warehouse menswear will it work?Is there ever a perfect time to launch anything? Warehouse, the women’s high street brand founded in 1976 by Jeff Banks, is launching menswear this week. The traditional British men’s high-street has been in the doldrums for quite some time since the skinny suit was replaced by the branded tracksuit. So, the question is, does this ambitious new launch signal the start of a potential menswear  renaissance or will it be simply too difficult in a segment that has seen other well known high-street brands crash and burn?

Jonathan Munro, Warehouse Menswear designer says, “We feel strongly that there is a gap for a well-designed sustainable brand at a great price point. We wanted to build on the success of the womenswear line, marking a new chapter in the brand’s history and fulfilling what we believe, is a gap in the market.” he says. It is worth noting that this isn’t the first time Warehouse has done menswear. They had menswear in the early days of Warehouse so they are not promoting this as a first.

Left - Warehouse Menswear SS20

The main focus is, the fashion word du jour, sustainable. The new range will be sold online via the Warehouse webstore www.warehouse.co.uk and through host e-tailers and retailers; The Idle Man, Zalando, JohnLewis.com, Next and the Australian retailer Myer. Price points range from £15 for a 100% organic T-shirt, up to £189 for a recycled polyester content suit and £229 for the chrome-free suede jacket.

“The core of the range is made up of high quality wardrobe staples that should last season-after-season, balanced with breathable cottons and linens in a wearable colour palette.” says Munro. “We have a great range of printed shirts, from monochrome geos to abstract hand painted illustrations which are all designed in-house. Key pieces include our heavy twill overshirts and slim utility trousers.” he says.

“Fashion needs to become more sustainable for the good of the planet.” says Munro. “100% of the range includes sustainable fibres such as organic cottons which use less pesticides and therefore less pollutants, recycled polyesters made up from salvaged plastic bottles and eco viscose which is derived from renewable wood sources.”

What will Warehouse Menswear add to the British men’s high-street market? “Sustainable clothing for the modern man who needs his clothes to last and work for him every day.” says Munro. “We know women buy clothes for men and we also know men buy clothes for themselves - it's aimed at whoever wants to buy it.” he says. “We are holding a pop-up store at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, running from the 2nd – 7th March. This is to allow customers to see the range first hand, interacting with the materials and learning more about the sustainability messaging which runs throughout.” 

What does the future look like for Warehouse Menswear? “Our main focus will be to continue to research and develop new ways of working with sustainability in mind, supported by the knowledge of what the Warehouse Menswear customer is looking for in a sustainable clothing collection.” says Munro.

Brands such as Whistles and New Look both struggled in the menswear category. Whistles cancelled its menswear range this time last year and New Look removed menswear from its stores in April 2019, going online-only. The rest of the high-street from Topman to River Island to Jigsaw have struggled to compete with Zara and the sports brands. But, things aren’t all doom and gloom, according to a ‘GlobalData’ report ‘The UK Clothing Market 2018 – 2023’, menswear will be the driving force of the clothing sector, forecast to grow by 12.3% over the next five years as greater trend incorporation and newness drives volumes.

warehouse menswear will it work?A British Fashion Council and Mintel report estimates that consumer spending menswear has grown 5.1% to reach £15.9 billion in 2018. Menswear now accounts for 26% of the total clothing market, whilst womenswear accounts for 51%. Consumer spending on clothing is forecast to rise 25% to £76 billion in the next five years to 2023.

Warehouse’s parent company, the Oasis and Warehouse Group, clearly sees potential in the menswear market having recently purchased online retailer The Idle Man for an undisclosed sum in Sept. 2019.

Right - Warehouse Menswear SS20

So, what do the experts think Warehouse Menswear’s prospects are?

“When this was announced, I’m not going to lie, I was very surprised, to say the least. I understand a lot of people keep on talking about the growth in men’s fashion & grooming, but when we see retailers from New Look to Whistles dropping their menswear offering, it does beg the question, is now the best time to launch a menswear brand extension? 

“Additional to this, we have an awful lot of talk on sustainability and buying less but better quality, plus when well known names like TOPMAN are not performing particularly well at the moment, its hard to see a brand not known for their menswear being a success in these difficult, uncertain times. However, maybe this is what the menswear market needs, maybe Warehouse it going to target the ladies buying for their men, but this is an ever increasingly niche demographic. I do wish Warehouse all the luck in the world and hope their Menswear offering is a success, but I won’t be holding my breathe.” says Anthony McGrath, Founder of Clothes-Make-the-Man.com & leading academic.

“It’s certainly a challenging time to launch, but there’s an opportunity for Warehouse where other major high street names are stalling or retracting on menswear. There are multiple challenges for high street retailers; nimble online competition, prohibitive high business rates, persistent economic uncertainty and the fact that many of us no longer choose shopping as a preferable leisure activity. However, in my opinion the current menswear offer from the high street, with a few exceptions, is failing to offer well-made, well priced and exciting product. There’s a proliferation of dull, cheap clothes. 

I’d like to see a certain amount of risk taking. Nobody needs another line of neutral, anonymous ‘wardrobe essentials’. Men shop for themselves. It’s not going to work if the strategy is to rely on existing customers.” says Jessica Punter, Stylist & Grooming Consultant, & former GQ Style & Grooming Editor.

“It'll be a tough fight, and depends on their marketing strategy I think. They have a nice campaign video and a pop up shop but is that enough? We'll see. They have an opportunity now to really nail it, to take the market share from the high street brands that don't do it particularly well, but time will tell! I think others failed because they weren't offering a mix of product for different customer groups, so hopefully Warehouse will.

warehouse menswear will it work?

“There isn't a 'good time' to launch I don't think, there's always going to be peaks and troughs in the industry, and right now we're just coming out of a terrible time for retail, so maybe it's a great time! To wait until fashion week or another event is pointless now as we know men don't really shop to seasons or events, they just shop because they need to. I guess it's a good time in the year though, because now is the time for newness, so makes sense from a business point of view. 

“Initially, I think it'll be the aimed at the women for sure, because they are the ones going in store and online to buy Warehouse, but if they have a good marketing plan, and get it out to wider audiences, men will slowly show up. Also, I wonder who they are partnering with, if anyone, to wholesale? That'll be really important in pulling in a new menswear customer. It'll be slow, but maybe they might be able to do what others have failed to do!” says Simon Glazin, freelance fashion writer and blogger.

Left - Will it work? Warehouse Menswear SS20

“I think there's space for an affordable, fashion-forward offer now Topman is tussling with Boohoo over cheap sportswear, but Warehouse aren't going to be the ones to provide it. Well, judging from the images I've seen.” says Lee Clatworthy, Fashion Writer.

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menswear product of the week Projekt Produkt sunglasses SC2 koreanIf Gentle Monster put Korean eyewear on the map, then Projekt Produkt is taking that baton and running with it. Launched in 2014 by Projekt Produkt’s President and CEO, Lee Hyun-ho, the brand releases a collection each year with a central theme such as modern rock-chic or glam. The basis of the brand essence is modern, minimal, classy and wearable.

I'm loving this 'SC2' style which is part retro, part science nerd and part children's play set. It's that perfect level of cool difference.

Left & Below - Projekt Produkt - SC2 - $355

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menswear product of the week Projekt Produkt sunglasses SC2 korean

Friday, 28 February 2020 18:20

Menswear Product Of The Week The Cowboy Tie

menswear product of the week drake's silk rodeo cowboy neck tieNobody wears ties anymore, especially cowboys, but this playful number, featuring the masculine stereotype du jour is a joy. In striking fuchsia pink silk and featuring cattle, Stetsons and lassos, it’s a playful take on a vintage design. 

Wear with a sober business suit and plain shirt, and the style message is this isn’t your first time at the fashion rodeo.

Left & Below - Drake’s - Pink Rodeo Print Shappe Silk Tie - £135

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menswear product of the week drake's silk rodeo cowboy neck tie

Thursday, 27 February 2020 15:04

ChicGeek Comment Parka Vortex

mild winter effect on parka coat sales nobis Robin YatesWhen you are happily sat outside in the sunshine at Berlin Fashion Week eating your lunch in the second week of January your instincts tell you this winter has been exceptionally mild. Last month the global temperature was warmer than any previous January on record, according to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Temperatures in Europe were 0.2C higher than the previous warmest January for the continent – recorded in 2007, and it has been 3.1C warmer than the average January in the period 1981-2010. 

Norway recorded its hottest January day since records began, with a reading of 19C – more than 25C above the monthly average – measured in the village of Sunndalsora, which is around 250 miles north of Oslo. Temperatures were also much above average over most of the USA and Canada.

Left - Nobis

If you are a coat brand, and, in particular arctic parkas, this is bad news. The arctic parka market has seen huge expansion over the past few years and brands piling in on the success of brands such as Moncler and Canada Goose. The last few years’ winter weather has helped with the 'Beast from the East' and America’s extremely cold polar vortex making these type of coats feel like an essential. These businesses have grown big selling £1000 coats in the 100,000s, but things have become more competitive - possibly unsustainable? - and if the weather is mild consumers will forgo an expensive purchase until they really need it. So how has the mild weather been affecting this important seasonal market?

Martin Brooks, Co-Founder & CEO, Shackleton, says,”Yes, the mild winter has affected sales. Last year, we had a very cold March, by that time many brands were out of stock.

“It’s nuts that most outerwear brands go on sale from Black Friday  - months before it gets cold. It's like putting swim gear on sale in May.” he says. “North America has been strong for Shackleton, especially Chicago where it's been 'Chiberia' (25 below) a few times this year.”

Ian Holdcroft, COO & Co-Founder, Shackleton, adds “We’re on target to double our revenue to financial year ending end of March. We are a small business but growing rapidly.

“Interestingly our sales of high ticket items (the most expensive jackets) have increased, we suspect in the main (& talking to our customers has reinforced this), that they see our product as investment and less affected by near term weather. They also like that we’re now non fur and make in UK and Europe. Admittedly we do see spikes in orders when the temperature drops below 7 degrees.” he says.

Robin Yates, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Nobis says, “Experiencing winter arrive later, season after season, the traditional buying cycle of the consumer has become less predictable. Weather trends, however, see winter conditions accelerating in January and February, and sales in our industry are beginning to reflect this shift from a timeline perspective.

mild winter effect on parka coat sales shackleton london ian holdcroft“At Nobis, our collections are built and designed for global movement and unpredictable weather. Relevant in mild and inclement weather scenarios, our products offer functionality across a broad range of seasonality.” he says.

Right - Shackleton

Are these brands changing their product mix to be less reliant on classic fur hooded parka?

“It's rained every week in the UK from 1st October to now. Not many people have decent rainware in their closet... this is a huge opportunity to bust a space between outdoor shell jackets (urgh) and fusty raincoats.” says Brooks.
“Our best seller (in outerwear) this winter has been our pilot jacket which is shorter than a traditional parka.” says Holdcroft. “We designed this with helicopter pilots operating in the Alps so the jacket has a lot of features (such as full vent zips up the side) which make it much more flexible in terms of temperature, heat regulation and usability. There has also been an increase in demand for the lighter weight jackets and layering pieces - the Fortuna gilet has proved very popular.

“The last few winters have experienced colder weather towards the end of the season in Feb and March. However this is when consumers are used to seeing sales of winter ranges and retailers stocking up for Spring Summer. We are planning lighter weight outerwear pieces and will be introducing rain/wet weather into the range for next Autumn Winter. We are definitely planning for a general warming of the climate (& milder, wetter northern hemisphere winters) but there will always be somewhere cold on the planet.” says Holdcroft.

“Mid to lighter weight product ranges are seeing an increase in traction due to the versatility and functional aspect.” says Yates. “Dependent on the time of the season, these transitional pieces can be worn as a base layer or a final outer layer.” he says.

Is the arctic parka market saturated and over supplied and have brands that have become big on the back of this cold weather staple got an unsustainable business model?

mild winter effect on parka coat sales nobis Robin Yates

“Each brand caters to very different audiences – we believe and invest in the product experience.” says Yates. “We bring our consumers greater quality, function, style and value from their Nobis branded jacket and continue to provide them with access to information previously clouded in industry nomenclature. Thus, allowing the consumer to truly make an informed outerwear purchase decision, regardless of the brand they end up selecting.”

Left - Nobis

“There are a lot of brands now making parkas and the parka has become a category in it’s own right. We need to be different and innovative though to stand out.” says Holdcroft. “Our Endurance parka sells very well because it’s so light and packable and is the best performer on the market from a weight to warmth ratio perspective. It’s much easier to travel with than heavier weight parkas from other brands. So, we find people are buying into the flexibility of the jacket and the performance without compromising style. That being said, as we extend the range we will be introducing more and more products that are not parkas.” he says. “We won’t be able to build an international brand on the parka,”.

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Thursday, 27 February 2020 10:25

Exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk

kyoto to catwalk kimono victoria albert museum exhibitionThe Japanese word "kimono", literally means a "thing to wear”. It’s almost like an order, and, oh, what a beautiful one. This exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum charts the kimono from the 1660s to the present day. From its early influence on shapes and fabrics, its absorption of ideas from the rest of the world when Japan opened up in the 1850s, up until contemporary fashion taking it as a starting point.

kyoto to catwalk kimono victoria albert museum exhibitionThe exhibition's highlights are anything by Galliano at Dior - always - some stunning art deco Cartier jewellery and make-up cases, Freddie Mercury’s lounging around kimono, Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters video garb and Bjork’s collaboration with Alexander McQueen.

There is some menswear, though the kimono is very unisex, from Thom Browne (right), Duro Olowu, T. Michael and Yohji Yamamoto.

The kimono is the original silk robe and you only have to look at designers like Dries Van Noten or Edward Crutchley to see its influence today and the tradition being carried on.

kyoto to catwalk kimono victoria albert museum exhibitionThe kimono is one of fashion’s closest things to a walking work of art and this exhibition is a worthy tribute to it.

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk runs from 29 February – 21 June 2020 - £16

#KyotoToCatwalk

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kyoto to catwalk kimono victoria albert museum exhibition

Friday, 21 February 2020 12:10

Label To Know Gallivant Perfumes

Review 
Gallivant Perfumes Tokyo tried testedA new indie perfume brand from London, founded and created by Nick Steward, Gallivant works in collaboration with perfumers in Venice and Paris. The collection of eight hand-crafted fragrances, named after some of the world’s most vibrant cities, are designed to be travel-friendly with 30ml sized bottles, perfect for slipping into your holdall. 

Nick Steward has two decades of hands-on experience in perfume making and was product and creative director of the pioneering niche house L’Artisan Parfumeur.

Handmade in the UK, unisex, vegan and cruelty-free. Gallivant is an ethical and sustainable independent artisan business. 

Left - Gallivant Perfumes - 30ml Eau de Parfum - £65

TheChicGeek says, “The Phileas Fogg of perfume, Nick Seward, has produced a travelogue of scent. From Tel Aviv to Brooklyn, each fragrance is a modern take on a place memory. 

I was hoping ‘London’ was going to smell like the inside of a red telephone box. Ewww!

If I had to pick a favourite, I would say ‘Tokyo’. Created with Nicolas Bonneville, it is a zingy, spicy, wood. A citrusy head of bergamot and yuzu with black pepper and cardamom, is electrified with a dash of wasabi. A woody heart of hinoki, cedarwood, and incense with orris root, rose and nutmeg mixes with a base of amber, sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver.

Tokyo has a slightly treacly cola top with an aquatic freshness. The warmed incense is there, but it’s deep and kept light with the fruit.”

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Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Gallivant for review


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