Kate Osborn, Craft Central.
Monday, 30 March 2009
Kate Osborn, Craft Central.
On the train back to the coast, a little purchaser's guilt did creep in but I soon snapped myself out of it because my choices were the right ones and will fit in in and add to my wardrobe very nicely indeed. The art of my wardrobe building continues in earnest and I have to assure you that my purchases well extremely well thought out despite the consumer bravado brought on by the drink. I have been on the hunt for a grey trench coat for the last few months and as soon as I encountered this one over on BUCK my hunt was over. As for the white shirt, it is a classic which Euler has masterfully updated with her sculptural details. In all honesty, I could have quite happily walked away with both complete collections but I was strong willed and selected carefully.
All I have to do now is play the waiting game for my garments to be made. This really is a great way to buy clothes because it gives you a chance to speak to the designers themselves and make any slight amendments to your order. For example, unfortunately I am not blessed with Antonio Bracciani's perfect body (see issue nine of Fantastic Man) and garments frequently fit me how I'd like them to fit. Carola noticed this instantly and after looking up and down once more declared me to be in between a small and a medium...a smedium if you will (because I'm closer to a medium. Rather than ordering something that was not quite right, Euler would now make the necessary adjustments to create my perfect trench coat. I might not be blessed with the perfect or ideal body but I have found the perfect way to shop. More updates will follow as and when my orders are finished.
Thursday, 26 March 2009
Who knows what I will wear tomorrow...
I hear you man, though at the moment it feels like we're getting at least three seasons in the space of an hour. I thought that it was time to get out a whole different collection of clothes, but it looks like my winter coats are still required. Still, as I've been saying to you all week... patience!
p.s. that beard looks like one the boyf grew when on his archaeological dig. This model has much better hair though.
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Richard Gray: I fell into it - like falling down a big slimy well. In fact, I look a lot like her from The Ring - but I've got more split ends. I studied modern languages not fashion. Verstehen Sie? I like new. And clever. Not things for shopping. Grrr....
SS: Is there an agreed 10 men man/muse, if so who? Who would you say is the target reader?
RG: I think our fella likes lager and Eastenders when Kathy knitted her own jumpers in the kitchen. He also like clothes. And is looking for the 'new tight jean'!
SS: What has been your favourite fashion moment of your life/career so far?
RG: When I lost a stone before Christmas and could fit into my old Comme peg trousers from the first ever men's collection. Cue gasps of admiration from Hactor Castro - who was jelly bags beyond. Ha ha!
SS: If you could go back in time and experience one fashion moment, what would it be?
RG: My mum tells me this story (I think she may have made it up) when her and Aunty Sue watched Top of the Pops in the very early 60s, The Supremes were on and they loved their bib and brace dresses (never seen before then). When they came home from work the next day my Nan said: "Go to your bedroom and look on your beds" And she'd made exact copies of the ones on TV the night before. I love that! My mum said they wore them with boots that following Saturday night and everybody commented when they went dancing. I'd go back to then.
RG: www.eastvillageboys.com is flicking wonderful.
SS: We are sure there are a number of budding fashion journalists reading this. What advice would you have for someone who was looking to get into fashion journalism?
RG: Think. Have I read this, said in this way, before? And break all those rules. Who said an interview needs a conclusion? And why can't the interviewee interview the interviewer (not sure I know what that last one means). Also get a sub - my syntax shocking is...
SS: What is inspiring your own personal style at the moment? Do you have any style icons (long or short term)?
RG: Love this question... ermm... I'm heavily into Doctor Robert from The Blow Monkeys and I look like a lot like that little dwarf man from Fantasy Island (Youtube), so anything he wears.
SS: If you could live in a different era which would you choose to live in and why?
RG: I'd have lived in the 80s, I hear it was amazing. Parp!
RG: I'd like to meet Denise Robertson, agony aunt from This Morning - I read on Holy Moly that when she goes back home to Newcastle on the train she orders a G&T and a white wine. I bet she has some crisps too. I'd also like to meet Max Blagg, one of our writers who is the funniest man alive. We try and out do each other in email wars. I never get any flocking work done.
SS: Have you got any recommendation that you'd like to share with our readers? (shops, hairdressers, designers, websites, bars)
RG: I like all the vintage homeware bits in Liberty and in the sale it's all dirt cheap. I like Bang Bang in Soho too - there's an African fella who goes in there and sells all his old Comme from the 80s. I'm in there buying it all up. It smells a bit like wee - but one suffers for one's art. And I like
The Kings Arms on Poland Street in London, because they're all fatter than me which makes me look thinner. (taps side of nose and winks)
SS: Now this is your chance to ask yourself and answer the one question you wish you had been asked but have never had the opportunity to do so.
RG: I'm a bit scared of this because I don't trust myself. Ermmm... Maybe... 'How many people are in your head at any one time?'
Answer - Today there are about three: one thinks he's down-to-earth and doesn't care about fashion and thinks it's silly. Another one, who could be called Trixie Gray is really thin and plays amateur plastic surgeon when he walks round town and is a right cow. Then the last one is somebody small and quiet who would secretly like to go back home to his mum and work in a shop part time and not be jaded. Basically I'm a fucking freak!
SS: Finally, tell us what your ten favourite things related to men's style and fashion...
RG: Leggings (dye John Smedley ones black), Wigs! Political things. Un-preppy things. Black socks. Skinheads (over hairstyles in such a big bogging way - toooo predictable). Clean shaven. Sort of pegs worn with black cotton shirts, not designer-y just worn by people who don't know about fashion crap, say, like in an Essex nightclub. Chanel no.5 (j'adore). Black Levi 501s. There's other stuff too.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Monday, 23 March 2009
SS: What has the interest from buyers been like given the current economic climate?
SS: I am always jealous of the offerings available to Japanese consumers, they just have it too good!
SS: The art of wardrobe building is one we love but it certainly goes against the prevailing throwaway consumerism of today; what are your thoughts on this way of consuming?
PG: If you buy well you will still have it when it is sixty years old. I've got plenty of bits of clothing in my wardrobe, particularly knitwear and the odd jacket that I had bought from the likes of Gucci, Prada, Helmut Lang, Dolce & Gabbana to a certain extent and a few others and I've still got the best of those pieces and I still wear them. The only thing that doesn't really last are the trousers. If they had been made in the cloths that we use and in the way we make them they would still be fine. Machine hemmed trousers are always falling apart and it is amazing that no one knows how to sew anything anymore.
SS: That is so true, I've only recently started dabbling with replacing buttons on jackets but the effect and response to it has been so positive and it is so simple.
PG: We should put up a number of how to videos on the website instructing people how to get the most out of their clothes through simple tailoring, how to hem your trousers, how to sew a button on your shirt... We used to do it all the time at school, not particularly well but we did it. We used to shorten our trousers: I remember one of my roommate taking in peoples trousers in because we all wanted trousers that, basically you couldn't put your feet through. Few people are bothered to do that now. Now if a button falls off a shirt it is thrown away.
SS: Can you see this attitude changing in the foreseeable future?
PG: There is group called Slow Fashion at St Martins which I went to the first meeting of and it is so brave of them, I think, because it flies in the face of everyone who basically pays for their existence. The more care that is taken in the creation of your clothes, the more enjoyment you will get out of them and the longer you will get to enjoy that. I think, especially for men, there are fashionable men and stylish men and we are talking more to stylish men than fashion men but of course there is a little overlap. I think even fashionable men have a little space in their wardrobes for certain core pieces. Everyone wears black or grey slim trousers and if you have a really great pair that fit you beautifully, look good, kept their crease really nicely and were going to last twenty years, you might think that £800 isn't really that much... it might feel like a lot but think of the wear you will get out of them.
SS: It seems most people have forgotten about the whole cost per calculation.
PG: I mean I used to pay £1200 for an off the peg suit, this is going back a few years so I have no idea how much they are now but I used to wear them fifteen or twenty times and the trousers would be worn out in the crotch, I even had one and the tip of the lapel wore out.
SS: Ha, what were doing in that jacket?
PG: I have no idea but it was strange. I particularly have a problem with the crotch of trousers because I cycle and have big thighs. Of course we have lightweight cloths here that might not last but we would recommend a customer buy two pairs of trousers with their suit.
SS: You just would not get that service in most ready to wear stores.
PG: What's nice about the way we are coming at it is that the people involved in Tautz basically work at Nortons. We spend our lives dealing with the type of people we are hoping to sell Tautz to because they are the equivalent to our customers here who are unable to come here and have their suits made but we want to give them something of that quality. We cut it in a way we think feels like a good Savile Row suit, it has got shape in it and makes you look different, it's not a skinny, slim suit but a well cut suit and you very rarely see that. There aren't very many well cut suits kicking around this town and we want to give Tautz something of Savile Row about it. We eat, sleep and breathe great quality clothes and everything we do is done with integrity.
SS: Have you noticed a change in peoples attitude towards tailoring over time?
PG: Tailoring is an incredibly efficient way of buying clothes cost wise and you really get what you pay for. At Nortons the first suit we make, we don't actually make any money because we have to sew it, fit it, take it apart, re cut it, sew it, fit it, take it apart... you know, it is only when we've made one and have a pattern for you that we actually start to make some money. You are getting tremendous value for money if you go to a tailor and it just so happens that we are in the middle of a community of the best tailors in the world. Certainly what you get here is expensive tailoring but there tailors... actually, sadly there are almost no tailors left.
The country should be filled with tailors and everyone should be buying their suits from a tailor. I used to go to a little tailor in Liverpool and his suits were less than the Prada suits that I was taking in to be altered. My perception then was that Prada was very cool but the fact is he could have cut me and made a better suit for less money and I would have looked better if I wasn't such an idiot swayed by a label which I was at that time. 'The only name in your suit should be your own' is the old adage and that is a nice way of thinking about it. Most of my early suits came from a tailor in Edinburgh which doesn't exist anymore... in fact there is only one tailor in Edinburgh now. A city of half a million people, a capital city with a financial centre and only one tailor.
SS: I remember being tempted by a one page ad featured in GQ which called for more tailors.
PG: If you are good at it you can make a good living. The guys who work on this street certainly do but they are bloody good. It is a difficult street and you have to be really good to make a living here but if you are good, you can do very well. Most sewing tailors are self employed and we share with a number of firms. There are some great young tailors who work very hard, there are some old ones to who start at 6am and work right through to 9pm.
SS: It is such a shame that there are so few...
PG: The problem we have is the cost of training people. After years of lobbying by the Savile Row Bespoke Association they have given us £1,000 per apprentice per year but it costs us more like £20,000 so we can only afford one apprentice here at the moment but ideally we could train three people at a time. The biggest file I have in my drawer is full of applications for apprenticeships and we get about one a day. The thing is, we are flat out here and we desperately need more good tailors.
SS: Lastly, there has been a great deal spoken on luxury in the downturn and this must be on your mind as well...
PG: Many people have asked why we would start a new brand in the midst of this economic disaster and for me it doesn't really matter as to when we start but it feels as though people are interested in proper products, quality and integrity... everything we stand for. Whether or not the economic cycle is poor or good should not affect the decision to do this but there is also this belief that these are the type of thing people retreat to when you haven't got a surplus of cash to spend it should be spent on the items you know are worth it and will last. People will continue to want to dress well and wear nice things, which isn't always the same thing. We have seen this with Nortons which has a heavy British based client base and we actually had our best year in eight years last year, we saw a big jump on the year before despite a disastrous US economy and dour forecasts for the British economy. The start of this year has been really strong with this February being better than the last.
Sunday, 22 March 2009
In my opinion Uniqlo is so far ahead of the opposition that it must be embarrassing for their competitors, at the very least they must be left scratching their heads how the Japanese constantly deliver on style, quality and of course price. The amazing news that Jil Sander has been tempted out of retirement to make her fashion comeback with a collaboration with the chain is almost typical for Uniqlo. The more I think about this though, the more it makes sense; the Uniqlo style aesthetic is not a million miles away from the mistress of minimalism. Sander is apparently looking forward to the challenge of establishing premium quality designs at democratic prices for autumn 09. In addition to overseeing the core men’s and women’s collections, Sander is working on a standalone premium range for autumn 09.
Uniqlo's emphasis on high quality, low cost basics combined with strong advertising and design talent has seen it achieve post record sales here in the UK but it was almost so very different. Over-ambitious expansion and over-reliance on one product (the fleece) nearly ruined the chain in the early noughties. Thankfully, Yanai invested in design talent and an image change with the help of Kashiwa Sato who helped rebrand and reposition the label (for more on this there is an interesting article in CR). The fact that the chain was close to collapse is probably why the expansion has been somewhat cautious. My heart goes out to any reader who does not have a Uniqlo store near them because there is no one else like them on the high street. As reported in Monocle, Yanai is taking the chain to Paris and Singapore and hunting for the big game in the US so here is hoping that you will all have a store a short car journey away... in the meantime, I'll take advantage of the many stores along Oxford Street and will no doubt pick up a few more items for Spring.
Saturday, 21 March 2009
The latest issue is a delight for a budding menswear store owner like myself but as the issue analyses the state of retail it is an interesting and inspiring read for anyone. Within the survey on the state of retail we are introduced to the smartest shopkeepers, best buyers, happiest customers and sharpest ideas on the street, in the aisles and online which makes me long for payday! Long before the current economic slump the decline of many of our high streets has been noted and for me (a point agreed by Mr Brule) this climate is perfect for dynamic entrepreneurs to step forward to help turn things around and the issue looks at some of the example working today across the globe. We used to be called a nation of shopkeepers here in the UK but in recent years the consumer landscape has changed from busy, bustling stores to empty and even boarded up stores fifty four retail chains went in to administration last year. It is not all doom and gloom though, the issue highlights the companies, both large and small, who are making a success of it all whilst offering clever lessons in how to maintain traffic, margins and customer loyalty. Japan of course has many a highlight because it seems Japanese retailers actually try to understand what the customer actually wants and delivers great quality products and extremely good service.
Much of the issue is inspiring but the interview with Tadashi Yanai, President of Japanese company Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, is surely the highlight. After record sales in 2008, Yanai is taking Unqilo to Paris and Singapore and hunting for big game in the US (plus The Sunday Best will tempt him to Canada I'm sure), Yanai opened the first Uniqlo store in Hiroshima in 1984 (I was surprised to hear that I'm as old as Uniqlo) and now has 765 stores worldwide. The chains emphasis on high quality, low cost basics combined with strong advertising has certainly struck a chord with consumers and will continue to do so. Below are two of my favourite quotes from Yanai:
"We're just going about our normal business, doing what we have to do as a company, whether it's in Japan or London. We follow this principle all over the world."
"I might look successful but I've had many failures. People take failure too seriously. You have to be positive and believe you will find success next time."
I will spend the rest of my Saturday poring over the pages whilst enjoying the sunshine... a small part of me wants it to rain though so I can explore the streets in the fashion of the gentlemen pictured...
Friday, 20 March 2009
I'm loving this picture- all the stripes and checks shouldn't work together, but they do. I really like the trousers too, they're just the right side of chef trousers. I love the sky blue umbrella and jacket especially- not quite a pastel colour, but certainly one that you could do well to introduce to your wardrobe.
I've been a little lax with my magazine reading thus far, I think a trip to Magma is in order for tomorrow (after a day of learning even more about Manchester, that is!).
Thursday, 19 March 2009
We posted previously that the list of designers at LFW's extended menswear day gave reason to be optimistic about the state of menswear in this fair city, but I was intrigued most by E. Tautz . The label is rooted in history and history seamlessly runs through the whole collection. Patrick and his team were inspired by the photo archive of the Sandringham Estate, both in terms of its colours and landscape and there are more than a few sartorial nods to Edward VII.
As the presentation was over subscribed I was unable to see it on the day but Patrick Grant extended an invite for me to view the collection over a cup of tea at 16 Savile Row. It was a fittingly quintessentially English date because the collection could not be more English and it took place the evening of last Friday. Over tea, I was able to marvel at the quality on offer throughout this collection and was fortunate enough to have a piece by piece commentary to learn much more about this label than what has previously been made available. Over the course of this post I will attempt to offer the same journey I was fortunate enough to take supported by quotes from the man himself and a further post (in a more standard interview format) will follow shortly. I had close to two hours of material to transcribe - it was an absolute pleasure and privilege speaking to the youngest guvnor on Savile Row and I hope you enjoy it.
The English Way of Clashing...
Back to School...
"The aesthetic is much softer with a knitted tie rather than silk. It is almost dare I say it school boyish. Until recently I've not worn a V neck jumper under my suits since school and now I really like it. The Shetland knits are of course handknitted and the felt badges are sewn on by hand. Talking of which these were inspired by colleges using similar crests to differentiate themselves from another, so we have taken something old and forgotten and created a much talked about feature"
Provenance is key...
Clothes should last...
"These days people will try things on twice and the garment starts to fall apart and he wants to change this, wanting to create garments which can be passed down from generation to generation, a piece of history. It is just a shame that so little of what is made today, particularly clothing, which will be worth tuppence in ten years time. We've got to the point where we would rather have ten cheap things than one good thing. There is something very charming about building a collection of clothes, every piece has a position in a wardrobe. As you build a wardrobe of clothes, starting in your 20s and continue doing so throughout your adult life and if you bought the good stuff then you will still have it at sixty years old, your wardrobe will almost tell the story of your life. One of our longest clients here died last year after being a customer since 1945 and had an extraordinary wardrobe. He wasn't an extravagant man but bought wisely and it certainly told a story. It is something of a lost art that a lot of people just don't consider anymore."
E. Tautz is a label which champions the notion of dressing properly and of men taking pride in what they wear. It adheres to the age old belief that how you dress reflects your respect for the event and for your host. Unfortunately, this sartorial mentality has been lost over the years but Patrick Grant is certainly helping us all remember. Edward VIII said it best. 'Be always well and suitably dressed for every conceivable occasion.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
There is so much more to good menswear design than fashion (of course we can appreciate the frivolous side from time to time) and this is why I like writing about it so much.
The above extract summarises exactly why I got butterflies in my stomach when I read this piece of news. Aitor and his design team built this garment with an understanding of how the body works and how it moves, specifically when playing football to create something which moves with the body, like a second skin. I for one would love to see this prototype make it in to production followed by a full collaborative collection sometime soon.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Monday, 16 March 2009
Saturday, 14 March 2009
Susie hobbled off the Eurostar this week battered, bruised...and bearing gifts! Whilst she could actually walk she found herself at the Fantastic Man Perfume launch party at Colette and fortunately for me nabbed a goodie bag which included the latest issue (a beautiful read but the full review will follow later), scented soaps and the soap itself. I twittered a succinct reaction which is hard for me to better even after wearing the scent for a few days:
Friday, 13 March 2009
Just a quick message from me today as, once again, I'm running late. I remember not so long ago a couple of our readers naysaying denim and, in particular, denim jackets so I though I'd expose them to that wonder of fashion: the all denim outfit.
Bret and Jemaine of Flight of the Conchords quite regularly pull off some unorthodox outfits (hair helmet, anyone?) but head to toe denim in especially Jemaine-ish. So what do you think, something you're up to copying?
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Whatever your thoughts on the Jamie Hince by Hedi Slimane cover (for the record, my thoughts are best described by..meh) it is what inside which makes the magazine truly special. One of my favourite features is the 'what we like' section which looks at everything from Acne Studios office to recommendations on how to achieve the perfect shave to the perfect wine. Also in this issue in the aptly named Men About Town piece where they talked to the leading men of Paris (including Andre and Olivier Zahm), Berlin (Christopher Roth, Joerg Koch) and New York (Adam Kimmel, Sean MacPherson).
Ever since it burst on to the scene, Man About Town has guaranteed a highly enjoyable, informative, and, dare I say, beautiful read. The latest issue is no exception as it contains a carefully acquired collection of interesting people's ideas and experiences, providing articles which I love to read and accompanied by my kind of fashion. Thank goodness for magazines like this one and Fantastic Man, without them the world in my opinion would be a little duller...at the very least my morning commute would be.
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Below are a selection of items which have captured my imagination in recent weeks and will no doubt force me to scrimp and save my pennies until I can have them in my possession.
YMC Sheep Suede boots, £89
Do I need another pair of casual shoes like this? No but that doesn't stop me wanting these. These are everything I want in a shoe and more.
Folk drawstring cotton and wool cardigan, £119
Folk collections are typically understated with an attention to design and detail which makes the individual stand out and this cardigan is a prime example of such design and detailing.
Burberry Prorsum Trench
This fashion house has always been synonymous with trench coats (quite rightly so, given the fact that Burberry made the first trench coats in 1914) but Bailey has helped create variations which turn this practical staple in to something to truly covet. The SS09 Crumpled Classics collection was full of light and airy options which fit perfectly with my vision for the season ahead.
I have mentioned my 'bespoke suit fund' for some time now and it is moving in the right direction but only slowly. This for me is the investment piece. Giancinephile recently posted about his love for Kilgour and I will certainly pay Mr Brandelli a visit during my hunt for the right suit for me.
Jil Sander Contrasting Collar Trip Poplin Shirt, £220
A man can be rejuvenated simply by wearing a crisp white shirt. This one by Jil Sander is simple yet is given a slight twist with the contrasting collar.
Stingray Orwells by Mr Hare
Ever since we interviewed Mr. Hare I've been thinking about wearing these shoes and I will no doubt continue to think about them until I own them.
Luggage by Globe Trotter
My mind is currently filled with dreams of escape and Globe Trotter offer my kind of handmade luxury luggage. These British classics have been around since 1897 and have been the choice of royalty and politicians...so why not me?
An honourable mention needs to be made to the white and blue cotton shirt by Comme des Garçons with ombre-style fade from top to bottom which EJ posted about earlier this week, because this has now been added to my list.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Everything came together for a wonderful show. All images supplied by Chris Brooks Studio.
As you can probably tell, speaking to Carolyn in her own environment and seeing the clothes up close have made me gush even more. Here is a designer who really cares about the history of menswear and fabric research (I've seen the boxes and rails for myself) which she combines to create timeless pieces which would add so much to any man's wardrobe but certainly mine.
While there we asked Massey for a few recommendations that she'd like to share with us which can be read below. You might have noticed that we have been collecting a few people's recommendations... all will be revealed in due course. In the meantime please see Carolyn's favourite shops, designers and websites below:
London Old Hat Fulham High Street: Excellent selection of mens vintage
London The shop at the V&A: They stock Jewelery by Marion Vidal a designer from Paris - I really love her work.
I always decide to get my hair cut at the last minuite and normally go to Whites on Whitecross St. The owner, Paul is a friend and always wears the most amazing shoes.
Concetta Gallo does the most amazing interiors:and also for Habitat
The George, Wilton Way Hackney
Bistrotheque, Wadeson St Hackney