striped summer shirt Scott Fraser Collection menswear productsThe horizontal striped camp collar shirt has become a staple of men’s summer wardrobes over the past few summers. It’s become a ‘Basic’ basic, if you know what I mean, but, honestly, they still look good.

I first met Scott Fraser of Scott Fraser Collection at the Goodwood Revival and he looked every bit the king of vintage he has become; sitting on his moped with his perfectly mid-century look. A stickler for the details, his own label is a fabulous collection of reproduced vintage inspired pieces and this shirt is no different. 

Made from two newly-discovered 20-metre rolls of vintage fabric, perfectly wrapped and stored in the back of a mill, this ‘Lido collar’ includes two chest pockets, rear waist-band adjusters, v-split cuff details and mother-of-pearl buttons throughout. A Linen/cotton mix and made in London, the idea is to look like a walking sun-bleached deckchair this summer and this looks as good as anything made back when.

Left & Below - Scott Fraser Collection - Yellow & Coral Striped Lido Shirt - £140

striped summer shirt Scott Fraser Collection menswear products

Monday, 29 April 2019 15:49

Label To Know MG Rivers

MG Rivers knitwear menswear label to knowGood knitwear is catnip to any stylish man and quality, fine knitwear is the most versatile in your wardrobe: taking you from winter through to the beginning of summer and back again.

A new brand on TheChicGeek’s radar is MG Rivers. Set up by Juliette Sherwood, who has a background in design and fashion, her mission was to shake-up men's knitwear. She pulled in her good friend Natasha Whitelock, who has a background in events and fashion wholesale and previously worked at Holland Cooper, to launch this new men's brand. The brand name is a conflation of names and initials important to them and was chosen because it conjures up a vision of a traditional British man.

The brand has launched with a selection of brightly hued extrafine merino and silk blend V-necks inspired by the classic cricket jumper. Cuffs, necks and waistbands are embellished with distinctive signature merino and silk ribbon trims, inspired by the ribbons of military decorations and each mixing one bright tone with two heritage colours to distinctive effect. The jumpers are made from the very highest quality Italian yarn and made in Europe.

MG Rivers knitwear menswear label to knowTank-tops and bomber-jacket style cardigans are in the pipeline from the brand.

Above & Right - MG Rivers - Extrafine Merino V Neck Jumpers - £185 -www.mgrivers.com

 

Brutus popeye Scotch Soda jeans menswear productsWhen I was a kid, a Popeye - I'm not sure why it was called that - was an ice cream with an ice-lolly stuck in the top. It was a way of being greedy and getting more out of mum from the Ice Cream Man.

Well, this summer, you better avoid those ice cream and lolly stains in a pair of illustrated jeans from the Dutch fashion brand, Scotch & Soda. Featuring Brutus, or Bluto as we like to call him in the UK, Popeye's main antagonist, he was the bearded and hench bully and is perfect for our continuing hipster times. I can't remember him being a lifeguard, though, but he can rescue us anytime...

It's a small collection featuring a varsity jacket, camp collar shirts, as well as these jeans. And, while you should be leaving plain, bright white jeans to the lads on the next edition of Love Island, these are an exception and a work of art.

Left - Scotch & Soda - Brutus Jeans - £194.95

Brutus popeye Scotch Soda jeans menswear products

sportswear dominating fashion kris jenner

sportswear dominating fashion kris jenner

sportswear dominating fashion kris jennerWhen New Look announced, at the beginning of this month, its menswear was going online only, it solidified what we already knew; high-street fashion is struggling, badly. It was only a few years ago, when the ‘dapper’ three-piece skinny suit was at its zenith and pocket squares were furnishing top pockets, that the good times were rolling and Britain’s high-street menswear retailers were expanding.

Left - Momager Kris Jenner loving an adidas tracksuit but with a Gucci bag or Fendi keyring

Back in 2016, New Look was busy rolling out menswear stores in university towns, appealing to those on a budget wanting fast fashion. New Look was fairly late to the menswear party, following in the footsteps of brands like Topman, River Island and Moss Bros, but it had lofty ambitions. They opened 22 menswear stores in places such as Shrewsbury, Exeter, Maidstone, Derby and Nottingham. They are all now closed, wth New Look saying in a recent statement, “New Look is removing menswear from its UK and Ireland stores but will continue to sell the range online and on third party platforms,” such as ASOS and Zalando.  

So, what happened? Sportswear happened. Branded sportswear has been the main fashion story for the past few years. From trainers to tracksuits, sportswear is everywhere and on everybody. 

Recent results from sportswear behemoth, JD Sports, illustrates its growth and dominance. JD Sports, which is now more than three times bigger than arch rival Sports Direct, almost-doubled revenue in its latest results for the 52 weeks to February 2, 2019. Revenue was up an incredible 49.2 percent to £4.7 billion for the period compared to the year before, with profit before tax increasing by 15.4 percent to £339.9 million pounds. 

JD Sports’ results includes its acquisition of the Finish Line business in America. The brand was bought for around £400 million in June 2018, and saw JD Sports take ownership of Finish Line’s 600 stores in the US.

JD Sports executive chairman, Peter Cowgill, said in a statement: "We believe that our acquisition of the Finish Line business in the United States, the largest market for sport lifestyle footwear and apparel and the home to many of the global sportswear brands, will have positive consequences for our long-term brand engagement whilst significantly extending the group's global reach. We maintain our belief that Finish Line is capable of delivering improved levels of profitability.” JD Sports said it stayed clear of reactive discounting while offering a point of difference in the goods it sold. 

This American dominance, particularly of the internet and social media channels, has helped grow this market. When American football is coming to Wembley and there’s even talk of baseball making inroads into this country, then you know the power of the American online world we now live in. When you see Kris Jenner wearing a full adidas tracksuit on multiple episodes of the Kardashians, instead of the luxury labels she used to be wearing, it really illustrates how far this trend has come and it’s global. 

JD Sports is now in 10 countries in mainland Europe with its first store in Austria at Mariahilfer Strasse in Vienna opening in the next few months. The JD fascia saw a net increase of 39 stores in the period with new stores in all of the retailer’s existing territories as well as its first two stores in Finland. In Asia, JD Sports has opened its first stores in Singapore, Thailand and South Korea with its local partner Shoemarker Inc, and now has 16 JD stores, including 14 conversions of the multibrand Hot-T fascia which was acquired in the previous year.

New Look recently closed all of their stores in China, Belgium and Poland, 85 stores in the UK and, potentially, those in France and Portugal too. It has returned to profit after its underlying operating profit came in at £38.5 million to Dec 2018, compared to an underlying operating loss of £5.1 million for the same year-to-date period the year prior, but like-for-like sales are still falling, they’ve just slowed.

These woes aren't just restricted to New Look. The fall in the value of these high-street companies is illustrated by Arcadia recently buying a 25 per cent stake in retailers Topshop and Topman back from US investor Leonard Green for $1 or 76p. It was rumoured the US private equity firm bought the 25 per cent stake from Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia in 2012 for £350 million. That’s some devaluation.

Another British high-street brand suffering from the dominance of sportswear is Moss Bros. The menswear retailer recorded a £4.2 million loss for the 52-week period ending January 26, 2019, compared to a profit of £6.7 million the year prior. Revenues were down 2.1 per cent to £129 million and like-for-like sales dropped 4.3 per cent. Interestingly, full-year figures showed that like-for-like hire sales plummeted by 9.3 per cent. People aren’t even renting formalwear now?! Moss Bros chief executive, Brian Brick, said it was an “extremely challenging” year. “We suffered from a combination of a significant stock shortage and extremes of weather, alongside sporting distraction in the first half, which impacted footfall into our stores,” he said. That “sporting distraction” was the World Cup with people no doubt wearing yet more sportswear.

“Looking forward, in common with many UK retailers, we continue to anticipate an extremely challenging retail landscape, particularly within our physical stores, as a result of reduced footfall and rising costs.” he said.

This sportswear as a fashion trend is slowing, but sportswear is beyond a trend, now, and it’s a lifestyle and ease of dressing that is resonating around the world and to every age group. These once dominant British high-street stars are contracting and they are cutting off limbs (menswear) to save the vital organs. Karl Lagerfeld once said, “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.” He couldn't be more wrong.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019 11:08

ChicGeek Comment Big Shops Flop?

big shops primark BirminghamThe simple narrative of big shops are dying, department stores are dinosaurs and physical retail is on its knees just doesn’t ring true. Primark is bucking the trend, and, to really the ram the point home, has just opened not only the world’s biggest Primark in Birmingham, but also officially the largest fashion retail store in the world according to the Guinness World Records. Move over Topshop!

Spread over 5 floors, and 160,100 sq ft in size, the new store boasts womenswear, menswear, kidswear and homeware, plus the largest ever Duck & Dry beauty studio, the first in-store barbers salon from Joe Mills, and 3 dining experiences, including a Disney Café. If it sold washing machines it would be classed as a department store.

Left - Primark's new Birmingham mega-sized store

While nobody seems to know what is going on at Debenhams, and Mike Ashley is hoovering up brands like a hyperactive Dyson - we’re still not sure what he is going to do with all these companies - Primark is an illustration of very large physical stores still opening and doing well.

With no e-tail presence, Primark is where all the other department stores’ physical customers have gone, not to mention Marks & Spencer’s and Next’s. Primark’s Adjusted Operating Profit was £843m in 2018, with revenue of £7.477b, up from £7.053b the year before.

According to local press, Birmingham Mail, “The new Primark megastore Birmingham has been jam packed for four days in a row. Crowds of people flooded into the 160,000 square foot shopopolis when Primark opened its doors 15 minutes early at 9.45am on Thursday, April 11. Ever since our live Primark updates began, the five-floor giant has been packed from the basement to the roof with shoppers - and diners - keen to see what all the fuss is about.”

Primark needs large stores to make its business model of pile-it-high-and-sell-it-cheap work. Only this week, another Primark opens in Milton Keynes. centre:mk see its new 75,000 sq ft store open in the heart of the shopping centre and is the largest new store to open in centre:mk in the last 25 years. Over 3 floors, Primark was the most requested brand by the centre’s 25 million visitors in exit surveys over a number of years.

Kevin Duffy, Centre Director at centre:mk, said “We are thrilled to announce that Primark will be open on the 16th April and joining our fantastic selection of fashion and beauty brands at centre:mk. This is a key moment for us – the new flagship store will be the single biggest store since we introduced Marks & Spencer to centre:mk nearly 25 years ago. Primark is a firm fashion favourite, and so we look forward to attracting more visitors by expanding the centre’s fashion retail mix.”

Primark are expanding into Slovenia, this year, and continuing to grow in America. Primark currently has 9 US stores clustered in the north eastern corner, but plan to open a store in Florida in late 2019. While its expansion has been slow and steady, it was ranked in the top spot on a list of the 100 fastest-growing retailers in America by the National Retail Federation's Stores magazine, which used sales data from Kantar Consulting. In the US, specifically, Primark sales were up 103% year-on-year.

big shops primark Birmingham

Urban Outfitters is another brand looking to expand with larger stores. Planning to open 15-20 new stores annually for the next five years, the US-based retailer has 50 stores in Europe, including 28 in the UK and Ireland. Emma Wisden, European Managing Director, said the retailer has identified several key markets of interest within Europe that it is underexposed in, which it will be pursuing imminently. Speaking to Drapers, she said, “Urban Outfitters is in the fortunate position of being one of the ‘disruptor’ brands in fashion at the moment. We are opening stores, not closing them, unlike so many of our neighbours on the high street. Ecommerce is, of course, increasingly important, so it is crucial to constantly evolve omnichannel shopping. However, bricks-and-mortar retailing isn’t going anywhere soon.”

Right - Primark's Duck & Dry Beauty Studio in Birmingham

Urban Outfitters has increased its European store portfolio by more than 30% over the past 12 months with new stores in Vienna, Milan, Paris, Eilat and Düsseldorf.

These two retailers illustrate the polarisation of physical retail. Bad, boring retail is dead, and while people are attracted to Primark for the prices, by adding hairdressers and restaurants, they are giving people more reasons to visit and stay longer. Primark’s phenomenal success is allowing them to think beyond cheap clothes and their tie-ups with Harry Potter and Disney at pocket money prices is a guaranteed success. 

Urban Outfitters is clearly riding the retro, sportswear trend, but being a shop of discovery and fresh ideas and brands allows a chance for constant change if the buy is right.

Many retailers with large stores are finding it hard to balance business rates, rents and falling footfall, but Primark and Urban Outfitters are proving, clearly, that people still want to leave the house. 

Friday, 12 April 2019 09:09

How to Dress for a Casino Night Out

How to dress for a casinoYou are a highly stylish person, we know that already. 

Your fashionable history must be loaded with enviable fashion choices, trendy accessories and chic outfits. It seems like you just cannot make a mistake. All your deeds have been a fashion yes. But have you ever wondered what you would wear for a casino night out?

Timeless Role Models

Legendary fashion icons such as Marlon Brando, who got famous with his role in 1955 hit movie Guys and Dolls, in which he played a devoted gambler, sure knew how to dress dapper. 

Brando's distinct taste in fedora hats truly shone in his character's performance, while his wise guy suit left an inerasable footprint in the gambling fashion chronicles. And while we are waiting for the blockbuster to be remade living through the movie musical craze, you should take a hint or two from the renowned actor.

Similar to his colleague, American heartthrob James Dean was a bit of a punter himself. Known for his passion for adrenaline and trying his luck, Dean was a regular at famous gambling establishments, and although quite young, knew exactly how to dress well. In his scarce roles, we see him in casual outfits, leather jackets and classic white T-shirts, as seen as in the Rebel without a Cause. In his private life, Dean was a real classy gentleman, donning elegant overcoats, silk bowties and black turtlenecks. That is, when he was not car racing. The nostalgic look in the past is wetting my eyes. And who would have guessed, the legend of cinema is now embodied in the namesake video slot by NextGen Gaming.

Contemporary Exemplars

However, not all instances could be taken from the past only. Fashion is timeless, and every day is your chance to present yourself in the best light possible. 

Whilst you might feel tempted to look up to those who pushed daisies a long time ago, attempting to be original in the 21st century, let me tell you a secret. There are instances even nowadays that you can venerate and take inspiration from.

Let's assume you are an extrovert and would rather go out than stay at home and take a virtual trip to one of the top UK online casinos for a round of online slots – or a seat at a live dealer table for that matter - from the comfort of your home, in your pyjamas. 

James Dean would want you to step out and take a look around. We do in fact observe a sea of questionable fashion decisions on the streets, but we do not want to focus on that. Let's centre our attention instead on the quality resolutions.

Lately, runways have been our focal point. From Hugo Boss professional attire collection to Tom Ford's watch must-haves, the leading designers have been playing in casinos' favour unknowingly. 

Switching from skinny-fitting and overly loose jeans to a tailor-made pair of trousers in the high fashion industry has made an ordinary man reconsider his fashion choices. Baggy and asymmetrical could not remain in forever anyway. Nevertheless, there are always details that you can pick up from here and there to create your own unique style.

Most importantly, get rid of the misconception that your casino look has to be dull. By no means is that statement true. You can easily spice up your look with a smart handkerchief or a posh brooch. The world is your oyster, you just need to taste the waters.

Possess Your Own Style

Now that all has been said, the last, and the most important thing to bear in mind is to stay true to yourself. Keep an open eye to what is on trend right now, but put an emphasis on what feels best on you and in what you feel most comfortable. At the end of the day, it is indeed your appearance, the way you present your personality.

Yves Saint Laurent said it best, "Fashions fade, style is eternal."

So do not let passing fads stray you away from your trademark vogue. Dress to impress every single day and "live as if you'll die today," as James Dean put it.


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