Wednesday, 24 October 2018 09:56

ChicGeek Comment Only Billion Dollar Brands

Christopher Kane divesting from KeringIt was while watching the Alexander McQueen documentary at the beginning of the summer - Read TheChicGeek Review here -  when I wondered where the subsequent crop of young designer brands were. 

The British based designers who were the generation after McQueen and showed so much promise - Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Mary Katranzhou, J.W. Anderson etc. - and despite some investment, just haven’t been able to scale up their brands in the same way McQueen and Stella McCartney were able to.

Left - Christopher Kane's only permanent store on London's Mount Street

I realised that this was a signifier of how the luxury market has changed and the days of nurturing fledgling brands into ‘Mega Brands’ are over. It illustrates the saturation in the market and it’s all about making big brands even bigger, today. “If you’re not going to be a billion dollar brand, then it’s probably not worth our time", is the new attitude. It probably explains the reason why Michael Kors recently bought Versace. Read more ChicGeek Comment here

David Watts, Founder, Watts What Magazine, says, “I suspect that this is more to do with the parent company realising that these businesses are not scaleable - or to the extent of other portfolio brands and cutting their losses.”

“In the current very challenging retail market and designer wholesale model not being as robust as it used to be, brands need to shore up cash and also give themselves a buffer,” says Watts.

J W Anderson divesting from Kering

“For the larger groups though, bigger really is better,” says Sandra Halliday, Editor-in-chief (UK), Fashionnetwork.com. “When they take on a brand, they want it to have billion dollar potential, or at least to occupy a strong niche that will guarantee high profit margins. The stakes these days are too high to do anything else,” she says.

When the Gucci Group invested in McQueen, Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga in 2001, it signalled the moment the luxury fashion industry was in full expansion mode and opening stores all over the globe. Following that, there was a raft of investment in the generation after, with Kering - formally Gucci Group  -  investing in Christopher Kane in 2013 and LVMH investing in Nicholas Kirkwood and J.W. Anderson in the same year.  Everybody was billed “as the next…” but it just hasn’t materialised. Well, not in consumers’ heads anyway.

Now, brands are going into reverse; fashion’s answer to “Conscious Uncoupling”. Stella McCartney just bought back the 50 per cent she didn’t own from Kering and rumour has it, Christopher Kane, is in talks to buy back the 51 percent stake from the French group after a 5-year partnership.

Right - J.W. Anderson single store in East London

Halliday says, “I think in Stella McCartney’s case there was a genuine desire to run her own show and given the strength of her brand, that’s understandable.”

“For Christopher Kane it’s probably more about Kering focusing its resources and its time on its big winners, and that makes sense with Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga doing so well and Bottega Veneta needing lots of TLC,” she says.

“It give them a certain freedom and with the knowledge and experience learned (hopefully) as being part of a large group that they know how to be more careful with finances and astute with merchandising and keeping overheads down,” says Watts.

“Staying small, focussed and niche with a direct to consumer model could work for some brands, but it’s also very tough to make serious money at that scale,” says Watts.  “Of course, there are possibly different and extenuating circumstances for why these brands find themselves in their current predicament. What does it tell you that LVMH and Kering cannot make Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane, Edun and Tomas Maier work…..gonna be tough for them as independents however the chips may fall,” he says.

Announced this year, LVMH has severed ties with Edun, Bono’s ethical fashion brand, and Kering has closed Tomas Maier, previously the Creative Director at their other brand, Bottega Veneta. These brands will have to regress back to start-up mode and think small again if they are to survive.

“In many ways, the future prospects of small designers hoping to break into the big time are quite depressing as the barriers to doing that are very high.” says Halliday. “But, on another level, the internet offers opportunities that didn’t exist just 20 years ago. The combination of a well-run e-store and a physical flagship can actually be a very cost-effective way of reaching the maximum number of consumers.” she says.

“Even if smaller labels can build profitable businesses, the chances are that the end result will be a hoped-for takeover by a bigger group, or by private equity investors, as that’s the kind of investment that’s really needed to make the transition into bona fide big-name brand,” says Halliday. “And all of that doesn’t even factor in what might happen if the luxury boom runs out of steam at any point,” she says.

Those brands fitting somewhere between these smaller designers and the giant groups are making their play for their futures too. Versace has already taken shelter in a bigger American group and other Italian family brands are sensing this shift and deciding on which side of the billion dollar divide they aspire to be on. Missoni opened its ownership up to Italian state-backed investment fund FSI for a cash injection of €70 million, in exchange for a 41.5 percent stake and rumours continually circle around Ferragamo suggesting they are looking for investment or a new owner.

Belgian designer, Dries Van Noten, recently sold a majority stake in his eponymous fashion brand to Spanish cosmetics group Puig.

“Dries Van Noten is 60 and after 30 years if he keeps creative control and remains chairman of his brand, then cashing in a huge stake gives him financial security, and also Puig brings cosmetics, beauty and fragrance know-how,” says Watts. “It could be huge for a brand such as Dries Van Noten - it’s a win win for him on paper.”

“Most people who are outside of the fashion (production) industry really have no idea both how complicated it as and how hard it is to make money,” says Watts.  “Fashion wholesale is broken and fashion retail is in freefall,” he says.

Disappointingly, the focus has moved away from talent to bankability. Young designers who were previously given a leg-up with investment look too high a risk and expensive for today’s investors. It seems that only those brands breaking that billon dollar turnover ceiling are worth focussing on. You can increase profit margins by making less, but in larger volumes and become a more dominant force. It is more of a risk having fewer brands, but you can win bigger and Kering is clearly taking pole position right now.

Read more ChicGeek Comments - here

Published in Fashion

Can fashion ever be sustainable? linen flax celc

Fashion, in its nature, isn’t logical. Before things are broken or unusable we move onto consuming the next item all under the umbrella of ‘fashion’. It’s a huge, global business which basically comes down to us buying more things than we need and, also, new things before our existing things are redundant or can no longer fulfil their purpose. 

It’s also very creative and what makes us human beings.

Left - Northern European fields full of flax

It’s therefore not in the fashion business’ interest to get us, as consumers, to buy or use less. So, what we’ve seen over the latest few years is many retailers using the term ‘sustainable’ to give our consumption the gloss of being better or even good for the environment while continuing to encourage us to buy even larger amounts.

It’s difficult for retailers and brands to tell us to buy less or not at all. They want us to feel good while we are shopping, but can ‘fashion’ ever be sustainable and what does ‘sustainable’ even mean?

Bruce Montgomery, Course leader BA hons Fashion UCA Epsom/Menswear Consultant, says, “While it’s a mammoth task, fashion needs to become sustainable. The industry is over producing, this is leading to excessive consumption with 300,000 tons of clothing being dumped on landfill either by both retailers and consumers rather than recycled. Patagonia’s don’t buy this jacket campaign and Stella McCartney’s fashion campaign shot with models lying in landfill tried to raise awareness to the problem, but much more industry commitment is needed.”

“Brands have understood its positive to be seen as ‘sustainable’. This has led to many jumping on the marketing bandwagon without any commitment and just greenwashing the surface of the topic. The word unfortunately is in danger of being watered down in the same way the word ‘luxury’ is now applied to fast fashion products. Why should consumers believe brands when they discover there is no substance behind a brand’s sustainable stance or strategy?” says Montgomery.

Niche brands with stringent green credentials are really trying to separate themselves from the mainstream ‘sustainable’ bandwagon. Swedish, independent outdoor clothing brand, Houdini, aims to “become fully circular in sustainability - and setting the standard for sustainable fashion and its mission towards ‘impact positive’ status”. Ninety one percent of their product is made from recycled, recyclable, renewable, biodegradable or Bluesign - it eliminates harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for an environmentally friendly and safe production - certified fabrics.

Eva Karlsson, CEO, Houdini Sportswear, says, "We find ‘sustainability’ not only a boring phrase, but an underwhelming ambition. To be sustainable should be seen as the bare minimum for an organisation’s social and environmental impact. Imagine a world where businesses set out to have a positive impact on the planet, and customers demanded it.”

Can fashion ever be ‘sustainable’? “With the knowledge and available technologies of today fashion (as in apparel) could and should be way closer to sustainable than what is currently the case. The trouble is best technologies and best practices are seldom implemented by retailers and brands, or some are implemented for one specific product or product group rather than for the big bulk. This is true not only for environmental factors, but for social and ethical factors as well.” says Karlsson.

“There are numerous reasons for this. Lack of guts and willpower to change, lack of knowledge, lack of time in an ever speedier fast fashion market. On the systemic level hinders are built into the system – buyers and sustainability managers are often working in their separate silos, the pricing structures of today work against the transition to sustainable business practices and regulations are poor.” she says.

Can fashion ever be sustainable? linen flax celc water consumptionIs the future buying differently then? The Victoria & Albert Museum recently held an exhibition entitled ‘Fashioned From Nature’ looking at the materials and inspiration the fashion industry has taken from nature. It was sponsored by CELC, The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp and they used the exhibition to highlight and promote this natural fibre - linen.

Marie-Emmanuelle Belzung, Director, CELC, The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp, says, “Not many people know – almost nobody – that three countries in Europe are the worldwide leader in flax production: France, Belgium and the Netherlands. More than 80 per cent of worldwide production comes from these three. And the quality from here is far superior to elsewhere, because the climate and conditions are perfect, and the knowledge and expertise are far superior. So, linen production is very local – you can see the fields from the Eurostar.”

Right - Flax - linen - grows naturally with no irrigation

“And there is no irrigation – no water needed, no GMO, no waste, no poison going into the water system, which is vital when you consider the demand for water in the future. Plus, linen is a good local employer: it takes five times more labour than wheat, because flax is a very technical crop. More technical than corn or wheat or other agricultural products that might occupy the fields. Then, the process of transferring the plant to the fibre is purely mechanical, involving no chemistry. Linen is natural, and entirely sustainable.” says Belzung.

Compared to cotton, which uses enormous amounts of pesticides and water, linen is a local European crop and is underused in fashion with many associating it with seasonal summer shirts and suits.

“Linen’s continued popularity is thanks to innovation. In the last ten years, linen the textile has enjoyed two major innovations. Knitted fabric has developed thanks to innovation on the yarn. Knitted linen overturns one stereotype: it is linen that does not wrinkle. Second is washed linen, which gives the fabric some pep and so seduces a new generation of consumers. Makes linen soft and chic.” says Belzung.

“In our special project with Chelsea College of Arts the concept of linen as a sports fabric – natural moisture management, naturally hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial – was one of the strongest ideas. Of course, blending anything with petro-chemicals diminishes the sustainability argument. Flax fibres are also being combined with eco-plastics to create, for example, car interiors, speakers and sporting equipment such as skis.” she says.

Flax fibreLinen is a perfect example of how consumers can swap one fabric for another. If consumers have a choice between a white cotton shirt and a white linen shirt, with this knowledge, they can make a more educated decision with less environmental impact.

Montgomery says, “We are consuming more cotton than we are growing, so materials like flax will need to be used more by designers in the future. An education programme will be needed because, while brands continue to use cotton, consumers will buy it instead of alternatives such as flax because they are familiar with it. The Copenhagen Sustainable Fashion Summit has been very successful in getting high profile leaders from academia and industry together to discuss sustainability, but it is still only covering the converted. The loop from producer to consumer needs to be joined up.”

Right - Raw linen on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum Exhibition ‘Fashioned From Nature

“We need the whole industry to understand that sustainability needs to be applied to all aspects of the fashion business. Starting from yarns to fabric, manufacture, producing less through better range planning, making more locally, as well as recycling. Technology is being used to resolve the issue and their are new developments coming through such as polymer recycling, but this will take time. A lot more can be done in the short term simply by every brand making a sustainable commitment. The Kering group for example have been very pro active in enforcing their sustainable strategy across the group, while the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is researching new ways to inspire a generation to re-think, re-design and build a better future through a circular economy.” he says. 

“If the industry would let go of business as usual and decide on making the transition without compromise it could do so today. With emerging technology it could reach even further, becoming truly sustainable, restorative and even regenerative.” says Karlsson.

I don’t think it’s realistic to ask people to buy less. It’s even more patronising to ask people with less money not to buy cheaper clothes. We need people to buy differently while we wait for technology and economics to close the circle on fashion items. 

In the future, I can see us recycling our clothes like we do with other recyclables. Putting them into piles according to their fibre make up. This will satisfy the speed of fashion and also the in-built disposabiltiy.

Things need to go around and around and around. It’s not enough for something to be made out of plastic bottles once. It, itself, needs to be recyclable and then into something else and then something else. We need to close the loop. That is sustainable.

Published in Fashion

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Prada

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Dior Homme

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Fendi

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Hermes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear SS World Corp

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Maison Margiela

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Jacquemus

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Prada

Male Daisy Dukes

Putting the duke into Daisy Duke, okay, so they're usually denim, but these shorts are seriously short.

Top Left - Prada, Dior Homme, Fendi, Hermès

From Left - SS World Corp, Maison Margiela, Jacquemus, Prada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Prada Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Alyx Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Balmain Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear CMMN SWDN Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Off White Denim

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Valentino DenimSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Versace Denim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Bad Denim

Is there any other type of denim these days? It keeps on getting worse and it ain't going away.

Above - Prada, Alyx, Balmain, CMMN SWDN, Off-White

Left - Valentino, Versace

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Summer Roll Necks Prada

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Summer Roll Necks Prada

Summer Roll-Neck

Burnt neck? Don’t worry the summer roll-neck's got you. These were made for a British summer.

Left - Both - Prada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Summer Dries van Noten brown

Brown Art Suit

I just love this. Simples.

Left - Dries van Noten

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Summer 1960s Prada

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear SS19 Raf Simons Verner Panton

'60s shapes

Verner Panton was the inspiration at Dries (left) and this carried over to Prada and Raf. 

Left - Prada, Raf Simons

Long Cuffs

If you've seen more untucking than Rupaul's Drag Race, it's now time to let those French cuffs hangout. Goodbye cufflinks!

Below Both - Alexander McQueen

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Alexander McQueen

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Alexander McQueen

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Cape Alexander McQueenSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear CMMN SWDNSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Maison Margiela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arm Caping

Caping was once massive eyeroll at fashion week, but, now, you can put your shoulders in!

From Left - Alexander McQueen, CMMN SWDN, Maison Margiela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Raf SimonsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Raf Simons

The Scarf With Coat Attached

Trust Raf Simons do give us something we didn't know we needed. It won't blow away!

Below - Raf Simons, Raf Simons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Dries van Noten Green CoatSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Raf Simons Green Satin CoatSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des Garcons

Green Man

How many green coats do you own? Exactly. Nothing welcomes spring like the Green Man. May Day alert!

Left - Dries van Noten, Raf Simons, Comme des Garcons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Raf SimonsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Dolce & Gabbana Green ManSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Thom Browne Green Man

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow VersaceLeft - Dunhill, Dolce & Gabbana, Thom Browne, Versace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Raf Simons

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Dior Homme

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Ermenegildo ZegnaYellow

Yellow hasn't mellowed, in fashion terms, it's just got brighter.

From Left - Raf Simons, Dior Homme, Ermenegildo Zegna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Raf Simons

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Raf Simons

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow Jacquemus

Left - Hermès, Thom Browne, Jacquemus, Versace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Ami Baby Bucket HatSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Baby Bucket Hat FendiSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Bucket Hat Stella McCartney

Baby Bonnets

Don't be a dummy, get a bucket hat with the baby ties.

From Left - Ami, Fendi, Stella McCartney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des Garcons

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des Garcons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Longer DB

This season saw the beginnings of something more grown-up and less novelty. It starts with the double-breasted, longer jacket.

Above From Left - Ami, Dior Homme, CMMN SWDN, Dunhill, Versace

Below - Left - Kenzo, Louis Vuitton, Paul Smith, Stella McCartney, Thom Browne

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des Garcons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear CMMN SWDN shiny shirtSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Yellow shirt WooyoungmiSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Dior Homme

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shiny Shirt

We've had latex and leather trousers, now, it's time for the shiny, plastic looking shirt.

From Left - CMMN SWDN, Wooyoungmi, Dior Homme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Maison Margiela Half HalfHalf & HalfSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Alexander McQueen

Yin & Yang your look. It's as clear as night and day.

From Left - Maison Margiela, Alexander McQueen

Deconstructed Army

You won't find this in any army surplus shop, but it makes you want to get in the big outdoors.

Below From Left - DSquared2, Neil Barrett

 

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear DSquared2 align=SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Neil Barrett Army

SS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Comme des GarconsSS19 Trends Short Shorts Menswear Versace Home Knits

Home Knits

Just say 'Auntie Donatella knitted it for me, daarling!'.

From Left - Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Versace

Published in Fashion
Thursday, 29 March 2018 12:17

Label To Know CASABLANCA 1942

Raffia summer shoes Casablanca 1942

When I started in this business summer shoe options consisted of cheap flimsy flip-flops or jelly-sandals for those pebbled British beaches. There was little or no choice and there certainly wasn’t any style - even though jelly sandals are kind of bad cool ATM FYI!

Anyway, let me introduce ‘CASABLANCA 1942’ who are making some of the nicest and most beautifully crafted hot weather shoes I’ve seen. Started in May 2014 by Gabriela Ligenza, and inspired by the classic film and the year it was released, the shtick is raffia.

Left - Cesare

Raffia summer shoes Casablanca 1942 made in Morocco

The uppers are made from breathable natural raffia woven in Mogador, Morocco, and then construction takes place in Italy using the finest sustainable leather from French and Italian tanneries.

Right - The raffia comes from the raffia palm tree in Madagascar

The raffia fiber is obtained from the raffia palm tree, commonly found in Madagascar. The leaves of this little tree are cut into parallel lines resulting in the long fibers used in the weaving of the shoes. Unlike straw, raffia is stronger, hard-wearing and will mould to the feet when worn.

Polish-born Gabriela trained as an architect and interior designer at Fine Art Academy in Warsaw. She also designed hats before this venture. Based between London and her design studio south of Florence, Italy, she travels extensively for her inspirations and research. Gabriela has collaborated for the last 20 years with leading accessories and shoe designers for global brands like Salvatore Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta, Prada, Martin Margiela, Missoni, Paul Smith and Stella McCartney to develop hand woven raffia shoes produced using entirely traditional hand weaving techniques, but combining the craft with Italian know how and quality materials. 

Raffia summer shoes Casablanca 1942

The idea for Casablanca 1942 was conceived whilst sitting on a beach under the stars watching the film, Casablanca, with the background sound of the Atlantic and thinking “what would Rick wear in this intense and sweltering city?”

Each pair takes at least a day to make so the shoes are made in limited editions. After all, "true luxury should be not about the price, but in the uniqueness of the product," she says.

Left - Lace Up Trainers £260

Gabriela believes that helping local cooperatives to incorporate external developments and training improves the marketability of the local skills and products, respecting its identity, distinctiveness and preserving sustainability on a grass roots level.

Gabriela says the shoe styles are inspired by “trying to design the perfect summer shoe for my husband so he can get inspired to go on holidays more!”

Raffia summer shoes Casablanca 1942

There are a few thing to know to get the best out of your pair. You may find that the shoes are a bit tight when you wear them the first time, but they will soon give as they moulds to your feet. You might want to wear them with socks for the first time for your own comfort, but they are designed to be worn bare foot in very hot weather. 

Right - Woven Loafers - £228

If you feel that it rubs a bit too much on a certain area, it is recommended that you apply a wet cloth on this part of the shoe while it is on your foot, in order for the raffia to mould to your foot more quickly. 

Raffia, being a natural fiber, will feel very comfortable without socks as the fiber will keep your feet fresh and naturally ventilated. As they become yours, “they are even more special even when they start wearing in and fraying a bit,” says Gabriela.

These are really elegant and artisanal summer shoes and I don't think the photographs do them enough justice after seeing them in person at the recent Pitti Uomo show in Florence.

Available at Harrods in the UK

Published in Labels To Know
Monday, 02 October 2017 11:35

Buyer's Guide AW17 MATCHESFASHION.COM

Damien Paul, Head of Menswear, MATCHESFASHION.COM

“High concept streetwear label Cottweiler specialises in covetable sportswear pieces crafted from lightweight technical fabrics. This dark green track jacket with contrasting black and grape panels is the ultimate athleisure statement.”

Left - Cottweiler - Contrast-Panel Track Jacket - £406

“Stella McCartney’s burgeoning menswear offering has gone from strength to strength since its debut last season. For Autumn Winter 17, its knitwear that is a real highlight – this yellow sweater is loop-knitted for a tactile finish and fits to an oversized, relaxed shape – a key trend in knitwear for Autumn Winter 2017.”

Right - Stella McCartney - Crew-Neck Loop-Knit Sweater - £585

“For Autumn Winter 17, Brunello Cucinelli have capitalised on the corduroy trend led, most notably, by Prada. This tobacco-brown pair are impeccably crafted with refined sartorial detailing complete with front and back leg creases – a house-typical tailoring feature.”

Left - Brunello Cucinelli - Slim-Leg Corduroy Trousers - £530

“An unlikely trend to make a comeback is the 90’s belt bag – traditionally worn around the waist the latest iterations are designed to be worn ‘cross body’ front or back. This version by Porter-Yoshida & Co combines Japanese functionality with its multiple internal zip pockets with a refined minimal style on the exterior.”

Right - Porter-Yoshida & Co - Beat Cotton-Canvas Belt Bag - £210

"MATCHESFASHION.COM have partnered with LANVIN to launch a 10 piece exclusive collection for Autumn Winter 17. My pick is this contrast tartan and check long sleeve shirt – the ‘collage’ effect of the two clashing prints is a key tailoring trend this season -  making this luxe version the perfect statement piece.”

Below - Lanvin - Contrast-Sleeve Checked Brushed-Cotton Shirt - £495

Published in Buyer's Guides

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

Published in Fashion
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 18:16

Menswear Must Have The Cricket Jumper

Raf Simons Cricket Jumper The Chic GeekIt all started with Raf Simons with his AW16 collection and, now, it’s the knitwear neckline du jour. The quintessentially British cricket jumper has been grunged up and distressed and become less gentleman's summer sport and more urban and edgy thanks to designers such as Alessandro Michele at Gucci. Brands such as Stella McCartney and Kent & Curwen have all done their interpretation of the cricket V and there's plenty of mileage in this style as many brands such as the Spanish knitwear brand, Sweaterhouse, is showing them for AW17. If you don't want to pay designer prices then pop to your local sports store, university or school shop and buy the largest size they have.

Left - Raf Simons AW16 

Best Fashion Cricket Jumpers AMI MatchesfashioncomLeft - AMI - £225 - matchesfashion.com

Below - Prada SS17

Menswear Prada The Chic Geek

Stella McCartney Cricket Jumper The Chic GeekLeft - Stella McCartney - £570 MRPORTER.COM

Cricket jumper menswear Gucci Left - Gucci - £560 - MRPORTER.COM

Below - Kent & Curwen - £495 - MRPORTER.COM

Best Men's Cricket Jumpers Kent & Curwen

Raf Simons Oversized Cricket Jumper MenswearLeft - Raf Simons AW16

Cricket Jumper Smart Turnout The Chic Geek MenswearLeft - Smart Turnout - £149

Below - Cambridge University - Magdalene College Cricket Sweater - Ryder & Amies - £110

Cambridge University Cricket Jumper 

Published in Fashion
Monday, 28 November 2016 17:18

ChicGeek Comment Stella McCartney Menswear

Stella McCartney menswear swallowsIt’s hard and premature to judge a brand on their first collection. It takes around 2 or 3, ideally, to be able to assess properly and get a median point of view or an idea on whether you like it or not and want to commit, i.e. buy. The fashion set usually rush to rave, if it's good, or sit back, offer non-committal politeness and hope they advertise, if it isn't.Stella McCartney Chloe Melons Menswear

Far Left - Stella McCartney swallow print shirt - £485, Left - Twisting her melons! Chloe, circa Spring 2001, when Stella McCartney was the chief designer

I, unfortunately, couldn’t make the launch of Stella McCartney’s new menswear collection, so I’m judging on the SS17 lookbook and the couple of pieces they had at the recent matchesfashion.com press day.

Stella McCartney is a feminine label and because I’ve known this has been coming for a while, I’ve got my head around that being in the neck of the garment.

If you had asked me a few months ago what this was going to look like, I would have said something like Roland Mouret’s now defunct Mr. men’s collection: all dark, navy suits, safe and quality basics modelled on Stella's very stylish husband, Alasdhair Willis, who is in charge at Hunter.

Surprisingly, it’s a big collection that isn’t playing safe and is offering something for ‘members’ and ‘non-members’. It's just the entrance fee that many may have a problem with!

It’s expensive, which makes sense because of the womenswear positioning. Is the target customer the male to the female customer or the partner of the female Stella customer? If he's the male equivalent, he'll want to buy his own clothes. If he's the partner, you'd be a confident woman taking quite a risk taking this lot home. Zipper trousers, anybody?!

What we have is something that looks like West London’s version of East London. It's all a bit 'popping out for a pint of milk and a packet of fags on Primrose Hill', which is Stella McCartney's set. When I saw the swallow shirt, pictured, it brought to mind one of Stella McCartney's Chloe tops with bananas on from her time at the French fashion house.

menswear Stella McCartney chic geek reviewnon members stella mccartney menswearIt's a tough time to launch menswear. Many well established brands are finding it difficult to shift fashion at these prices. It needs to be the best or special, or both. Kering, McCartney's parent company, obviously want her to expand. First kid's, now men's. 

This could falter by falling in the gap between not being fashion enough for those who want serious, standout pieces and not being wearable enough for those men with deep enough pockets to afford it. Let's see how this develops.

You can pre-order the SS17 collection now.

Left - Stella McCartney - Bonded technical trench coat - £1605

Stella McCartney tomorrow backpack menswear

Right - Will you join Stella McCartney's menswear club?

 

 

 

 

Right - The kind of bag most brands giveaway for free. Yours for £290 - Stella McCartney - Tomorrow Print Backpack

 Below - Stella recreated the famous Beatles crossing at Abbey Road, London for the launch of her new men's collection. Grooming by AvedaAbbey Road Stella McCartney Beatles Menswear

 

Published in Fashion