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
Get your motor running! Channelling a little bit of James Hunt by way of the Bay City Rollers, TheChicGeek gets a large dose of 70s in this look from Topman Design's AW15 collection.
The jumpsuit is a major trend for this season. Add the badges and the bright colour and it becomes glam-rock fantastical. Hold on tight!
Credits - All Topman Design AW15
Left - Topman Design Catwalk at LCM
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
Designers use the terms 'ombré' and 'degradé' to describe this graduated colour effect, while the high-street just cuts to the chase and opts for 'dip-dye' .
However you want to call it, it looks great in knitwear - as pictured here - and in particular in this grey.
American brand, Vince, is perfect if you're a messy eater, while M&S has the reverse effect, ideal for disguising a bit of belly.
Left - Vince - Wool/Casmere Ombré Pullover - £215 From StyleBop
While we were out and about during the recent London Fashion Week LFW - yes, we knows it’s for the girls, but there was the odd sprinkling of menswear - we bumped into the famed illustrator, Will Broome, who exclusively customised one of his new panda eyes cases for us.
Part of the H! by Henry Holland range at Debenhams, we’re giving one lucky ChicGeek reader the chance to own this little work of art.
CLOSING DATE: 28th October 2015 at 11.59pm - Winner(s) will be informed by email!
You’ve probably noticed Gucci getting a lot of Chic Geek love recently. This is new, improved, just keeps on getting better Gucci: a Gucci that hasn't excited us since Tom Ford left the building over a decade ago.
One of the most distinctive items of their new look is the famous GG monogrammed canvas printed over with painted geraniums. Seen on bombers - as in the new Cruise SS16 advertising - here and various accessories.
A real man shouldn't be afraid to carry flowers, especially when they're on his duffle bag. Be the first to get this.
Left & Below - Gucci - GG Blooms Duffle Bag - £1100
Grooming brand Alford & Hoff's favourite phrase is 'look better tonight'.
Barry Alford tells us how How to 'look better tonight'
Apply the Alford & Hoff Microdermabrasion cream for one minute. This exfoliates the skin with diamond shaped magnesium oxide crystals that are uniform in size and shape unlike other exfoliators which can look like shrapnel under a microscope and can be bad for your skin leading to tears and cuts.
Wash this off. When you wash and shave, you strip your face, so it is good to replace with our serum. A thin veil of this lightweight cream should massaged over the face and allowed to absorbed.
Then follow up with a moisturiser, we do one for the day with SPF 15 and one for the night.
Alford & Hoff is a new, luxury men's skin-care brand from America that uses sirtuin technology to reduce the signs of ageing. Sirtuins are the proteins that prevent cells from dying. The ingredients inside their products stimulate the sirtuins in men's skin.
It should be remembered that the term exclusive, long touted by fashion brands in the positive sense of the word, is the opposite of inclusive. The opposite, to exclude, becomes a negative: a pushing away and a physical wall between the them and us.
Left - The LV Series 3 Sticker Wall - Take home a sticker of an item you probably can't afford
Luxury brands tread a fine line between wanting the masses to buy en masse - they have to in order to sustain these giant businesses - while keeping this positive form of exclusivity.
As brands find it increasingly difficult to differentiate themselves in a crowded market, both in physicality and ideas, some are using that muscle to ‘educate’ the consumer and let them into this ‘exclusive’ world.
French brand, Louis Vuitton just opened a new, month long exhibition, opposite Australia House on The Strand, entitled LV Series 3, to showcase the thought processes their womenswear designer, Nicholas Ghesquière, had behind their current AW15 collection.
Like many of these things, it is a risk. You either leave with the brand going up higher or lower in your expectations. Obviously, the brand, spending huge sums of money, wants the former.
Rather than a wow, it wasn’t quite clear what you were looking at and then, unfortunately, you ask yourself, do I really care?
Brands have to be careful not to believe in their own myth and hype. They have to remember who put them there. Some of these things can have a touch of the Marie Antoinettes: the great unwashed allowed in, on their terms, to look, but not touch.
People are giving up their precious free time and making a journey to see these things featuring perspex boxes housing £5000 bags with the pretention that you should feel privileged that they are even allowing you in to see something you’ll never be able to afford.
I understand brands want and need to put their product on a pedestal in order to make it feel special, but it also needs to feel inclusive. If people are taking time out of their busy lives to frequent these things it needs to be on par or better than a museum show or don’t bother at all. These things are beautifully made and while there are two artisans demonstrating and making product inside the exhibit, you leave feeling like you don't know anymore than when you first went in.
It could be that I'm not a fan of Ghesquière's, but I went in wanting to be wowed and educated on why he's been given the top job at the world's biggest luxury goods company. It fell flat on that front. I left feeling that luxury brands need to remember that it’s important not to patronise if they want us to carry on patronising.
It's a very exciting week at New Look, this week, as they open the first of their menswear only stores.
The first in a whole raft of UK men's destinations open in Portsmouth and Wigan, followed swiftly by Manchester Trafford and Merry Hill.
TheChicGeek wanted to showcase the best of the new men's AW15 New Look collection. Centred around the luxury suede shacket - hitting stores in the next couple of weeks - TheChicGeek's look is a smart casual mix of slim grey jeans, knitted roll neck, leather belt and chocolate coloured suede desert boots.
Perfect for that stylish autumnal walk no matter how moody the weather!
Credits - All items New Look Menswear AW15
Shot on Olympus PEN
Let’s stop and reflect at the new Gucci for just one second. From what is a complete 180 degree u-turn of the brand their current customer is used to, they are doing exactly the right thing by distancing themselves from the tacky, status driven brand it had become.
Left & Below - Gucci Cruise SS16
In fashion we love a reinvention especially when you have the one person - whom you trust - take over all aspects of the business from design to stores to advertising to branding.
As ‘designer’ fashion becomes more unaffordable and high-street fashion gets better and cheaper, the chasm between the two keeps getting wider.
Consumers, the world over, are waking up and many can no longer justify the price of designer goods when it is so far from something they are reasonably happy with particularly when it comes to clothing.
Designer brands need to give us something we would find nowhere else. These need to be the ultimate new ‘vintage’ finds that make them feel like a discovery rather than something seen from Shanghai to Bond Street on every gormless tourist.
Gucci’s new Creative Director, Alessandro Michele said recently, “I think in the imagination of each of us, there is the idea of having a beautiful wardrobe of unique pieces.”
Okay, we’re not that naive to think Gucci are making only one of each item, but it certainly feels that way and that’s the clever thing.
Lots of international designer brands have been too busy chasing the volume and forgetting about the special. There is certainly the margins on these products to add something different and while Gucci will lose a lot of customers, they will certainly gain a select, influential and niche few.
Whether this can sustain the world’s second biggest luxury brand will have to be seen, but they are certainly making some beautiful and interesting things, again.
If you wanted that summer feeling to last you well into the autumn, then those standard jute-soled espadrilles may get a little soggy come all the wind and rain. This was the thought MULO founder, Tobias Cox, 35, had when he was unable to wear his favourite summer shoes in the changeable climate of London.
Left - MULO - Suede - Cobalt - £115
Inspired by a sailing trip across the Atlantic, which saw another pair fall apart, Cox became determined to create a version that could stand up to wear and tear yet retain the charm of the original.
With no formal fashion training, Cox made a DIY prototype by cutting up his waxed cotton Barbour jacket to see if the weatherproof qualities of the material would translate to footwear. Further product testing proved that by using waxed cotton the shoes were not only durable but also aged beautifully.
This breakthrough instilled the belief that each part of the shoe should be enhanced in the same way. Over the course of two years Cox deconstructed the espadrille and rebuilt it using only the best materials, working with specialist suppliers to customise each component.
The result was a simple yet elegant slip-on.
TheChicGeek took time out to ask Tobias a few more questions:
CG - Where does the name MULO come from?
TC - It is the spanish translation of the word 'mule' - humble, pretty and hard working. It captures our goal for the shoe, and seemed a fitting homage to the Catalan heritage of the espadrille.
CG - What did you do before founding MULO?
TC - I have no formal fashion training and worked in management consulting, but always had an entrepreneurial spirit.
Right - MULO x David Kafri - Tribal - £115
CG - When did it start?
TC - The idea for a modern version of the espadrille came during a sailing trip across the Atlantic. I was wearing a traditional pair that very quickly fell apart and it made me realise that as a concept the shoe does not really work. I wanted to create a version that could function whilst respecting the simple charm of the original. It was several years in development and launched in 2013.
CG - What’s the difference between a MULO espadrille and any others?
TC - We don't use the traditional rope sole, we work on an Oxford last which makes the shoe a properly structured one. We are an elevated staple that combines the fit and feel of a sneaker to the summer essential. We rebuilt the espadrille on an Oxford last, lending structure and a fitted shape, and customised each component using premium materials to make it best in class.
Our limited edition collections using bold prints and images add personality. We recently collaborated with Design Miami/Art Basel. We applied a print by Pierre Frey named Chromatropic to our shoe, an assemblage of palm trees, sunsets, and foliage, cut from current Pierre Frey designs and pasted together to resemble wildly coloured camouflage. The shoes were made using different parts of the print, meaning each pair was one of a kind. They were a statement piece that immediately sold out.
CG - Where are they made?
TC - Our shoes are entirely handmade in Portugal. It takes 20 steps to make our shoe - from cutting and stitching to lasting. We work with a family run factory who share our values and take pride in their craft.
CG - What inspires you?
TC - Good design and craftsmanship.
CG - Where is the business based?
TC - London.
CG - What does becoming one of Walpole's Brands of Tomorrow mean?
TC - It is an honour to be recognised by such a reputable institution - Walpole is a unique alliance of over 170 of Britain's finest luxury brands, with companies such as Burberry, Jimmy Choo, The Savoy and Harrods among its membership. We are at a very exciting stage of development and are constantly navigating opportunities whilst also needing to stay nimble. Walpole is providing us with invaluable counsel and a wealth of resources to successfully expand in the luxury marketplace.
CG - What are the future plans? Own retail outlet?
TC - Our goal is to follow former Walpole Brands of Tomorrow - Orlebar Brown, Charlotte Olympia, Mr Hare, The Business of Fashion - and become recognised as a leader in our field. We plan to build the business selectively, through retailers and online, to maintain our premium market position and push creative boundaries.