You’ve probably realised I’m a bit obsessed with Fila Vintage right now. I can't get enough of their faithful and authentic recreations of their 70s and 80s archive. I was sporting one of their striped T-shirts, like the one Bjorn Borg is wearing, pictured left, at the ponds on Hampstead Heath over the weekend and one of the fellow swimmers said I looked like the 118 guy! Yes! This is definitely the look you should be going for!
With Wimbledon starting this week, it’s time to get involved with the short short and get your inspiration from two of the most iconic of tennis stars. A favourite of the Bjorn Borg/McEnroe era, the white short short is the go to for the man who wants to give his thighs a little bit of breathing space.
Fila has been reselling these shorts for a few years now, but it feels so right. Perfect for holiday, it shows you don't take yourself too seriously in a Wes Anderson type sports outfit way. The headband is optional. #legsout
Below - Fila Vintage - MK2 Settanta Shorts - £39 from www.80scasualclassics.co.uk
I think we all know how competitive it is at the lower end of the clothing market. But, it was an e-mail, a few weeks ago, from Marks & Spencer that really summed up where we are. It was announcing their new range of men’s ‘Quick Dry Swim Shorts’, all pretty standard for this time of year, but it was the price that caught my eye. A bargain £10! This is cheaper than Topman, cheaper than River Island and even New Look. It’s certainly cheap for M&S and, then, you realise all the retailers are busy racing to the bottom.
What this means is, in order for those companies to make money, they need to shift a hell of a lot of product. British retailers are currently playing a game of poker, holding their hand i.e. keeping prices low, waiting for their competitors to fold.
Left - Pep&Co at Poundland SS17
But, if this game wasn’t tough enough, new competition is entering the market which will only increase pressure on those margins and unsustainable volumes.
For example, Poundland has entered the clothing market. Their in-house brand, Pep&Co, launched into stores in March this year.
They've already opened over 50 Poundland shop-in-shops with another 50 or so planned for the second half of 2017. The chain, which was bought by the South African group Steinhoff International, expects to put Pep&Co clothing outlets in up to 200 of its 850 stores over the longer term.
Pep&Co was founded by Andy Bond, who once ran Asda’s George clothing label, with backing from the South African tycoon and Steinhoff shareholder Christo Wiese.
The first shop opened in Kettering, Northamptonshire, in July 2015 and the chain opened its first 50 stores in less than two months.
If people are wearing Poundland, it means they aren’t wearing another brand. This isn’t about sneering at this end of the market, it’s about wondering who will go out of business first. It's unsustainable.
The market is saturated and these business models only work if you can order huge volumes and shift it fast.
This is new competition for all the supermarket brands plus Peacocks and Primark and traditional high-street retailers like M&S and Debenhams are more keenly pricing their offering. Add discount brands such as TK Maxx and the neverending discounts and sales and you have an environment that is harder to make profit in.
Consumers are being squeezed with higher inflation and low wages and are generally satisfied with cheaper clothes. They can't or don't want to pay more.
Then add the internet, with Boohoo offering bargain fashion-led clothing and websites such as EverythingFivePounds, where everything is, literally, five pounds, and you have the perfect storm to implode some of the giants of the British high-street. Arcadia, the owner of Topman, is already seeing revenues fall and Topman is looking increasingly expensive against the competition.
In this game of pound wars poker, who will run out of chips and fold first?
Left - Louis Vuitton? No, Everythingfivepounds - £5
Established in 2012, Lqd is a proudly Australian brand and a collection of superb and effective skincare solutions ‘designed specifically by men for mankind’. The Lqd range is targeted towards men who care about their appearance, with products that address common skincare concerns, such as dryness, redness, breakouts, and ageing. Lqd understands men’s skin, and has built a loyal following across the fitness-focused community— it is not merely women’s skincare, repacked and marketed to men.
Left - Fresh from Australia Lqd - Liquid - Skincare
Melbourne-based founders and life partners Anthony McDonough and Chris Glebatsas are the living, breathing embodiment of the brand, impressive physical ambassadors who both embrace a holistic lifestyle philosophy built around three pillars: Diet, Training and Skincare.
McDonough originally trained as an organic chemist, and applies a no-nonsense practicality to Lqd’s innovative product line-up. “If you’re anything like me, you’re active.” he says, “and when you train hard, you shower often, so you need products to remove the sweat and grime of life that aren’t too harsh, with the ability to replenish the balance of oils in your skin. I searched the world to find products that lived up to this and after 20 years of not finding what I needed, I created Lqd to fill that void.”
TheChicGeek says, “LQD - Liquid - Skin Care launched with great fanfare during the recent London Men’s Fashion Week - LFWM. Fresh from Australia and said to be the biggest selling grooming brand in Sephora - that’s a big deal - I was interested to see what it had in store.
On first glance, on the branding and packaging, I thought this was in the ‘affordable’ category, but with Face Wash at £30 and Moisturiser at £45, this is ‘prestige or premium.
I tried the Face Wash, Eye product, ‘Calm’ moisturiser and ‘Hydrate’ moisturiser. They also have a Blemish product, Shave and a Face Scrub.
Overall, these products are good and feel like quality. The face wash is a nice, thick consistency yet light and gentle. I presumed the ‘calm’ moisturiser was for after shaving and is a decent everyday moisturiser. I couldn’t tell any difference between the two moisturisers and was disappointed from an Australian company there wasn't any UV protection.
Left - The Eye product looking a little bit like a bottle of poppers?!
The negative I have is the branding and packaging. It doesn't look prestige and the logo feels a bit 90s sex education show - remember Margi Clarke?! - the Blemish and Eye products even look like bottles of poppers. I feel it needs more maturity.
It’s also a shame it doesn't feel more Australian especially considering the modern, outdoors/gym focussed start to this brand and something which Australia does well.”
Available exclusively at Harrods and directly from www.Lqd.co.uk
The current obsession with the eighties shows no signs of abating and the Italian Memphis group of designers, from that period, have come to represent and define an era which was a riot of bold primary colours and clashing patterns. This is the age of MTV and Beetlejuice, a time when post-modernism was new and Timmy Mallett was a style icon. Okay, well, maybe not the last bit!
Fashion is taking inspiration from that time and the furniture has become increasingly collectible and expensive. The café, at the recent LFWM, had a few pieces to really cement its status.
This top from ASOS is pure Memphis, with its strong clashing colours and asymmetric design, and at £16 is far from those escalating 'modern classic' prices.
Left & Below - ASOS - £16
Above - Collection of 1980s Italian Memphis furniture
It seems we need an occasion to wear a tie, today. So, what better an occasion then, than watching tall posh boys grunt and strain while pushing along the River Thames?
Hackett has teamed up with Henley Regatta for their first clothing tie-up in their long history. Featuring striped rowing blazers - which I’m all about ATM - here - and branded tops, it’s this tie which really caught my eye. The design is fun yet still firmly in the club mould and is a great price for a Made in England tie.
Left & Below - Hackett - Henley Royal Regatta Man Row Stripe Tie - £65
Flaming June made her appearance as Jermyn Street was transformed into a blazing celebration of men’s style. The festival spirit took over the Mayfair thoroughfare as the usual hum of traffic was replaced by the buzz of a catwalk space and a handpicked selection of British food and drink vendors.
The third open air catwalk show from St James’s London showcased the best of the current season from retailers within the St James’s area. Key pieces from contemporary brands Paul & Shark and Norwegian Rain were mixed with heritage favourites such as New & Lingwood and Turnbull & Asser. Styled by Grace Gilfeather, Fashion Editor at GQ, it ran the full wardrobe gamut from formal to holiday.
I took my place on the front row and saw the updating of timeless British style using knitwear from JohnSmedley, luxury basics from Sunspel and key outerwear styles. Reimagined for the 21st century gentleman, while rooted in the foundations of St James’s which has drawn men’s shoppers for centuries, this showcase was a timely reminder how very relevant and important this part of London is to the British menswear industry.
If only our dads were as well groomed as we are. They can but dream! But, we, as their more knowledgeable sons, can also give them a helping hand. I’ve teamed up with L’Occitane - pronounced - locksy-tan - from the sunny fields of Provence in France to bring you the best of their men’s tailored products just in time for Father’s Day.
To stop you feeling overwhelmed, I’ve picked my top 5 favourites from L’Occitane’s extensive range of men’s products and gift sets, all inspired by the natural wonders of Provence and its many traditions, to cover every type of dad and price point.
To make your life even easier, enjoy complimentary gift wrapping in a Provençal-style box. Simply select 'Send my order gift wrapped' at checkout. That’s that sorted then. Happy Father’s Day!
Fresh Dad - Cedrat Collection For Men - £52
Nothing smells as clean and crisp as citrus in men’s grooming. Centred around the cedrat fruit, this is classic, fresh and masculine. Containing 3 products: a fragrance, a shower gel and, L’Occitane’s latest launch, a deodorant, these generous sizes will see your dad through the next few months. Blow the budget.
Hero Dad - Eau des Baux Eau de Toilette - £46
Sensual and mysterious, this fragrance features top notes of red peppercorn and cardamom essential oil on a warm heart of Provencal cypress and incense. Les Baux de Provence is a legendary city-fortress in the south of France and the medieval Knights of Les Baux chose cypress as symbol of strength and courage. Perfect for your hero of a dad.
Clean-Cut Dad - Cade Grooming Duo - £32
Enriched with a purifying and stimulating complex of cade - also known as juniper tar - essential oil, protecting shea butter, moisturising vegetable-based glycerine, soothing bisabolol and firming extract of birch sap, this set contains all the essentials for a perfect shave. The set includes a Cade Shaving Cream and Cade After Shave Balm.
Youthful Dad - Cedrat Energizing Eye Gel - £24
Men always show their age around their eyes, so you’ll dad will thank you for giving his a little TLC with this. Enriched with organic Corsican cedrat extract, with energising properties, the Eye Gel moisturises and revives the eye area, providing triple action. The skin of the eye area is immediately toned and the appearance of dark circles and puffiness is reduced. It helps to revitalise the skin around the eyes and the massaging ball in the roll-on tip gives a feeling of cooling freshness upon application.
Chilled Dad - Sleep Well - Good Night’s Sleep Ritual - £34
What if your dad doesn’t use grooming products and isn’t likely to? Well, breathe in, breathe out and relax… With a 100% natural scent, this Relaxing Shower Gel sends a relaxing olfactory message. To complete his new ritual and create a calming atmosphere, spray the Relaxing Pillow Mist before going to bed and the fragrant molecules create a soothing sensation, conducive to a peaceful, relaxing night's sleep.
The sport of rowing is dominated by the stereotypes of posh athletic giants called ‘Constantine’ or ‘Toby’. Their arrogance only surpassed by their prowess with a couple of oars and the Lycra in their rowing suits. But, off-duty they stick to tradition and continue to wear their team colours. The blazer was invented to be part of the rowing fraternity's uniform and as part of British culture, and our continual love affair with uniforms, it often takes an outsider to see and appreciate what we have and repackage and present something that has always existed.
Just when we thought ‘preppy’ was dead and wasn’t coming back for a while, we see green shoots appearing, and a new label like ‘Rowing Blazers’, reinventing and adding more fun to this seasonal British style.
Founded by Jack Carlson, a three-time member of the United States national rowing team, Rowing Blazers’ aim is to reintroduce one of the originals in men’s sportswear. The days when ‘sportswear’ still meant you wore a tie. He won a bronze medal for the U.S.A. at the 2015 World Championships and has also won the Head of the Charles Regatta, Henley Royal Regatta, and Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. Jack earned his doctorate in archaeology at the University of Oxford and is the author of the book Rowing Blazers (Thames & Hudson, 2014).
Left - Jack Carlson, founder of the American rowing blazer specialists, Rowing Blazers
Impressed the brand’s website and his passion for reintroducing this loud heritage style, I sent him a few ChicGeek questions to find out more:
CG: Why the fixation on rowing blazers?
JC: I spent a long time in the sport of rowing: nearly two decades, including three years on the US national team, so I've been immersed in this world for a while. But I've also been very interested in heraldry and in the visual and sartorial trappings of status and hierarchy for a long time as well. And I think the blazers that are traditional in the sport of rowing bring together all of those interests: menswear, heraldry, and the sport of rowing.
CG: When did you start? And what was the Eureka moment?
JC: I first competed at Henley Royal Regatta in 2004. My crew was knocked out in the first round, which was pretty disappointing. But it meant I had a great deal of time to spend in the spectator enclosures for the rest of the week, where I began chatting with other current and former rowers about their jackets and the stories and traditions behind them. I thought: someone should study these things, write a book about them. Six or seven years later, I realised I should be the guy to do it. The book came out in 2014, and the company - making blazers by hand, and incorporating a lot of details, traditions and construction techniques I came across while creating the book - launched this year.
CG: How have you found the reception to them?
JC: People from all sorts of different backgrounds love what we're doing. Menswear nerds love the research that has gone into everything we do and the quality of the construction and materials. The rowing community respect the authenticity and pedigree of what we're doing. The Japanese - we have a significant following in Asia - love the fact that our pieces are handmade in America. We've even had a positive response from many streetwear fanatics, who like the irreverent spirit, the cryptic Latin graffiti, and the graphics on our caps and badges.
Right - Rowing Blazers - Croquet Stripe Blazer - $995
CG: What would you say to those people who say that preppy is dead or is out of fashion?
JC: Preppy is dead. Long live preppy. I hate much of what that word has come to signify, and I think much of what it's come to signify is pretty dead for now. I think the consumer - at least the higher end menswear consumer - wants something with authenticity, with a story, a sense of meaning behind it. This consumer wants to know where, how, why, and from a product was made. Our pieces have tremendous depth to them; from the 3-roll-2 silhouette of our blazers, to the small embroidered faucet motif on our ties, there's a story and a reason behind every decision; and our pieces are all handmade in the US. So our collection is very different from much of what is usually considered to be "preppy" nowadays; but blue Oxford cloth button downs; flannel blazers - in navy or more outrageous colours; and webbing belts will never go out of style.
CG: Do you mostly concentrate on rowing teams and clubs or are you targeting a fashion consumer?
JC: We are a menswear brand first and foremost, but we are also proud to make blazers for a wide range of rowing teams and clubs, including Britain's most prestigious rowing club, Leander Club in Henley-on-Thames. We've also created blazers for rowing clubs in China - which is pretty cool considering we make everything in Manhattan; Oxford Brookes; the University of Texas - for whom we made blazer-cowboy jacket hybrids; and many other clubs, schools and universities.
CG: I’ve always loved the British Army blazer that I saw at Henley, would you make one of those?
JC: We might do something in camo, but we are always very careful to be respectful of existing club blazers, and would never "knock off' any institution's blazer.
CG: What’s your favourite style & why?
JC: My favourite piece in our collection is the 8x3 double breasted blazer, which is inspired by a blazer Prince Charles always wears. One never sees an 8x3 double breasted blazer on the market, so we had to make one. With five cuff buttons, an oversized front button from a vintage die, and a perfect fit, it came out brilliantly.
Left - Rowing Blazers - 8X3 Double Breasted Blazer ‘Prince Charlie’ $1095
CG: Do you ship to the UK? Isn't this a bit like taking coals to Newcastle?!
JC: We ship worldwide. Although the UK is the land of the blazer, no one is doing what we are doing: it's our commitment to quality and traditional techniques that's enabled us to become the official blazer supplier to Leander Club, Oxford Brookes University Boat Club and many other British institutions while making everything in New York. We are chatting with several British menswear retailers about going into their stores as well, and they understand that we are a high end brand with a unique product; they wouldn't be looking at us if they viewed us as a school uniform supplier!
CG: What would you say to those people who say rowing is elitist?
JC: Rowing has its roots in Oxbridge, but also the far more blue collar world of professional sculling. It developed not only through public schools and the Putney clubs, but also through many working man's clubs around England. Today many still associate the sport with Oxbridge because of the prominence of the Oxford-Cambridge race, but the truth is the sport is becoming more accessible and more universal all the time. British Rowing has done a great job bringing the sport into many new communities in the UK. I'm part of an organisation in the US, here in New York, called Row New York, which is a highly competitive rowing program for kids from the city's underserved communities. They've just qualified a boat for the national championships for the first time, which is fantastic to see.
CG: What’s the future for Rowing Blazers?
JC: We’ll be expanding into a few other categories and also expanding our retail footprint; we have a lot of pop-ups planned, including at Henley and Goodwood Revival; and we'll be going into a number of stores in Japan, Taiwan and China in the next few months. We have some cool collaborations planned with Merz b. Schwanen, a very cool and historic German knitwear manufacturer, and a few other exciting brands. We are really just getting started.
CG: You don’t just sell blazers? What else do you sell?
JC: We also make shirts in a few different styles. They are pretty unique because they are hand-distressed - here in the US! - and come with or without busted seams. They've been a hit with the more street-oriented customer actually. We also do hats, belts, ties -- many featuring satin-stitch embroidery, or hand-embroidered wire bullion motifs - and a wide range of rare, funky and quirky vintage product.
One of the success stories of the British high-street over the last decade, Superdry, knows how to do summer. Known for their statement T-shirts and relaxed cargo shorts, this is carefree menswear to blow out those partying cobwebs.
This summer Superdry are all over holiday vibes, but forget the beach- we all know the real fun starts when the night kicks in. Running down side streets to unplanned parties and night swimming, those warm holiday nights are the best.
The men’s collection features tropical prints, graphic tees, vests and swim shorts, alongside flip-flops and sliders in a variety of colours. Follow the story here
Where will your holiday nights take you? #TheNightIsYoung
Left, Right & Below - Get holiday ready & own the whole night in Superdry Holiday SS17
See the full video below
The first ever UK exhibition on the Spanish fashion designer, Cristóbal Balenciaga, and his continuing influence on modern fashion opens at the V&A. The exhibition marks the centenary of the opening of Balenciaga’s first fashion house in San Sebastian, Spain and the 80th anniversary of the opening of his famous fashion house in Paris.
Left - The man himself, Cristóbal Balenciaga
TheChicGeek says, “While I love the V&A’s Fashion Gallery, the big exhibition space, where Pink Floyd currently is, is usually larger and something to get more excited about. But, this exhibition feels less cramped than previous exhibitions in the space - see Underwear here - and upstairs has a nice, spacious flow.
Balenciaga, as a designer, was serious. Those black voluminous gowns seem to sum up his lack of fun. He feels strict in that Spanish Catholic way, manifesting itself in his designs using lace and the Spanish Mantilla. You don’t get much feel for the man or his personality, but I think that’s how he liked it. He only gave one interview in his life, and that was just before he died.
Left - Known for his elegant volumes, Balenciaga was one of the great couturiers of the 20th century
The name disappeared into the history books when he closed his house and only came back into common culture with its revival around 20 year's ago when Gucci’s parent company, Kering, bought it alongside Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.
Downstairs is a collection of pieces, mostly coats and dresses, from his most prolific period the 1960s. These are sculptural clothes for pictures and striking as they are, when they become practical, to enter the real world, particularly the commissions by the rich Americans, they look dated and frumpy. His volumes work on their own, but on people they add bulk and often swallow the wearer. These aren't easy wearing pieces.
Some of his pieces aren’t practical either. The wearer couldn’t sit down or go to the toilet in 'Envelope' dress, for example, but this doesn't detract from its beauty.
This was the golden age of 20th century of couture and while he produced ready-to-wear with his 'Eisa' range, his heart was in his exacting standards and the fine fabrics he used.
Left - The 'Envelope' dress, 1967, a design you couldn't sit down or go to the toilet in
Balenciaga is more a collection of one-off greatest hits than themed seasons in the vain of Saint Laurent. These weren’t particularly well documented, even though they were huge, between 150 to 200 looks, as the press weren’t allowed into his shows, so the main imagery is striking black and white shoots in the magazines at the time which have entered in the common psyche of 20th century fashion images.
Upstairs is a large display with a varied selection of designers, both old and new, paying homage to the volumes that Balenciaga pioneered. There are a couple of men’s pieces by JW Anderson and Rory Parnell-Mooney to illustrate that his influence isn’t restricted solely to womenswear.
Left - JW Anderson paying homage to Balenciaga with his tulip trousers
There are a couple of pieces from the new Balenciaga, under Demna Gvasalia, who is producing great things and referencing the house while making it feel contemporary. Unfortunately, there isn't a blue Ikea bag in sight!
Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion until 18th February 2018. Admission £12