The jacket is dead, long live the jacket! Well, not quite. But brands or designers who produce rails and rails of coats and jackets are realising, to their cost, that people don't really need or wear them that often. What we want is something easy and warm that transcends seasons and can be used as a layer.
Enter the 'cardigan bomber'. I've championed this before, but when you find a cashmere one by Johnstons of Elgin, one of the best Scottish knitwear specialists, you know it's going to be good and goes straight to the top of my seasonal Hot List.
Left & Below - Johnstons of Elgin - Cashmere Mens American Navy Zip Cardigan - £425
We’re going to take our warm weather inspiration from Michael Fassbender, today. This is how you want your polo shirt to look this summer. Of course, it helps if you have the body, but a knitted polo shirt with stretch will compliment most body types.
You want it to cling in the right places, so the chest and arms, so go for something fitted, but not too tight. The high-street are doing some great knitted polos at affordable prices or opt for something pricier in a bold colour. Go for a fine knit wool, even in summer, or a silk mix.
Left - Michael Fassbender at SXSW showing us how something so simple can look so good
Here are TheChicGeek’s favourites of the season:
Left - William Lockie for L+M Ecru Fine Knit Cotton Polo - £43 from Trouva
Left - Pretty Green - Stone Fortrose Knitted Polo - £65
Left - Prada - Slim-Fit Jacquard-Knit Wool Polo Shirt - £545 from MRPORTER.COM
Below - Reiss 'Manor' Merino Wool Polo Shirt - £75
Left - Fred Perry - Tipped Knitted Shirt - £70
Left - ASOS - Knitted Short Sleeve Textured Polo In Muscle Fit - £20
Below - River Island - Ecru Knitted Polo Shirt - £20
Left - Pretty Green X John Smedley - Chartham - £135
Left - H&M - Silk-Blend Polo Shirt - £24.99
Below - Peter Werth - SS17
French fashion house, Givenchy, has a new Creative Director. British designer, Clare Waight Keller, was announced as Riccardo Tisci’s replacement last week.
I remember her at Pringle of Scotland, but because of the way the company was run, and never really made any of the interesting pieces, it was hard to judge her menswear. She then went to Chloe, and while I look at womenswear, there wasn’t much noise or attention so I didn't really pay much attention. But, she seems like a good caretaker, at the very least.
Right - Who-bert? Hubert de Givenchy outside his chateau
While not a revolutionary appointment, I think, they - Givenchy (LVMH) , obviously, want to re-feminise the brand, most probably targeted at the women's accessories. Tisci’s aesthetic was severe, harsh and a masculine form of sexuality which probably didn’t resonate with that many women or the type of women Givenchy see as their customer. Kim K, anyone?!
I remember being told that he wasn’t under contract to use Givenchy beauty products in his shows which seems ridiculous when this is the cash cow of the business. There was also a disconnect between the fashion and the beauty side.
The menswear pioneered that designer-sweatshirt-with-a-seasonal-image look and the slide of high-fashion into sportswear. When it was good, it was good, and the menswear had never been on the radar before. Remember when Ozwald Boateng was there for a while?!! Those £500 sweatshirts were jumping off the rails.
So, this leads me to the new menswear, which, excitingly, I don't know what to expect. The first season must be SS18, to be shown in Paris in June. Givenchy is a strange brand in that it has a very strong name, but it is not matched with any identity or imagery. The majority of people wouldn't know who Hubert de Givenchy was from a line-up - Who-bert de Givenchy?! and, apart from Audrey Hepburn, many people wouldn’t know a single item of clothing.
So, what should they do? Well, look at Balenciaga. While a newer ‘old’ brand than Givenchy, this is the first time, under Demna Gvasalia, that its archive has been referenced, but in a way that isn’t backward looking. There’s a link which makes sense when you’re buying a historical name. You want that DNA to move forward and make the label mean something. It gives it a certain weight and grounding yet far from 'archive'.
Givenchy menswear doesn’t really have anything direct to reference, but that’s the exciting part. There must be plenty in the archive to inspire and bring forward and refresh that we don't know about. Givenchy should look back to look forward. It should also ask the new creative director to oversee all aspects of the business and maybe use the odd lipstick in her show.
With everything turning towards vintage sportswear, it was perfectly timed and serendipity to receive an invitation to the Diadora museum. Located near Treviso, around 40km from Venice, Diadora, the Italian sportswear brand and manufacturer, is having a renaissance and riding the wave of the revival of 80s sports classics and men’s terrace wear.
Left - Diadora HQ is near Treviso, a town in the Veneto region of north-east Italy
Unfortunately not open to the general public, the museum is located at the head office and factory. Since July 2009, Diadora has been controlled by L.I.R. the holding company owned by the Moretti Polegato family, who also own Geox. They have re-established the Diadora brand and the museum is there to remind and explain to visitors and employees the brand’s history and sporting heritage.
Right - The timeline of Diadora's history in the museum
Diadora is from the Greek, dia-dorea, which means, ‘to share gifts and honours’, and was established in 1948 by Marcello Danieli to make mountain boots. Treviso is situated near the mountains and the Italian mountain police required special boots for their duties and this is why many of these types of manufacturers and companies sprang up in this area after the war.
In 1960 Diadora shifted its production to sports and during its heyday in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, it was worn by some of the biggest sports stars of the time including Ayrton Senna, Sebastian Coe, Bjorn Borg and the Italia ’90 Italian football team.
Left - One of many of the famous sports shoes in Diadora's hall of fame - Here is Boris Becker's
In 2009, Enrico Moretti Polegato, a member of the controlling family, became the new president of the company with the aim of enhancing the brand’s worldwide reputation and production. A background as a lawyer, and softly spoken, he kindly gave us the tour of the museum.
Right - Inside the factory where 10% of Diadora's shoes are #madeinitaly
The museum starts with an overview of nearly 70 years of history with a few of the original machines and processes it takes to make the shoes. An enviable collection of signed football shirts illustrates the depth of names who have worn Diadora.
The next part is where Geox’s expertise comes in. Masters in sole innovation and construction, they are regarded by some as the best, producing comfortable and practical footwear. A new concept, centred in the room, illustrates the breathability of their soles and how they are bringing this technology into Diadora’s new footwear.
Left - Diadora's sporting greats on the outside of the headquarters
The final part is Diadora’s greatest hits: a display of all the sports people who have worn Diadora over the years including Boris Becker, Roberto Baggio and Francesco Totti pictured alongside their shoes.
Diadora’s collections are a good mix of heritage with modern finishes and techniques centred around the sports shoes and their current collection of 'Heritage' casual wear has the strong branding people are currently looking for. They do pure sports shoes, casual shoes and vintage inspired shoes, for many different sports, and they also produce utility shoes. Around 10% of their shoes are, now, made in Italy, and around 30% is made in neighbouring countries in Europe.
When I visited they were making utility shoes in the factory adjacent to the museum. The small production space is connected to the design department so they can prototype and produce in limited runs and in tighter time frames. Diadora has recently specialised in producing special collaborations for brands and retailers.
It feels that being part of a bigger group, Diadora, has more stability and the expertise and investment you need in order to be able to keep up in this very competitive market. As people grow tired of the sports mega brands and a return to those with real heritage, Diadora is in the perfect position to reap the benefits with quality products that are well made and define this new era of retro sports that has hit the current fashion scene.
Right - Diadora's current SS17 campaign which references its 80s archive
More images below
When TheChicGeek met Neil Barrett - see here - he was just about to unveil this collection in Milan. He told TheChicGeek he was inspired by his childhood and the 1970s and the collection was a mix of his classic smart sportswear and 70s inspired chevrons and colours.
Neil really knows how to make clothes that flatter. Here we have a classic bomber given movement with the herringbone detail on the arms, a super luxurious knit polo with epaulettes and subtle jacquard trousers with a camo-type design. The look is finished off with smart, white gum sole shoes.
Credits - All clothes Neil Barrett from Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge, Trainers - Tim Little x Grenson, Spectacle - Salvatore Ferragamo, PRO LS All-In-One Face Cleansing Gel - Lab Series, Stress Fix Body Lotion - Aveda,
Shot on Olympus PEN by Robin Forster
More images & video below
I don’t often write about new retail, it’s usually pretty boring and cookie-cutter the world over, but when something’s good, it’s good, and on a recent trip to Venice with Diadora, we were taken to the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, the first retail store in Europe by LVMH’s travel retail arm, DFS.
Left - Inside the main atrium space of the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi
Looking out onto the Rialto Bridge, across from the fish market, stands the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi. First constructed in 1228, it was once home to the German merchants - Tedeschi means German in Italian - who traded with those wealthy Venetians, taking spices and the like to Northern Europe. It became a customs house under Napoleon, and a post office under Mussolini, then lay empty. Until now.
Right - The Venetian red escalators and special Venice-inspired product graces the entrance
Thanks to LVMH’s deep pockets and Dutch architecture practise, OMA, it been transformed into a sympathetic, luxury with a small L shopping space that feels more like a cross between a boutique hotel and museum that sells things, rather than a boring collection of luxury concessions all jostling for customers and attention.
Left - On the top floor is this exhibition space with a lit floor that just needs a disco soundtrack
It’s one of the best retail spaces I’ve seen recently. The escalators are Venetian red, like moving red carpets, they take you up to the floors of men’s and women's fashion and beauty.
On the top floor is an exhibition space and on the roof is a viewing deck looking out over the glorious city that is Venice.
Right - Head to the top floor for one of the best views of Venice.
Opened in October, the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi has been updated, without losing any of its charm, by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas – who was in charge of the exterior renovation – and architect Jamie Fobert – who handled the interior design.
Everywhere there is attention to detail. Every inch has been thought about: the floors, handrails, furniture, lights and the space has been designed for brands to flow, and in our ever fickle times, be replaced.
The brands are the same old: Gucci, Bally, Bottega Veneta etc., but because it’s such a nice building and environment it makes you want to explore regardless of it being the same tired things. To be fair, the brands have done a few special pieces with the colours of the Italian flag. Also, on the ground floor, they sell wine, souvenirs and other more affordable items.
The only negative was that it was so discreet, the name ‘ Fondaco Dei Tedeschi’, which doesn't exactly slip off the tongue, was only at the front door and you wanted to know/learn the name in order to tell other people how good it was. If you’re in Venice, definitely take a look.
Mats Klingberg, TRUNK founder
“We're always on the lookout for new brands to add to the Trunk line-up and Japan is usually a good place to look. A Vontade is not a new brand, but it's still fairly unknown over here, so I thought it was a good one to bring in.
This A Vontade jacket takes it cues from the traditional clothing of artisans, feeling very much like an archival piece reimagined. Cut from a sturdy cotton with a dry handle, it has a four-button front and unusual peak lapels. An extra button at the lapel can be left unbuttoned or done up as desired, transforming the look of the jacket. Fully lined, with key details such as functioning cuffs, a flap ticket pocket and a single vent, this is a distinctive piece of workwear that will lend itself to a number of different styles”.
Left - A Vontade - Old Potter Jacket - £395
“Also from Japan is Fujito. I met Fujito-san for the first time on a trip to Fukuoka about ten years ago, so looking forward to seeing our customer's reactions to the small selection we've brought in for SS17.
This Fujito jumper is made in Japan from a cotton-poly-linen blend, with a loose knit and a crunchy texture. A classic border stripe motif which brings to mind nautical garments, it is elevated by crucial details, such as raglan sleeves and a slightly higher neckline”.
Left - Fujito - Border Knit Sweater - £160
“We sell a lot of chinos at Trunk, so when it was time to start building up our own collection it was only natural to make sure there was a great pair of chinos in there.
These Trunk Clothiers Chinos are designed as our ideal luxury basics, pairing perfectly with a knit sweater and sneakers, or just as easily with an unstructured jacket and a collared shirt. Cut from a soft washed cotton which incorporates a small amount of elastane to allow for stretch, the trousers have a smooth brushed texture and a rich colour due to the garment dyeing process”.
Left - Trunk Clothiers - Chinos - £165
“Lots of good looking sneakers out there aren't actually that good for your feet. Adam behind CQP spotted this gap in the market and brought out a great looking collection of shoes that also are great for your feet.
The CQP Racquet is a low-top sneaker designed in Sweden and handmade in Portugal with an artisanal approach. Based on the silhouette of a classic tennis shoe (as its name suggests), it has a premium calf suede upper, with a soft leather lining. The removable insole offers excellent arch support and several layers of cushioning. The sneaker has a steel shank for support, rigidity and durability - something usually reserved for fine dress shoes. A CQP tote bag and a spare set of laces are included”.
Above - CQP Racquet - £240
Pronounced ‘Loh-wev-eh’, Loewe, is Spain's premier luxury label. Designed by Northern Irish designer, JW Anderson, it is producing some of the most directional and top quality menswear ATM.
This season was inspired by the beach: shells, rope and boats decorated tops, jackets and accessories. Gold leaf on denim brings to mind the warmth of a summer sunset. This shell tote is stunning and a real standout piece. Who said life was a beach?!
Credits - Clothes - Loewe from Matchesfashion.com, Bag - Loewe from Matchesfashion.com, Trainers - Tim Little X Grenson, Fragrance - Bentley Momentum, Cooling Balancing Oil Concentrate - Aveda
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
Video & more images below
I’ve decided to give up processed or refined sugar for Lent. Not because I’m particularly religious, but I feel it is a nice length of time, around 40 days, and other people are giving up things at the same time - so, hopefully, some moral support.
Left - TheChicGeek is smiling at the moment, but will he be smiling in 40 days time?
Henry Tate will be spinning in his grave, but traditional white cane sugar has become enemy number one, lately. But, even without too much nutritional knowledge, it’s easy to understand that sugar is usually a cheap ingredient or substitute in unhealthy foods, drinks and snacks.
As for the health penalties of free sugar, meaning sugar that isn’t bound to fiber in fruit, it can lead to inflammation, blood sugar instability, and, over a period of time, type 2 diabetes. Sugar causes altered internal pH levels resulting in a more acidic body. It is believed that an acidic environment is a breeding ground for disease, whereas an alkaline body promotes good health.
French scientists in Bordeaux reported that in animal trials, rats chose sugar over cocaine (even when they were addicted to cocaine), and speculated that no mammals’ sweet receptors are naturally adapted to the high concentrations of sweet tastes on offer in modern times.
At a dinner, a few months ago, a lady was waxing lyrical about giving up sugar. She said how much better she felt and how much better her skin looked. Ironically, we were probably talking about this over dessert. But, I knew I wanted to try it when I was ready to.
I don't really drink sugary drinks, but my Achilles Heel is chocolate. I understand you can eat sugar free chocolate, but I’m going to try the first week without anything. I’m not going to be militant, like sugar in ketchup and bread, but I’m taking out fizzy drinks, ice cream, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets and any other obvious sugar heavy products.
I want to see whether I’m addicted, whether I can go without and how will I look and feel at the end of the experiment. As we all these things, you learn as you go and more often then not you take some good habits into your everyday life.
The first few days were a breeze, but the mid-to-end of the first week, I feel like I’d run out of things to eat, plus I don’t really feel like I know how much I’m eating, lots of crisps, probably, and there is no full stop on a meal, so the satisfaction is gone. It feels open waiting for that satisfying sweetness a chocolate bar or handful of Haribo may bring. I’m getting bored with fresh and dried fruit and I’ve been googling ‘sugar free brownie recipes’, which I may make this week.
I don't feel tired, but, I feel less energetic and I feel like I’m going to run out of energy quickly. I’m not sure if I’ve lost weight, but I don’t think I’ve gained any and if a six-pack appears at Easter, I’d be more than happy. I’m going to the gym as normal and eating everything else as normal.
On the positive, my gums feel much better and less ‘active’. I feel calmer and less prone to ups and downs.
That first half an hour after each meal is the difficult part, I need to distract myself and push through and ignore old habits. The word ‘Lent’ may derive from the old German word translating as ‘long’. Let’s see.
Lara Djandji, Men’s International Designers and Accessories Buyer, Harvey Nichols
“Utility remains a key trend for this season with style cues taken from the uniforms of US correctional facilities. This staple khaki shirt by Marni is an essential buy to update your spring wardrobe, featuring a drawstring hem that adds a sportsluxe twist on the classic shirt”.
Left - Marni – Olive Poplin Shirt - £375
“A new brand at Harvey Nichols this season and one to watch, is Qasimi. These textured shorts in a muted blush, tap perfectly into one of our key trends that sees a softer, more relaxed and effortless way of dressing. Pair with a simple white Tee and tailored jacket to embody the brands uniformity and military influences”.
Left - Qasimi - Blush Textured Shell Shorts - £310
‘“Channel Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet this spring with this playful pillar box red Hawaiian shirt from Saint Laurent. Perfect for brightening up your wardrobe and encouraging good vibes”.
Below - Saint Laurent - Red Hawaiian-print Challis Shirt - £530
“These pressed slacks by Wooyoungmi offer a contemporary take on trousers this season, with a wide leg and cropped silhouette that will give you a modern workwear look. In a black wool blend fabrication these slacks can be dressed up or down, with a smart brogue or sleek trainer”.
Left - Wooyoungmi – Black Wide Leg Wool Blend Trousers - £340
“The fashion trainer trend shows no sign of disappearing, so this is the season to invest in Maison Margeila’s Replica model trainers, an iconic style within the sneaker industry. My pick this season is the all-white, brush painted style, for a subversively cool retro street look”.
Left - Maison Margiela - New Replica White Paint-Effect Leather Trainers - £455