London, Tolworth, Gypsy Hill; not exactly a roll call of the world’s fashion capitals, but a glimpse into a brand’s proud roots. ‘Stain Shade’ is leading the charge of tie-dye returning to our wardrobes. Also know as, James Brackenbury, 31, Stain Shade was mobbed at the recent CIFF AW20 fashion trade show in Copenhagen with people who couldn’t get enough of his hand tie-dyed T-shirts and hoodies. I thought I’d find out more from the UK's new king of tie-dye. Will the real Stain Shade please stand up?:
:eft - James from Stain Shade at CIFF, Copenhagen, 2020
CG: Where are you based? From originally?
SS: I live with my wife in Gipsy Hill, but I grew up in Surbiton/Tolworth in South West London. This is where my mum still lives and her house is the base of the Stain Shade operations.
CG: What is your background?
SS:I studied contemporary art in Leeds then moved to London and worked for Vivienne Westwood on the wholesale side of things. I continued to work in the fashion wholesale world after that, and continue to do so, along side running Stain Shade.
CG: Are you doing this full time?
SS: Yes, amongst other things, some consultancy etc.
CG: Tell me more about Stain Shade. Where is the name from? When did it all start?
SS: I was always interested in hand dyeing, tie dyeing and was always on the lookout for good vintage tie dye stuff. One day I ordered a kid’s tie dye kit off amazon and did a few bits, some tees and a pair of jeans if I remember correctly. I posted a picture of the tee on my personal Instagram and a few people were asking me where it was from.
This lead to discussions with the guys at LN-CC and the subsequent launch of Stain Shade. We did a few tees and some hoodies for them. I didn't have a name for it and basically tried to think of synonyms for 'dye' or 'dyeing' and Stain Shade was the result. I drew the logo and then got some woven neck labels ordered, set up an Instagram etc and we were good to go.
Left - James' mum's house in Tolwroth is the production centre
CG: Where does Tolworth come into all this?
SS: Like I mentioned before, this where everything gets dyed, in my mum’s back garden in Tolworth. It's where I grew up, and, fortunately, my mum has a space there which I can use, she's involved as well and helps me on all the dyeing side of things.
CG: Where are the base clothing items from?
SS: It varies, depends on what the store/brand/client wants really. I can do organic ethically sourced blanks or can do more price sensitive mass produced options.
CG: Where can you buy it? What type of pieces do you produce?
SS: We have worked with retailers like Selfridges, Browns, LN-CC, Liberty, Bloomingdales, Lantiki etc. There are plans to work with all of these guys again some sooner than others. Some retailers do still have Stain Shade in stock but you can always contact us directly for custom items.
CG: How can you tell the difference between good and bad tie-dye?
SS: I think it's down to personal taste. One thing you do see a lot of though is printed tie dye, where the manufacturer was just printed the pattern all over the item and not dyed it. You can normally tell if this is the case if the reverse of the garment is still the original colour.
Right - Stain Shade in Selfridges
CG: Why do you think tie-dye has/is becoming such a big trend atm?
SS: I think its always bubbling in the background and I think that good tie dye/hand dyeing will always have a place in popular fashion. It just so happens that it's having a moment these past few seasons and I think there will be at least another summer where it's at the forefront.
Left - The Stain Shade production line
CG: What are your future plans?
SS: I am looking at different ways of working that don't necessarily exist in the conventional fashion wholesale environment. I am trying to do more collaborations and special project work on shorter lead times rather than the traditional order it and receive it 6 months later system. As a set up, we are designed to be very reactive and can get stuff done quickly so we can be more responsive to customer or retailer needs.
CG: What would you say to those who think tie-dye is just for hippies or ravers?
SS: I’d say if there isn't a part of you that is a bit 'hippie' or 'raver' then something is wrong.
See TheChicGeek's picks of SS20 menswear tie-dye - HERE
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
Fashion says it gives a shit, we geddit. The greenwashing chorus has reached epic proportions with the majority of brands saying how much they care about the *insert - environment/climatechange/sustainability/recycling/ethical/everything - here*.
The latest round of men’s fashion weeks and trade shows were full of it, but it all feels like tinkering. Fashion brands and companies have done most of the easy and cosmetic cost-saving measures. The difficult and expensive bits will be ignored or pushed onto the back burner unless they are forced to, and this is why legislation is so important. It creates a minimum and also a level playing field for all. It also means, as a consumer, you can be assured that these things should and would be adhered to and what the law is when it comes to these topics. It is a bit Nanny State, but unfortunately it’s the only way to make everybody change and conform. Just look at the tax on plastic bags and also the minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland, it changes behaviours, for the better. Taxes and laws force change and post-Brexit legislation needs to be green focused.
In June 2019, The Environmental Audit Committee published the Government Response to the ‘Fixing Fashion Report: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability’. The report published in February 2019 called on the Government to end the era of throwaway fashion through wide-ranging recommendations covering environmental and labour market practices. All of which were rejected.
Environmental Audit Committee Chair Mary Creagh MP - she has since lost her Labour Wakefield seat to Conservative candidate Imran Khan - said at the time: “Fashion producers should be forced to clear up the mountains of waste they create. The Government has rejected our call, demonstrating that it is content to tolerate practices that trash the environment and exploit workers despite having just committed to net zero emission targets.
“The Government is out of step with the public who are shocked by the fact that we are sending 300,000 tonnes of clothes a year to incineration or landfill. Ministers have failed to recognise that urgent action must be taken to change the fast fashion business model which produces cheap clothes that cost the earth.”
On workers’ rights Mary Creagh said: “We presented the Government with the evidence that it has failed to stop garment workers in this country being criminally underpaid, despite its claim that the number of national minimum wage inspectors has increased.
“The public has a right to know that the clothes they buy are not produced by children or forced labour, however the Government hasn’t accepted our recommendations on the Modern Slavery Act to force fashion retailers to increase transparency in their supply chains.”
The report recommended a new ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ (EPR) scheme to reduce textile waste with a one penny charge per garment on producers. No detail on when EPR scheme for textiles will be introduced; consultation could run as late as 2025. Ban on incinerating or landfilling unsold stock that can be reused or recycled. Rejected. Government considers positive approaches are required to find outlets for waste textiles rather than simply imposing a landfill ban. Mandatory environmental targets for fashion retailers with a turnover above £36 million. Not accepted. Government points to environmental savings made by a voluntary industry-led programme but fails to address evidence from WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) that the impact of increased volumes of clothing being sold outweighs efficiency savings made on carbon and water.
The fashion industry must come together to set out their blueprint for a net zero emissions world, reducing their carbon consumption back to 1990 levels. Not accepted. Government points to support for the voluntary Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), co-ordinated by WRAP with the industry working towards targets to reduce carbon emissions, water and waste. The scheme should reward fashion companies that design products with lower environmental impacts and penalise those that do not. Not accepted. Govt will focus on tax on single-use plastic in packaging, not clothing. The report called on the Government to use the tax system to shift the balance of incentives in favour of reuse, repair and recycling to support responsible fashion companies. Not accepted.
The rejections go on. The report made 18 recommendations covering environmental and labour practices. Many are these are common sense and could be the catalyst for big changes. Relying on voluntary actions is slower and is harder to measure.
Somebody needs to pick up the mantle from Creagh and force this through a post-Brexit parliament. If the government won’t even accept even one penny on each item sold to make the producer more responsible for the end of life of a garment then it feels like they are deaf to all suggestions until we all start to shout. Creagh MP, told The Industry’s inaugural ‘Fashion Futures Forum’ in Nov. 2018. “Fashion is the third biggest industry in the world after cars and electronics. If it carries on the way it’s growing we just won’t have enough planetary resources.”
It’s Copenhagen Fashion Week, this week, and they are trying to make it the go-to destination for sustainable fashion. “Highly ambitious goals are required to leverage the influence and impact of Copenhagen Fashion Week” said CEO, Cecilie Thorsmark. It has launched an action plan requiring participating brands to meet minimum sustainability requirements by 2023. If the brands don’t make the environmental cut then they won’t be eligible to show. There is a list of 17 standards to meet. Some examples are pledging not to destroy unsold clothes, using at least 50% certified, organic, up-cycled or recycled textiles in all collections, using only sustainable packaging and zero-waste set designs for shows.
“All industry players – including fashion weeks – have to be accountable for their actions and be willing to change the way business is done. The timeframe for averting the devastating effects of climate change on the planet and people is less than a decade, and we’re already witnessing its catastrophic impacts today. Put simply, there can be no status quo,” said Thorsmark.
The ‘Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2022’ presents how the event will transition to becoming more sustainable, for example by reducing its climate impact by 50% and rethinking waste systems in all aspects of event production, with zero waste as the goal by 2022. Copenhagen is looking at every little detail, they say they will always 'prioritise' selecting sustainable options for supplies, including organic, vegetarian and preferably locally sourced food and snacks, sustainable beverages, no single-use plastic cutlery, straws or tableware, the most environmentally friendly buses available and electric cars. They have stopped using goodie bags and stopped producing new seasonal staff uniforms.
Copenhagen Fashion Week’s own operations have been climate compensated and they support two Verified Carbon Standard and Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance Gold Level projects through Rensti, respectively tree planting (Tist) and forest conservation (Kariba). They have offset the flights and hotel accommodation of Copenhagen Fashion Week’s invited international guests, their official opening dinner, the press busses (including the organic food and beverages served on the buses), logo stickers for cars and they run a climate-neutral website.
The Scandinavians are leaders here, but other fashion weeks will quickly follow suit. As for fashion businesses, no business wants to be wasteful, it’s a cost saving to be more efficient, but the easy stuff has been done. It’s time to get hardcore and only governments will have the power. The law is the law. When standards are defined in law then there is a understandable definite. Consumers won’t trust anything else.
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
Maybe it was the summer season, or a sign of the times, but Copenhagen was noticeably quieter in terms of visitors and brands. Both major trade shows, Revolver and CIFF, felt emptier than previous seasons with many brands, both large and small, missing.
Regardless, there was still plenty to take note of and get us excited for the SS20 menswear season. So, here goes:
A womenswear trend from a few summers ago, there’s been a distinctive uptake by guys on social media of the humble string bag. Despite all your worldly goods being on display, the string bag is the cool reusable shopper. These from Danish brand, Épice, are the designer version with the price to match. Established in 1999 by the Danish designers Bess Nielsen and Jan Machenhauer, it offers also a range of printed bags and knitwear made in Italy. Around €70 for a bag.
Left - Épice string bags
Real Fun Fur
It was inevitable that the fun fur movement would touch menswear at some point. But, for those worried that fun-fur/vegan just equals more plastic in the world, new Scandi coat brand, Bobby Rocky, uses woven wool - no sheep were harmed in the making - to create a range of coats. This full shaggy overcoat retails for around for a reasonable €600.
Right - Bobby Rocky wool fun fur
Wishful thinking, designer, Joohyung You, looks at peace between North and South Korea for the SS20 season. This former footballer, who played for German teams, launched his label Freiknock in 2013. This season sees cute peace bears, North Korean propaganda imagery and tailoring inspired by the wardrobe of Kim Jong Un.
Left & Right - Freiknock
The Dutch slang for water or rain, this raincoat brand has ingenious side zippers that allow the jacket to go up over your bike. Maium’s rainwear is produced from recycled plastic bottles, does not contain any harmful substances and is said to be manufactured under fair, safe and healthy working conditions. Around €135 for a coat.
Left - Maium raincoat
The third season from this New York based menswear brand. Creative Director, Terrence Williams, previously a shoe designer with Creative Recreation, with experience spent at Thom Browne, teamed up with English designer, Joshua Fronda, “to develop a playful modern adaptation to subculture classics which became Agent”.
Left - Agent
Based on Old Street roundabout, this multi-brand retailer is pushing its own brand label of £60 tees and tops amongst its list of independent designer brands and trying to keep up with the ever-evolving streetwear consumer.
Left - Ejder
A graduate of Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Singaporean designer, Zheqiang Zhang, won the ‘Euro Fashion Award’ in 2018. His label, Pseudonym, is a mix of stunning silk scarves and trench coats incorporating further striking designs.
Right & Below - Pseudonym
With a store in Copenhagen, Uncle Bright mixes 50s Americana with the philosophy that all garments are created to be worn with a functional yet stylish purpose
Uncle Bright says it is happy to wallow in nostalgia and never looks forward for inspiration. Most worthy of note is the handmade footwear. Manufactured in Spain at a factory with more than 100 years of experience, every single boot goes through minimum 200 different stages in production.
Left & Below Left - Uncle Bright
In our modern age you have two hipster artistic choices; Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo? Well, Amsterdam based brand, Daily Paper, has teamed up their Dutch icon, Van Gogh. Knowing their irises from their sunflowers, this capsule collection in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a painterly hit on shirts, jackets and jeans.
Left & Below - Van Gogh Museum X Daily Paper
See Paris Menswear Trade Show Report - Here
I saw these this time last year at the Revolver Trade Show in Copenhagen, and I made a desired mental note to watch out for them. I clearly forgot… So again, I saw the same shirts just last week, at the same fair, and they still look just as good. It turns out they’re a best seller having already sold out in Liberty.
These thick towelling summer shirts are almost a shacket and perfect for straight out of the water. The OAS brand is named after the Swedish founder, Oliver Adam Sebastian, and was born as a result of his numerous trips to the family’s summer house in Barcelona.
These are currently sold out, but Oliver informs me they’re going to be delivered in October and you can register on the website to be notified.
It looks like we’re already planning summer 2020 or a maybe perfect excuse for a winter sun break?
Left - OAS - Banana Leaf Terry Shirt - €99.90
Below - OAS - Palmy Terry Shirt - €99.90
Depending 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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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.
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
The first fragrance in Beaufort London’s new ‘Revenants’ fragrance series is Iron Duke. A tribute to Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke Of Wellington (1769 – 1852), perfumer Julie Dunkley has created a strikingly powerful fragrance with animalic depths – an apparition of the celebrated horseman, warrior politician and sartorial pioneer.
TheChicGeek says, “I’ve become a fan of Beaufort London fragrances - read more here - and this is the start of a new collection based on the ghosts of great British figures. This is inspired by Wellington and his horse - Copenhagen - and the Duke’s penchant for brandy and drinking.
Beaufort London haven’t revealed the individual notes, which actually makes it more fun. I got a top of boozy cough mixture then the warm, leathery, animalic body of the horse. There’s some spice in there, yet it’s warm, sexy and leathery. It’s dirty, but has a modern naturalness to it, like a honey or something.
It’s keenly priced at £95, especially being a high concentration eau de perfume (30%), and the image on the bottle is by Leo’s - Beaufort Founder - friend, tattooist Robert Gisbourne-Ashby.
This is wearably animalic. If you want something even dirtier and grubbier then try Peau De Bête.”
Left - Beaufort London - Iron Duke - 50ml - £95
Read about the latest fragrance from Beaufort London, Rake & Ruin - here
I’ve just got back from Copenhagen, the final stop on the men’s fashion week and trade show circuit. CIFF is the main show with a mix of high-fashion, young designers and what can only be described as clothing, at best, in the halls at the back.
Left - What's not to love? Chris Evans' son, Eli, looking adorable
Ignoring that, the front lobby section had been curated with new brands, some from America, some from Sweden, the UK, and Beams from Japan, who as well as having their own eponymous brand, supports many others.
Because CIFF is so late in the men’s calendar it starts to merge with women’s, which is only just starting: so, it’s late for one and early for the other.
One of the rails of clothes in the Beams section was a patterned dress with frills, and while, before, my instinct is a mental brake. A “this is women’s” thought springs into my head and then you about turn to find the closest rail of men’s for safety. This time it felt different. While not quite there yet myself, this dress could have been for men. It could have been unisex, it could be anything. And, that’s how I feel things are going, in fashion terms anyway.
Anything really does go. Men have got so experimental that if they want to wear a dress, they can wear a dress, and it’s just a person in a dress. Gender not defined. They’re not trying to be a woman. I don’t want to get into the minefield of gender politics, this is purely a fashion instinct, but it feels like we’re on the cusp of that change.
This reminds me of Chris Evans’ son pictured in his green lamé dress. Obviously a fan of David Walliams’ book, The Boy In The Dress, he went out dressed as only a fan would do.
What’s changed is people don't care. Well, the parents don’t. The kids never did.
This little boy looking adorable in his dress is saying nothing more than he’s making an effort and fan-boy(girl)ing - whatever - to his favourite book. It’s just a great thing that he’s reading.
This is not about him wanting to be a girl, this is him wearing what he wanted to wear on this occasion.
Okay, so some will take some convincing, but it feels like the door is open if you want to push through it. Are we brave enough?
It’s not gone Pete Tong, it’s gone Judge Jules! You don’t get more 90s than a pair of yellow lensed wraparound sunglasses.
I first saw these Gosha Rubchinskiy X Retrosuperfuture collaboration sunglasses at the CIFF tradeshow in Copenhagen in January. They were just about to be released. And, while they’ve sold out, the image stuck with me. There’s something disconcertingly bad about them, yet still fresh.
Style icons, the term used very loosely, such as Bono or Eyeball Paul spring to mind. I expect a lot of the sunglasses companies to start making similar styles for SS18. Lookout for bug-eye shapes and light coloured lenses.
Left - Gosha Rubchinskiy X Super by Retrosuperfuture - £200
Below - Gosha Rubchinskiy SS17
Below From Left - The wraparound Trinity of Judge Jules, Eyeball Paul & Bono
The fashion business likes a ‘category’. The more categories the more product and the more money, hopefully. If only it was that easy.
Designers and brands like to enter a category, be it jeans, underwear or sunglasses, usually partnering with a manufacturing expert in that field, and expand their businesses one category at a time. Take Tom Ford for example, he is just about to go into underwear after mastering jeans, sunglasses, beauty and trainers, in no particular order.
Left - N/A Necessary Anywhere socks available at Oki-Ni & Harvey Nichols
Underwear is one of the biggest money spinners for brands. People will pay a premium for somebody else’s name on their waistband - not really sure why - and entire brands like Calvin Klein and Versace are built on their underwear categories. They can charge a premium for something that is cheap to make.
And while the underwear category has matured into a reliable cash cow for many, the sock business seems so much trickier. There aren’t many designers or brands who have owned the category. With the exception of Paul Smith, designers produce the odd sock for collections, but don’t fully enter or develop the category. It wasn't that long ago that Burberry pulled out of the category and they make everything.
It’s interesting how people are willing to spend on underwear, but not on socks. We do have quality sock brands such as the German Falke and the British Panterella and Corgi, but there seems to be a ceiling on the pricing. People think socks should be cheap and when brands like Vetements and Gucci do socks at high prices - think nearing three figures - they seem like one of the most frivolouss purchases you can make and are usually a one-off show piece rather than entering the category.
The branded sock market seems to fall into two categories: sports and colourful office-type socks. There’s definitely a gap for something in between. So, it was at the recent CIFF fashion trade show in Copenhagen that I found N/A from New York.
When I searched ’N/A New York’ I got plenty of Narcotics Anonymous meetings, but it actually stands for ‘Necessary Anywhere’ and is influenced by the ‘everyday grind’. To the British that's walking (thought Americans didn't do that anyway!). They believe it’s vital to get up every day with the aspiration to move ourselves forward.
Founded in 2015 by Nick Lewis with six socks, these premium knit socks marry innovative textures with classic colours and patterns. When people pay for socks they usually go for something colourful and playful, N/A seems to have produced a cool sock which marries sports and fashion. They’re about £15, which, while more than your average three pack, aren’t extortionate. They fit somewhere between your smart socks and your sports socks and could, potentially, signal a new category within this difficult category.