Sunday, 18 November 2018 20:29

Tried & Tested Czech & Speake Villa Ausonia

Review Czech Speake Villa Ausonia pine fragrance perfume men's grooming expertThe new fragrance from Czech & Speake ‘Villa Ausonia’ captures the exhilarating freshness of the Atlantic coastal breezes of South West France,  with the lingering intoxicating scent of distant pine forests and the salty ocean. This androgynous, modern and light fragrance blends notes from oceanic ozone, green (a lighter interpretation of chypre) with citrus/fruity to sit in the gourmand fragrance family.

Ausonia, is a nod to the first Roman Governor who historically brought vines to Bordeaux from Rome.  Frank Sawkins, founder of Czech & Speake who happens to have a house in this part of the world, decided to create a fragrance that married history and the captivating smells that surround the ocean.

“Ausonia is quite personal to me, It took over 2 years to develop and now I feel extremely happy with the results. Trying to capture a modern ozone scent is quite a challenge, but it is one I have greatly enjoyed. As a designer and creative I work closely with the perfumer, it is quite a process to achieve a well-balanced fragrance,” says Frank Sawkins, Founder of Czech & Speake.

Left - Czech & Speake - Villa Ausonia - 100mls - £125

TheChicGeek says, “This is very solid in its top and middle notes; what you smell at the beginning is consistent to the end. If you like pine/conifer notes you’ll love this. (It could be a good one to spray on the Christmas tree. Just an idea…)

There’s a juicy green apple in there to get your mouth watering and would be a good progression for those of you who have out grown or want something more premium than Boss Bottled. It’s all about the Golden Delicious in Boss Bottled.

This contains calone, also called watermelon ketone, a perfume ingredient that is responsible for many of the ocean breeze fragrances. Personally, I find scents containing ‘aqua’, ‘ozone’ or ‘oceanic’ notes a little synthetic, in a negative way. It’s something you can’t quite put your finger on, but it doesn’t smell natural nor boldly artificial. But, if you want a refreshing pine forest fragrance then this is definitely one to try”.

must have vintage menswear winged shoes talariaThis is the best type of shopping; an investment and something originally beautiful. You already know I’m obsessed with vintage and the element of discovery and a new auction catalogue from Kerry Taylor Auctions in Bermondsey is like sartorial porn. So, treat yourself to something for Christmas. You deserve it!

Here are TheChicGeek’s picks of the sale and why:

TheChicGeek says, “Nothing is original in fashion, well, not totally. When Jeremy Scott put his wings on his adidas trainers, he could have glimpsed these gorgeous pair of talaria beach sandals. (Talaria are winged sandals, a symbol of the Greek messenger god Hermes -The name is from the Latin tālāria, "of the ankle".) Can you imagine the rest of the swimming costume?"

Lot 62 : A rare pair of Phillips' Silver Wing rubber bathing shoes, English, late 1920s

A rare pair of Phillips' Silver Wing rubber bathing shoes, English, late 1920s. moulded with maker's details to the soles, of black rubber with white painted edgings and silver wings to each side.

Estimate: £800 - £1200

TheChicGeek says, “I’m a little bit obsessed with Schiaparelli, ATM. I’ve been reading her ‘Shocking Life’ autobiography and she seems like a whirlwind of style and creative ideas and very much where we are, right now, in fashion. This is one of those fun things we take for granted today, but just look at the year it was produced”.

must have vintage menswear Schiaparelli telephone compactLot 69 : A rare Salvador Dali for Schiaparelli 'Telephone Dial' compact, 1935.must have vintage menswear Schiaparelli hall of mirrors dress

The design of this compact in 1935 marks the first collaboration between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali. That same year saw the opening of Maison Schiaparelli at 21, Place Vendôme, Paris.

Estimate: £2000 - £3000

TheChicGeek says, “More Schiaparelli. I get the impression any woman who commissioned an outfit from Schiaparelli would be the interesting woman in the room. It’s a shame the name didn’t have the same life as her rival, Chanel, as it would have made for much more creative fashion”.

Lot 70 : A fine and rare Elsa Schiaparelli couture 'Hall of Mirrors' jacket and matching dress, 'Zodiac' collection, Autumn-Winter, 1938-39

Presented in August 1938, it drew on two main themes - astrology and the magnificent Palace of Versailles. The seventeen massive archways of the Galerie des Glaces, each filled with twenty-one mirrors, must have inspired the baroque cartouches on this jacket front. Provenance: Vera Bowler who married John Wesley Worth on 4th May 1935. Her husband was regional Manager for Carreras Ltd., Britain's largest manufacturer of cigarettes. 

Estimate: £50000 - £70000

TheChicGeek says, “Move over the Milk Tray man in this James Bond like aprés-ski outfit. You can just imagine George Best or Tom Jones in something like this”.

must have vintage menswear Pierre Cardin jumpsuit men'sLot 107 : A fine and rare Pierre Cardin man's knitted jump suit, 1969-70.

Estimate: £7000 - £10000

TheChicGeek says, “John Galliano seems to be exciting everybody at Maison Margiela, ATM, so it’s nice to see some early stuff from this British master. £1200 in 1990? That would have been a fortune”.

must have vintage menswear John Galliano banana coatLot 159 : The John Galliano 'Banana' coat showpiece, Autumn-Winter, 1989-90.

Provenance: Gifted by Mr Galliano to a friend who worked with him. The coccon-shaped 'Poiret' coat in banana-yellow Melton wool with collar formed from tall cartridge pleats (retail price advertised at £1200). Galliano described this coat as a 'punctuation mark for the show’.

Estimate: £2500 - £3500

TheChicGeek says,”It was only a fews years ago that Christopher Raeburn put inflatable rubber coats onto his London catwalk. This is pure Michelin Man and full of those 80s proportions when Issey Miyake was at the height of his influence”. 

must have vintage menswear Issey Miyake inflatable jacket 1987Lot 172 : A rare Issey Miyake man's inflatable rubber jacket, 1987.

An identical jacket was worn by Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys in 1987 in a performance of 'Rent' on the 'Live from the London Palladium' TV show..

Estimate: £10000 - £15000

See more ChicGeek vintage picks here

 

 

 

 

 

Superdry strategy bored brand Julian DunkertonSuperdry has been a British retail phenomenon. In under a decade, the brand went from its first store in Covent Garden to a huge multi-storey flagship on London’s Regent Street.

Established by James Holder and Julian Dunkerton, the Superdry name first appeared in 2003. It has been an unstoppable juggernaut since then, racking up yearly sales of over £750 million (2017) and operates in 55 countries.

Left - Superdry went from a single store to a huge Regent Street flagship in under 10 years

At the beginning of this year, the remaining founder, Julian Dunkerton, announced he was stepping down from the company. In a statement, Mr Dunkerton said he had “other demands” on his time, and stepping down was “the right point for me to transition my focus and responsibilities”. Handing the reins to new Superdry chief executive Euan Sutherland, Dunkerton bowed out quietly until this October when Superdry issued a shock profit warning blaming warm weather and bad foreign exchange hedging. Shares in the group crashed 20%. 

Dunkerton has been vocal in his disagreement with the direction the company is heading in, saying, “I cannot sit back and watch my shareholding — and those off all the pensions invested in the company — be dissipated”. He’s trying to gather other shareholder support to return to and steer the company in his direction, but, have they got their strategy wrong or has the Superdry brand simply peaked and run out of steam? 

Mat Heinl, CEO at global creative business Moving Brands, an independent, global creative company, says: “It has become unclear who Superdry is for and it feels like its brand and purpose has been entirely lost. 

“There, now, seems to be a clear disconnect between what made the brand successful and its core base of customers. With the mid-market being hit hard by competitors, brands like Superdry fall into a sea of sameness,” says Heinl.

The strategy in question has been Superdry’s move into fast-fashion. In September, Superdry hired Brigitte Danielmeyer as its new chief product officer to launch a new fast-fashion range called "Superdry Preview”. Formerly Tommy Hilfiger’s global head of womenswear, Danielmeyer, leads the new Superdry Preview label aimed to attract a “younger, more fashion-driven” customer through limited-edition capsule collections. The range will go from design to delivery in just six weeks and be supported by a social media campaign targeted directly at 16 to 24-year-olds.

Yet to be tested, with no results yet for these ranges, Dunkerton thinks it’s a mistake for Superdry to move into the competitive fast fashion arena. He thinks Superdry should stick with fewer, core ranges in store and massively increase the designs and varieties (known as SKUs) being sold online.

“Last Christmas we were at a point where we could hit fast fashion online. We were such a strong brand that we could really increase our SKU count. But they [the new management] did the reverse.

“If you put that product online you would expand brand awareness and create excitement online while combining it with the classic store base.” he said.

Not everybody disagrees with the fast-fashion approach. Natalya Johnson, Marketing Manager, Shopest, who create location- based shopping experiences helping “independent stores to stay vibrant, profitable and nearby”, says “Early on the brand appealed to their target demographic which at the time was young men and women aged around 16-30. 

“Over time, their consumer has changed, developed new interests and shop in a new way. Although brand identity is strong, the brand has failed with adapting into the fast fashion cycles, meaning their products seem to be outdated,” she says.

“Superdry are beaten by big brands such as ASOS and Zara, who not only offer consumers constant variety, but also a difference of style. 

Superdry strategy bored brand Julian Dunkerton

“Superdry do have great potential to revive the brand, tapping into current trends in the fashion industry that would attract their ideal consumer. It seems that they keep missing the mark in trends that would complement the brand e.g. streetwear and also brand collaborations. 

“Once the product becomes more relevant, the brand can offer new innovations in store and develop stronger marketing strategies. In conclusion, Superdry appear to be very stagnant at the moment, but definitely have the potential to make things right,” she says. 

The shares now sit at roughly 780p. They began the year above 2000p. The October profit warning said it expected to make £83 million in profit this year, well shy of the near-£110 million expected. 

Superdry is heavily reliant on sales of heavy winter items such as jumpers and jackets, making 45% of annual sales. It said “unseasonably hot weather” in the UK, Europe and the east coast of the US was hitting sales.

“Superdry is a British phenomenon who’s growth has been nothing short of miraculous,” says Anthony McGrathpastedGraphic.png, Lecturer and Editor-in-Chief of Clothes-Make-the-Man.com. 

“In their heyday, celebs galore were spotted in their trademark casual wear and they set up home in a huge flagship emporium dedicated to all things Superdry on the retail Mecca of Regent Street. BUT! They have rested on their laurels and the whole nature of the beast, that is fashion, is that it changes at a break neck speed. Tastes, styles, trends change and unfortunately Superdry haven’t. So, yes, I do think Dunkerton is right,” he says.

Right - Is Superdry too reliant on coats and jackets?

Dunkerton, who retains an 18.5% stake, said “The management team remains hell-bent on their strategy, publicly supported by the chairman; but the numbers and the market warnings speak volumes. It is very clear that the company needs to change strategic direction; I have a clear and simple plan to correct the problems, and I have been explaining my plan to shareholders over the last couple of weeks.

“This company and brand has such a great opportunity - we must grasp it now,” he said.

This added pressure onto the Superdry management comes at a time when the retail landscape is looking schizophrenic. Long one of the darlings of the British retail scene, could this just be a case of the brand losing momentum and consumers growing tired of the Superdry brand regardless of the strategy? Has the ubiquitous Superdry branding reached its zenith, and, regardless of what the brand does, exponential growth can’t go on forever?

“Another challenge for brands like Superdry is the rise in people turning away from highly disposable and consumerist brands as they become aware of the massive pollution and poor working conditions associated with those brands which emphasise profits over ethical business practices,” says Heinl.

“To claw back momentum, Superdry, and other struggling brands, could do a number of things to help them stand out in a crowded marketplace. They could become a champion of sustainable fashion, improve and showcase high quality products, define a distinct design direction or take a leadership position in improving supply chain transparency and quality,” he says.

Dunkerton said, “My model means less wastage. It is far easier to manage and you have lower stock risk.

“There are too many products in the stores with short shelf life. You shouldn’t try and change it all the time. Get the product right and be confident in it. There’s no reason a jacket in October shouldn’t stay until March. Now, you see jackets on sale already. Can that be right?” he says.

Shareholder Aberdeen Asset Management is supporting current management, saying Dunkerton left after multiple profit warnings. Superdry chief executive Euan Sutherland has said “it will take up to 18 months for the benefits to come through” and Superdry chairman Peter Bamford said: “The Board of Superdry has huge respect for Julian Dunkerton as an entrepreneur and founder of the business. Julian has raised a number of issues with the board regarding strategy since he left the business. We have reviewed and discussed these issues and, while we have sympathy with some of his points, we have a different view on the best strategy or approach to addressing them. 

“Superdry is an ambitious, global, multi-channel brand and the Board believes that Julian’s view of strategy has not evolved with the needs of the business. We remain fully committed to our successful global digital brand strategy and the board is confident that Superdry has in place the right leadership to ensure the continued development of our highly relevant brand.”

The management will have to start seeing the fruits from this new strategy and fast, otherwise shareholders will push for change. The next set of results will either quieten Dunkerton or add fuel to the fire for a reversing of the company direction. Superdry is too reliant on coats and jackets, but this has also helped them grow to the size they are. Regardless of strategy, what if consumers are simply bored with Superdry? That’s going to be an even harder job to fix. 

Mary Poppins Menswear Pearly King Jacket ASOSIt must be the excitement surrounding the return of Mary Poppins, but nothing says ‘London’ like a pearly king. This ASOS Design jacket updates the look from buttons to sequins. The western jean jacket style keeps it more casual, and it looks much more expensive than it is.

This is somewhere between Saint Laurent meets Roberto Cavalli meets Balmain and I promise you won't feel like a Dick Van Dyke!

Let’s Chim Chim Part-ee!

Left & Below - ASOS DESIGN western jacket with gold sequins in black velour - £60

More Mary Poppins Inspiration - Trend Carpet Bags

Mary Poppins Menswear Pearly King Jacket ASOS

Monday, 12 November 2018 11:15

Best Dressed ChicGeek Jeff Goldblum

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal printsSometimes in danger of believing his own hype, Jeff Goldblum, is a cool customer. On a recent Graham Norton Show, Goldblum totally nailed this year’s evening look. A snakeskin jacket was teamed with a lurex shirt and tie combo and striking zebra socks and matching shoes. 

Left - Jeff on Graham's sofa showing the zebra shoes and matching socks

What, on paper, shouldn’t work, totally does and shows it’s all about the sparkle and animal prints, this party season. This is confident evening wear and shows everybody at the office party what a lounge lizard you are. 

Get the look below:

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints

Right - Smart evening wear with character 

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints River Island

 

 

 

Left - River Island - Black Snakeskin Print Skinny Fit Blazer - £85

 

 

 

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints Saint LaurentLeft - Saint Laurent - Damier Lurex Shirt - £685

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints Moss BrossLeft - Moss London - Black & Silver Knitted Tie - £20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal printsLeft - Dr Martens Core Fusion Zebra Creepers In Black - £112 from ASOS

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal prints Saint LaurentLeft - Saint Laurent - Men’s Deck 20 Loafers In Black Suede And Black And White Zebra-look Calfskin - £795

 

 

 

 

 

 

AW18 menswear trends Jeff Goldblum best dressed evening wear zebra animal printsSplash or Cash? The Snakeskin Shirt 

ASOS men's lurex socks ChristmasFinishing touches - See more Menswear Trend Eveningwear Lurex Socks

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 11 November 2018 21:29

Tried & Tested UNITY Grooming

Review Unity grooming Mathieu Flamini Mesut Özilmen's grooming expertFounded by footballers, Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Özil, UNITY, is a new men’s grooming  brand that has been “designed to put people’s health and our planet on the right path to a sustainable future". 

The range is comprised of 11 vegan friendly products that feature the highest grade of up to 100% natural origin formulations free from SLS & SLES, parabens, PEGS, mineral oil, silicones, synthetic colours and artificial fragrance for maximum results and performance. 

In a bid to reduce the use of virgin plastic, the brand sought out a bio-plastic alternative made from sugar cane that is 100% recyclable, thus minimising the carbon footprint of the brand. Alongside the product, UNITY strives to keep sustainability at its core throughout the business, with customer deliveries arriving in fully recycled craft boxes with bio-degradable and non-toxic starch chips as packing fill.

The brand also believes in the importance of giving back, with 1% of all company revenues going towards causes that seek to make a true difference to people and planet

Left - UNITY - Hair Boost – Shampoo, £10.95, Body Boost – Shower Wash, £8.95, Skin Defence – Face Moisturiser, £11.90, Skin Detox – Face Wash, £10.95

TheChicGeek says, “In our post Blue Planet world, plastic is vilified as the devil of all packaging. If only solving our plastics problem resolved the whole of our environmental issues… But, we have to start somewhere and these guys seem passionate about this subject.

Surely the most environmentally packaged grooming product ever is the humble bar of soap? Used for millennia, is it not the reason Lush made all their products solid? The problem with trying to care for the environment is - and, let’s be honest, anything in the right direction is a good thing - you put yourself out there to be ripped apart. Anything packaged and part of consumerism can be lambasted for simply existing. I think it’s important to say you care, but you also have to acknowledge you’re part of the problem. People will still need to wash and clean themselves and how a brand facilitates this can be minimised. Ernest Supplies’ pouches spring to mind.

Launching with 11 products isn’t really saying "minimal" to me, especially when there’s a shower wash for the morning and and separate one for the evening. (British people only shower twice a day on holiday, FYI).

The main parts of the tubes are made from sugar cane, - Bulldog is another brand I know who is using this too - but the tops are a 25% mix and there’s a beard oil in a glass jar. This goes back to the main problem we have of mixed recycling issues.

The branding is pretty nondescript - it feels a bit 10 years ago - and the packaging is a bit anonymous and generic. There’s no indication of the main ingredients on each product, leaving you to guess the main scent, and saying ’99% Natural Origin’ just makes you think what’s in the other 1% then?

As for the products, they’re not bad and I think they offer value. I tried 4 out of the 11. I sampled the face wash, shampoo, body wash and moisturiser. It feels natural, hence the looseness of some of the consistencies, and the smells are light and not overpowering. 

I like the smell of the face wash and moisturiser. The former is a mineral clay in a light toffee colour and the latter is coconut. There’s no lingering smell from the body wash.

This feels like a reliable range, I just wished they’d tried to be more dynamic with the branding and packaging to reflect the passion they have and also to standout in a crowded market. Whispering your green credentials won't change anything”.

www.oneunity.com

Below - UNITY Founders Mathieu Flamini and Mesut Özil

Review Unity grooming Mathieu Flamini Mesut Özilmen's grooming expert