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.
Hello The Geek! Where do I get a decent slim fit suit from? First I tried budget, so looked at Topman and the Limited Collection suits at M&S. I struggled to find much at Topman, even Oxford Circus, although they have a couple on their website, I am not buying a suit online though! M&S Limited Collection slim fit have great jackets, you can get a nice short fit, even if you are 6ft 2 like I am! The trousers are unlined rubbish though, I have 10 year old hankies with more thread in them!
Left - Paul Smith - 'A Suit To Travel In' - £730
So then onto French Connection/Banana Republic/Zara. Struggling. They all have decent straight/slim fit trousers but when they make a suit they seem to think we want what I would regard as flares! I have one style at FC called Benjamin End to look at, but need to go to Regent Street to do that, maybe this weekend!
Getting desperate I am now looking at Paul Smith/Burberry type of prices, so will soon be forming an orderly queue outside a tailors in Savile Row!
Any other ideas? I am fairly normal shape, 40" chest, 34" waist, 6ft 2" tall.
It can be a hit and miss out there when you're looking for something really specific. I, firstly, would suggest you look for a longer jacket as the shorter jacket styles can look a little out of proportion with your height.
Paul Smith is pushing its new 'A Suit To Travel In', made from high-twist 100% worsted wool. Wool is naturally breathable and wicking, which helps to regulate your body temperature, but the fabric also has incredible life and vitality that helps to keep the suit looking pristine. The men's suit is available in 3 fits: Slim, Soho and Mayfair.
Damien Paul, Head of Menswear at MATCHESFASHION.COM
"A techy, functional coat is near the top of the list of pieces I'm after for the new season - the best collections all had a utilitarian feeling to them. This nylon parka buy Raey is a favourite, and would look brilliant layered over heavy-duty knitwear."
Left - Raey - Hooded Nylon Parka - £450
"Everyone on the team here is excited about Longjourney, one of the most interesting new brands we've seen. They are based in Los Angeles, where they transform vintage denim and military surplus into new, unique garments. This is a label to watch."
Left - Longjourney - Patchworked Denim Shirt - £535
"The Parisian footwear brand Adieu has branched into sneakers for AW15, and they perfectly capture the minimal, no-nonsense aesthetic of the season. I'll be wearing them with rolled-up denim."
Left - Adieu - Leather Low-Top Trainers - £278
"There's a retro feeling coming back into menswear, and this cardigan has a "70's-by-way-of-the-90's" attitude which feels totally right for now. Though, thankfully, it's rendered in an ultra-soft merino instead of the scratchy fibres of most vintage knitwear…"
Left - Orley - Dexter Chevron Striped Cardigan - £475
"Under the stewardship of J.W. Anderson, Loewe has become one of the most exciting brand revivals around. Their luxurious yet offbeat clothing is covetable enough, but I'm obsessing over the bags - this structural suede backpack is just unsual enough to be irresistible."
Left - Loewe - Anton Suede Backpack - £1795
The first menswear outing from American brand, Coach, saw some of the best and largest sheepskins of the season. New Creative Director, Brit, Stuart Vevers, reinterpreted his womenswear coats for men with huge furry pockets and contrast detailing ending with TheChicGeek in a look that would make Del Boy proud!
Credits - All AW15 Coach
Coat Exclusive To Selfridges
Shot by Robin Forster on #OlympusPEN
Drawing inspiration from classic 90s apparel - must be the This Is England influence already! British designer Christopher Shannon continues to reimagine menswear for his new collaboration with River Island.
Left - One of Shannon's sketches for the new collaboration
Known for his sports/streetwear, Shannon, has labelled this collection “Call The Cops”. He commented, "The brand has always been based in British culture, I think it’s good to keep connected with that and high street collaborations help us in achieving that goal".
The 11 piece collection launches in selected UK stores and online, with prices ranging from £30-120.
TheChicGeek was given an exclusive preview. Here are his favourite pieces from the new collection:
Right - Love Sweatshirt - £45
Left - Joggers - £45
Left - Bum Bag In Teddy Fur - £25
Left - T-Shirt - £30
Available 21st September
Clinique's Executive Director for Research and Development, Dr Tom Mammone
How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun
"Start simply. Clean off the dirt from your skin with a great soap.
Exfoliate, you'd never a paint a wall without prepping it first.
Enhance - put something on your skin that is protective.
Always use something that has a UV protector. Use a product that has a broad range with UVA -these are the penetrating rays that cause more sagging and deeper skin damage- and UVB -these give you wrinkles - protection. Both cause cancer but UVB rays cause damage to the skin's DNA.
When it comes to sun tan lotions and creams it isn't so much about the factor number -though choose one according to your skin type - as it is about application. Always use in quantity and evenness.
Protect all the spots: tops of feet, ears etc.
Reapply ever two hours regardless of factor number as some can breakdown after two hours and it is not worth taking the risk. Sweat can also dissolve the cream on the skin.
Some products are specifically formulated to protect the face because it is so exposed and to help protect regions that are thin like around the eyes.
Facial creams will have a lot more antioxidants and super defence so it worth buying a cream just for your face.
Reduce processed sugars in your diet. A sugary diet and sun damage combined can seriously damage the skin."
Clinique for Men was launched in 1976 and continues to be the No. 1 prestige grooming range in the UK. All products are allergy tested, 100% fragrance free, non-acnegenic and clinically formulated.
Larry Leight, along with his brother Dennis, founded Oliver Peoples nearly 25 years ago. It was built on vintage inspired eyewear and now nearly two and half decades on, Oliver Peoples has come full circle and is now considered vintage itself. To celebrate this fact, Oliver Peoples is re-issuing three classic designs. We met up with Larry at the Haymarket Hotel in London to talk about the new vintage collection, Spring '11 trends and everything glasses related.
CG - Oliver Peoples started when you bought an auction lot of vintage glasses, tell us about that?
LL- I had been a trained optician since 1981. It was 1986 and we bought at auction in Connecticut a lot that contained 6000 frames, brochures, posters, lenses, everything, which had been owned by a guy called Oliver Peoples. It cost $5000. He had tried selling it to various stores but they only wanted a couple of pieces here and there. My brother and I came together and we wanted to get away from what everybody else was doing, it was an unusual lot so we got it. We created a whole category of eyewear that didn't exist before.
CG - Is there much left?
LL - The frames are mostly gone but we still have the catalogues, brochures and posters. When we opened our first store we sold other brands but everybody made a beeline to the vintage area. They liked the lack of logos, the architecture and filigree of the glasses. Then when we ran out we started to manufacture our own line but using the old manufacturing processes; handmade, original pins and hinges.
CG - You designed a pair for Andy Warhol?
LL- Yes, before Oliver Peoples I designed a pair with a flip-down which was featured on the cover of a German magazine.
CG - Tell us about the re-released vintage collection?
These are three iconic styles that are recognised by people as Oliver Peoples, made in exactly the same way. There is the O'Malley, which was named after the 1950s owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It's the pair Patrick Bateman wears in 'American Psycho' and Christian Bale wore them in the movie, the 505 and 1955 which became definitive styles of the 80s. They will be available from December in a limited number and come with an original box and special cleaning cloth which is printed with our very first advertising campaign.
CG - Larry, what are the big trends for next year's eyewear?
LL - In Mosely Tribes (Oliver Peoples' younger sportier label, the Miu Miu to Oliver Peoples Prada) there are lots of metal frames and aviator shapes, plastics, utililtarian and miltary influences with polarise lenses. Polarise lenses eliminate haze and reflection, they make everything really clear, they allow fisherman to see through the water. We've also made holes in the ends so you can attach one of our new leather retainers with a gromet.
In Oliver Peoples we have a new style called the Jack One, it was inspired by a picture of Neil Diamond. It's a pair of metal framed aviators with the sides cut off. A guy called Jack who owned a shop called Optique Boutique in LA during the 1970s, used to take Rayban Aviators and bend them into this shape for every customer and then make new lenses for them.
CG - What's your favourite Oliver Peoples pair?
LL - My favourite pair is the O'Malley (pictured) it's simple or 'Aero', I never imagined this would still be our best seller.
CG - Favourite image or person in glasses?
LL - Sting in 'O'Malley', Claudia Schiffer wearing the '1955' and Brad Pitt in 'Aero'.
CG - Any tips about buying glasses or sunglasses Larry?
LL - I think it's important for people know their own style, don't try to be somebody they aren't. Choose the right style to where they live and what they are doing and how they dress. Frames have a personality. Make sure your eyewear fits what you do.
CG - Any chance of an Oliver Peoples store in London soon?
LL - We do really well here and it would be the first perfect location outside the US.
Read Michelle from Oliver Peoples How to... Look after your glasses and sunglasses - Click here