Saturday, 31 December 2011

Highlights of 2011

Where has this year gone? In the way of blogging, 2011 has been a blur of shows, trips, presentations, studio visits and attempted style stalks. Now, we could not wave goodbye to 2011 without highlighting a few of our favourite posts from the year. Over the course of the last twelve months we have posted two hundred and something times and here are a selection that we are particularly proud of...

Style Stalking Dal - Feature button

2012 might not have been our most prolific in terms of style stalking but we served up some real treats. b magazine's very own Dal Chodha was one of favourites. We see the ever lovely Dal at various fashion shindigs and have always noted how well dressed he is. With this in mind we just could not resist style stalking him and thanks to the photography of Kasia Bobula we can. Here we follow the Central Saint Martins graduate as he lives and works in London as a writer, editor and consultant. No doubt his five day style diary will brighten up your week all over again...


The fabric combinations in Braille's outerwear are always of particular note. Textural highlights in their recent AW11 collection, Our Damn Hands, include a waxed belted silk poncho, a textured wool pocket overcoat and a suede reversible corded bomber to name but a few. Shortly after speaking to the pair in a post that unveiled their look book, we could not resist an invitation to take a closer look at the designs. Here we explore their East London based studio and cop a feel of a few SS11 and AW11 season highlights.


Everyone's obsessed with something and our Collections series highlight a few of our favourites. Here we explore Jason Dike's coat addiction. Now, Jason is a stylish chap who tends to avoid the limelight, preferring instead to focus on unearthing well crafted menswear labels from across the globe or featuring the latest product releases from our favourite brands for Selectism, Gentleman's Corner and Esquire. Whenever we see him around town, we never fail to admire his coat so we invited ourselves around to Casa de Menswear (Jason shares a flat with Daniel Jenkins) to rummage through his collection.


Remarkably, this season was MAN’s thirteenth outing at London Fashion Week. Now, we should all know by now that the talent showcase is all about heralding what’s new in menswear but this lineup was one of the most exciting to date. For the SS12 roster, Martine Rose was joined by two newcomers, Matthew Miller and Shaun Samson. Both newbies are deservedly winning plaudits, competitions and buyers for their style and innovative garment techniques. In this post we focus on Shaun Samson's needle punch felting technique. Here we sit down with the design talent and chat through his design process before taking a closer look at his craft.


Despite focusing most of my attention on tradeshow and showroom visits during my whistle-stop tour of Paris, I was fortunate enough to take my seat at one of the real highlight shows of the season so far, Woooyoungmi. Now, we have long admired how this label's garments are streamlined and enriched with details and styled finishes but for SS12 vibrant colour and print are added. This heady mix provided a most agreeable summer friendly cocktail. This blogger excitedly snapped away as the models paraded down the runway and captured just a selection of the them. Now, gorge on the detail all over again.

Moon Feature Button

Located in Yorkshire, traditional home of the English cloth mills, Abraham Moon is unique in being a fully vertical mill, with dyeing, blending, carding, spinning, weaving and finishing processes all taking place on one site. State of the art manufacturing allied to a highly skilled workforce enable a wide diversity of fabrics to be manufactured at competitive price levels – a prerequisite to success in today’s market place. The craftsmanship and well honed skills are essential to the product and it was a pleasure to be able to watch it all unfold in a space that has seen the same processes come together for over two centuries. It is little wonder why Joe Casely-Hayford partnered with them for his John Lewis range. As a self confessed factory pervert, you can only imagine how many photographs I took as I was guided through the nooks and crannies of this well oiled assembly line of craftsmanship. Here I managed to hone them down and used them to guide you through the main processes to turn fleece in to stunning fabric.

Anthem Feature Button

The arrival of Anthem on Calvert Avenue has forced me to stretch out one more finger as I count the ever growing number of exciting menswear stores in the capital. Nestled nicely in to this area of East London and within a short walking distance from Present and the recently moved 3939, the store opened its doors at the end of August to widespread acclaim. Always preferring to let a store settle before making the first excited trip down, I finally visited the last week. Entering with high expectations, I left anything but disappointed. Occupying a space once home to a bookies, now, with its rug scattered concrete floor, bare brick walls and eclectic artworks not forgetting its mix of covetable design talent, it has been totally transformed in to a truly new independent store. The brainchild of Simon Spiteri, the award-winning fashion buyer credited with launching Liberty’s internationally renowned menswear department over seven years ago and his business partner Jeremy Baron. The shared vision for Anthem is one based firmly on handpicked quality from across the globe. As both were working behind the counter, it was an absolute pleasure to be talked through the store's offering by the men themselves.

TreasuredItems_Dean_Feature Button

From the moment Commes des Garçons sprang to fame with its first presentation in Paris back in 1981, the world of fashion has never been the same. Comme des Garçons quickly became the preferred label of the avant-garde and the highly independent. Whenever I think of the label I'm reminded by a sentence penned by Cathy Horyn in her NY Times piece, Gang of Four. "Kawakubo has been making clothes for nearly 40 years, always under the label Comme des Garçons, which means ''like some boys'' and in a way suggests a gang." Over the last four decades, Kawakubo has amassed quite a gang of followers thanks to her radical approach to fashion design. Amongst them is One Nine Zero Six's very own Dean Webster who treasures a single breasted suit from 1988. Here he tells us the story behind it.

Six Factory Tour Feature Button 2

As you all know, I caught the shoe bug a long time ago and could not shirk the opportunity to create my ultimate footwear for Autumn as part of the SIXby6bloggers project. To think that ideas that have been bouncing around my brain unreleased for years have now been realised is nothing short of remarkable. However, as exciting as the finished product is, one of the real highlights of the entire process came during a visit to Guimaraes in Portugal where I met the Six London team, had the opportunity to talk through my design with the craftsmen who were going to help realise my footwear fantasy and took a stroll through the factory where the majority of their men's shoes are made. As I was led around the family run factory, I eagerly snapped away at each well honed process and got a little carried away with closeups of machinery.

We hope you've enjoyed our offering throughout 2011 but here's to kicking ass in 2012...or at the very least...many more posts. Happy New Year folks!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Cashing in this Christmas

Since our first shared Tokyo experience back in May, Susie has popped back over too many times to mention. For the most part, I've looked on with green eyes and jealous heart as she rattles off tales of discovery but when she recently returned I was treated to an early Christmas present that kept me warm this festive season whilst putting a smile on my face and introducing me to my new favourite label, Cash Ca.

Whilst designing and consulting for the likes of John Smedley and Margaret Howell, knitwear specialist Craig Alexander started Cash Ca in 1999. Over the last twelve years, the label's refined cashmere and high quality merino knitwear collection has made a significant impact on the British market. However, for us atleast, the story took an interesting turn following a chance meeting between Alexander and influential Japanese streetwear designer Kazuki Kurashi in 2009 who was soon asked to direct the men's collection. Kurashi's clean aesthetic inspired a new phase of the label. The design marriage of Alexander and Kurashi is all about simple perfection and minimal embellishment but also lovely subtle, hidden detailing. This union caught Susie's eye in Shibuya's Garden, Located moments from where we first stayed and just opposite the Ragtag that bled my bank account dry, menswear store Garden escaped our shared attention. However, on Susie's most recent jaunt she waltzed inside and soon encountered my (current) dream wardrobe. Alongside Facetasm and Eo To To, she found herself grasping at the rails of Cash Ca and feeling the urge to splurge. The heady mix of details and the favoured mix of seasonal fabrics of wool, cotton and leather in the Donkey Stadium jacket meant that it was love at first sight for her and for me (oh she knows me so well!)...

Cash Ca Donkey Stadium Jacket worn with two of my own Japanese buys (a green shirt by Comme des Garcons Homme and fair isle print jumper by Discovered) trousers by Wooyoungmi and hi tops by Lanvin.

Now, thanks to a recent expansion of stockists and a fair bit of blog coverage, a few of you will be familiar with the label already but despite its English roots, the moment I unwrapped my Christmas present was the first time I really took notice of the knitwear brand. I'm now hooked and am far from the only one. In the three years since its launch, the Cash Ca men’s collection has become well established in Japan, now selling into sixty of the most directional retailers and departments stores across the country. The collection is now becoming established in Hong Kong and China with a plan to open a flagship shop in Hong Kong in 2012 and I've only just learned that London's very own The Hideout has the UK exclusive. Having been spoilt rotten this Christmas I'm now hooked on the label...I might just have to treat myself to more Cash Ca in the seasons ahead...

Saturday, 24 December 2011

A festive weekend with b Magazine


"The b family is not just fashion people and the store is not just for fashion people, it has a wider ranging reach than that" affirms Dal Chodha whilst tucking in to a Cinnamon bun in Soho's Nordic Bakery. "With all of the labels that it sells and has sold, none of them are pure fashion brands and that is precisely why the magazine isn't pure fashion, it just wouldn't make any sense if it were. It is a snapshot on how the b store customer lives. It is a mood board of their interests as much as it is ours" he smiles.  We've met to discuss the fifth issue of b magazine and toast the tenth anniversary of b Store.

Now, as readers of this blog you should all know that London’s b store has long been a mecca for contemporary design. Whilst nurturing some of the best design talent in the capital and beyond, b store have been merging art, fashion and design seamlessly for ten years now. When Jason and Dal talked to b's very own Matthew Murphy and Kirk Beatie about the store as they first mooted the idea of a magazine it soon became clear that it contrary to its name, the b store is more than just four walls of retail.  They described it as a world, the b store world and the eponymous publication explores this ever evolving and fascinating realm. As b store celebrates its tenth anniversary and moves in to its new home on Kingly Street, the fifth issue of b magazine reflects but also looks forward and, as seemingly with anything b related, excites.

"It is going out amongst a sea of titles. I used to love buying bi-annuals and I still do to some extent but I do feel that many are saying the same things to me" reveals Chodha with a discernible air of disappointment before defiantly declaring, "for Jason and I, it just makes us work harder. We want to make something that isn't like the other titles out there in what we cover." As with each visit to the institution of retail that is b Store, there is the chance to discover a new designer, an exhibition, a magazine or even just a moment when you talk to them and leave with something new. You can always expect to be surprised and the magazine echoes this spirit wonderfully. Just as the store has always been more than just a physical space, b magazine is more than a bi-annual.

From the first moment I picked up the debut issue of the store's publication back in September, it was clear that is was not your average fashion magazine. Created by long term collaborator and collection stylist Jason Highes and editor Dal Chodha, the title exposes the wider b Store ethos; passion in design and integrity in individuality with a knowing nod to more sartorial affairs. It sells ideas and it sells information. Editorially driven, b magazine looks at creatives from a wonderfully unique angle. It is a title to immerse yourself in and always is a pleasure to thumb.

From Chodha's interview with designer Martino Gamper.

Highlights of the issue include the Observer’s Eleanor Morgan highlighting the restaurateurs and meeting chefs behind some of London’s most exciting eating experiences from noodles made by foot in Soho to pigs heads in Shoreditch and Dal Chodha talking to the affable furniture designer Martino Gamper in his Hackney studio about his crusade for good mass-market design, while also stealing a look at Nancy Rohde’s chamomile lawn and Ally Capellino’s grape vines. However, the real gem is Ben Purdue's look at the origins of and continued evolution of the store.

A snapshot of b Store included in 'A Decade Under The Influence'

"It was really difficult at first to think about how we could cover the tenth anniversary. We never want the issue to feel like an advert for b store and thankfully people haven't see it like that. It has never been that and we didn't want to start on the fifth issue. It was difficult to dedicate such a big portion of the features to this subject without it being 'Oh, how amazing is the b store!?', immediately we knew it couldn't be something that I could write so we brought the lovely Ben Purdue in. Also, the people that we quoted had to people that we had never spoken to previously, we could very easily get a quote from Peter or from Christophe, but it was important to hear from the likes of Roksanda Ilinic, Mandi Lennard and Maureen Paley."

Christophe Lemaire gives thanks and celebrates the anniversary

Ben Perdue's reflective piece on a decade under the influence of b is packed full of choice quotes from friends and family of the store but there is one in particular line that is still bouncing around in my brain. Designer Roksanda Ilinic uttered, "They were and still are a laboratory for creative design and spirit." This simple line rings true and cuts to the very core of what makes b so special. PR legend and former neighbour of the store agrees by adding, "The b store customer was a real person, and it was about a respect for good design - particularly the new wave of designers coming through." b have always been ambassadors for and facilitators of young talent. Much in the same way as the boys have championed emerging talent on the rails of each incarnation of the store, Hughes and Chodha showcase this same spirit within the pages of b magazine. By shooting the likes of (deep breath) Casely-Hayford, Agi&Sam, Matthew Miller, Mohsin Ali, One Nine Zero Six, Satyenkumar and Christophe Lemaire to name but a small selection, the editorials are unlike any other title.

A Casely-Hayford blazer, top by Kye and shorts by Champion from 'The Luxury Gap' editorial shot by Laurence Ellis and with fashion by Jason Hughes.

"Our stockists pages is incredible because it really is so different from every other stockist page. It is about new-ness. We love looking for new things but not new fangled things that are short-lived. We'd never do a trends page for example. Casely-Hayford, Stephan Schneider, Christophe Lemaire are all labels that the store either sells or will never sell but nevertheless like. We purposely feature brands that you won't see in every other title. Jason has a brilliant way of pulling in these labels that you never think of, or would see them in that way. Designers that lend to us really enjoy seeing the results of what we do. Raimund for example, whose profile is building, is stunned when Jason styles his designs because he always shoots them in a way that surprises him and the Japanese socks by Ayame that grace the cover, certain people in fashion wear them but its about seeing them in a different light, its a case of reinvention. Alot of the pieces in that shoot were made for it and at times, that might be frustrating because we are a consumer title and it might leave them wanting things that they can't have, but with a biannual, you should be pushing the boundaries. We can be creative in that way."

Jacket and trousers by Agi&Sam and poloneck by John Smedley. From the 'Dubbing in the backyard' editorial, shot by Willem Jaspart and with fashion by Jason Hughes.

"We were an incubator. We never intended to be a luxury brand store and if a label gets above a certain point, it isn't for us anymore. If their brand evolves and they become something else then, of course, they should go on to do other things. Some have fallen by the wayside but some are extremely successful, and it's been great seeing that" Matthew Murphy.

Suit custom made for story by Satyenkumar and t shirt by Topman Design. From the 'Dubbing in the backyard' editorial, shot by Willem Jaspart and with fashion by Jason Hughes.

"It's about the same size as the last issue but it feels heavier. In terms of the balance between copy and images, there might be more imagery than previous issues and the fashion stories themselves require more attention than ever before. They require more time to take them in, Willem's cover story for example. This being our fifth issue, we decided to move them more than ever. We wanted to surprise the readers. You can't rest on just being a good magazine, it is never enough and you always have to do more, something different."

Part of London's most exciting dining experiences, Koya's John Devitt pictured with his favourite dish.

Much in the same way as there's a definite sense of b store maturing with the unveiling of the beautiful and custom furnished new Kingly Street space and numerous projects, b magazine grows with each issue. "With this issue more than ever, we've highlighted the idea of getting real experts in their field, Eleanor writes about food for the Observer, Teal who did the piece on Fanzines has written two books on the subject and is also a professor and course director at the London College of Communication" Chodha proudly states. The focus on building the already impressive list of contributors with respected individuals who have a real specialism in what they discuss, is something that is surprisingly quite unique. "There are a number of other titles who use wonderful writers but few have a real specialism."

Cathy Lomax's Arty magazine

"We haven't ever done anything that feels contrived or forced, It has to be natural and getting someone like Eleanor Morgan onboard, for me was really exciting because we want people with authority. As a consumer, after five issues of a magazine you do start wondering, am I going to continue buying it? You have to justify why people should continue to buy the title. We're working towards this. Firstly by guaranteeing that none of the information we print will be available anywhere else in any way, shape or form and secondly, it is important for people to feel like they are getting specialist advice or information. The title has definitely grown up, it helps to have people like Teal and Eleanor with their expertise and reputation on board. I feel proud that they like what we are doing and that they want to be involved in it as much as we want them to be involved in it."

Patrick Fry's No Zine

Given the anniversary, it came as little surprise that Chodha had moments of endearing reflection; "As the magazine is so much of what Jason and I and the boys are about at the b store, it would have to be something very different in a further ten years time and maybe, it might not be as relevant as it is now. It is important for us that we see it as something that is 'very now.' I'd much rather it have impact than for it to run out of steam or become stale."

At this moment in time, I cannot fathom b magazine ever becoming stale. The world b magazine weaves through and explores means that it is a publication that is nigh on impossible to put down. From the gardens of creatives to bodies of lesser known work, it concerns itself with the unexpected, uncharted or undocumented. It deals in everything with reassuring familiarity rather than the fantasy or purely aspirational that we have all grown accustomed to in the sea of fashion titles. One thing is for certain, this fifth issue, despite being well thumbed already will provide a welcome haven from the over indulgences of this festive period.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Treasured Items... Andrew Bunney

As cash registers frantically ping for last minute presents and sellotape is manically stuck on to all manner of gaudy printed adorned gifts, I thought it an opportune moment to change the pace by serving up another treasured item. Here, Andrew Bunney (British Remains and Bunney) reveals the pride of his chambray shirt collection...


Andrew Bunney and the Big Smith chambray shirt


"I go through phases with the clothes that I'm into - not that I would really consider myself faddish, but it is fashion... so consequently, I always want to discover something new. I want to enjoy, research, and find the best-in-field before I move on to something else. Finding the 'best of the best' is subjective of course, and it could be interpreted in many ways.

One of my earliest jobs was working as a vintage clothing buyer in NYC. This involved scouring warehouses, and sorting out the 'vintage' from the 'used'. Used clothing remained in the US, and the vintage styles were sent to Japan where they could sell for a premium. Today, probably more would stay in the US as the current boom for Americana shows little sign of abating. I had collected Chambray shirts on and off for years, and whilst I find many of the stitching or construction details interesting, my aim was really to find something to wear. The chambray shirt may be a classic, but has really only been the past few years in which companies have remade this style again, or started for the first time...

Here, I want to present this Big Smith chambray shirt made in the early 1960's. This Big Smith shirt has taken an unusual greenish hue, with parts of the original blue showing through in patches. It features side gussets, chain stitching, slightly translucent glassy buttons - many of the details that heritage brands would look to include - but this shirt, as with others of the same ilk, was intended to be cheap and to sell in volume.

The real charm to this shirt comes because of the ubiquity and the democratic price point. On the reverse, this particular shirt has been treated like a t-shirt or banner, and has been printed with a Clenched fist - the screen print is homemade, crude, and off-centre. The shirt looks to have been creased when printed towards the bottom of the arm. The shirt was used merely to carry the message.


This was found in Oakland, and of course I immediately thought of the Black Panther link. Here is a photo of co-founder of the party Bobby Seale wearing a chambray shirt in the late 60s. Or, could this shirt simply have been worn by a protester for a different cause around the same time. Life magazine features a cover with a clenched fist image, worn by a striker on the Harvard Campus in a completely different part of the country. Is there any way to confirm the provenance of this fist? A London-produced pamphlet features another rendition...


I doubt that I will ever know the true story of this shirt, but it captures a certain power and moment in time and for me, that spirit is enough." Andrew Bunney

We hope the fat man in red brings you a future treasured item. Either way, enjoy some quality time with all of your family! Here's to taking a break from it all whilst eating and drinking far too much. Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Fox and Flyte

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An assortment of goodies from Fox and Flyte.

Trawling through markets and auctions for that perfect something can be a lot of fun but it can also be a nightmare of pain and wasted hours. During this time of widespread festive fuelled consumer abandon in particular, the thought of physical shopping is not that enticing. Thankfully, the recent unveiling of Fox and Flyte, a new online purveyor of well chosen vintage collections, can help you unearth a hidden gem of an item from the comfort of your home.

Fox and Flyte began as an idea between three close friends with a shared aesthetic, a passion for beautifully made things and a longing for grandeur. Duncan Campbell, Haeni Kim and Luke Edward Hall do the hunting and the user gets the handpicked and lovingly restored treasure. The trio combine their vast knowledge in the careful selection of the finest, most charming objects they can find. Abiding by William Morris' belief that having beautiful things in your home can improve the quality of your life, and the love and skill put in by the maker can reside in the object, and contribute to the life of the person who ended up with i, the friends certainly have a respect for craftsmanship and stewardship. From butter knives to taxidermy to Church's loafers, the site is a wonderfully curation of surprises but however different the items first appear they are linked through their shared quality, craftsmanship, value and an enticing beauty that forces you to click. Shortly after the store opened, we caught up with the trio behind it to talk shop, antiques and collaboration...

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SS: What were your inspirations, your dreams, and the driving catalyst behind Fox and Flyte?
Fox and Flyte: The three of us have been friends for a long time and it was our dream to work together on a project one day. It was really about spending time together at the beginning and creating something. We spent a lot of time going to markets and auctions before we started Fox and Flyte and have always had an interest in beautifully made things and interiors so right from the outset that was a driving force.

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Of course when it comes to antiques, you can spend your whole life devoted to the study of one small area or period, so we were never claiming to be experts but we felt that antiques are generally perceived to be stuffy and expensive and thus inaccessible to many, which doesn’t have to be the case at all. It was very important to us that the Fox and Flyte website not only presented these beautiful objects in a user-friendly fashion but also made them available and attractive to a new audience. The internet is such a great medium for it because it opens this world up to everyone. The potential outreach is limitless but in our experience, we found lots of great antiques dealers but not many great antique websites so that's what got us thinking. Lastly, we started Fox and Flyte with very little budget, no investors and no premises to open a shop, so a website that was clear and easy to use felt like a good idea.

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It was much more about an aesthetic we love, combined with a way of working that tries to be a tiny bit altruistic. We live in an era of outsourced production, landfills and everything made of plastic. While it would be naïve to think that we could change this on our own, it didn’t feel like we wanted to contribute further to this situation. One of the most amazing things about antiques is that they are already here! It is very exciting for us to think about a time when things were made with care, skill, and even love. William Morris believed that having beautiful things in your home could actually improve the quality of your life, and the love and skill put in by the maker would actually reside in the object, and contribute to the life of the person who ended up with it. This might be a bit over the top if you’re talking about a teapot or a butter knife as opposed to a tapestry or a sculpture, but it’s really about a respect for craftsmanship and trying not to fill the world with more rubbish unnecessarily. I think we wanted to see whether we could introduce a new audience to this way of thinking, who perhaps may have never known it existed before, or felt they couldn’t be a part of it, as well as to appeal to those who are already interested.

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SS: What does Fox and Flyte mean to you?
Fox and Flyte: It’s about bringing beautiful things to a new audience, showing young people that these things don’t have to be stuffy or prohibitively expensive, and hopefully, as time progresses, the opportunity to work with and support smaller producers and artisans working in traditional ways and keeping their expertise alive.

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SS: You seek out objects with a story that have been made with passion and in many cases lovingly restored? Could you talk us through your sourcing methods?
Fox and Flyte: As we found out very early, dealers will never reveal their sources! Every time we bought something for the site, we would innocently ask the dealer where they found their stock, only to be met with a disdainful look. As we fit our work on the website around our other jobs, much of the sourcing takes place at the weekends, in the evenings, or sometimes very early mornings. There are a few auctions we have got to know quite well, as well as markets and fairs but it very much depends on what you find on the day. An auction that had great stock one week could have nothing the next week but that’s the nature of the business and part of the fun! Now that people know we’re doing this, we’ve also started to receive offers both from friends and strangers if they have something curious they think we might be interested in.

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SS: From butter knives to taxidermy to Church's loafers, the site is wonderfully curated. I appreciate that this might be difficult to answer but which are the items that you are most excited and/or proud to have on site?
Fox and Flyte: The taxidermy peacock naturally wins the first prize. He really is a beautiful specimen and we went on quite an adventure to get him. We had been looking for years to find one and when he came into our lives it felt like it was meant to be. When looking for items to stock on the website, we try to hunt out the most curious of objects, and strike a balance between things that are beautiful and purely decorative (and sometimes ridiculous) and pieces that are more useful. We also love the mother of pearl plates we had recently and anything made of interesting materials like shagreen. When we designed the site, we added an archive section so that people could see what we had sold and the kind of things we’re likely to have again.

We love the idea of stewardship, which is particularly relevant to older things, with the idea that they were here before us and will be here when we’re gone, so the time you spend with an item, you’re really only looking after it. Because we don’t have a warehouse space, everything sold on the site lives at home with us before it’s sold. People sometimes ask if we’re sad to see things go, but if we’ve had an adventure finding something, fun photographing, cleaning and restoring it, and then the pleasure of living with it for a few days or weeks, there is almost a feeling of pride when someone buys it because it is moving to a new home and onto the next stage of its life.

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SS: The site is launched with antique pieces, but you have started to collaborate with small producers on special one-off projects. What can you tell us about these?
Fox and Flyte: As we mentioned above, when we started the site, we really wanted to let it take its natural course and just wait to see what happened. The response was better than we could have hoped, but for us it’s very important to continue to develop, to innovate and of course, grow. We love the idea of working with small producers, initially in the UK, and finding people who we could work with to create small runs of products especially for Fox and Flyte, In our minds, the best collaborations are when both parties come away happy, and you create something better than either one of you could have produced alone. So it’s not about putting a Fox and Flyte label on someone else’s product but sharing our expertise and ideas to create something new. We have a few of these projects in the works but nothing is signed yet, so we won’t say too much, but for us it was really about thinking what would we want to see that we can’t find. If we’re looking for the perfect martini glass, or the most charming pocket square and we couldn’t see it anywhere, then why not make one ourselves? It goes back to our thinking at the very beginning when we sat down and thought to ourselves that we can’t be the only people in the universe who like this stuff!

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We’d love to collaborate with skilled craftspeople who work in a variety of different fields. We’re thinking about curious objects for the home and person, so eventually we’d like to begin stocking and creating accessories and clothing. One third of Fox and Flyte, Luke Edward Hall, is currently in his final year studying Menswear Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins. He has been producing a small number of shirts and ties in Liberty print fabrics for the website, and we hope to incorporate more of his work into Fox and Flyte when he produces his final collection next year. We have also created a limited run of screen-printed posters with our friend Nicole Thompson, who is an excellent designer and prints all of her work completely by hand. As well as this, we’ve been working quite closely with the architectural designer Ben Pentreath, who has a shop in Bloomsbury, which has been a brilliant experience. We had a pop-up shop there for a few weeks in the autumn, and we plan to work with him again next year. He’s been an excellent mentor for us so far.

For future collaborations it’s important for us to find the right people to work with because it’s about sharing ideas. We can offer a platform to sell, as well as a new audience, and the collaborator can offer a wealth of expertise.

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SS: What can we expect from Fox and Flyte in 2012 and beyond?
Fox and Flyte: I think as we learn more about this business, hopefully the website will get better and better. One of the comments we get most often is great website, wish there was more stock! Because we fit it into our working lives, and the way we source, clean, style, photograph and describe everything ourselves, this process takes a little bit of time but going into 2012 we are looking at ways to streamline this a bit and to become more efficient. We are also going to start working on more coherent collections of products to launch together, so it could be picnic, or brunch, or the Fox at sea, but it will be twenty or so products all relevant to the theme, all uploaded together. Finally, we are very excited to be getting underway with a few of our first Fox and Flyte product collaborations, which we think people will love. Details to be announced early in the New Year so watch this space!

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All imagery supplied by Fox and Flyte

Monday, 19 December 2011

Treasured Items... Sergei Sviatchenko

This season Costume National asked Sergei Sviatchenko from Close Up And Private to give his take on the AW11 collection. The result is “The Beetles News”. A mix of photography and collage the projects takes its inspiration from a Beatles performance in Milan back in 1965. The subject matter comes as no surprise because when we first featured the wonderful detail shots that Close Up And Private is now known for, the lens was focused on Sviatchenko's sartorial homage to the fab four. Shortly after the news of the collaboration arrived in our festive filled inbox, we asked the artist to reveal his treasured item. Fittingly, his choice of a bespoke flannel suit has a connection with Liverpool's finest...

Sergei Sviatchenko and the bespoke flannel birthday suit


"My most cherished wardrobe item is a bespoke flannel suit, made at Westbourne House. The suit was designed by Paul Smith and made by Christopher Tarling.

Now, I first met Paul many years ago when I visited London and explored Notting Hill in tremendous rain. I sought shelter from the torrential downpour in Westbourne House, one of Paul Smith stores in London. By chance, I came to talk to Paul and he later drove me back to my hotel. Since this encounter, we have met at many of his shows in Paris, London and Milan. It has developed into a very interesting relationship.

When I turned fifty, Paul designed a birthday suit for me. Given that I am such a big fan and collector of The Beatles, the lining was based on the cover of their album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" Inside the pocket there is a hand written note that simply reads, "Happy Birthday from Paul." There is only one suit like this." Sergei Sviatchenko

As I'm sure you are all aware, Close Up And Private is an on going project by Sviatchenko which looks to capture the spirit of modern style, as seen through the subtle shades of the individual. We have long been admirers and love the project celebrates classic details alongside contemporary looks through a unique form of photographic documentary. After all, the real beauty of menswear is in the details and this series celebrates them daily.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Weekend Reading... b Magazine AW11


The fifth issue of b Store’s eponymous publication dropped on Friday and it afforded the perfect opportunity to visit their new space on Kingly Street. Along with the issue I left with a couple of early Christmas presents for myself (if you can, go this weekend for yourself). Given that this marks b Store's tenth anniversary, the issue, aptly and hum inducingly named PUSH IT REAL GOOD, is decidedly reflective with an excellent piece penned piece by Ben Purdue. Also in this issue, the Observer’s Eleanor Morgan meets the restaurateurs and chefs behind some of London’s most exciting eating experiences from noodles made by foot in Soho to pigs heads in Shoreditch. The writer Michael Nottingham introduces a photographic portfolio by James Pearson-Howes, which takes a unique look at British life. The graphic-design historian and author of The Typographic Experiment, Teal Triggs profiles four fanzine creators keeping the DIY ethos of print, paper and staples alive. b Magazine’s editor, Dal Chodha, talks to the affable furniture designer Martino Gamper in his Hackney studio about his crusade for good mass-market design, while also stealing a look at Nancy Rohde’s chamomile lawn and Ally Capellino’s grape vines. Fashion is courtesy of Sam Ranger who shoots with Aitken Jolly; b’s editorial and creative director Jason Hughes shoots with Willem Jaspert (the cover story) and Laurence Ellis; and Steven Westgarth shoots a spring/summer 2012 preview with Tom Allen.

I'm currently working on a more in depth feature on the issue which includes an interview with the ever lovely Dal Chodha but in the meantime, I just wanted to share its cover with you. For research purposes I read the pdf version during a recent weekend jaunt to the Kentish coast. As my Nan sat fast asleep in her armchair, TV blaring I was lost in the issue. Enthralled in the copy and dazzled by the inspiring imagery, I'm looking forward to losing myself all over again this weekend with the physical copy...whilst pondering just how Jason Hughes managed to expertly customise a John Smedley roll neck with Ayame socks.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

My Coat, My Gift from Wooyoungmi

After seemingly months of mild, indifferent weather the first real signs of winter have induced more than a few 'brrrrr, it's a bitt nippy out' exclamations. As the mercury tumbles, I've been reaching for the neglected knits and trust winter warmers. Others might complain about the cold spell but I love these chilly mornings. These moments to layer, wrap and protect in an assortment of comfortable and practical fabrics are some of the most exciting and interesting. However, I've had to wait on my winter coat until now...

Now, you should recall that I took part in the London edition of a Wooyoungmi's collaborative project, My Coat, My Gift. Whilst raising money for Art Against Knives, the label joined forces with Selfridges in a celebration of both the classic Wooyoungmi coat 'No. 51' and the rising creative talent the city. Amazingly I was asked. The auction might have long passed but last week my own version of my collaborative coat arrived. Oh, I love it so and this weekend saw its first outing...

My own My Coat, My Gift coat from Wooyoungmi made extra warm with the addition of a wool scarf from COS, worn with thick wool trousers from Topman Design and my British Remains creepers.

I've already rambled about my creative inspiration and input in a previous post  but the simple reason why I love the jacket so down to the skills of Wooyoungmi's design team. The talented bunch managed to interpret my excitedly blurted out key words and fabric ideas and create my ideal version of their classic coat. My own My Coat, My Gift is full of texture, layers and fabric play...

A few detail shots.

Of course, it is amazing to have had the opportunity to rework one of my favourite designer's most recognised pieces (not to mention meet the lovely sister's themselves) but the real reason for this whole collaboration was to raise money for Art Against Knives, a charity using creativity to tackle knife crime in the capital. Now, I've only worn the coat a few days now but I've already been greeted with more than a few "oooh nice coat!" Moving forward, for every compliment  the coat receives, I'll donate a pound to the charity.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Braille SS12

Braille Feature Button

Braille burst on to the scene at Vauxhall Fashion Scout back in February of last year and they've since gone from strength to strength. London based design duo, Benjamin Vorono and Samuel Kientsch, are able to design garments that can effortlessly slide in to any man's wardrobe. The accomplished debut, A Gentle Wake, was a concise exploration of menswear garments composed of Yorkshire tweeds and Scottish waxed cottons. A wonderfully tactile and functional collection that caught the eye of press and buyers alike. Over the last few seasons, the talented pair have carved their own niche on the London and internal scene, offering collections showcasing the best of British fabrics and manufacturing in cuts that suit the modern gentleman. Ever since the label first came to our attention, we've kept a keen eye on its continued rise and we couldn't resist catching up with the pair to talk through their SS12 collection, Current Affairs.

Where previous collections have seen the pair research design movements, artists or natural phenomenon, SS12 sees an exploration of the social world around them. "This collection was our most socially influenced to date, specifically a general feeling of disillusionment. The unrest that began to bubble up in certain areas and continues to spread throughout the globe was the main focus," explains Vorono. In a year which has seen so much social unrest play out on the news it should come as little surprise that they were drawn to a feeling of growing disillusionment.

Despite the change in mood, this collection, like the ones before it, showcases a wonderful sense of texture. Once again, pieces reveal a heady cocktail of hard and delicately luxurious fabrics. In all of their garments, Vorono and Kientsch tread an intriguing balance beam between the strong and the delicate. From waxed cotton silk shirts, oxidised print tailoring to corded rain coats and suede shorts, this collection leaves me longing to touch it. Garments are crafted in such a way that they are both inherently 'masculine' yet genteel in the same moment. For SS12, the duo introduce subtle military elements to their expanding sartorial arsenal. "There is a definite militaristic element to the collection but not in the traditional sense, obviously no epaulets or military style buttons were used but it is a tougher direction for us, which we are really happy about" Kientsch excitedly explains before adding "as with all of our collections the main focus is on wearability and transition. Hopefully regardless of season or event you can get away with wearing them whenever and however you choose."

Now, I could wax lyrical about the collection but I think Current Affair's stunning lookbook translates the beauty of the collection far better than my words. So I'll pass you over to Darren Karl Smith's imagery...

Lookbook credits:
Photography by Darren Karl-Smith and assisted by Yi Chen. Modelled by Tristan Pigott. Grooming by Hiroshi Matsushita. Production by Lulu Presents.

Given that it has been almost ten months since we last spoke with Braille, so I asked the pair how 2011 has treated them. "We’re still feeling really fresh and young as a brand. Evolution is at the core of the label. As we gain a greater awareness of what our customers are actually looking for it allows us to run a tighter ship focusing on offering products that actually have a place in the market but also longevity and usefulness." At the end of the last post, I hinted that it would prove a big year and there can be little doubt that they've taken many steps forward but the menswear market, despite growing a tremendous amount, is still a tough one for an emerging label. A point that Kientsch concedes, "we still feel like the market is very hesitant to take on new designers, which is really a shame because there are plenty of more exciting menswear ideas floating around than are actually offered in the shops." However, rather than become disillusioned with the general nervousness that many buyers are unfortunately afflicted with, Braille are keen to continue carving out their niche. "There is opportunity to push a more refined look without taking the comfort that men really desire in clothing and we hope to be a part of this movement" Vorono adds with an air of defiance. I have every confidence that the pair will succeed.

Having set an impressive design marker over the last few seasons 2012 is an important year for Braille. "We really want to reach a more global audience from a retail perspective and feel we’re at the stage to be taken on by larger retailers." Once pressed on the design developments Kientsch revealed that the pair "we’re really pleased that our waxed cotton supplier has sponsored a portion of the Autumn/Winter 2012 collection so you can expect to see even more weatherproof outerwear" and hinted that collage, which they have started to experiment with previously, will become a more integral component of collections in the future. I, for one, am looking forward to watching this label continue grow.


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