Monday, 24 June 2019 15:55

How to Build Your Personal Style

how to get a personal styleSignature styles like Jimi Hendrix’s epic vintage ensembles or Michael Kors’ chic all-black wardrobe can make anyone want to own a look that’s truly theirs. The good news is that creating your signature style is not that hard, and it’s definitely never too late to build on your own budding personal style by following the simple steps listed below.

1. Figure out your body type

It’s not just women who should pay attention to body types when buying clothes. Although it’s admittedly easier to find guides made for women, there are some reliable ones for men as well. Clothing-specific guides like Superdry’s cheat sheet on matching body shape to jacket styles is especially useful for those who aren’t familiar with men’s body types. For instance, if you have a larger waist and hips compared to the width of your shoulders, then you have a triangle body shape. In this case, you’ll have to be more meticulous when picking out clothing to make sure it complements your body type. Make sure you find a tailor, and have him make patterned blazers that take away the focus from your waist. Vertical stripes are also a good choice to slim down and elongate your body.

2. Plan out your wardrobe

When building your personal style, unless you have wads of cash lying around waiting to be spent, it’s best to go into clothes shops with a plan in mind. Select clothes that make you feel and look good, and are appropriate for your job and lifestyle. Tech tycoon and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the best role model for a well thought out wardrobe because he revamped his entire wardrobe in one go. Excerpts from his biography published on NBC reveals how Jobs worked with designer Issey Miyake to build his black turtleneck collection. These men, with their seemingly effortless looks, undoubtedly planned out their shopping sprees and bought in bulk, which is a good strategy if you want to save money. You can start by buying two or three pairs of your favourite black T-shirt, or an extra pair of the jeans you wear way too often anyway. Work to integrate more complicated pieces on top of these essentials, so you don’t overwhelm you too much with new styles and cuts. You'll end up with a wardrobe that feels like it's truly yours because of how meticulously you planned it from the start.

3. Go slow on the trends

Menswear fashion is an irresistible rabbit hole that you may get sucked into if you’re not careful. While it’s tempting to fill your wardrobe with trendy clothes on a regular basis, this will undoubtedly end up with you owning a mish-mash of clothes with varying styles that don’t really form a cohesive wardrobe. Staple garments like high-quality white t-shirts and well-fitted jeans are classics for a reason. Invest in clothing that will stand the test of time, and mix them up with trendy pieces that you like, but do it carefully. Adapt experimental pieces around a base of classics in order to find what works and feels best for your own look. For instance, you can wear a floral blazer over plain jeans and a shirt, or incorporate some Karl Lagerfeld-inspired sunglasses into an otherwise simple outfit.

4. Find your signature item

Most style icons have their very own signature items: Yves Saint-Laurent had his iconic horn-rimmed glasses, and Lucian Freud wouldn’t be caught dead without his long cravat. Find an accessory or clothing item that you naturally gravitate towards and try to work it into most of your outfits. You can start by drawing some inspiration from icons with simpler signature items like Albert Einstein and his grey suits or Mark Zuckerberg and his hoodies. Lottoland points out how Zuckerberg’s go-to outfit is a hoodie and jeans, which makes him stand out among Silicon Valley’s suit-clad businessmen. His inspiration for this signature look came from the birth of his business in his college dorm room, which explains why he loves hoodies so much. Like Zuckerberg, you may find it easier to figure out what works for you by looking at what you already own and wear often to work or to university. Of course, you might not have one particular signature item and still have a signature style — think David Bowie’s fluctuating but instantly recognisable fashion sense. Like him, you can opt for a general theme of clothing instead of a singular signature piece. You won’t automatically be on the cover of a fashion magazine once you’ve covered all these tips, but you’ll definitely feel more tailored to a single style, and the owner of a stylish wardrobe that truly expresses who you are.

Best made in Italy brands at Pitti Uomo Florence SS20With Italy tip-toeing in and out of recession, Pitti Uomo felt a little skittish on confidence. It had an atmosphere of brands holding on by their finger nails, with many hoping for a strong SS20 season to help pull them through.

Sadly, it’s the quality makers who seem most susceptible to failure. Their high costs, lower margins and small quantities make it a difficult balancing act to continue to stay strong and produce quality product in Italy. These are the brands who are barely known yet sing through the quality on the hanger and all at a fair price. Today, you rarely get this kind of care and attention with a designer name. Here are five made-in-Italy menswear makers we should all be supporting:

Left - Pitti Uomo 96 soaking up the sunshine

Best made in Italy brands at Pitti Uomo Florence SS20 PRESIDENT'SPresident’s

Founded in 1957 by current creative director Guido Biondi’s grandfather as ‘7 Bell S.p.A’, a Tuscan atelier, it was the very first producer of Italian denim. Today, they make colourful and contemporary menswear instilled with the best made-in-Italy production.

Right - President's - For the SS20 season, there were bold minimal orange jackets, tie-dyed shirting and hand sketched T-shirts

Best made in Italy brands at Pitti Uomo Florence SS20 BARENABarena

Based in Venice, Barena, the Italian for ‘mudflat’, has been steadily making inroads into the UK with its stylish and original menswear. Inspired by the Venetian lagoon, Barena says it mimics the qualities of traditional workwear with a modern aesthetic. Loose shapes, quiet precise tailoring, exquisite fabrics, attention to detail and confident versatility are the pillars of their design philosophy.

The menswear designer is Massimo Pigozzo who has been with the Barena family for over twenty years. Trained as a tailor, for Pigozzo it is important to create designs that are simple, understated and easy to wear. Deep fabric research, pattern work and soft tailoring are key to his approach and he says it is not about reproductions or constant alterations. 

Left - Barena - For the SS20 season, it was all about contrast with playful tailoring and short sleeved shirts with contrasting collars

Best made in Italy brands at Pitti Uomo Florence SS20 DOPPIAADoppiaa

Meaning double A in Italian and named after two friends, Alain and Albert, Doppiaa is designed for the whole family, for all ages and all occasions. Based in Milan, Doppiaa has two essential cornerstones: 100% Italian manufacturing, and the painstakingly executed pinpointing and selecting of the highest quality fabrics.

Right - Doppiaa - For the SS20 season, it was brightly coloured towelling tops, pyjama style piped printed shirts and strikingly striped trousers

Best made in Italy brands at Pitti Uomo Florence SS20 SUNHOUSESunhouse

This is everything the more famous Missoni should be; colourful, stylish and contemporary. Designed by Simonetta Bocelli and Franco Santarini and based in Florence, Sunhouse is a specialist in Italian made knitwear in a rainbow of colours in classic menswear shapes.

Sunhouse is one of the few companies in the world to use traditional 720-yarn looms to 'reinvent' the culture of knitwear. The production is carried out in their workshops in Montecosaro, in the Marche Region. Each individual jacket is cut and sewn by hand.

Left - Sunhouse - For the SS20 season, it was about bold colour stories in signature zig-zagged blazers and delicate polo shirts

Best made in Italy brands at Pitti Uomo Florence SS20 BOBBOB

BOB is an Italian sportswear brand created by two young Italian guys, Alessio Bonaiuti and Tommaso Bellini. They started their adventure 11 years ago in Prato, with the idea developing from going around vintage warehouses where huge quantities of second hand clothes were divided by colours and then recycled. Going through these warehouses was like being absorbed in a spectacular coloured market that resembled a field of flowers they thought and it was this image was the starting idea to develop a new concept of eclectic and colourful menswear.

Right - BOB - For the SS20 season, it was all about bold, pattern blazers and colourful separates 

These are simply beautiful clothes made with care from great ingredients. While you are paying a premium, you are, in fact, getting great value when you consider the expertise and pedigree of these makers. These are the kind of clothes that are a joy to wear and will last you a very long time.

 

 

 

 

 

the luxury wholesale model is broken PradaThe idea of paying to have something made, passing it on to someone else to sell, who will then pay you in a few month’s time, sounds like the cashflow diagram from hell. Unless the profit margins are huge, and even then it’s not ideal, wholesaling in fashion is difficult. Small brands, especially, need the constant stream of cash, traditionally have tighter margins, and need the crucial feedback of information with regards to successful products that can inform future decisions and where to put their limited resources. 

The fashion wholesale model is broken and, now, even the big boys are deciding to step back. Luxury brands are also realising, finally, that the true value of selling directly to consumers is growing a database of customers and understanding exactly what they want in a shorter amount of time and being more reactive to those needs. Realising something is or isn’t selling in 3 to 6 month’s time is pointless and is what will suffocate even the biggest of brands. 

Many luxury brands sat back and twiddled their thumbs over the past two decades while huge fashion corporations like YOOX/Net-A-Porter and MatchesFashion.com have grown with enviable customer lists and used huge amounts of information to improve their offer and grow further.

Now, the wholesale middle man is being pushed back to a point where brands want more control, know they will make more money directly and won’t be at the whims of a fashion buyer every season as to whether they’ve made the cut or not. 

Prada announced last month that is would reduce its wholesale network in Italy and Europe in a push to have uniform prices for its products across different outlets and reduce markdowns. Before that, in March, the Milan-based company said it also would stop offering end-of-season promotions at its own shops in a bid to boost margins and protect its brand. They’ve obviously been watching the success of Gucci’s no-sale model and product that continues over seasons and doesn’t seem to quickly date.

In a short filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, where the company is listed, the company's chairman Carlo Mazzi stated, “The Prada Group considers it essential to ensure greater consistency in pricing policies across retail and digital channels. This strategic review is intended to further strengthen the Prada Group brands with the aim of supporting sustainable long-term growth.”

Prada said it would end relations with some Italian and European wholesale partners and gradually replace them with new digital and e-commerce players. 

While they’ve tried to improve their website, added a broader selection and launched onto sites like Mr Porter, Prada is doing it at a time when the brand has lost momentum and isn’t quite as in demand as it once was. It said the leather goods category will be the most impacted with the changes and this is their biggest segment with the greatest margins.

This DTC (Direct To Consumer) approach is something born from the internet and social media. The brand owns the customer and has a direct relationship. It knows their e-mail and address. It also knows what they have bought before and, most likely, things that may interest them in the future. As personalisation increasingly becomes more sophisticated, this will also help to offer more choices and brands can follow their customers through their actions.

Physical retail third party wholesale accounts allow you less control and inject potential disruption in your cherished luxury supply chain to the customer and, as Prada says, you can keep the prices constant and consistent (probably higher) throughout one geographical region.

Kering, owner of Gucci, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, has announced it will take back control of its e-commerce operations, focusing on own branded sites where it can control its image and client data. Excluding Gucci, the YOOX/Net-A-Porter group operated e-commerce websites for most of the brands within the Kering group. The joint venture will now end in the second quarter of 2020. While not completely cutting off their nose to spite their face, Kering wants to turn more of its collaborations with third-party, multi-brand retailers such as Farfetch or Matchesfashion.com into what it calls ‘online concessions’, where it controls everything from the product assortment to their presentation. "Each time we move from wholesale to a concession we see our top line increase in a material way,” said Grégory Boutté, Kering’s Chief Client & Digital Officer, and former vice President of eBay. Kering has stated it was ‘not against wholesale,’ and did not plan to end its relationships with third parties altogether.

This is will be a play of power and something that I think will be difficult especially with the complexities of something like FarFetch coming from multiple retailers in different locations. This sounds like wanting your cake and eating it; we want your database, but in our own way. I’m not sure that many retailers will relinquish that amount of control, especially when you consider how many brands they sell and also the loyalty they now instil in these hard won customers.

Kering's total online sales — when including the business done through third party platforms, calculated at retail and not at lower wholesale prices — came to 9.4 percent of the group's 2018 revenue. Web sales through its own brand websites and online concessions made up 4.7 percent of revenue. This has huge room to grow.

Boutté has built up his digital team from 4 people upon his arrival at Kering in 2017 to over 80 people, today. He has realised the power of data. “The more data we have, the more precise our algorithm is and the better the experience is. The other thing is that it should lead us to excellence in terms of our operations.” he said.

Across the luxury goods industry as a whole, e-commerce accounts for around 10 percent of business today and should reach 25 percent of sales by 2025, consultancy Bain estimates.

This is about information and control. Controlling discount, controlling points of sale and controlling presentation. You can control more online, even with third parties. You can see it from anywhere. It's those pockets of physical wholesale boutiques or department stores in small towns that are harder to police and often unsold stock disappears into the grey market and ends up on discount sites and with other retailers.

Where once luxury retailers didn’t want to get their hands dirty, they are now rolling up their sleeves and have their eyes on the online prize; higher prices, more full price sell-throughs and control of that all important ‘data’. This will get more ferocious as the market becomes more saturated, growth slows and customers get increasingly more expensive to acquire. 

I predict many brands will try to be exclusive to their mono-brand websites if they don’t get what they want with their third party partners, or possibly try the LVMH 24 Sèvres, now rebranded as 24S, route, but it will be hard. And expensive. 

Retailers like FarFetch and MatchesFashion.com are decades ahead and thrive on new and small designers adding that colour and point of difference online. Luxury mono-brand websites often look boring, sterile and empty. People don’t shop in single brands, particularly when they are browsing. While the idea is logical and makes sense to reduce wholesale and take back more control, it will be far more complicated than that and add multiple costs to their business models.

Sunday, 16 June 2019 20:48

Tried & Tested Creed Aventus Cologne

Review 
Creed men's fragrance Aventus Cologne tried testedFollowing on from the hit Aventus fragrance, Aventus Cologne is said to be a fruity yet aromatic burst of ginger, mandarin and pink peppercorn, complemented by a heart of patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver. A leathery balsamic base of styrax, birch, musk and tonka bean.

TheChicGeek says, “Creed has become something of a cult, and looking at the prices, £155 for 50ml, they are certainly premium, even though they’ve managed to ingratiate themselves into the mainstream - John Lewis window anybody?

Colognes are usually lighter and easier to wear, and benefit from frequent reapplications. This is safe. No note really sticks its head above its tasteful parapet. Even the top, which usually dominates a cologne, doesn’t have much distinction and quickly disappears into a that soft and dry twiggy dry-down of vetiver. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if you’re investing, like here, I’d advise to demand more.”

Left - Creed - Aventus Cologne - 100ml - £215

Disclosure - A sample was provided by Creed

LFWM SS20 Royal College of Art

LFWM SS20 Royal College of Art graduate fashion

As London’s men’s fashion week gets ever smaller it becomes even harder for designers to make an impact. The four day event is really only two days with a mix of established brands and young designers trying to pad out the schedule. Like a Summer pond retreating, due to lack of rain (funding), with LFWM's decreasing pull the audiences are smaller and less important. Under this handicap, designers have a few short minutes to grab people's attention and resonate further outside of the room. When you look at the expense, you do wonder why anybody is crazy enough to do it, but that’s what makes you love the ‘art’ of fashion even more. LFWM is as much about getting together and looking at each other as it is about trends and looking forward. It’s not really even about selling clothes anymore, it’s like a social event or festival.

Left - RCA Graduates Gráinne Walley, Right - Clara Chu

On London Fashion Week Men’s opening night, the Royal College of Art graduates held a show called ‘All at Once’. The 50 MA graduates each had one look each which gradually rotated around the room. Held at a new retail development on Cork Street in Mayfair, this new way of showing ever increasing volumes of students makes it increasingly hard to see a story in people’s ideas or only gives them one chance to grab your attention. They were saying it was a reflection of the cost it takes for students to produce these collections and, possibly, a reflection of the times of not making huge amounts of stuff with one student offering ‘Extinction Rebellion’ as a reason for not producing anything physical at all. 

It’s a tough task to show this amount of students in a realistic amount of time, but it might be better to possibly break them up and give them 5 looks to show in differing categories. Unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the more stuff you produce, the more opportunity you have to mentally sell something to somebody. Desire triggers people sharing and buying things. Noted highlights were Irish graduate Gráinne Walley’s Game of Thrones type armour and Clara Chu’s food inspired accessories. 

For the remainder of the fashion week, the front rows were still sprinkled with Burberry check and Balenciaga Triple S trainers, all seen this time last year, and a sign of the lack of hit replacements even though fashion giants continue to churn out incredible amounts of product and ideas.

Here are some brief highlights of LFWM SS20:

LFWM SS20 Munn korean fashion

Münn

This South Korean label, established in 2013, and with creative direction by Hyun-Min Han, made its London catwalk debut. An alumni of Wooyoungmi, Han showed a sophisticated collection mixing pinstripe tailoring and sportswear with flourishes of ruching and ruffles with a finale of models all wearing branded Münn suit bags.

LFWM SS20 Robyn Lynch

Robyn Lynch

Following her first collection as part of Fashion East, last season, the Dublin-born returned with more of her stylish normcore. This time it was summer towelling mixed with traditional Irish knits and sports fabrics in her mono-coloured looks which are fast becoming her signature.

LFWM SS20 Nicholas Daley

Nicholas Daley

Nicholas Daley gave LFWM a tribal jazz happening in a 18th century church in the City of London. The ‘Sons Of Kemet’ band dressed in a warm, bold checks made from British fabrics created a crescendo of music and that quickly fell into a party atmosphere with looks referencing his Jamaican heritage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LFWM SS20 Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen

McQueen came back to London town with its usual exquisite tailoring and its fashion as art raison d’être. As well as the all ultra smart evening wear, there was watercolour symmetry prints and bold fuchsia pink florals in the charming surroundings of the C1348 Charterhouse in Farringdon. I just wish McQueen’s accessorises were as elegant as the clothes. Those chunky trainers and boots just don’t sit right and aren’t the best of their type.

LFWM SS20 Chalayan

Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan celebrated 25 years with a walk on the street near his store in Mayfair. Lucky with the weather, and with the backdrop of a textured stone wall clean striped shirting - something that continues to look fresh - in simple shapes and a minimal palette was a reminder of this experienced technician of a designer. 

 

 

 

 

 

LFWM SS20 Royal College of Art

Lou Dalton

For the past few seasons Lou Dalton’s collections have been dominated by her collaborations with British fine knit manufacturer, John Smedley. This season, she returned to a fuller offer with outerwear, shirting, tailoring and, of course, knitwear, but this time in fine rugby shapes, in a collection of easy and stylish clothes which don’t scream ‘designer’. A return to beautiful things?

Wednesday, 05 June 2019 13:14

Menswear Trend Summer Roll Neck

menswear trends fashion summer roll necks prada

menswear trends fashion summer roll necks pradaThe roll neck became something of a winter go to for the man who liked a camel overcoat and skinny jeans. It became the simple smart casual top for ‘dapper’ looking dudes trying to cross to the road without getting run over. If you’ve tried it, you’ll notice it has to be ridiculously cold for a wool or cashmere roll neck not to leave you looking like a perspiring mess. While it does look good on the majority of guys, it’s often impractical and doesn’t really allow for the option of taking it off or loosening it. You're committed once it's on.

Left - Prada Menswear SS19

menswear trends fashion summer roll necks Jeff Goldblum short shorts

Ah-ha, so, we want the look, but without the sweaty throttle? Enter the summer roll neck. Made usually from stretchy cotton/lycra mixes, and seen on the catwalk at Prada, this is just a long sleeve T-shirt with an extra roll around the neck. This won't make you much hotter, but you get the cool look, and looks great layered under a polo shirt.

Right - Jeff Goldblum in Prada SS19

The short shorts are optional, but this will certainly keep the sun off the back of your neck.

menswear trends fashion summer roll necks pradaLeft- Fila White Line Logo Roll Neck Long Sleeve T-Shirt In Green - £24 from ASOS 

 

 

 

menswear trends fashion summer roll necks pradaRight - Prada - Cotton mock turtleneck jersey - £325  

Below - Topman White Roll Neck T-Shirt - £15

menswear trends fashion summer roll necks Topman

menswear trends fashion summer roll necks pradaLeft - ASOS DESIGN muscle fit long sleeve roll neck t-shirt with stretch in red - £6.50