At a recent press day, previewing the new SS18 collection from the Swiss brand, Bally, I got thinking about how you can slip between the gap. Bally has followed the Gucci model of Wes Anderson statement pieces in bold colours and look-at-me graphics and slogans. But, Bally’s problem is, it isn’t Gucci, and just doesn’t have the attraction as a “name”- I actually like it more for this reason. Therefore they can’t charge the prices Gucci ask and sell in the volumes too. They also have another issue, well, it’s actually a good thing, they are offering a quality made product.
Left - Gucci Cruise 18
I’m going to call it out. Gucci isn’t good quality. I like Gucci’s ideas, I just don’t think it’s executed to reflect the prices they charge. I’m not naive, I know luxury goods have huge margins, but there’s margins and then there’s margins. No wonder Gucci’s profits are through the roof, they are making products that aren’t as good as they should be in that price category.
There’s enough Gucci out there, now, to hear of plenty of quality control issues: shoes than run in the rain, tiger patches on jeans repeatedly fixed, leather belts that feel like a free school belt. It’s not just Gucci doing this, but they’re the label flying high and drawing in the masses. They are also creating complicated product that requires time and a level of expertise to make it well and quickly shows its quality.
The article said “Balenciaga has stolen Gucci’s crown to become the hottest brand in fashion. According to the latest data analysed by BoF in partnership with search platform Lyst — which tracks 4.5 million data points per hour from over 65 million annual consumers, five million products and 12,000 brands — the Demna Gvasalia-designed brand climbed two places to top the hottest brand ranking in the third quarter of 2017.”
Right - Bally SS18
The feedback on Twitter, from many passionate people, was that they wanted Gucci and couldn’t understand this. It must be wrong. Clearly, Gucci is still in demand and they need to maximise this while they can, but this quality issue will speed up their “hot” lifecycle. People will question what they are paying for and many will feel cheated. The fashion crowd are already over Gucci.
A friend recently had a scarf, retailing, probably, for around £400, and it was so thin, it was clearly nowhere near the best quality scarf of that type. It’s almost laughable, and while people have “Brand Blindness” it’s okay, but you free-fall quickly after without quality. Quality makes people return to a brand.
And, this takes me back to Bally. Currently looking for a new owner, they need to decide whether to offer quality and an acceptable price or chase the higher margins, slash quality and see what happens. They’ll never be a Gucci, but they can clearly maximise sales, but increasing margins like many of its competitors. It'll be interesting to see who the new owner is and which direction they decide to take.
Not all logos are created equal and one that is hot one minute, can quickly, for various reasons, become fashion deadly nightshade. Fashion goes through waves of logomania and then decides it's over, done that and goes subtle and that usually lasts about two minutes with most brands when they see sales falling.
Anyway, the hot logo for AW17 and SS18 is the full name running diagonally across. Think of a branded piece of tissue paper and you get the idea.
When Balenciaga relaunched under new designer Demna Gvasalia the website was given a tasteful tasteless makeover with the name 'Balenciaga Paris' running diagonally across. It then made its way onto clothes and accessories.
I'm not sure how long this is going to last, but, right now, it's cool.
Far Left - Bally SS18
Left - Palm Angels SS18
Below - Balenciaga SS18
Left - MSGM SS18
Below - Balenciaga - Intarsia Wool-Blend Scarf - £365 from MRPORTER.COM
I don’t often write about new retail, it’s usually pretty boring and cookie-cutter the world over, but when something’s good, it’s good, and on a recent trip to Venice with Diadora, we were taken to the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi, the first retail store in Europe by LVMH’s travel retail arm, DFS.
Left - Inside the main atrium space of the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi
Looking out onto the Rialto Bridge, across from the fish market, stands the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi. First constructed in 1228, it was once home to the German merchants - Tedeschi means German in Italian - who traded with those wealthy Venetians, taking spices and the like to Northern Europe. It became a customs house under Napoleon, and a post office under Mussolini, then lay empty. Until now.
Right - The Venetian red escalators and special Venice-inspired product graces the entrance
Thanks to LVMH’s deep pockets and Dutch architecture practise, OMA, it been transformed into a sympathetic, luxury with a small L shopping space that feels more like a cross between a boutique hotel and museum that sells things, rather than a boring collection of luxury concessions all jostling for customers and attention.
Left - On the top floor is this exhibition space with a lit floor that just needs a disco soundtrack
It’s one of the best retail spaces I’ve seen recently. The escalators are Venetian red, like moving red carpets, they take you up to the floors of men’s and women's fashion and beauty.
On the top floor is an exhibition space and on the roof is a viewing deck looking out over the glorious city that is Venice.
Right - Head to the top floor for one of the best views of Venice.
Opened in October, the Fondaco Dei Tedeschi has been updated, without losing any of its charm, by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas – who was in charge of the exterior renovation – and architect Jamie Fobert – who handled the interior design.
Everywhere there is attention to detail. Every inch has been thought about: the floors, handrails, furniture, lights and the space has been designed for brands to flow, and in our ever fickle times, be replaced.
The brands are the same old: Gucci, Bally, Bottega Veneta etc., but because it’s such a nice building and environment it makes you want to explore regardless of it being the same tired things. To be fair, the brands have done a few special pieces with the colours of the Italian flag. Also, on the ground floor, they sell wine, souvenirs and other more affordable items.
The only negative was that it was so discreet, the name ‘ Fondaco Dei Tedeschi’, which doesn't exactly slip off the tongue, was only at the front door and you wanted to know/learn the name in order to tell other people how good it was. If you’re in Venice, definitely take a look.
Italians do it better. This seems to be the theme coming out of Milan fashion week where the Italians have taken the bull by the horns and produced some of the best menswear we’ve seen from them in a long time. You may as well go down in style!
Here are TheChicGeek’s trend highlights:
Think avocado and prawn cocktail sauce.
From Left - Gucci, Bally, Gucci
The seventies got a refresh and contemporary update. Chevrons were the order of the day.
From Far Left - Neil Barrett, Fendi, Dsquared2, Neil Barrett
(See TheChicGeek meet Neil Barrett just before this collection - here)
Knowing Fendi this is probably made from kittens. Get the robe out of the spa and take it to the street.
More bleach. It's one way of cleaning your clothes. (See how London did it - here)
From Left - Gucci, Dsquared2, MSGM, Bally
The most stylish men are always prepared. Now get over prepared!
From Left - Moncler Gamme Bleu, Ferragamo, Prada, Ferragamo
Nobody dresses up anymore, said no one, ever. It's time to get imaginative and experiment with new shapes including ruffles and tails.
From Left - Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci
Jazz, great! From literal at Dolce to art-deco Marcel waves at Fendi. I thought I'd throw a painting from the era by British artist Duncan Grant for additional inspiration.
From Left - Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Missoni, Fendi, Ralph Lauren
Rediscover your waist. Suck it in and stick a letter on it.
Left - Bally
Nobody does narcissism like the Italians!
Below - Giorgio Armani
This isn't flower-power in the traditional hippie sense. This is flower-power in the Jared-Leto-at-the-Oscars way. Oversized corsages worn with confidence and a modern masculinity. We've got the all new singing and dancing Gucci to thank for these floral flourishes. For SS16, things are bold and colourful. These are perfect for something different for a prom or an evening wear look. Wear where a bow-tie or neck tie would be, or add in your button hole. Who said menswear wasn't fun?!
Left - Jared Leto in Gucci at the 2016 Oscars
Left - The peacock male, Gucci's SS16 advertising campaign
Below - The corsage on the Gucci SS16 catwalk
How to make your own flower-power corsage:
1. Look for a large silk headed flower. I found some good ones in the local pound shop. Go for a dark colour, if you want masculine, or bright, fuchsia pink, if you really want to stand out.
2. Use pliers to snip off the flower head from the wire stem.
3. Find a piece of ribbon, long enough to tie around your neck. Use a ribbon from a carrier bag, if you can find one, or buy a small length.
4. Snip, using a pair of scissors, a small hole in the middle of the ribbon.
5. Push the stem of the flower through and, using a glue gun, generously secure the end to the ribbon.
Voila! You're red carpet ready!
Left - One TheChicGeek made earlier!
See how TheChicGeek styles his here
Left - dunhill SS16
Right - Bally SS16
Halloween is nearly upon us and we’re all trying to think about which character we want to dress up as for the evening. Well, here’s a suggestion that will continue to run well after the end of October - Chewbacca. Yeah, Chewie, baby, that gentle fur mountain is back in yet another installment of Star Wars and one of our ChicGeek Style Icons of the season.
Left - Chewie
As hairy as hairy gets, Chewbacca is having something of an inspirational moment in the world of menswear right now.
Left - ASOS - £100
A full fur coat on a man can be a) a little daunting and b) way too much if not in a fun-fur kind of way, so think Chewbacca-chic when rocking a new season fur coat. It needs to look like the kind of fur that needs its roots doing - slightly trashy.
So forget the thermal long-johns or that triple layering, just think Chewbacca come wintertime. May the fur be with you!
Left - Paul Smith - Sheepskin Overcoat - £6445
Below - Bally
Left - River Island - £85
Milan is home to many of fashion's megabrands. This powerhouse is full of the commercial sex appeal we've come to expect from the home of Italian fashion. TheChicGeek casts his expert eye over the details and trends worth coveting:
It could have something to do with the recent MET exhibition in New York, or simply the cycle of Chinese influence is coming around for another season, but look out for Mao collars and delicate Chinese decoration in relaxed, voluminous shapes.
From Left - Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Dolce & Gabbana
Step straight out of bed, or straight in, depending on timings, with the new dressing gown type coats and pyjama shirts.
Below - Both - Bally
No, you're not seeing things. Colour and pattern are stylishly distorted to make the wearer standout while confusingly blending in.
From Left - Salvatore Ferragamo, Salvatore Ferragamo, MGSM
Call it ethnic or ASOS!, everything is untucked and in a longer length. Just be careful when wearing with shorts.
Below - Both - Versace
Comfort seems to be the key for technical fabrics today: a new ease of movement and travel focused.
From Left - Jil Sander, Prada
Shake that money maker! The money spinner for the majority of major fashion brands, it appears on the catwalk in recognition of the part it has played in creating these brands and the fashion landscape today.
From Left - Calvin Klein, Ports 1961, Calvin Klein, Ports 1961
Not so much Hitchcock as Attenborough with parrots to hummingbirds seen on the chests of menswear from Milan.
From Left - Gucci, Ports 1961, Dolce & Gabbana
I can see right through this trend which was first seen in London.
From Left - No.21, Gucci, Gucci
Just because - The new Gucci is slightly mental - good mental - in a Fight Club meets Peter Sellers kinda way. Love this dressing up box style.
Left - Gucci