Hawaii is the spiritual home of the tropical floral shirt, so, say ‘Aloha’ to Reyn Spooner.
Reynolds (Reyn) McCullough returned home to Catalina Island, California after serving in WWII. He was inspired to explore his natural connection to that easygoing Cali style, at first as a shop clerk at the local men’s shop, then as the owner of Reyn’s Men’s Wear, soon running six popular stores across the state.
Meanwhile, in 1956, Ruth Spooner had opened Spooner's of Waikiki and quickly built a reputation in Hawaii for manufacturing quality surf trunks working with just one sewing machine.
When Reyn opened his first shop in Honolulu, he didn’t sell Aloha shirts. The shirts being produced at the time just didn’t meet Reyn and Ruth’s standards for style and construction, and it wasn’t until after a local surfer showed Reyn an inside-out sewing method championed by locals, that the dream took shape.
Left - Deep Sea Jive Tailored Buttonfront - Black Onyx - £130
In 1962, McCullough teamed up with Ruth Spooner to ensure consistent quality and decided to merge the two company names to create Reyn Spooner in Honolulu. He then set up four sewing machines in the basement of his Ala Moana store to create ‘Aloha Apparel’.
Developed by founder, Reyn McCullough, Spooner KlothTM is a unique woven cloth made of cotton and spun poly that’s amazingly durable, wrinkly-free and breathable.
Reyn Spooner is now owned by ‘Aloha Brands’, representing a group of investors, led by Charlie Baxter and Dave Abrams.
The brand is available at Liberty of London and The Hip Store.
Right - Kainapu Rayon Camp Shirt - Crocodile - £160
French policeman’s shoes may not get your sartorial juices flowing, but Kleman should. Where else can you get French made footwear for less than £150? Owned by the larger Cléon group, Kleman was founded in 1988 and was initially dedicated to firefighters, policemen, Air France cabin crew and military seeking comfort, robustness and quality.
Still exclusively made in their factory in Anjou in Western France, they are now targeting the more fashion lead consumer having seem them promoting their wares at the recent men's trade shows in Florence and Paris.
Their classic ‘Padror’ style was first introduced in the 1990s for SNCF employees. Crafted in France with full-grain European leather, these are based on a unisex Tyrolean style. Even the laces are woven only 10 km from the factory.
Left - Kleman - Padror - €140
Right - Kleman - Frodan - €140
Left - Kleman - Pastani - €140
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
Original Madras Trading Company was founded by current owner Prasan Shah’s grandfather in the early 1970s when he arrived in New York from Madras with a trunk full of checks and other woven Indian textiles. He established an office on 38th Street in the New York garment district, and where they still trade from today.
While they continue to supply fabrics and garments to well-known other brands, this is the first season with their own eponymous range.
A little history lesson. The weaving of cotton cloth in South India was renowned for centuries prior to the British building a harbour in Madras - now called Chennai - in the 18th century, but it was this port and the British East India Company that led to textiles from Madras being traded throughout the modern world. That is the origin of the Madras check.
Originally and to this day the best Madras is woven by hand. This is a process that takes each individual weaver several hours per metre and results in no two lengths of cloth being identical. OMTC is a 3rd generation family business who have been weaving and producing Madras for 50 years in factories owned and operated by the family.
TheChicGeek says, "Who doesn't like checks? These feel distinctively authentic and I particularly like the Indian influence in the styles, like the longer shirt lengths and hooded kaftan styles. For AW20, which I saw at January's Pitti Uomo, OMTC have the cutest checked quilted trousers. The brand is currently available at Trunk Clothiers in London."
Left - Original Madras Trading Company Cotton Madras Button Down Shirt - £125 from Trunk Clothiers
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
A new indie perfume brand from London, founded and created by Nick Steward, Gallivant works in collaboration with perfumers in Venice and Paris. The collection of eight hand-crafted fragrances, named after some of the world’s most vibrant cities, are designed to be travel-friendly with 30ml sized bottles, perfect for slipping into your holdall.
Nick Steward has two decades of hands-on experience in perfume making and was product and creative director of the pioneering niche house L’Artisan Parfumeur.
Handmade in the UK, unisex, vegan and cruelty-free. Gallivant is an ethical and sustainable independent artisan business.
TheChicGeek says, “The Phileas Fogg of perfume, Nick Seward, has produced a travelogue of scent. From Tel Aviv to Brooklyn, each fragrance is a modern take on a place memory.
I was hoping ‘London’ was going to smell like the inside of a red telephone box. Ewww!
If I had to pick a favourite, I would say ‘Tokyo’. Created with Nicolas Bonneville, it is a zingy, spicy, wood. A citrusy head of bergamot and yuzu with black pepper and cardamom, is electrified with a dash of wasabi. A woody heart of hinoki, cedarwood, and incense with orris root, rose and nutmeg mixes with a base of amber, sandalwood, patchouli and vetiver.
Tokyo has a slightly treacly cola top with an aquatic freshness. The warmed incense is there, but it’s deep and kept light with the fruit.”
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
Disclosure - A sample was gifted by Gallivant for review
Rock ’n’ roll style never goes out of fashion and is continually ripe for reinvention. From Bowie to Styles, the male rock star and his snake hips go together with sexy fashion like groupies and backstage.
One designer making waves is Barcelona born knitwear designer Archie Alled-Martínez. A graduate of Central Saint Martins in 2018, he was awarded with the LVMH Graduate Prize the same year.
Fulfilling all our 1970s disco fantasies his latest AW20 collection, showcased at 080 Barcelona fashion week, was an homage to the deceased Sterling St. Jacques, who was said to be the world’s first black male supermodel.
The Alled-Martinez man is a decadent dandy who mixes the elegant decadence of the 30s with the energetic night-life of the late 70s and early 80s. Think lots of sparkly jumpsuits and elegant long jackets for the contemporary lounge lizard. This shit never gets old.
Left & Below - AW20 Presented at 080 Barcelona fashion week
Right - Harry Styles on stage
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
What does Cheltenham and Hackney have in common? (This isn’t a joke!) It’s LIHA; a new beauty brand blending together the rich botanical life of West Africa with traditional English aromatherapy and folk remedies.
Left - LIHA founders, Abi & Liha
Founders, Liha (Cheltenham) and Abi (Hackney) met at University in 1998 and have been close ever since. Whilst Abi was travelling the world as a professional athlete, competing in two Olympic games, Liha was setting up an art publishing business.
The Yoruba (Nigerian) tradition making beautifying oils, soaps and lotions from the nuts, tree bark and plants that grew in abundance was a skill that was traditionally learned by all young women. Liha’s mother is an English aromatherapist, so she naturally started to blend the two disciplines together. Whenever Abi would travel she would bring back different ingredients- especially that good Nigerian Shea from her father’s town. Nigerian Shea butter is the ultimate African beauty secret. Used for centuries by people to protect and regenerate the skin, its potency lies in its naturally high concentration of vitamins A and E.
Natural, organic and vegan, this skincare brand uses coconut and shea as its base layering on the scents such as tuberose, English rose and African palmarosa. Their four staple, multi-purpose products are handmade in small batches in Cheltenham and Hackney.
Available at net-a-porter.com and lihabeauty.co.uk
Right - Liha Gold Shea Butter – 120ml - £20
It was while at the Copenhagen fashion trade show, CIFF, previewing the forthcoming SS19 collections, when I noticed Phipps International. It was a print featuring extinct animals and the quirky and current twist on Americana and the great outdoors that made me stop and take note.
Left - Phipps International - Cotton-terry track top- £620 from Matchesfashion.com
I soon discovered that the previous collection, AW18, had been bought by matchesfashion.com and is available now.
Phipps International was established in 2017 by Spencer Phipps. Born and raised in San Francisco, he studied at Parsons School of Design in New York City graduating in 2008 with a nomination as “designer of the year” for his final year collection - an initial exploration of sustainable fashion.
He started his career at Marc Jacobs as part of the menswear design team and after, relocated to Antwerp to work with Dries Van Noten.
Currently based in Paris, Phipps, was founded on the principles of respect and curiosity for the natural world.
“We are exploring the concept of sustainability and environmental responsibility in the realm of style. Our goal is to change the way we as a culture consume by creating products that are made with respect for the environment, that can educate and enhance lives. We are always striving to improve our practice as we move forward and, as a modern fashion company, we are simply trying to do the right thing,” says Phipps.
Right - Phipps International SS19 - The extinct species print shirt that caught me eye at CIFF
What started as a small T-shirt project between friends has rapidly grown to become a modern, globally conscious fashion brand focused on building a like-minded community with the goal of re-connecting consumers to nature and the world around them.
The products are said to be made with integrity and are created with consideration for the environment using sustainable manufacturing practices and eco-friendly materials. Many of its producers are certified by GOTS or other environmental certification organisations which help to ensure that our products are made ethically.
In addition, most of their garments are made in Portugal which, as a country, is a global leader in the development of sustainable practices. All of their manufacturers there are required by law to recycle their waste appropriately, re-use treatable water, use alternative energy as much as possible, and follow fair trade labour practices.
Left - One of the jackets of the season SS19
Due to its size and location New Zealand is sadly often overlooked and forgotten about. It’s indigenous culture isn’t particularly well known, about from the rugby haka or Jane Campion’s The Piano, so it’s a pleasure to see a niche fragrance company coming from that part of the world and from somebody with that background.
Founded by Tiffany Jeans - I know, great name! - she was born into a family of strong, creative women and immersed in Maori culture. After a career in fashion and advertising she turned to craft. It was during her wedding to film director Andrew Morton she crafted a series of hand- cast skull candles for each guest, individually wrapped in tulle. From this grew a range of bespoke perfumes, candles and finely crafted curios.
Left - Curionoir - 'Cellar Feels' Parfum Extrait - 50ml - £150
Now, a collection of seven fragrances and matching candles, housed in handblown glass made by Monmouth Glass next to the Curionoir flagship store in Auckland.
I particularly liked ‘Cellar Feels’ which smells like Welch’s grape juice with a woody and leather base.
Called Curionoir, because Tiffany always worked at night, it feels like the fragrances are deeply personal and a mystical gift from the lush ferny undergrowth of New Zealand. I just wish more of this was reflected in the packaging and branding. I want to learn more.
Right - Feather My Tears Candle - £125.50
Trainers or sneakers attract geeks. Like moths to a flame, or maybe the moon, ‘sneakerheads’ catch the bug and find it very hard to shake.
Oliver Wrigley is a sneakerhead and his new premium British footwear brand, Oli X Oliver, was inspired by his love of footwear and his desire to offer a comfortable range of shoes without compromising on style.
Left - AW18 Oli X Oliver - Mid-Top - £175
Each shoe is produced in Portugal from the highest quality leathers and hardware. The main vision for his collections was to produce shoes with clean lines and subtle detailing. He has done this by minimalising the number of visible seams.
At the recent Jacket Required Trade Show, where he was previewing SS19, Oliver was even showing me how the cardboard shoe boxes were the highest quality he could find and he knows it’s the small details and the attention they need which makes the sneakerhead’s heart beat faster.
Left - Preview of SS19
These are premium, but are priced competitively, and his second collection, AW18, is just about to drop in stores now.
Right & Below - In the Portuguese factory
When I was shown a few pieces from ‘Basic Rights’, at a recent press day, I thought it was just another rich boy trying to reinvent the white T-shirt. Do we need more expensive basics when we’re quite happy with what we’ve got from Uniqlo and various other affordable retailers? Fast forward a few months and it’s clear this is something far more thoughtful and serious.
Left - Basic Rights SS18 inspired by Marrakech
Founded by The Vaccines’ lead guitarist, Freddie Cowan, what may have started as a desire for a good T-shirt and trousers has flourished into a full tour wardrobe. Like any clever fashion entrepreneur, he’s enlisted a master architect to help with the design and cut of the pieces.
Right - Basic Rights - High Waist Linen Trousers Brown - £160
Savile Row master tailor, David Chambers, who had previously made clothes for Freddie’s parents, and an expert with 50 years’ experience, is helping to translate Freddie’s ideas into form-fitting items.
Having learnt under Fred Astaire’s tailor and spent his apprenticeship making trousers at Anderson & Sheppard, he has made suits for David Hockney, Manolo Blahnik and Terrence Conran. Men who certainly know a thing or two about good design.
Founded in 2016 in New York, Basic Rights is launching in the UK, this season, with a collection inspired by Marrakech. High waisted linen trousers, Western jackets and camp collar shirts are seen on a pair of models mirroring Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix.
These items are simple yet have identity. Prices are good: £40 for a tee to £230 for a Western satin jacket. I’m excited about this brand purely because of the expertise of David. Finding a good pair of nicely fitting trousers is often very difficult. I have high hopes for these high waisted pairs and can’t wait to try them.
Right - Mick & Jimi fighting for their SS18 Basic Rights
Left - Striped Collarless Shirt - £110
See more here