey Made In England Trainer

marks spencer walsh trainer

Making it onto TheChicGeek's Hot List is a pair of made in England trainers. The majority of people would be surprised to learn that there are still manufacturers making trainers in this country.

Bolton to be precise. Norman Walsh make these classy looking trainers for Marks & Spencer's latest AW15 Best of British collection, where they support British manufacturing.

The first casual shoes within the range, they come in this handsome grey colour which look just as good with joggers as with more formal trousers.

Left & Below - Marks & Spencer - Best of British - Trainer - Grey - £99walsh made in britain trainer marks spencer

Published in Fashion
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