We all love a Birkenstock, that goes without saying, but they’re as ubiquitous as a Kardashian. So, if you want a comfy sandal that nobody is wearing - just yet... - let me introduce you to Magnafied.
Spied at Pitti Uomo in January, this year, these babies are Danish made with a contoured bio-cork footbeded sandal and are as bold as they are comfortable.
Some of the uppers are made from vintage or dead stock fabrics that they find in places like Los Angeles, East Germany, Denmark and Japan. They search, find, hand-pick and use these special fabrics to minimise pollution instead of making new fabrics and say this is a super sustainable way of doing things.
Every single pair is handmade and the unique fabrics can range from original Camouflage, Canvas Pendleton Woolen Mills, Cohen Mills Denim, Japanese dyed Indigo Cotton, CYC Canadian quality cotton knit, all made on legendary, skilled quality Mills from Europe, USA and Japan.
The Magnafied clogs are made-to-order. They start production immediately when you order to reduce unnecessary stock and eventually sale/waste.
I love Scottish knitwear, especially the folky kind, such as fair isle from the likes of Jamieson’s of Shetland, but there’s another label to know. Eribé, eponymously founded by Rosemary Eribé 33 years ago, is a knitwear design house and manufacturer based in Melrose, in the Scottish Borders. They’ve recently taken over the old Burberry mill and opened a new showroom on Tweedbank before Christmas.
Left - Eribé's knitwear is all proudly made in Scotland and its signature is the multi coloured and pattern yokes
I first saw Eribé at the Premium trade show in Berlin a few years ago, and loved their fair isle berets - which I can’t find on their website - and I had a reminder, this year, at Pitti Uomo, where their colourful knits oozed authenticity and quality.
Their designers are specialists in their field, especially in the heritage knitting technique, Fairisle (Fair Isle) all crafted from quality, natural yarns spun in Britain from lambswool and merino.
Proudly all made in Scotland, Eribé exports to 20 countries, and Rosemary continually pushes for innovation in her knitwear, together with her team.
Her vast knowledge has been garnered from working with premium knitwear factories in Scotland and beyond, leading knitting machine companies and consulting with global designer brands.
Below - Eribé -Clootie Yoke Sweater Mirage - £399 - Hand knitted in 100% Superfine Lambswool
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
The Board of Directors of the Fédération de la haute couture et de la Mode has said that Paris Fashion Week Menswear, set to take place from June 23 to June 28 and the Haute Couture Week scheduled from July 5 to July 9, will not take place. Alternatives are in the works.
Menswear usually starts in London with LFWM in early June, and then onto the most important menswear trade show, Pitti Uomo. The Pitti Uomo organisers had hoped to keep their 98th edition on track for mid-June, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely with the announcement above.
Left - Florence's Pitti Uomo 98 has now been moved to Sept. 2nd-4th
It’s not just about the trade show for the SS21 season, it’s about the exhibitors who have to complete designs and samples in order to have something to show at the fair and make it worth their while. As time keeps leaking, it looks harder and harder to be able to make that up and pull something together. This begs the question whether fashion will skip a season?
While they’ll still be product designed, made and sold in Spring 2021, it will be a reduced offering with a more narrowed scope.
I predict the men’s shows will move to Sept/Oct, when the women’s usually show, and the women’s will be slightly smaller. It will mean they will need to turn all that product around in a couple of months or stagger it more into the new SS21 season. (Don’t mention ‘drops’!).
It will be interesting to see the gaps in schedules and on the trade show floors of brands who have disappeared. It’s a long time to go without cashflow. If you don't make anything you're also not selling anything. The Cruise collections from the big designers were already cancelled. I think they’ll just repeat the core pieces from the previous collection to carry on through.
In terms of retail, the SS20 collections were well delivered. There was disruption in China, but most retailers would have had their deliveries in full. I suspect many orders from the Paris AW20 shows in February would have been cancelled or reduced hugely.
Retailers will try to cancel as much as possible - Read - ChicGeek Comment COVID 19 Cancel Everything - and worry about having something to sell when the time comes. Many big, luxury department stores work on a concession basis, so the brands will have to deal with the problems with product and what to sell themselves. It will be brands who can easily turn production on and off who will benefit. The smaller brands who often fit around these production timetables, when times are quieter, will suffer.
Retailers are currently looking at the peak of the SS20 season and have lots of stock on their hands. No holidays means a lot of spring/summer sales lost.
But, the longer this goes on, the more you can skip. It would probably make it less bitty and then designer retailers can coast it with the product they've got until the new AW20 season drops in July and August. The high summer collections will have already been scrapped and they'll go straight to production on AW20 when the factories in Italy and France finally reopen. The Cruise 21 collections will be squashed into SS21. The samples, to be shown at the Oct/Sept fashion weeks, for SS21 will have to fit around this.
But, this all goes back to cashflow and means they will have to slim down, particularly with manpower, between now and then if no money is coming in, which has always been the problem with the fashion wholesale model. Some retailers may offer to pay on friendlier terms, it's in their interest too, and, many luxury brands will have to be more understanding and supportive of their suppliers and producers.
Will fashion skip a season? It can't afford to.
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
Did you know Barena has a grown-up brother called CINI Venezia? Neither did I until I stumbled across the CINI stand at the January 2020 Pitti Uomo, and because CINI has Venezia - Venice - in its logo, I said the only other Venetian menswear label I knew was Barena, I’m a big fan, and they told me this was part of the same company and was their more premium offering. (Barena has built up a loyal following for its quality, well priced and thoughtfully stylish Italian menswear amongst a certain group of discerning men.)
Left - Cini Venezia - Coat Burchione Piave Black - €730
The original mill, Lanificio CINI, was founded in the 1830 by Augusto and Giacomo Cini as a humble workshop producing cloth and coarse blankets.
This is still the foundation of the collection of Italian-made outerwear. Barena founder Sandro Zara - he also owns the Venetian cloak maker Il Tabarro - bought the Lanificio CINI woollen mill, which was formerly based in Vittorio Veneto, after using it as a supplier for many years. It came complete with an incredible archive which the CINI family maintained. From fabric swatches, to astute weaving dimensions, patterns and cloth experiments, everything was kept meticulously in its original state.
CINI Venezia, the brand, first appeared in 2012 and references historical Italian menswear styles in a darker and more conservative palette than Barena's. Prices reflect the quality of the cloth.
Right - Cini Venezia - Coat Duemezzo Piave Navy - €1150
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
While I’m not sure when the suit will return, if ever, as a fashion thing, one of the lovely gentleman who works at Raeburn was wearing this on their stand at the recent Pitti Uomo. The penny dropped and I thought, this is how you wear a suit today.
Made out of a sort of shell material, it is easy care and looks modern and contemporary. Called the ‘Parasuit’ and crafted in the Raeburn Lab in East London using original dyed parachute material, it is reworked to achieve a textured and lightweight crinkle finish. This item is one of 50, and individually numbered and is the nearest thing to sportswear you're gonna find in a tailored shape. Great for travel too.
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
On a chilly January Florentine night besides the swollen river Arno, the modernist Palazzo della Borsa played host to the first ever K-Way catwalk show. Known for it colourful and affordable rainwear and its signature yellow-orange-blue striped taping, this was K-Way’s way of celebrating the revamp of the brand and a sort of anniversary for them. (The brand was founded in 1965)
Left - The Classic pac-a-mac - K-Way's first catwalk show - Pitti Uomo 97 Jan. 2020
While many think of Pitti Uomo as a place for peacocks to pose by the curved pebbled concrete and classic made-in-Italy tailoring, the real money is being made by brands that offer mass appeal and big margins. This is aspirational, usually, made-in-China fashion, that has multiple variations on the same product. The consumer feels like and is happy that they have a lot of choice, while the brand’s core is simplified and strengthens the idea of ‘owning’ a category. Customers are clear on what they do, yet want to know what the new variations or collaborations are for each season. They are happy to have multiples of the same styles and shapes and have the same things as everybody else. It’s like joining a club.
It was founder Leon Claude Duhamel’s decision to brand the lightweight, nylon pac-a-mac that gave birth to K-Way after seeing people struggling in the rain through the streets of 1960s Paris.
At the Florence show, both Duhamel, and the Italian Boglione family, which now owns it, were present after a collection featuring youthful and fashion-lead rainwear. Italian influencers in Coyote-lined K-Ways watched as every variable of a K-Way was sent down the catwalk. These weren’t the pac-a-mac types of old, though it will sell plenty of those, but more the limited runs of fashion product with the K-Way DNA centre stage, even if it was taped prominently to the models’ flies.
The Bogliones - who also own Petersham Nurseries in Richmond - own K-Way as part of their BasicNet business. This Italian sportswear group owns Kappa, Robe di Kappa, Superga, and, recently bought Sebago from Wolverine. The group produced consolidated revenue growth of 14.7% in the 2018 financial year. In the first three months, Q1 2019, revenue was €74.6 million, a 38.9% increase driven by the recent acquisition of Sport Finance, the group’s distributor in France, UK and Spain.
Right - More directional K-Way for AW20
BasicNet saw strong 2018 growth globally; USA revenue increased by 36%, Europe 13.4%, Asia-Oceania 17.1% and Middle East and Africa 56.3%.
The founder of BasicNet, Marco Boglione, was only 20 when he was invited to join the company Maglificio Calzificio Torinese (MCT). MCT specialised in hosiery and underwear until seeing the potential of designer jeans during the 1970s boom and came up with ‘Jesus Jeans’.
Marco applied himself to the sportswear side of the company and was part of the nascent industry of sponsoring athletes with branded product. Under the Kappa brand they sponsored American Carl Lewis as well as football teams such as Juventus, AC Milan and Barcelona.
Marco left MCT to start a company making football merchandise, but when MCT started to struggle he, along with his brothers, bought it out of receivership and created BasicNet in 1995. Since then it has been acquiring brands with K-Way having been acquired in 2004.
K-Way’s signature ‘Le Vrai Claude 3.0’ jacket is £75. Made in China of a simple, lightweight pac-a-mac material, the margins must be huge. Success breeds success and dominance in this sector of mid-priced branded sportswear. You can sell huge volumes and retailers like the ease of brands being clear on what they do. It’s also a fun and colourful product. The same could be said for brands such Crocs, Eastpak, Herschel and Sebago. Lots of colours and finishes in the same consistent, known and liked styles.
While many new fashion brands aim for ‘luxury’, it is too dominated by the three main groups - LVMH, Kering, Richemont - who will only increase their muscle and monopolies. The volumes are too small to grow quickly and too much money is tied up in less product. The ideal is to scale quickly and this is what BasicNet has cleverly done with its brands. It’s tapped into the desire for brands at a price people are happy to pay while making good profits.
While without the overt branding, a newish brand trying this idea of lots of colours with simplicity in styles is Colorful Standard. Made in Portugal, it recently opened a store with Oi Polloi in London. Founded by Danish entrepreneur, Tue Deleuran, in 2017, it is now sold by 500 retailers across Europe with stores in Paris and Zurich.
Colorful Standard organic T-shirts retail at €30 and the sweatshirts are between €60 and €80 in a rainbow of colours. Made in Portugal in a factory Deleuran bought in 2008, he also produces private label for many luxury brands.
Left - Colorful Standard for quality organic basics in lots of colours
Expanding, new Colourful Standard categories for AW20 include boxer briefs, socks and Oxford shirts. By having the illusion of lots of choice it entices the consumer to be happy to add to their 'collection'. It also becomes a go-to when the product is good and people are satisfied. Asking people to pay 4 times the prices of Uniqlo with feel good extras of organic cotton and charitable associations seems to be working. It looks Helvetica familiar and fills the American Apparel gap or that once held by the likes of GAP.
What these two examples illustrate is the opportunities in this mid-priced market. Healthy margins in large volumes is the dream for any fashion business. Despite the naysayers, people will still pay for product they like, it just needs to be good. Oh, and colourful!
BUY TheChicGeek's new book - FASHIONWANKERS - HERE
The Berlin trade shows are a decent barometer of Northern Europe’s fashion direction. While not known for being particularly experimental or distinctive markets, it’s a good point to see what is selling in more mainstream menswear, post Pitti Uomo, from larger and smaller brands alike. Here are the menswear trends, brands and collabs. to take note of for SS20 from Berlin:
The Branded Utility Sandal
Lead by Teva, with touches of the Japanese, Suicoke, the activity, utility or trekking sandal - take your pick - is replacing the slide as the cool summer men’s footwear of choice. This geeky style was championed by many brands including Hunter, Slydes and Hi-Tec; all showing their own versions of these sandals which require some serious foot game in the pedicure/foot maintenance department.
Far Left - Hunter
Left - Slydes
Right - Hi-Tec
This was a trend first seen at Pitti Uomo. Transparent ripstop nylon used in the main body of the shoe allowing see-through and visible sections throughout. Not sure whether you’re supposed to wear with or without socks?
Right - D.A.T.E.
The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, is fast becoming a hot spot of creativity. Brands such as ‘Deep Naked Denim’ with their hoodies with additional arms to tie around the waist and revealing jeans and ‘Keep’, an accessorise brand using paper-like materials which you can self graffiti and customise are drawing attention to this part of Eastern Europe.
Left - Deep Naked Denim
Right - Keep
Baggy Trousers (Jeans)
We’ve been waiting with baited breath for a new style of jean that will resonate with the mass men’s audience. Enter the baggy 90s jean last seen on Marky Mark.
Lead by Pelle Pelle, an american brand founded in 1978 and now being designed and handled in Denmark, who prides themselves with having been the first urban brand to intentionally design and release the baggy denim pant worn by the stars of 90s hip-hop.
Unfeigned, a Spanish menswear brand, featured higher waisted denim with deep side pockets following this looser aesthetic.
Left - Pelle Pelle
Right - Unfeigned
You’ve got to give this Korean brand credit - pardon the pun! - APRVD says it “secures a wearable aesthetic that combines the utilitarian energy of street style with an artistic spirit upholding the highly qualified production experiences over the decades.” No, me neither, but its play on credit card design is priceless! Soz.
Following on from the Paris Trade Shows - see more here the linen shirt continues to segue itself back into fashion. These colourful shirts, some with matching scarves, are made in Italy by Destin and retail for around €90.
A private label manufacturer and a Portuguese take on a helvetica shoe brand, Perks’ parent company Evereste is 75 years old. This family business is branching out with this, their own label, showcasing their quality sports shoes and smarter leather shoes all proudly made in Portugal.
A young Danish menswear label, ISNURH is a Copenhagen-based menswear brand with a detail-driven approach. The founders, Kasper and Oliver, have created not only a ready-to-wear label collections, but also collaborations with different artists, and bespoke garments made in a tunnel located in Silkegade, Copenhagen.
This Swiss skiwear brand returns with its luxe and loud take on 80s style. Originally founded in St. Moritz in 1969, and now under the creative direction of Michael Michalsky, JET SET’s new logo is comprised of letters in a dynamic contemporary font set against an angular orange-and-black placard and references the label’s Swiss-German heritage in a bold and confident colourway.
LION BRAND SPORTSWEAR
Move over preppy Polo Bear, the abbreviated LBSW, founded in the USA in 1954 by Antonio Rosenbaum, is inspired by ‘Ivy League’ sporting competitions. The original LionBrandSportsWear supplied not only casual wear but also sports equipment for these Ivy League athletes.
After more than 65 years, and now owned by Bastiaan Roessen and based in the Netherlands, LBSW is being relaunched by introducing “'The 1954 Polo Shirt’. This authentic slim fitted polo shirt from 1954 is made from 100% piqué cotton and signed with their embroidered Lion logo.
LEE 101 X TIMBERLAND
While both originally part of the giant VF Corporation group of brands, though Lee has been spun out with its other denim cousin, Wrangler, into the Kontoor Brands group, it doesn’t mean they still can’t work together. Timberland’s outdoor, active and environmental credentials has been mixed with Lee’s denim heritage. The result is something fit for the American Frontier both visually and practically.
YMC X FARAH
YMC has worked their usually quirky aesthetic into Farah’s reliable menswear to celebrate the latter's centenary. Lots of colour and things like appliqué stars play with Farah’s American roots. Founded in 1920 in El Paso, Texas, they originally produced chambray work shirts for the cost of 35 cents. Inflation allowing, these fun pieces will still be at Farah’s successfully affordable price points.
See Paris Menswear Trade Shows SS20 - Here
With Italy tip-toeing in and out of recession, Pitti Uomo felt a little skittish on confidence. It had an atmosphere of brands holding on by their finger nails, with many hoping for a strong SS20 season to help pull them through.
Sadly, it’s the quality makers who seem most susceptible to failure. Their high costs, lower margins and small quantities make it a difficult balancing act to continue to stay strong and produce quality product in Italy. These are the brands who are barely known yet sing through the quality on the hanger and all at a fair price. Today, you rarely get this kind of care and attention with a designer name. Here are five made-in-Italy menswear makers we should all be supporting:
Left - Pitti Uomo 96 soaking up the sunshine
Founded in 1957 by current creative director Guido Biondi’s grandfather as ‘7 Bell S.p.A’, a Tuscan atelier, it was the very first producer of Italian denim. Today, they make colourful and contemporary menswear instilled with the best made-in-Italy production.
Right - President's - For the SS20 season, there were bold minimal orange jackets, tie-dyed shirting and hand sketched T-shirts
Based in Venice, Barena, the Italian for ‘mudflat’, has been steadily making inroads into the UK with its stylish and original menswear. Inspired by the Venetian lagoon, Barena says it mimics the qualities of traditional workwear with a modern aesthetic. Loose shapes, quiet precise tailoring, exquisite fabrics, attention to detail and confident versatility are the pillars of their design philosophy.
The menswear designer is Massimo Pigozzo who has been with the Barena family for over twenty years. Trained as a tailor, for Pigozzo it is important to create designs that are simple, understated and easy to wear. Deep fabric research, pattern work and soft tailoring are key to his approach and he says it is not about reproductions or constant alterations.
Left - Barena - For the SS20 season, it was all about contrast with playful tailoring and short sleeved shirts with contrasting collars
Meaning double A in Italian and named after two friends, Alain and Albert, Doppiaa is designed for the whole family, for all ages and all occasions. Based in Milan, Doppiaa has two essential cornerstones: 100% Italian manufacturing, and the painstakingly executed pinpointing and selecting of the highest quality fabrics.
Right - Doppiaa - For the SS20 season, it was brightly coloured towelling tops, pyjama style piped printed shirts and strikingly striped trousers
This is everything the more famous Missoni should be; colourful, stylish and contemporary. Designed by Simonetta Bocelli and Franco Santarini and based in Florence, Sunhouse is a specialist in Italian made knitwear in a rainbow of colours in classic menswear shapes.
Sunhouse is one of the few companies in the world to use traditional 720-yarn looms to 'reinvent' the culture of knitwear. The production is carried out in their workshops in Montecosaro, in the Marche Region. Each individual jacket is cut and sewn by hand.
Left - Sunhouse - For the SS20 season, it was about bold colour stories in signature zig-zagged blazers and delicate polo shirts
BOB is an Italian sportswear brand created by two young Italian guys, Alessio Bonaiuti and Tommaso Bellini. They started their adventure 11 years ago in Prato, with the idea developing from going around vintage warehouses where huge quantities of second hand clothes were divided by colours and then recycled. Going through these warehouses was like being absorbed in a spectacular coloured market that resembled a field of flowers they thought and it was this image was the starting idea to develop a new concept of eclectic and colourful menswear.
Right - BOB - For the SS20 season, it was all about bold, pattern blazers and colourful separates
These are simply beautiful clothes made with care from great ingredients. While you are paying a premium, you are, in fact, getting great value when you consider the expertise and pedigree of these makers. These are the kind of clothes that are a joy to wear and will last you a very long time.
These were some of my favourite pieces from the SS19 trade shows. First seen at Pitti in Florence and then later in Copenhagen on the Barena, the Venice-based fashion brand, stand, they hadn’t disappeared out of my head and I was itching for them to drop.
Featuring a stunning print of Venice, one of the most beautiful and individual cities in the world, they are stylish, oversized linen garments which you could wear separately or all together for that complete Peggy Guggenheim look.
Left & Below - Barena - BERMUDA (Shorts) AGRO SCHIAVON UNICO - €195, CAMICIA (Shirt) SOLANA MARTINO UNICO - €235