Between the ‘loungewear’ emails and the ‘we-give-a-shit-please-buy-something’ emails, some brands have been hoping to offset some of the losses of physical retail with online. Online has the potential to be many brands’ life support machines; keeping some form of cash flow ticking over and the lights on.
Left - Net-a-Porter has closed its American website & warehouse
Dixons Carphone has said sales surged by more than 70% as Britons rushed to buy laptops, games consoles and freezers to cope with the coronavirus outbreak. Online sales in the UK and Ireland surged 72% in the three weeks to 21 March.
“There will be some recovery through online operations but overall the loss of sales will adversely impact our full-year profitability and cash position,” it said. The group said as a result it would still miss out on about £400m of sales between now and the end of its financial year in April.
Fashion has a lot less ‘need’ and as such will be harder hit. Fashion brands have huge amounts of stock sitting in stores, not going anywhere anytime soon. These shops have now become in-town warehouses, but they still need manning and this has become a problem for some brands. Many consumers seem to think that online and offline is separated, robotically picked and magically appears on their doorstep.
The family owned department store chain, Fenwicks said in a statement: "Our people, both employees and customers alike, are at the heart of our business... Therefore, we have taken the decision to temporarily close our website as well as our stores, to ensure the safety of our teams and customers.” Fenwicks only went online in 2017 and pick the items from in-store stock.
Schuh, the footwear retailer, too has closed its website. Chief executive Colin Temple said: “At this point in time, the UK government guidelines include that online retail should ‘still open’ and ‘is encouraged’ along with advice that if staff cannot reasonably work from home, they should continue to go into work.
“However, with the Schuh head office and DC operations based in Scotland and Scottish Government advice conflicting with UK government advice, Schuh management have made the decision to close their website, in addition to their stores that already closed from the evening of Sunday 22 March.”
He added: “A number of DC staff continue to indicate that they want to work within the warehouse to support the Schuh online business, along with other departmental employees offering their support also. However, Schuh management have confirmed that the website and stores will remain closed until there is updated UK and Scottish government advice.”
No doubt demand has fallen overall with many people tightening their expenditure and only buying what they need. But, what about the exclusively online retailers? Most surprising is Net-a-Porter/Mr Porter has closed its American business. Customers visiting the US site are now met with a message that reads: “In line with local government guidelines, and for the health and safety of our community, we have temporarily closed our warehouse. We hope you are all staying safe and look forward to welcoming you back soon.”
This is a nightmare for fashion brands selling products with a shelf life. The discounts have already started, and they’re big, Liberty of London went straight in with 50% off. Some retailers are doing okay at online, but even the best figures won’t replace physical retail, representing a 20/80 split between online and offline. To shift all this stock they will need to discount heavy, eating into profit margins, and consumers, used to a never-ending supply of ‘Just In’ will have to adjust to a new shopping landscape with less choice.
Update - Next, River Island & Moss Bros have announced their websites will close.
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When 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.
Sometimes 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:
Right - Smart evening wear with character
Left - River Island - Black Snakeskin Print Skinny Fit Blazer - £85
Left - Saint Laurent - Damier Lurex Shirt - £685
Left - Moss London - Black & Silver Knitted Tie - £20
Left - Dr Martens Core Fusion Zebra Creepers In Black - £112 from ASOS
Left - Saint Laurent - Men’s Deck 20 Loafers In Black Suede And Black And White Zebra-look Calfskin - £795
When you're a ginger, you can match your Millenial Pink to your nipples! Bring out the baby pink pastels in various shades this spring. Add touches of coral to highlight and contrast and look for classic, collegiate shapes in jackets and sweatshirts.
Accessorise with a handful of balloons!
Left - Credits - Shoes - Base London, Jacket - Scotch & Soda, Sweatshirt - Scotch & Soda, Trousers - Moss Bros
The 'Snazzy Jacket' might be something your dad would say, but it perfectly sums up this year's Prom Season. The idea is keep it simple, but with a flamboyantl flourish.
This jacket, made from patterned jacquard fabric with metallic touches, is dressed down with a simple black T-shirt and grey wool trousers. Add shades and your best dance moves and you'll be the most stylish geek at the ball!
Credits - Jacket - Moss Boss, T-Shirt - Whistles, Trousers - Moss Bros, Socks - Pringle of Scotland, Shoes - Base London
You can thank me after, but I just may have found the prom outfit to beat all other prom outfits!!!!! Be the king of the prom by taking inspiration from the king, Elvis himself, and Harry Styles with a combination of black and pink. A pink suit with a black shirt, no tie, says 'dressy cool' and is as timeless as rock itself.
The classic 50s colour combo of pink and black brings to mind Teddy Boys and rock 'n' roll. You want a black shirt with black buttons, plain. No contrasting. You can do black trousers if you don't want to buy the whole suit, but add white socks classic penny loafers and you'll be the beau of the ball!
Left - Harry Styles giving good Elvis in an bespoke Edward Sexton suit
Left - River Island - Pink Slim Fit Suit Jacket - £85
Left Below - River Island - Pink Slim Fit Suit Trousers - £40
Below - Hugo - Ebros Stretch Cotton Shirt - £100 from HarveyNichols.com
Left - ASOS - Super Skinny Suit In Mid Pink - £85
Left - Topman - Rose Pink Ultra Skinny Fit Suit - £130
Below - Ted Baker - Rosest Tailored Fit Shirt - £65 from John Lewis
Left - Opposuits - Mr Pink - £64.95
Below - The original, Elvis Presley
Left - Zara - Sartorial Suit Blazer - £99.99, Trousers - £49.99
Left - Zara - Basic Blazer - £39.99
Left - Actor Aidan Alexander at the Billboard Awards
Left - Marks & Spencer - Autograph - Pure Cotton Tailored Fit Shirt - £35
Left - Moss Bros - Moss Esq. - Regular Fit Black Single Cuff Non Iron Shirt - £25
Left - 1950s Cliff Richard
Below - New Look - Deep Pink Suit Jacket - £64.99, Deep Pink Suit Trousers - £29.99
Below - Be the king, this prom season
A new exhibition charting the emergence of the modern male wardrobe has opened at the Jewish Museum in Camden, London .
This new exhibition tells the story of men’s fashion and the emergence of the modern male wardrobe – taking visitors on a journey from the tailoring workshops of the mid-19th century to the boutique revolution and mod culture of the Swinging 60s. The story is told through the huge number of Jewish companies who were at the forefront of the major developments and changes in the design, manufacturing and retail of men’s clothing from the mid-19th to late 20th century.
Right - Cecil Gee, who helped bring the 1960s Italian Mod look to London, in his Shaftesbury Avenue store in the 1960s. I love the birdcage
For over 100 years British menswear set trends which led the world – and many of the most influential figures of that period were Jews, from Montague Burton and Moses Moss to Cecil Gee and Michael Fish.
Left & Below - Mr Fish outfit & label on a 'Kipper' tie from his store in Mayfair
TheChicGeek says, “I hadn’t been to the Jewish Museum before and, as far as I know, this is the first exhibition they’ve had dedicated to menswear. It’s a concise and compact exhibition starting with the early mass suit producers such as Burton and Moses Moss up to the colourful Peacock Males of Carnaby Street.
It’s a simple timeline with lots of images and a few films illustrating the processes these manufacturers invented and also giving a feel of the time these things were happening.
I didn’t realise so many of the Carnaby street sixties brands such as Mr Fish, Granny Takes A Trip, Lord John etc. were all Jewish and it’s always a joy to see this colourful chapter in British menswear.
The exhibition is perfectly timed as the Mr Fish label is set to return under new ownership. The original Michael Fish is said to not be very well and he doesn’t have many examples of his own work left, unfortunately. The exhibition does has a couple of pieces, including one of his famous ‘Kipper’ ties, lent by the Victoria & Albert museum. While Jewishness doesn't necessarily have an influence on the product, this is a celebration of the Jewish community's input into British menswear over the last 150 years."
Until 19th June 2016
Teach me tiger! One of the season's most fun menswear items, the souvenir jacket is a kitsch take on the classic bomber. Great for holidays or just something to have a bit of fun with. Forget Gucci, Saint Laurent or Valentino, this is only £55 at ASOS. It's also well padded for warmth.
Wear it, here, layered up with lots of pattern or print in fashion's new take on maximalism or use it as a standout item with a simple plain T-shirt and trousers, letting the jacket do the talking.
How do you wear yours? Get involved #PeacockGeek
Credits - Souvenir Jacket - ASOS, Tailored Jacket - DKNY at Moss Bross, Trousers - French Connection at Moss Bros, Cap - Scotch & Soda, Backpack - Scotch & Soda, Necklace - Rokit Vintage, Kaftan - River Island, Watch - Tateossian, Shirt - Joe Browns, Green Necklace - Rokit Vintage, Sunglasses - Sunday Somewhere, Socks - Item M6, Jungle Shoes - Base London, Leaf Pin - Tateossian, Pep Start Eye Cream - Clinique, Daily Light Guard Defense Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 30 - Aveda
Make your own Gucci-style SS16 corsage here
More images & video below
Looking as hot as the donuts! TheChicGeek is as bold as a tequila sunrise in this OOTD.
Taking his cue from the new romantic mood in menswear, TheChicGeek makes flower corsages and feathers the latest must-have menswear accessories when worn with bright silks, beautiful patterns and colours.
Unpinned with a sharply tailored jacket, let your imagine run wild and escape to a place where there is no limit to male display. Join the Peacock Revolution!
Get involved #PeacockGeek
Credits - Jacket - French Connection Exclusive to Moss Bros, Coral Pin - Tateossian, Shell Shirt - Scotch & Soda, Floral Sweater - Scotch & Soda, Feather Necklace - River Island, Spectacles - Cazal, Watch - Storm London, Bracelet - Tateossian, Belt - Rokit, Trousers - Scotch & Soda, Trainers - Replay, Socks - Item M6, Extreme Blue Fragrance - Michael Kors, Body Defence Sunscreen - Zelens
Shot by Robin Forster on OlympusPEN
Check out more images and the video below
Make your own Gucci-style corsage here
Joining the Peacock Revolution, the explosion in colourful menswear during the late 1960s, TheChicGeek brings the look up-to-date with a mixture of things you may already have in your wardrobe and a few accessories.
TheChicGeek says, "Don't be afraid of colour. Put strong colour with more strong colour. It's all about balance. Add a few accessories and you're ready for Woodstock 2016!"
Shot by Robin Forster on Olympus PEN
Get involved #PeacockGeek
Credits - Jacket - Moss Bros, Necklace - River Island, Shirt - Moss Bros, Collarless Shirt - Scotch & Soda, Parka - Scotch & Soda, Watch - Storm London, Socks - Item m6, Sliders - adidas at ASOS, Spectacles - Salvatore Ferragamo, Bracelet - Tateossian, Pyjama Trousers - Derek Rose, Blue Fragrance - Cedro di Taormina Acqua Di Parma, Dark Fragrance - Stone Replay, Daily Defence - Zelens, Beard Wash - The Great British Grooming Co.
More images & video below
Want to join the Peacock Revolution, but on a budget? TheChicGeek shows you how here