will fashion skip a season covid 19 menswear paris cancelledThe Board of Directors of the Fédération de la haute couture et de la Mode has said that Paris Fashion Week Menswear, set to take place from June 23 to June 28 and the Haute Couture Week scheduled from July 5 to July 9, will not take place. Alternatives are in the works.

Menswear usually starts in London with LFWM in early June, and then onto the most important menswear trade show, Pitti Uomo. The Pitti Uomo organisers had hoped to keep their 98th edition on track for mid-June, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely with the announcement above.

Left - Florence's Pitti Uomo 98 has now been moved to Sept. 2nd-4th

It’s not just about the trade show for the SS21 season, it’s about the exhibitors who have to complete designs and samples in order to have something to show at the fair and make it worth their while. As time keeps leaking, it looks harder and harder to be able to make that up and pull something together. This begs the question whether fashion will skip a season?

While they’ll still be product designed, made and sold in Spring 2021, it will be a reduced offering with a more narrowed scope.

I predict the men’s shows will move to Sept/Oct, when the women’s usually show, and the women’s will be slightly smaller. It will mean they will need to turn all that product around in a couple of months or stagger it more into the new SS21 season. (Don’t mention ‘drops’!).

It will be interesting to see the gaps in schedules and on the trade show floors of brands who have disappeared. It’s a long time to go without cashflow. If you don't make anything you're also not selling anything. The Cruise collections from the big designers were already cancelled. I think they’ll just repeat the core pieces from the previous collection to carry on through.

In terms of retail, the SS20 collections were well delivered. There was disruption in China, but most retailers would have had their deliveries in full. I suspect many orders from the Paris AW20 shows in February would have been cancelled or reduced hugely.

Retailers will try to cancel as much as possible - Read - ChicGeek Comment COVID 19 Cancel Everything - and worry about having something to sell when the time comes. Many big, luxury department stores work on a concession basis, so the brands will have to deal with the problems with product and what to sell themselves. It will be brands who can easily turn production on and off who will benefit. The smaller brands who often fit around these production timetables, when times are quieter, will suffer.

Retailers are currently looking at the peak of the SS20 season and have lots of stock on their hands. No holidays means a lot of spring/summer sales lost.

But, the longer this goes on, the more you can skip. It would probably make it less bitty and then designer retailers can coast it with the product they've got until the new AW20 season drops in July and August. The high summer collections will have already been scrapped and they'll go straight to production on AW20 when the factories in Italy and France finally reopen. The Cruise 21 collections will be squashed into SS21. The samples, to be shown at the Oct/Sept fashion weeks, for SS21 will have to fit around this. 

But, this all goes back to cashflow and means they will have to slim down, particularly with manpower, between now and then if no money is coming in, which has always been the problem with the fashion wholesale model. Some retailers may offer to pay on friendlier terms, it's in their interest too, and, many luxury brands will have to be more understanding and supportive of their suppliers and producers.

Will fashion skip a season? It can't afford to.

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE  

Thursday, 26 March 2020 22:56

Label To Know CINI Venezia

Label to know cini venezia sandro zaraDid you know Barena has a grown-up brother called CINI Venezia? Neither did I until I stumbled across the CINI stand at the January 2020 Pitti Uomo, and because CINI has Venezia - Venice - in its logo, I said the only other Venetian menswear label I knew was Barena, I’m a big fan, and they told me this was part of the same company and was their more premium offering. (Barena has built up a loyal following for its quality, well priced and thoughtfully stylish Italian menswear amongst a certain group of discerning men.) 

Left - Cini Venezia - Coat Burchione Piave Black - €730

The original mill, Lanificio CINI, was founded in the 1830 by Augusto and Giacomo Cini as a humble workshop producing cloth and coarse blankets. 

Label to know cini venezia sandro zaraThis is still the foundation of the collection of Italian-made outerwear. Barena founder Sandro Zara - he also owns the Venetian cloak maker Il Tabarro - bought the Lanificio CINI woollen mill, which was formerly based in Vittorio Veneto, after using it as a supplier for many years. It came complete with an incredible archive which the CINI family maintained. From fabric swatches, to astute weaving dimensions, patterns and cloth experiments, everything was kept meticulously in its original state.

CINI Venezia, the brand, first appeared in 2012 and references historical Italian menswear styles in a darker and more conservative palette than Barena's. Prices reflect the quality of the cloth.

Right - Cini Venezia - Coat Duemezzo Piave Navy - €1150

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE 

fashion covid 19 net a porter closed in store warehouseBetween the ‘loungewear’ emails and the ‘we-give-a-shit-please-buy-something’ emails, some brands have been hoping to offset some of the losses of physical retail with online. Online has the potential to be many brands’ life support machines; keeping some form of cash flow ticking over and the lights on.

Left - Net-a-Porter has closed its American website & warehouse

Dixons Carphone has said sales surged by more than 70% as Britons rushed to buy laptops, games consoles and freezers to cope with the coronavirus outbreak. Online sales in the UK and Ireland surged 72% in the three weeks to 21 March.

“There will be some recovery through online operations but overall the loss of sales will adversely impact our full-year profitability and cash position,” it said. The group said as a result it would still miss out on about £400m of sales between now and the end of its financial year in April.

Fashion has a lot less ‘need’ and as such will be harder hit. Fashion brands have huge amounts of stock sitting in stores, not going anywhere anytime soon. These shops have now become in-town warehouses, but they still need manning and this has become a problem for some brands. Many consumers seem to think that online and offline is separated, robotically picked and magically appears on their doorstep. 

The family owned department store chain, Fenwicks said in a statement: "Our people, both employees and customers alike, are at the heart of our business... Therefore, we have taken the decision to temporarily close our website as well as our stores, to ensure the safety of our teams and customers.” Fenwicks only went online in 2017 and pick the items from in-store stock.

Schuh, the footwear retailer, too has closed its website. Chief executive Colin Temple said: “At this point in time, the UK government guidelines include that online retail should ‘still open’ and ‘is encouraged’ along with advice that if staff cannot reasonably work from home, they should continue to go into work.

“However, with the Schuh head office and DC operations based in Scotland and Scottish Government advice conflicting with UK government advice, Schuh management have made the decision to close their website, in addition to their stores that already closed from the evening of Sunday 22 March.”

He added: “A number of DC staff continue to indicate that they want to work within the warehouse to support the Schuh online business, along with other departmental employees offering their support also. However, Schuh management have confirmed that the website and stores will remain closed until there is updated UK and Scottish government advice.”

No doubt demand has fallen overall with many people tightening their expenditure and only buying what they need. But, what about the exclusively online retailers? Most surprising is Net-a-Porter/Mr Porter has closed its American business. Customers visiting the US site are now met with a message that reads: “In line with local government guidelines, and for the health and safety of our community, we have temporarily closed our warehouse. We hope you are all staying safe and look forward to welcoming you back soon.”

This is a nightmare for fashion brands selling products with a shelf life. The discounts have already started, and they’re big, Liberty of London went straight in with 50% off. Some retailers are doing okay at online, but even the best figures won’t replace physical retail, representing a 20/80 split between online and offline. To shift all this stock they will need to discount heavy, eating into profit margins, and consumers, used to a never-ending supply of ‘Just In’ will have to adjust to a new  shopping landscape with less choice.

Update - Next, River Island & Moss Bros have announced their websites will close.

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE 

Wednesday, 25 March 2020 19:50

ChicGeek Comment COVID 19 The Bounceback?

fashion covid 19 tom ford said china bounced backThere will be life after COVID 19, but it’s guesswork to how much and how quickly it resumes to pre-virus levels. American designer, Tom Ford, told WWD today, “In China, for example, with our cosmetics, we’ve completely recovered. We’re back to 100 percent. And our ready-to-wear and accessories, which was down about 95 percent, it’s now back up to 50 percent.” 

That is in just over a month. The Chinese saw a spike in infections on 12th February.

Tom Ford has just 4 own brand stores in China. His beauty brand, in partnership with Estée Lauder, will be available more widely. Tom Ford Beauty was projected to turn over $1 billion in global sales by 2020.

Admittedly, the person who can afford Tom Ford might be slightly more immune to a downturn than others, but it’s more the attitude and feel good factored needed to buy an expensive handbag that is interesting here. It’s a strong bounce back and one many other luxury brands will be looking and hoping for. 

Tom Ford, while a big name, is relatively mid-sized in terms of luxury with very select (limited) distribution. The brand generates an estimated $500 million in yearly revenues for its men's and women's ready-to-wear and accessorises. But, he will be sat alongside, in retail terms, the best of the world’s brands and designers, so it shows the Chinese shopper is back out.

Italy, the worst-affected country in Europe, is starting to see the number of new cases of Coronavirus cases start to fall. The peak in the country was four days ago, on March 21, when 6,557 new cases of the virus were reported. Two days later the number was down to 4,789 and, although yesterday the number increased again to 5,249, that is still 20% below the peak.

A week after South Korea hit its peak, which was much lower than major European countries at just 851 cases on March 3, the number of new recorded cases had dropped by 87%.

In Germany, the peak number of new cases was on March 21 at 4,528 cases. Yesterday, 24th March, the number of new cases was down to 3,935, a drop of 17%.

While we have to take Chinese virus numbers with a pinch of salt, it might not be as bad as we think for the fashion business after all. A strong domestic consumer bounceback will be the catalyst the fashion industry needs.

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE 

menswear product of the week casablanca printed jeanWhy should the shirt have all the fun? This is the question the jean is asking this season. A new label on the radar is Casablanca. Designed in Paris and made in Casablanca, it’s a bright and creative contemporary brand bestowed with the rich dual heritage of Casablanca’s French-Moroccan founder, Charaf Tajer. (He was previously associated co-founder of Parisian label Pigalle and is also a collaborator of Mr Virgil Abloh).

His tongue-in-cheek and playful aesthetic, and not so silly prices, makes this a brand to have fun with. This print has something of the sunshine Hockney/Luke Edward Hall vibes about and I love it. Wear these with everything!

Left & Below - Casablanca - Chambre Slim-Fit Printed Denim Jeans - £365 from MRPORTER

Not to be confused with the shoe brand, Casablanca 1942 - Read more here

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE 

menswear product of the week casablanca printed jean

Label to know original madras trading company madras checksOriginal Madras Trading Company was founded by current owner Prasan Shah’s grandfather in the early 1970s when he arrived in New York from Madras with a trunk full of checks and other woven Indian textiles. He established an office on 38th Street in the New York garment district, and where they still trade from today.

While they continue to supply fabrics and garments to well-known other brands, this is the first season with their own eponymous range.

A little history lesson. The weaving of cotton cloth in South India was renowned for centuries prior to the British building a harbour in Madras - now called Chennai - in the 18th century, but it was this port and the British East India Company that led to textiles from Madras being traded throughout the modern world.  That is the origin of the Madras check.

Label to know original madras trading company madras checks

Originally and to this day the best Madras is woven by hand. This is a process that takes each individual weaver several hours per metre and results in no two lengths of cloth being identical. OMTC is a 3rd generation family business who have been weaving and producing Madras for 50 years in factories owned and operated by the family. 

TheChicGeek says, "Who doesn't like checks? These feel distinctively authentic and I particularly like the Indian influence in the styles, like the longer shirt lengths and hooded kaftan styles. For AW20, which I saw at January's Pitti Uomo, OMTC have the cutest checked quilted trousers. The brand is currently available at Trunk Clothiers in London." 

Label to know original madras trading company madras checks

Left - Original Madras Trading Company Cotton Madras Button Down Shirt - £125 from Trunk Clothiers 

www.omtcnyc.com 

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE

fashion covid 19 cancel orders manufacturing

This is a disaster. This will probably be the biggest recession the world has ever seen and fashion and retail is going to get hit hard. What the global spread of coronavirus (COVID 19) shows us is how interdependent our economies have become and what a fragile house of cards it all was in the first place. Those cards are disappearing quickly and the entire thing is coming crashing down.

Fashion brands and companies are in freefall and the current mindset is to cancel everything. Fashion had a problem with unsold inventory well before this. As the industry got bigger and the need for huge quantities to make a profit increased, unsold merchandise and how to get rid of it was a headache for the majority of brands, high-street or ‘luxury’.

It has been reported that garment factories in Bangladesh have now had orders worth more than US$2 billion cancelled by brands and retailers because of the global coronavirus crisis. Orders for nearly 650 million garments, worth a total of US$2.04 billion have been cancelled, impacting on 738 factories and about 1.42 million workers, according to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Just as the Chinese factories start production again, Europe and US are mostly in lockdown with many shops closed and retailers cancelling orders.

Primark is using a force majeure clause in its contracts to cancel its orders, the Times newspaper said. “We are deeply saddened that this will clearly have an effect throughout our entire supply chain,” Primark Chief Executive Officer Paul Marchant told the newspaper.

While much of the SS20 season would have been made despite the reported disturbances in the supply chain from China at the beginning of the year, it’s not too late to cancel high summer stock or the waves of drops, brands, who don’t want to hold much stock, have become used to. Primark has no online sales, so all that stock will be stuck in stores and warehouses.

“We have large quantities of existing stock in our stores, our depots and in transit, that is paid for and if we do not take this action now we will be taking delivery of stock that we simply can’t sell. This is unprecedented action for unprecedented and frankly unimaginable times,” said Marchant.

Marks & Spencer has recently cancelled £100m in clothing orders.

This is the retail equivalent of cutting off limbs to save the vital organs. Brands don’t know how long this is going to last and what shape they and consumers will be in at the end of it. They need to save cashflow. Fashion feels particularly unimportant right now and will be awash with huge discounts to clear stock in the near future, and that’s in an already saturated market. Brands cancelling orders will impact manufacturing countries hard, but this isn’t a frivolous decision, this is a battle for survival. 

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE

tried tested review five dot botanics eye serum face serumFive Dot Botanics only use 5 ingredients in any product they make, focusing on high-quality, plant-based ingredients. Everything is vegan certified and palm oil free. 

Founded by partners Zaffrin and Brian O'Sullivan, the London-based company only launched in the middle of 2019 and hopes to capitalise on the desire for ‘clean beauty’.

Five Dot Botanics launches with 5 products: Facial serum, Restorative Mask, Face Mist, Face Oil and Eye Serum.


Left - Five Dot Botanics - Green Coffee + Cacay Nourishing Facial Serum, £38, Full Bright – Horse Chestnut + Caffeine Renewal Eye Serum, £30

TheChicGeek says, “I like the simplicity behind this. The majority of people are blinded by ingredient lists, me included. Who really has the time to analyse and Google everything? Trust is very important. This concept instils trust.

I tried two of the products: the facial serum and the eye serum. The ‘Green Coffee + Cacay Nourishing Facial Serum’ has a very light scent and aims to tackle inflammation, reduce wrinkles and give intensive nourishment. Cold-pressed green coffee beans are said to deliver three times more antioxidants than green tea, calming puffy and congested skin. Amazonian cacay nut oil contains high levels of vitamins E, F and A which revitalise and soften the skin, reducing fine lines, while safflower oil stimulates skin regeneration, clearing blemishes and reducing scars. This has a good consistency for an oily serum. Many brands say 2-3 drops and it’s never enough to fully move around the face. This does that, no problem. It feels nourishing, not too greasy and quickly absorbs.

The ‘Horse Chestnut + Caffeine Renewal Eye Serum’ comes in a metal rollerball and has been designed to reduce dark eye circles and bags. Active horse chestnut extract provides anti-inflammatory benefits and absorbs UV rays. It might be easier to roll this onto the palm of you hand and pat the delicate eye area rather than using direct. 

I really like the branding here and the coated labelling, it looks classy. Five ingredients is great, but does this not paint themselves into a creative and chemical corner? Is five enough for some products? And why only five? I look forward to trying more products from these guys though."

Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Five Dot Botanics for review

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE

Friday, 20 March 2020 17:48

Splash or Cash? The Greek Key Underpants

Versace greek key underwear black gold pantsVersace underwear, thanks to its signature use of the ancient Greek key design, has become one of the most recognisable brands across social media and in other images.

A little light history if you will. This decorative border is also called a meander or meandros. It recalls the twisting and turning path of the Maeander River in southwestern Turkey and is the labyrinth in linear form. It is thought to symbolise infinity and unity.

These, let’s call it an ‘homage’, from River Island, could fool even the biggest designer underwear fan. While the Versace Medusa head has been replaced by a bee - clearly these will be popular in Manchester - the rest looks almost identical and nobody on Instagram would ever know!

Versace greek key underwear black gold pants

Left - River Island - Black Printed Waistband Briefs 3 Pack - £15

Right - Versace - Logo Low-Rise Stretch-Cotton Briefs - £45 from matchesfashion.com

BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE 

Thursday, 19 March 2020 17:53

Home Gyming Is Peloton Any Good?

Home gyming is Peloton any goodWhile the country isn’t in lockdown just yet, and gyms are still open, many people will be thinking about their options when it comes to staying fit and continuing their habit of working out and the buzz it gives. Not to be a gym bore and, obviously, there are more important things, but keeping the body and mind active and positive is important right now.

Left - Turns out Peloton is more than just spinning. Who knew?

One of the brands pioneering at home gyming is Peloton. When Peloton floated in Sept. 2019 raising $1.16 billion, giving the company a valuation of around $8 billion, I scoffed, asking how spinning at home on a £2000 bike and paying £40 for privilege could really be worth that much? Now, we’re all thinking how clever they are. While they won’t reveal whether they’ve had a recent sales surge, I thought this was the perfect time to investigate what the fuss was all about.

Poppy Taylor runs @officialukladiespeloton an Instagram account she runs to support the UK Ladies Peloton FaceBook group that she’s a member of. They have more than 1700 members.

"I love that I can work out at a time that suits me and where I don’t need to worry about childcare, as a SAHM (stay-at-home mum) of toddler twins it would be really hard to find time to exercise if it wasn’t when they’re asleep - at which point I can’t leave the house anyway!” she says.

“The classes can feel like therapy, the instructors have an extremely positive way of talking to you which can really carry you through the day. And it’s an amazing workout! I’ve lost more than a stone and completely changed my body shape purely through Peloton classes.” says Taylor.

A ‘Basics Package’ starts at £1990, which can be paid off interest free, and all bike packages require a monthly Peloton All-Access Membership. Access to unlimited class content across multiple profiles cost £39 a month. There is no commitment and you can pause or cancel anytime.

“The obvious negative is the initial outlay, but I do genuinely think it’s been a hugely worthwhile investment for me.” says Taylor. “I love it and it has changed my life. There IS a real stigma around it being comically expensive though (some of the older adverts don’t help that image!) so it can be hard to convince people it’s not a load of nonsense. It’s more than a bike, but the ads don’t always get that across.” she says.

Clearly the Peloton marketing hasn’t got across the full benefits of the bike and that it offers far more than spinning.

“I think it offers good value for money if you use it! I’ve taken nearly 250 spin classes but there are also runs, walks, bootcamp classes, yoga, strength workouts and even things like guided sleep meditations. There’s so much more than just the bike content. The stretch classes have made a big difference to me as I was previously very stiff and sore from carting two heavy toddlers about.” she says. 

“I’ve had the bike a year now and not gotten remotely bored of spinning, I guess because there are so many class types and instructors. There are latin rides, HIIT rides, 70s rides, rock rides, tabata rides, hip hop rides, climb rides and all sorts. You can search classes by artist or difficulty or class style, then there’s all sorts of lengths too so there’s always something fresh to try from the 1000s of classes available. I do love spinning though!” says Taylor.

Lian Hirst, Founder, Global PR & Digital Agency TRACE Publicity, says, “I ride every morning before work. With the recent developments of increased ‘working from home’ and the closure of big gyms it offers me complete flexibility, allowing me to work-out ‘on demand’ utilising my time to best efficiency and work-out around meetings/conference calls.

“It also reduces the ‘commuting time’ to/from the gym which, when you are working to a busy schedule can lose you an hour of your day which could be invested in another area of my day.” she says.

“It’s a brilliant product. It does exactly what it says. I usually do a 45 minute ride on a morning followed by a 10min weights work out and then a 5 minute stretch. The capability to ‘tailor’ your work out around time/type of work out and also choose your instructor is great. Some mornings I feel like a more relaxed ride, other mornings/evenings I opt for a live ride or a live DJ ride.

“I miss it when I travel. Most International hotels haven’t adopted the Peloton as yet. Working out in a traditional gym seems dated now and not very inspiring.” says Hirst.

“Personally, for me, it offers great value for money. I actually purchased mine through Klarna which allowed me to pay in monthly instalments, which in reality wasn’t far off what I was paying monthly for a traditional gym membership, but with the ability to work out whenever I like.

Home gyming is Peloton any good

“It is also a great product for switching off. I often take a meditation class on the app before I go to bed or sometimes on my way to work to re-focus my mind and take time out for myself.” she says.

For those who don’t have the budget for a Peloton bike, they have extended the 30-day free trial period for their Peloton App to 90 days. The Peloton App provides thousands of instructor-led, immersive workouts that can be done with equipment or none at all, enabling people to stay active from the comfort of home. Features like virtual ‘High Fives’ and a ‘Leaderboard’ that shows everyone participating in a class allow those working out from home to stay connected with friends, the broader Peloton community and Peloton’s roster of elite fitness instructors.

Peloton has released the ‘Tread’, its version of a running machine in US but is yet to launch it in the UK. Other home interactive gym machine products in the market include the NordicTrack RW900 Folding Rowing Machine from John Lewis at £1,499. Nordic track also offer bikes, ellipticals, treadmills and strength machines with their iFit training software at £129 for one year.

What these companies and products offer is convenience. While people have had exercise equipment at home before, this digital interactive/class side stops people from getting bored, gives motivation and the online communities go someway to add the social side of the gym at home. Peloton's marketing needs to get across it is more than just a bike, but these users are clearly impressed. All exercise needs to hook you in and keep you there if you're going to keep it up. Peloton gives it a positive spin.


Advertisement