Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Details... Tokyo Vintage Bomber

Here's Samuel from Tokyo Telephone wearing a vintage bomber unearthed at a local market. The detailing on the skeleton was quite beautiful.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Introducing... T. Lipop


Tom Lipop is a creative force who specialises in progressive, technical cutting techniques, luxurious fabrics and technology that combine ti bring minimalism to the fore all with a considered, yet veiled, complexity for his label, T. Lipop. Having shown previously at Vauxhall Fashion Scout, the AW12 season welcomed the designer as part of the Fashion East installations. Housed in one of the grande wings of Somerset House, T. Lipop presented a reimagined wardrobe of military staples fit for exploration of the Great British winter. Despite the models frosted tousled hair and eyebrows suggesting otherwise, it was quite simply one of the hottest collections of the season. As the eyebrows thawed, I thought it high time to pay Lipop a visit at his East London based studio to learn more about the label and the latest collection.

Following graduation, Lipop held senior design positions at House of Holland, Griffin and Nathan Jenden, all after appearing on Sky One's Project Catwalk. "I graduated from Bournemouth in June and the following month I was involved in the process of Project Catwalk. It was great for contacts and an interesting experience but if you compare it to Project Runway, the budget just isn't there and whereas a number of the contestants on that version are rich and famous, many of us are struggling in East London. However, subsequently I worked at House of Holland for a year, freelanced with Griffin and learnt a great deal before moving to Nathan Jenden where I stayed for three seasons as senior tailor and cutter." Building on this experience, Lipop along with his business partner Esser felt the time was right to go it alone. "We just wanted to do something that we thought was a bit different from anything out there, trying to reinvent the cutting side."

Now, we've often remarked on the demands and difficulties facing emerging designers who launch their own line. Beyond the stresses of design, the strains of the business often take their toll on the enthusiasm and sanity of the talents. With Esser's commercial head, Tom can share the load and in fellow Project Catwalk contestant and close friend Ross Hancock, he found someone to bounce off ideas and collaborate with when it came to pattern cutting and finishing each collection. On this platform the label could thrive.

"We met whilst I was studying at Bournemouth. Esser had just moved to England to learn English and his tutor pushed him my way because I needed a tenant. We eventually became friends and when he finished his Masters, he wanted to invest in something, not necessarily fashion, but it was just the right time for us. We've been together for four years now and it feels like a proper relationship. We both live here at the studio so we live and breathe the label. He handles the business side whereas as I'm the creative one and it means I can concentrate on that side of the label - it's just too much otherwise because we do everything in house." Tom on Esser.

"Basically Ross has worked with me for the last three seasons. Once I have designed the collection Ross comes in, consults and helps with the pattern cutting. We work completely together on this bouncing ideas off one another about how best to cut in the style we have developed, not one of us being technically more creative than the other. We have developed the idea of this style of cut together and it has since become a real signature of the label." Tom on Ross.

Three seasons in and the teamwork is obviously paying dividends. As a label, T. Lipop now knows what it wants and how it wants to evolve. The label has learnt on the job but have taken advantage of the 'book of knowledge' that is the Centre for Fashion Enterprise.  "The CFE have been so helpful. Their mentoring meetings have helped us so muchEven as recently as two seasons ago, we weren't one hundred per cent certain on the direction we were taking,  it was a time for us to  explore but now we know precisely where we want to take it and what we want to do. For us, it is all about the cutting and finish to help make garments that are lasting. However, we are also concerned with keeping the price down to help us break in to the market because it is so difficult otherwise. The price point is a real prohibitive factor for emerging British designers. The price to manufacture in London and even the rest of the UK is outrageous. Our cheapest part is actually our tailoring because we've found a great company in Norwich who have bought a factory in Mauritius and its actually been cheaper to move their staff and ship everything out there and then bring it back - it's still English at heart."

Given the timing of my visit to the studio in late April, samples of the AW12 collection were scattered throughout the studio but Lipop's mind had moved on to SS13. I used this opportunity to question the design talent on his creative process. "It's almost a backwards process compared to most. I don't start the season with a clear theme and start designing. I always design before I reference. I just sit down and start sketching what I want and what looks I want to see, once I have this clearly in my mind I begin back referencing finishes and detailing. For example, last season had quite a military and once I had realised that I had reworked quite classic staples, like the duffle coat, parka and flight jacket, I then referenced it back to it whilst bringing it forward. From the cutting side for AW12, we tried to remove unnecessary seams, our suits don't have darting but they've still kept their shape. The Arctic parka for example, is cut in two pieces, there is a lot of technical structure and a great deal of thought and research in what we try and do. It's always rooted in wearable clothing rather than being too conceptual or trend led." The result is a considered collection that breathes fresh life into traditional shapes and familiar silhouettes through the craftsmanship of the designer and his team...

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Look book shots (supplied by T. Lipop) alongside our own detail and studio shots.

With a trio of accomplished and well crafted opening collections, I'm going to be keeping a keen eye on the development of T. Lipop. The future looks promising and Lipop himself is optimistic... "We have five stockists and we are hoping to secure a couple more before the books close. The main thing for us this season was keeping our existing stockists which we've done because the market is extremely tough. I'm hoping that London Collections Men opens a few more eyes and doors. For me, the London crew are so different from what other designers are doing but the recognition just isn't there at the moment. It is so much more diverse than other fashion capitals. We used to be the epicentre and I hope it returns to that." Here's to London Collections Men shining the spotlight on the capital's menswear design talent.

Style Stalking (Snapshot) in Tokyo again

Clad in Junya Watanabe dungarees, a RRL Ralph Lauren shirt, a mix of vintage chambray and Tricker's boots the below smiling Edokko pulled off Americana far better than most examples found across the Atlantic. I'm just kicking myself for failing to take a picture of his girlfriend who was clad in matching denim and Tricker's...

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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Details... The sunshine effect

After seemingly endless days blanketed in grey the sun is finally out and everything looks brighter and fresher. As colours and prints sing, here's a snapshot of the texture rich stylings of Mr Street Peeper in Wooyoungmi and Marni.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Style Stalking (Snapshot) in Tokyo

Whilst much of the street style on show in Tokyo was serious in its borderline obsessive attention to detail of all things Americana, the sight of individuals clad in cute and quirky Japanese labels never failed to raise an appreciative smile. Founded in 2005, Eri Utsugi’s mercibeaucoup is one such label that revels in spreading sartorial happiness. Wearers of the label seem to bounce their way across the urban environment making them difficult to style stalk. Thankfully, the below chap stood still long enough to be snapped...

An array of Japanese labels but the bulk of the outfit is made up of mercibeaucoup

Treasured Items... Raimund Berthold

Raimund Berthold's philosophy is simple; to design interesting, well made and inspirational clothing for everyday wear. With collections characterised by a utilitarian sense of colour and a silhouette that is free from defined shape in nylon, neoprene and synthetic fabrics cut against natural wool and cotton, Berthold is confident, sophisticated and refined. His are bold clothes, crafted for men led by inventive design and fit – not by the whims and fancies of fashion. Few designers are so considered. Safe in this knowledge, we were keen to ask the design talent to reveal his most cherished of possessions. Here, the Austrian born Central Saint Martins alumnus tells the tale of two very different items...

Raimund Berthold and the airport security puzzling bracelet


"This bracelet is by artist and illusionist Marijke de Goey. I first discovered her work at a selling exhibition at Sotheby's a few years ago. I saw a wall that she had transformed with her cubic pieces and I was just drawn to the beauty of it. A couple of weeks later I saw an article about her in The Sunday Times which was accompanied by a picture. I just felt that she was fascinating. Time passed and I had almost forgotten all about it but then at another event I encountered more of her installations and instantly recognised her sitting at a piano, singing along and almost pushing the pianist off of the stool. Completely crazy but so intriguing. I went up to her. Introduced myself and told her how fantastic I thought she was and that I would love to own some of her work. I gave her my card before leaving the party but I didn't think she would even remember the meeting. The next morning which happened to be a Sunday, the phone rang at 9am and it was her. We met and then she created a small piece for our flat. We became friends and on my wedding day she made this stainless steel bracelet. 

I just love it and wear it often. It is my aesthetic. It's big and unusual. In fact, I almost got arrested at Heathrow Airport because the security guard just didn't believe that it was a bracelet. It took some persuading but I had to fight for it."
Raimund Berthold

...and the memory triggering pac-a-mac


"Shortly after graduating, I packed my bags and flew over to New York for my first design position. It was quite emotional experience. I was tired from the flight but my new employers picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to the studio. I met the team and the creative director said to me, "Right, we have a special project for you because we think you have a mind that will be suited to the task… we would like you to make a pac-a-mac. We want you to design a coat that goes in to a bag but nothing like you have ever seen before, it needs to be completely new." At first I thought he was kidding but I agreed. I went to the hotel, couldn't sleep despite being exhausted and keen to impress, I started sketching. From that point on, I spent two months working on pac-a-macs. That was my introduction to New York. When I moved back to London about two years later, I thought it would be nice to start my own line with what I started my design career with. This series then evolved in to the collaboration I did with b Store. This was the very first jacket I created for them and the very first item I worked on for my own label. An oversized kimono sleeved raincoat that transforms in to a backpack. Now, I don't wear this one that much but it has huge sentimental value. It reminds me of New York and how Berthold began."

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Another visit to Anthem

Earlier this month I sneaked off to Calvert Avenue to spend my lunchtime inside one of London's most intriguing and inspiring of independent menswear stores, Anthem. The brainchild of Simon Spiteri and Jeremy Baron, the shared vision for the retail concept is one based firmly on handpicked quality from across the globe, from the covetable and eclectic mix of design talent right through to the well curated furnishings. The pairs passion and personality is visible throughout the inviting space. In addition to asking the avid collector Spiteri to share the story behind two of his most cherished of possessions for our Treasured Items series and armed with my camera, I snapped up the opportunity to explore the SS12 season. 

Now, the store has of course its e-commerce site and as much as I enjoy the ease of shopping online, it is no replacement from Anthem's physical experience. It is precisely that, an experience. Each visit is a joy and one of discovery. Complimenting the bank balance draining buy from Kapital, 45RPM, Dries, Folk, Our Legacy, Remi Relief, Marni and Comme (to name but an eager mouthful) and tying in the feelings of the season are a selection of Spiteri's own books, artefacts and mind boggling curiosities...which include a custom built Totem pole displaying Kapital and various cultural artefacts from South America. Take my outstretch virtual hand and allow me to take you on a visual tour of the current incarnation of the ever evolving Anthem...

From Kapital to Remi Relief and Dries Van Noten, the above is just a small snapshop of the SS12 season.

With the rise of online shopping the physical experience of a store has to be special. In this emerging virtual world of white backgrounds and minimal mouse clicks to ensure a speedy retail journey to the checkout, it is so important for bricks and mortar to offer something more. Anthem undoubtedly does just that.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Weekend Reading... Huge and Popeye


After a stomach stuffing delight of a yakitori meal Susie, Tommy and myself waddled in to a taxi in search of Tsutaya Books in Daikanyama. Having only opened at the tail end of the last year, the innovative new generation complex has already been hailed as the saviour of book stores by many and as we wandered the huge, well designed space we soon joined in the chorus of endorsement. Away from the wonders of cocktail reading lounges, private multimedia hubs and library in a forest design, the well stocked sections, rich in depth and obsessive detail were mind blowing. The choice of printed was both bewildering. Somewhat intimidated I opted to feast on the fashion and lifestyle magazines. After taste testing a number of titles including a diverse mix from Kinfolk to Oily Boy and Men's Precious to Tools, I walked away with two of my favourites in Huge and Popeye.

Despite my growing obsession with Japanese fashion titles I cannot read a word. The title of the post therefore is a lie. This morning has not been spent reading at all but I've been nonetheless engrossed in both publications. The editorials, inventive features and almost catalogue like presentation of the latest products affords plenty of food for thought. Now, I could have happily scanned the majority of pages but below are just a small selection of pieces that caught my eye. Lets pore over them together,,,

From the showcase of the latest Ganryu to its look back over the style of Japanese film icons this issue of Huge is a delight.

As a magazine for city boys this issue of Popeye certainly kept this urban dweller happy.


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