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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 

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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. 

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