Friday, 05 October 2018 11:13

Tried & Tested Tommy Now

Review Tommy Now Tommy Hilfiger men's grooming expertTheChicGeek says, “Tommy Hilfiger has really carved out that niche of affordable designer. Once they realised that they weren’t a true ‘designer’ brand and just stuck to making distinctive and fun clothes, they seem to have flown.

This is the latest incarnation of the classic Tommy fragrance which was released in the 1990s. Now is a woody and spicy fragrance with bergamot and mandarin notes and geranium, ginger, cardamom and warm wood.

This is fresh and easy, and at, £35, it’s also cheap. It’s sort of fragrance as an everyday body product and that's how you should use it. What I would say is, if you don’t go to the upper price level for fragrance, I would ignore the mid range - anything £50-£70 - and come down to something like this. It’s basically the same thing, and, here, you’re not paying over the odds for the same thing.”

Left - Tommy Now - 100ml - £35

Thursday, 04 October 2018 15:50

Tried & Tested Baxter of California

Review Baxter of California men's grooming expertTheChicGeek says, “You’ve probably seen this brand before. This is L’Oréal relaunching the men’s grooming brand, Baxter of California, back into Europe. Established in 1965, it is one of the oldest men’s grooming brands and was acquired by the huge beauty conglomerate, L’Oréal, in 2012. (They’ve been hoovering up a lot of brands over the last few years).

The thing I remember most about Baxter of California was the metal tubes. It gave them a retro and quality feel. These are now gone, though the packaging looks similar and I still like it. I don’t actually remember the products themselves.

Left - Some of the vast Baxter of California range

It’s a big range, but feels reliable. I tried the Oil Free Moisturiser, which I really liked and they also do an SPF option which is great. The Citrus & Herbal-Musk Deodorant, is an alcohol and Aluminum-free stick sensitive skin. I also tried a not very memorable body wash, and, the deep cleansing, black bar of soap. These could both do with a stronger and more longer lasting quality fragrance especially at these prices. Men expect and desire this, now, especially when paying a premium.

Review Baxter of California men's grooming expert

The pricing is relatively high, with similar prices to that other L’Oréal brand, Kiehl’s. 

It’s simple and easy to understand, which is good, but I’d like to see more of its background and history in its products. Where’s my California sun? Which ones are new? Which ones are your heroes? This brand would be perfect to tap the outdoor/active feel that grooming should be heading in.

If I was going to pinpoint one standout product, then it's the Oil Free Moisturiser. 

I’d rather buy this than L’Oréal’s new men’s brand, House 99. Read why here

Right - Everybody loves sunshine - Baxter of California needs to push more of its heritage. Or make some up?!

Wednesday, 03 October 2018 16:35

Hot List The Granny Coat

AW18 menswear trends Milan Gucci Granny coatI spotted this coat on the Gucci catwalk in February. It is the type of coat people bought in the 1950s and 1960s and came with a matching hat, usually a Baker Boy style. It's the same coat grannies were wearing 40 years later and has that vintage feel that I'm always looking for.

Looking like a walking pub carpet or wallpaper is the look for AW18. Even though it's fairly loud, you could pretty much wear this coat with anything and it would take centre stage while making it look like you'd pilfered your grandmother's wardrobe. You'd probably have to sell her to pay for it anyway!

Left  & Below - Gucci - GG Diamond Wool Coat - £2660

AW18 menswear trends Milan Gucci Granny coat

See more picks from TheChicGeek's Milan Scrapbook here AW18 menswear trends Milan Gucci coat

Wednesday, 03 October 2018 15:58

Tried & Tested Huntsman X Jo Malone

Review Jo Malone Huntsman men's grooming expertJo Malone has teamed up with Savile Row tailors, Huntsman to release 4 fragrances aimed at men. They are: Amber & Patchouli, Assam & Grapefruit, Birch & Black Pepper and Whisky & Cedarwood.

TheChicGeek says, “The first thing to point out is that none of these fragrances are new. They were all part of Jo Malone’s limited summer editions over the last few years - see more here - As many of those probably passed guys by, they’ve brought back these four. 

Huntsman is one of Savile Row’s most famously expensive tailors, but doesn’t have the design identity to play around with, so I think they’ve done really well just replicating the gold huntsman lettering on the front window onto the bottle. Simple yet classy.

They could have gone all silly prices with this, but I’m glad they’ve kept it in line with the rest of the Jo Malone brand. My favourites are Assam & Grapefruit, which gives you that yummy and zesty Earl Grey aroma and Birch & Black Pepper, which is the simple punchy notes of smokey birch tar and spicy black pepper. The Amber is fairly forgettable and the Whisky one just isn’t boozy enough for us boys. Cheers!”

Available at Jo Malone London Boutiques and at Huntsman Savile Row - 100ml - £120 each

Wednesday, 03 October 2018 13:47

ChicGeek Comment Bye Bye Sales

Sewbots ending sales due to automation and manufacturingWhile the dust continues to settle on the hoo-ha regarding Burberry burning product - who have, miraculously, stopped burning product, BTW - the whole thing is a reminder of how brands deal with waste and what they should do with it. 

Brands don’t want waste. Waste costs money. It also takes time and energy to get rid of it. Waste is a sign of over ordering, and being left with a mountain of stock to dispose of. This is basically what sales are: the motivation to shift unsold stock, shoving it all out the door hoping to make some form of profit, or, at worst, cover its costs.

In an ideal world, they’d be zero waste. What if brands only made exactly what they needed? No more sales, no more outlets, no more burning. Welcome to the future. 

Janice Wang, Founder & CEO of Alvanon, a fashion tech business specialising in helping brands with fit and reducing returns, says, “Our industry is blighted by oversupply. Some 60 percent of the garments we supply are sold at discount, which means we are making too much of the wrong thing.”

Left - The Sewbots are coming

Sales and discounts are hurting retailers. Not only does it negatively affect profits and margins, it also has created an environment where consumers are hooked on discounts and never want to pay full price. It’s a race to the bottom for many retailers and this is putting many out of business. At the beginning of this year, H&M announced it had a $4.3 billion pile of unsold stock. What do you do with it?

“Sales are bad for brands and retailers because they reduce margin and damage a brand's credibility. It makes people question whether products are worth the price they have paid for them.” says Petah Marian, Senior Editor, WGSN INSIGHT.

Fashion retailers are always pushing for efficiencies, but there’s a disconnect, currently, between the speed of ordering and the making to order window which many consumers will not tolerate.

“To become competitive, fashion retailers and brands need to embrace new production strategies and technologies, such as data and intelligence, robotics and digitalisation, to use customer data to provide tailored, on-demand items.” says Wang.

“A responsive supply chain enables brands to react quickly to consumer demands and changing trends. The vision is to reduce lead times from months to weeks to days or hours.” says Wang. “Consumers today live in a constantly changing world. This shapes their behaviour and expectations. They demand newness and immediacy without compromise.” she says.

Sewbots ending sales due to automation and manufacturing

Marian says, “It means less wastage of resources and also the possibility of personalising items for an individual consumer. Less wastage means a more sustainable supply chain, and people value things more when they have participated in their creation.”

Fashion is currently stuck in the past. Buyers have to guess what people will buy and in which sizes, many months in advance. It’s guesswork, and, while they have got faster and more efficient, there is huge margins for error and then you’re left dealing with your mistakes. On the other hand, you could also not make enough of something popular: missing out on full-price sales and leaving disappointed customers.

Right - The type of robots soon to be making your clothes

“Regional and localised sourcing allows retailers to be more responsive to actual customer buying behaviour.” says Wang. “Styles can even be adapted in-season and delivered to stores while consumers still want to buy them. And, at the end of the day, smaller runs of garments that sell at full-price are better than cheaper cost volume runs of garments that have to be sold at discount.” she says.

How many retailers blame the weather for having the wrong product at the wrong time when publishing their financial results? It’s also really bad for the environment.

“Eventually technology will allow us to go from producing things by the millions to producing them by the ones. Everyone is talking about customisation and there’s no doubt that will eventually happen.” says Wang. “It’s the most efficient and sustainable way of manufacturing.” she says.

“You used to go to the tailor and they would make one item for you.” says Wang. “I can visualise that you will customise one unit to order. Bespoke, customised, perfectly fitting items made just for you and only when you order them – it sounds just like a Savile Row offering, only this time it will be purchased from your smartphone.”

Fashion businesses are looking at making items ‘on-demand’, but to make these cost effective and fast we’re going to need automation. Amazon has just patented an ‘on demand’ system: making the clothes once an order has been placed, not before.

It will be robots or ‘Sewbots’, situated closer to home, which will, eventually, be making our clothes. SoftWear Automation, based in Atlanta, introduced ‘Lowry’ in 2015, a sewing robot that uses machine vision to spot and adjust to distortions in the fabric. Though initially only able to make simple products, such as bath mats, the technology is now advanced enough to make whole T-shirts and much of a pair of jeans. According to the company, it also does it far faster than a human sewing line.

SoftWear Automation’s big selling point is that one of its robotic sewing lines can replace a conventional line of 10 workers and produce about 1,142 T-shirts in an eight-hour period, compared to just 669 for the human sewing line. The robot, working under the guidance of a single human handler, can make as many shirts per hour as about 17 humans.

“Retailers will push for this when it becomes cheaper to manufacture products using robots than using offshore labour.” says Marian.

Retailers, factory owners and brands will make huge savings. It will also mean things can be made closer to home so left time and expense in travel. They’ll be no more sweatshops and the robots can run 24/7.

Currently, brands are starting to explore this new idea, but it’s still quite niche and can be more expensive. Under Armour has its new Lighthouse Project, Nike has a new partnership with Apollo Global Management and Adidas' Speed factory.

Adidas currently has a ‘Speedfactory’ in both Germany and Atlanta. The factory is completely automated, and designed to be able to speedily produce limited runs of customisable product or replenish the hottest product selling quickly during the same season. Adidas said it can get shoes to market three times faster in a Speedfactory than with traditional means and hopes the two factories can produce one million pairs of shoes a year by 2020. Adidas will continue to experiment with the Speedfactories, adding new technology and more automated processes to get to a goal of 50% of shoes made by with 'speedier' methods.

This is the future. The future will be shops as showrooms, where you order the item in your specific size and then an automated robot, closer to home, will be able to manufacturer it within an acceptable window of time. Just imagine, something will never sell out. They’ll always have your size. Your better size even. You’ll be able to order something to fit perfectly.

The brands or shops that will thrive will be those with the best ideas or styles. Consumers will be able to customise, within reason, and brands will no longer have to hold vast inventory which ties up capital and kills cashflow. Sales will be a thing of the past and the waste and environmental pollution will be reduced hugely. Clothes could also become cheaper as the labour costs are reduced.

This fashion automation is part of the forthcoming ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. It will revolutionise what we buy and how we look. The machines are definitely coming because the industry wants it. 

Read more ChicGeek Comment pieces here

must have vintage menswear Pierre BalmainFor those of us who want to express our taste, get something different and also, possibly, invest, vintage is the place to be, right now. I love a rummage around a vintage store or on eBay, but finding something decent, that fits, is tough, but that’s part of the fun and makes something good all that more special. Book - 

One of the easiest ways of finding something special is to look at a specialist online auction and Kerry Taylor Auctions in Bermondsey is probably the best specialist fashion seller in the UK. Admittedly, it is reflected in the prices, but they aren't crazy, especially when you compare them to today's designer prices. I always have a look at their online catalogue, not only to look at what is in the sale, but also for style ideas from the past. 

must have vintage menswear Tommy Nutter

must have vintage menswear Tommy NutterHere are TheChicGeek’s picks of the sale and why:

TheChicGeek says, “While I probably wouldn’t get into this dress… it’s the 1960s & 1970s optical prints that are all the rage at the moment. Just look at Dries Van Noten’s Verner Panton inspired collection for SS19 to understand how fresh these are looking right now. I'd love this print in a shirt.”  See Thom Yorke in Dries Van Noten SS19 it here 

Lot 202 : A Pierre Balmain couture printed organza evening dress, 1972

A Pierre Balmain couture printed organza evening dress, 1972. labelled and numbered 154665, boldly printed with 'target' medallions.

Estimate: £300 - £500

TheChicGeek says, “Vintage Tommy Nutter is very hard to come by. These aren’t particularly exciting, but, it’s the shapes you’re buying into: huge, exaggerated lapels and flared trousers. I particularly like the multiple vents on the back.”

Book - You need to read the House of Nutter here

Lot 252 : Two Tommy Nutter gentleman's wool suits, 1975-76

Two Tommy Nutter gentleman's wool suits, 1975-76. un-labelled, of similar design, the first in sage-green, the second beige, both jackets with exaggerated lapels, inverted pleat detailing to front pockets and rear; together with an original 'Nutters' hanger and photocopy showing the original owner.

Estimate: £300 - £500

must have vintage menswear Courrèges sunglasses glasses Kerry Taylor AuctionsTheChicGeek says, “These are a fashion museum piece, so I’d expect them to go for much more than the estimate. The late 1960s sci-fi/retro-future styles still fascinate and these are one of the iconic eyewear styles of that era.”

See more inspiration from 2001 Space Odyssey here

Lot 267 : A pair of Courrèges cream plastic 'eskimo' sunglasses, 1964

A pair of Courrèges cream plastic 'eskimo' sunglasses, 1964. signed along one arm, the solid lenses with horizontal slits, in a Courrèges plastic glasses case.

must have vintage menswear Courrèges sunglasses glasses Kerry Taylor AuctionsEstimate: £200 - £300

must have vintage menswear Pearly King OutfitTheChicGeek says, “While this isn’t an original Pearly King outfit, and more a stage costume, the allure is the style’s place in London’s working class street culture. While an original East London ‘Pearly’ suit would be the dream, it would be hard to find one in as good condition as this one.”

Lot 381 : A good 'Pearly King' outfit for 'The Yorkshire Coster', English, circa 1910

A good 'Pearly King' outfit for 'The Yorkshire Coster', English, circa 1910. of dark grey herringbone tweed and covered entirely with pearlised buttons, comprising jacket, waistcoat and trousers with buttons by 'Scarboro Etches'; together with an original photograph and pocket map of London. Provenance: The Castle Howard Collection, ex lot 210, Sotheby's, 7th October 2003. This suit belonged to William Wedgwood Fenwick (1886-1960) who was born in Scarborough to Methodist parents. He wanted a stage career and went to London where he trained as understudy to the performer Albert Chevalier. Eventually due to pressure from his family he returned to Scarborough where he opened a draper's shop. He used to entertain friends wearing this suit.


Estimate: £350 - £500

must have vintage menswear bracesTheChicGeek says, “Pre-20th century items have a preciousness knowing that the majority of clothing or accessorises fell apart through wear and never made it through the decades of time. These pairs of braces are really cute and show the whimsy in menswear going way back into history. These are pure dandy and would be fun to wear, if the condition allows.”

Lot 419 : Three pairs of men's braces, mid-late 19th century

Three pairs of men's braces, mid-late 19th century. comprising: petit point pair with motifs including matadors, galleons, native figures with feathers; another pair embroidered with forget me knots, both with elasticated and leather straps; a woven blue and white Edelweiss patterned pair; and a single poor condition petit point panel.

Estimate: £250 - £400

must have vintage menswear Northern India Ladakhi quilted hatTheChicGeek says, “This is giving me pure Gucci vibes, especially the yellow one. Saying that, Michele’s probably already ticked these off his list of references and he’s already ransacked Northern India from the first half of the 20th century for SS17!!!!”

See more about this AW18 season’s trend of Balaclavas here

Lot 464 : Two quilted hats, Ladakhi, Northern India, first half of the 20th century

Two quilted hats, Ladakhi, Northern India, first half of the 20th century. the first of golden-yellow silk damask; the second in black velvet with fauna stems stitched in gilt thread; both lined in red cotton. This style of hat is worn sitting high on the crown of the head, with the flaps curving outwards, during festivals.

Estimate: £100 - £150