Monday, 25 February 2019 16:02

Tried & Tested Evolution By Kings

Review 
Kings Evolution fragranceMade in Britain, palm oil and paraben free, ‘Evolution’ is the debut fragrance from men’s grooming brand, Kings. A mix of essential oils including patchouli, cardamom, vetiver, copaiba, ylang ylang and eucalyptus, Evolution has been approved by the Vegan Society and by Cruelty Free Bunny.

Started by founder, Blué O’Connor, as a result of a successful crowd-funding campaign, Kings will be helping to fund two charities in Blué’s hometown of Bristol, Mentoring Plus and Bristol Mind, as well as the national male suicide-prevention charity, Calm.

Left - Kings - Evolution 50ml EDT - £39.99, 10ml EDT - £14.99, 1.7ml EDT Sample Bottle - £2.49

www.kings-grooming.com 

TheChicGeek says, “Price isn’t a signifier of anything anymore, especially in fragrance, and this is great value. 

This is really good. It starts with a liquoricey top which turns into an attractive warm rubber. I’m not crazy about the branding, but nobody sees that when their salivating around your neck!

It is suppose to smell like a jungle in bloom, but it’s drier than that. It’s a slow mover from the top to the base, but the journey keeps you engaged. It’s a calming fragrance which also complements its mental health connections. In a nutshell, it smells like sexy car mats!"

Disclosure - The product was gifted by Kings to review

Monday, 25 February 2019 11:56

Oscars 2019 Menswear Trends Sashes

Oscars menswear 2019 Nicholas Hoult Dior Men best dressed

Oscars menswear 2019 Nicholas Hoult Dior Men best dressedAfter much menswear excitement on red carpets, this awards season, the expectations were high for something interesting at the Oscars. Apart from Billy Porter’s voluminous train, it was a fairly conservative and traditional night. Those immature-looking, shrunken velvet suits were rife, while the rest opted for traditional black tie.

The man to offer us something new was British actor, Nicholas Hoult, in Dior Men AW19. From the recent AW19 collection, the suit was reimagined in plain fabric with a shorter sash. The simply singular button and sash wrapping around the shoulder, around the back, then to the side, is elegantly different.

Nicholas Hoult is tall enough to have carried off the original length, but, I think it would have looked chicer with black fringing at the end. It would have also weighted it down.

It certainly saves needing a napkin!

buying fake followers bots and manipulating instagram Fyre festival cheese sandwichWhile influencing others isn’t new, the idea of an ‘Influencer’ is. We’ve seen a huge growth of individuals with large followings on social media pitching themselves as the magical conduit between brands and consumers. Vast sums have been spent, but there’s a new mood, and an anti-Influencer sentiment is building.

One of the surprise Netflix hits of recent months was the documentary, 'Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened’. It focused on the naive attempt to hold a luxury music festival on a Caribbean island. ‘Influencers’ were vilified and blamed for enticing people to part with their cash. More than regular models, because they used their huge social media following to promote the festival, they we’re given, rightly or wrongly, some of the responsibility for the festival’s spectacular failure. 

Left - Fyre Festival catering, not quite as promised

Buzz Carter, Head of Outreach at Bulldog Digital Media, a digital marketing agency, says, “Negativity towards Influencers has been brewing for a while now, following multiple scandals over the past few years, like Warner Brothers paying YouTube Influencers for good reviews for ‘Shadow of Mordor’, multiple Influencers not marking paid posts as ads, Influencers pushing gambling and scams to a young audience (RiceGum & Mystery Brand) and the ongoing issue of fake followers and interaction.

“This has been in the background for a while, but with the Fyre festival documentary, it’s boiled over.” he says. “Influencers only work when their audience trusts them, but all of these have shown an untrustworthy aspect to Influencers, but I definitely think the Fyre Festival doc. was a catalyst for a lot of the negativity going around now, as it showcased the issue to people who wouldn’t have thought about it.”

The general public are finally understanding the meaning of the term ‘Influencer’. What first started with bloggers and YouTubers has morphed into ‘Influencers’ and ‘Content Creators’ over the past few years. The dictionary definition of ‘Influencer’ states; “a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.” It is usually focussed on the Instagram platform.

Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO, Socialbakers, a social media marketing platform, says, “It is centred around Instagram because Instagram really is the social media platform from which influencers were born. Because of the highly visual nature of the content posted on the platform, it is the place where brands are seeing the most engagement on their content. Hence it is also the place where celebrities and influencers are able to interact with these brands to drive mutual benefit.”

The Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) has issued guidelines to tidy up the difference between sponsored posts and non. Recently, sixteen social media stars including Rita Ora and Alexa Chung have been warned by the Competition and Markets Authority that their posts could break consumer law. Shahriar Coupal, Director of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) said: “Responsible influencer marketing involves being upfront and clear with the audience, so people are not confused or misled and know when they’re being advertised to. The relationship between Influencers and their followers relies on trust and authenticity, so transparency is in the interests of all parties. This guide on the standards will help influencers and brands stick to the rules by being upfront with their followers.”

buying fake followers bots and manipulating instagram Fyre festival cheese sandwich #ad

The guidelines state you have to declare #AD or similar, when you’ve been ‘paid’ in some way (can be freebies, doesn’t have to be money), AND, had some form of editorial ‘control’ over the content. It’s not an ‘either/or’ – there has to be both ‘payment’ and ‘control’ for this type of post to count as an #AD under the CAP Code.

The BBC’s recent broadcast of a Panorama provocatively titled ‘Million Pound Selfie Sell Off’ focused on the negative types of things Influencers are promoting like fad diets and teeth whitening. It jumped on the Influencer backlash which is rippling out to the wider public. It’s creating feeling of being hoodwinked or cheated.

Erica Davies, a former newspaper fashion editor and womenswear and home Influencer with 130K followers on Instagram, commented on Twitter in response to the Panorama programme, “Transparency and honesty is key. But equally, the playing field needs to be level. If one platform is under the microscope, then there should be a united set of rules targeting ALL advertising across newspaper and magazine journalism, print titles AND social media.

A few people’s untrustworthy ethics on social media platforms is bringing negative heat onto Influencers in general. “There are a lot of responsible, trustworthy people trying to provide interesting, creative content on social media, that doesn’t just involve ‘selling stuff.’ It’s a shame #BBCPanorama didn’t talk to any of them.” she says.

Anybody can be an Influencer, and there are many crossovers between jobs, but it’s the fixation on the numbers of followers and engagement that is creating an environment for people to cheat the system. There have been recent articles calling out people for buying followers and “cheating” the system. Is this a sign of the bubble bursting for Influencers and the saturation of the market or is this an element of jealousy of those “living their best life”?

If you consider yourself to be an Influencer then everything is self-promotion. Your entire business is based on pushing yourself and proving your influence and trying to monetise that. But, people are growing tired and suspicious of vacuous content.

William Matthews, Menswear Marketing Specialist, says “Anti-Influencer sentiment is being fuelled by opportunistic, uninformed individuals who can’t base their opinions on relevant frames of reference or experience. “I love this” means nothing unless you can explain in a meaningful, informed way why that is.
"Hats off to the fantastic influencers who have worked hard to evolve their taste, opinions and truly understand their subject matter (in the same way journalists/editors do) with hard-won experience and relevant frames of reference. They add huge value to the media mix for brands.” he says

Consumers are also switching off. According to a report by Mindshare, Google Trends queries like “social media harms your mental health” and “social media seriously harms your mental health” have risen in the last 12 months, by +5,000% and +4,000% respectively. The report by Mindshare entitled ‘Trends 2019’, which holds quantitative research from more than 6,000 consumers aged 18+ across the UK found 61% of consumers are doing more to monitor their own screen time, 72% of consumers have begun to unfollow certain people and accounts altogether and 66% of people have started to hide social media posts from people with differing views.

With the decline of print, digital, including social media, is going to be a more important way to reach consumers for brands. “While influencer marketing has been around in some form or another for a long time, it's really only in the last year or so that it has become such an important tactic for marketers.” says Ben-Itzhak. “As with anything that involves exchanging money for a service, the practise is open to a certain amount of fraud and misbehaviour. It will bring greater dependency on marketing technologies to help brands identify the right Influencer and as to help Influencers vet the brands before they work with them. 

"If you look at celebrity throughout the ages, there has always been competition from within and jealousy from the outside. Influencers are very much an extension of that. What will be interesting to see in the next months/years is how much credibility consumers will continue to give to macro influencers, such as the big name celebrities who have a high price tag for each post, versus the micro-influencers, who have smaller follower numbers but greater credibility with their niche communities.” says Ben-Itzhak.

Influencers wear many hats and celebrities promoting products isn’t a new concept. What Influencers have to realise is, this direct dialogue with their followers makes them look more responsible. How much do brands employ Bella Hadid or Kendall Jenner for their modelling skills rather than their social media numbers?

“For the future of the industry, I can see Influencer marketing being put under tighter regulations on what they can promote and how they promote, as well a crackdown on fake followers, Social Chain are actually working on a tool to see through follower fraud. So in the future I think influencer marketing will thrive, but it will be more carefully used by brands than it has been over the last few years.” says Carter.

These documentaries and programmes have put a spotlight onto this Influencer world and is making the general public become more cynical and wary of social media Influencers. It will be interesting to see whether this new toxic environment makes brands want to distance themselves and implodes the entire market entirely.

I’ve also written - Digital Hindsight

The End of ‘Influence’ 

Tuesday, 19 February 2019 18:18

Tried & Tested Hims

Review 
hims wellness andrew dudum grooming expertHims is a new American ‘ personal wellness’ brand entering the UK market. ’You should look and feel your best all the time. Men now have easier access to the care they need - because men trust hims with the things they find hard to talk about.’ or so the company blurb says. The Founder and CEO is Andrew Dudum who is a serial backer of start-ups. 

TheChicGeek says, “Hims is more than a grooming brand, and goes deep into the wellness area for men. Covering hair, skin, mouth, sex and health, hims is trying to broaden the grooming scope and make these new areas cuddly and sexy. The branding is great. The phallic images of the flaccid cacti feels more like a premonition when you get to my age… (On that note, they could make the information on the bottles a little bit bigger for those us actually losing our hair and of that age).

I tried the ‘dht shampoo’, ‘morning glow serum’ and ‘immunity’ supplements, all achingly cool lower case. It’s a very Helvetica type brand, - it looks a bit like an underwear brand - but I like its modern approach and tone. It’s an open platform and makes more sensitive subjects feel just as easy and fixable as buying a new moisturiser.

Hims offers erectile dysfunction and hair loss treatments, but you have to go through a consultation and an online doctor will prescribe these. The company works with a large network of doctors to prescribe Finasteride - a proven-to-work hairloss treatment - and Sildenafil - the active ingredient in Viagra - through their website - customers will be assessed by an online consultation with one of the team. If they pass the assessment (in the US an average around 10% of patients are refused), an online prescription will be drawn up by a pharmacist and mailed in a discreet manila envelope. There is a huge emphasis on aftercare and customers will be able to follow up with the same doctor to monitor use.

Review 
hims wellness andrew dudum grooming expertAs for the more traditional products I tried: the blue shampoo blocks DHT to help prevent hair-loss, the serum focuses on vitamin C for its collagen benefits and cute gummy bear shaped supplements support a healthy immune system. I have tried ‘Beauty Candy’ before. (Not quite a replacement for Haribo!)

These are all fairly long term products and need a longer of period of time if you’re going to see and assess any benefits. I did want a bit more ‘glow’ from the serum though. 

Hims feels like an inclusive brand rather than one trying to rinse people’s insecurities. I just kinda wish they sold the penis cacti too!”

Because the non-prescription products haven’t launched in the UK yet, they haven’t released prices, but looking at the American website they look pretty keenly priced. The prescription products are: Hair Loss (Finasteride): £35 for a month’s treatment, Sildenafil (50 mg pill): £33 for 8 pills or a months supply. There is also a £10 consultation fee on top - www.forhims.co.uk

Disclosure - The products were gifted by Hims to review

Wednesday, 13 February 2019 15:18

Copenhagen Menswear Trade Shows AW19 Report

Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswearDepending on how you look at it, Copenhagen's shows are either late or early. It’s the end of the men’s calendar and the beginning of the women’s. Copenhagen has two main trade shows: Revolver and CIFF. Revolver is more condensed and in the upper mid-market of men’s and women’s brands, while CIFF runs the full spectrum from East London’s finest to affordable and wearable mainstream brands and designers.

Here are the trends and brands to know for AW19:

Left - A display at CIFF AW19

TRENDS

Copenhagen ciff revolver bum bum bag trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Practical Harnesses

Seen on the red-carpet thanks to Abloh’s Louis Vuitton, the harness, with attached pockets, is the natural successor to the bum bag. The cross-body straps and practicality, makes it look fresh and incorporates better into an outfit. This is about sports and travel while being hands-free. New brands offering these styles are “BumBumBag” from France and “Taikan” from Canada.

Right - New affordble accessories brand from France, BumBumBag

 

Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear pullover recycled cashmere

Recycled Cashmere

This was a trend that I noticed at Pitti Uomo. The economics of recycling relies on the material having a higher monetary value and cashmere is one such raw fibre. Danish brand Pullover, www.pullover.dk is collecting old cashmere knitwear, taking it to Italy, removing all buttons, care labels and necklabels and separating into colours.

They then shred the fibres, mix with virgin cashmere to spin new yarn. The final garment contains 70% recycled cashmere and 30% new.

Left - Danish brand, Pullover's display of the different cashmere makers going into its recycled cashmere jumpers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

The Cool Quilted Slipper

The Millennials and Generation Z aren’t leaving the house, so the cool slipper is where the money is in young footwear ATM. Something fun and affordable, these quilted versions look young and comfortable. Brands such as Woolrich, The North Face and Crocs each showed their versions.

See new brand “Coma Toes” in Berlin

From Left - Woolrich, The North Face

  

 

Copenhagen ciff Vagabond shoes revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Return of the Brogue

If minimal Scandi footwear brands like Vagabond are reintroducing the brogue then you know it’s the direction footwear is going in. As we see a contraction in sports shoes, we’ll see a swing back to leather shoes and in particular brogue styles.

Left - Vagabond brogues

Christian Sneum Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

BRANDS

Sneum

Christian Sneum worked at Valentino for 12 years before launching his own, eponymous label. New for AW19, it’s a dark take on western/army wear including accessories and footwear offering exaggerated details in classic menswear styles.

Left - Sneum, new brand by a former Valentino designer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Vanessa Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Dear Vanessa

This Dutch label is inspired by the name Vanessa. Interestingly, the name was invented by the author Jonathan Swift for Esther Vanhomrigh, whom Swift had met in 1708 and tutored. The name was created by taking “Van” from Vanhomrigh's last name and adding "Essa", a pet name for Esther. A soft palette of pastels comes in waisted coats, knitwear and trainers in this feminised feeling men's collection.

Left - New Dutch brand inspired by Jonathan Swift's invention of the name Vanessa

Asposrtguesas cork Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Asportuguesas

The vast majority of wine bottles no longer contain a cork, so what has happened to that centuries old Portguese commodity? Asportuguesas is a new footwear concept using the harvest from these oak trees. The world’s first cork flip-flops brand, it uses a 100% natural raw material that is born in a tree and is retrieved every nine years, without the tree ever being cut.

Left - Cork soles giving Asportuguesas a sustainable base

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haerveark Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Haervaerk

Meaning “Vandalism” in Danish, Haervaerk is a Gorillaz-type, gaming looking label of brightly coloured unisex clothing. Their uniform is metamorphorsed by the oil sea, wet asphalt and the rusty containers that litter the Danish seafront. 

Niels Gundtoft Hansen, the lead designer, grew up in Denmark and is imbuing the collections with a Nordic identity. Originally hailing from Copenhagen, Hansen studied at London’s prestigious Royal College of Art. His 2016 graduate collection won the Only the Brave award at ITS – the International Talent Support contest in Trieste Italy. Marie Munk, as well a Danish graduate from the Royal College of Art, became partner in Hærværk in spring 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cottweiler allegri Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Cottweiler reebok trainers sneakers Copenhagen ciff revolver trends trade shows trends AW19 menswear

Collaborations for AW19

Nicholas Daley for Fred Perry

Rising British menswear star, Nicholas Daley, has been tapped up by Fred Perry for this first collaborative collection. As well as working with adidas Originals for AW19, Daley offers his mixing of styles influenced by his Caribbean and Scottish backgrounds. Think madras camp collar shirts and bold tracksuits inspired by his father’s nightclub.

Cottweiler for Reebok and Allegri

Matthew Dainty and Ben Cottrell of British brand Cottweiler have worked with the Italian outerwear maker, Allegri, and Reebok for two further collaborations, this season. This is a continued relationship with Reebok featuring a new slip-on loafer and the 10 raincoats with Allegri are inspired by the deep sea and its underwater world using their respected fabrication.

From far left - Cottweiler X Allegri, Cottweiler's loafer for Reebook

Sunday, 10 February 2019 14:31

Menswear Product Of The Week The New Trouser

The new menswear trouser shape Daniel W Fletcher menswearWith the skinny trouser shape safely out of the door, - bye, Hedi! - it’s time to put our cards on the table and decide what's next. Daniel W. Fletcher, one of London’s menswear talents, has been pushing this smart, side-poppered trouser for a few seasons now. 

I spied model, Richard Biedul, in a black Daniel Fletcher suit during the last LFWM and it all started to make sense. That flick on a trouser just looks right and the contrast stitching gives these trousers a less dressy feel. The studded poppers allows you to wear them closed and they're proudly made in England. They're poppers o'clock!

The new menswear trouser shape Daniel W Fletcher menswear

Left & Below - Daniel W. Fletcher - Black Split Hem Tailored Trousers - £380

Below - Model Richard Biedul in the full Daniel W. Fletcher suit at LFWM Jan. 2019

The new menswear trouser shape Daniel W Fletcher menswear Richard Biedul