If you’re looking for a masterclass on how to win over a whiny blogger, look no further than Gant. A while ago, after frustration got the better of me, I tweeted about an employee refusing to give me a refund for a pair of socks that had gone into holes after I’d worn them twice. Since then, they’ve sent me two replacement pairs (both of which have stayed intact!) and spontaneously invited me down to a bloggers’ breakfast to check out the new collection. WELL, I figured it would be positively rude not to…
You might imagine that for a brand like Gant, things are very much ‘business as usual’ and, to an extent, you’d be right. However, while it remains clear that they aren’t planning to fix something that’s not broken, their latest collection is full of little touches that really demonstrate the brand’s commitment to stay fresh. I spoke with a member of the brand’s marketing department, who told me that social media and blogger outreach are starting to play a much bigger part in the brand’s strategy. While those of us who spend most of our lives online don’t find that too surprising, it’s worth observing that this already puts Gant ahead of a lot of their competition. It’s also worth pointing out that word of mouth has always been a big part of Gant’s business, and this is still true today…except now it’s probably more likely to be in the form of a tweet than a conversation on campus.
With brands like Shore Leave and Farah, two high street contenders that both (to my mind) recall the preppy style of Gant and Ralph Lauren, on the scene it’s clear that Gant don’t intend to rest on their laurels. Take, for example, this unstructured dip dyed blazer…
…from the brand’s collaboration with Michael Bastian (a partnership now in its third year), also Head Designer at Gant Rugger. Speaking of Gant Rugger, I’ve fallen pretty much head over heels for this varsity jacket from their latest offering, which has sheepskin on the sleeves instead of the usual leather -
For once, I think I’ll let the pictures do the talking -
The fact that Gant invited a group of bloggers to their flagship London store says as much about the brand as the fact that this year’s S/S collection draws from coastal cultures all over the world, as opposed to the brand’s humble New Haven beginnings. It’s clear that they have big ambitions (evident from the fact that they now have stores in over 60 countries), far beyond just being ‘that one preppy brand’.
Now, if you need me, I’ll be in heaven (read: by that shirt display).
After briefly mentioning a few predictions for 2013 in my last post, I checked out some of the new collections at Selfridges and noticed a few more surfacing. SO, I thought I’d post this – S/S ’13 menswear for dummies.
While a lot of people have focused on the (perhaps ill advised, given we don’t have the same climate as that of Miami Vice…) return of city shorts, another strong trend to come off the catwalks is the coloured suit. The Paul Smith number above is pretty sharp, and this really is an example of a trend that’s come out of nowhere – as recently as Summer 2012, menswear writers were still being majorly critical of coloured suits.
If bright colours aren’t your thing, Givenchy showed this beautiful white suit pretty similar to what I imagine well dressed angels wearing.
Last Autumn, I fell in love with (and took a creepy stalkery picture of) this guy’s backpack. I asked him where he got it, but he turned out to be a Chinese tourist who didn’t speak a word of English, so I never found out where it was from. Still, he was definitely ahead of the curve – from graphic to digital to optical, prints are inescapable this spring. I was a huge admirer of Mary Katrantzou’s shenanigans last year, so I’m please to see that us guys are getting a chance to play this year.
No, not the sailor kind – J.W. Anderson has already done the nautical thing to death so much so that he’s having to shake things up by making dresses for men. Stripes take on a whole new, modern feel for S/S 2013.
I dig this Ralph Lauren number, which seems to draw inspiration from all kinds of places, from pirate to old school sports jerseys (Google tells me that orange and blue are the colours of the Florida Gators, so GO GATORS!) to a smart casual Frenchman. Plus, the model kinda looks like Brad Pitt and Keith Lemon’s lovechild. If you’re not in the mood to go so formal, check this Shore Leave t-shirt from Urban Outfitters. Or the one below, which is on sale for £10. (You’re welcome.)
So there you have it; some more ideas for S/S 2013. One final thought? If you know where that Chinese dude’s backpack is from, please tell me. Otherwise, sayonara.
There are at least two things wrong with the title of this blog post. The first is that only two out of the five items listed were on sale, which I guess means I must have pretty expensive taste. The second is that (brace yourselves) I hate the world haul – when it became the norm for fashion bloggers to commandeer a word that was last used by pirates, I’m not sure. Not to mention the fact that several dictionaries indicate that the word has particularly close ties to describing ‘fish or illegal loot’. So yeah, not a fan. But ‘January Sales Haul’ makes for a much snappier blog title than ‘Stuff I bought, some of which was on sale and some of which was full price, that I’d like to post about because I think you guys will like them’.
Denim Jacket When I was first starting out in the world of #fbloggers, I wrote something about finding the perfect denim jacket. I’m sad to say that I’ve since outgrown my ‘go to’ denim jacket, so have been on the hunt for a new one for a while. Although I’ve always liked the idea of sherpa linings, they remind me a little too much of Hyde from That ’70s Show, played by Danny Masterson and pictured here on the left. Judging from the picture below, taken last year, Masterson clearly became a little too attached to ’70s fashion during his stint on the show…
The issue I have with sherpa linings is that they tend to make you look like a big, shapeless sheep. While I’m sometimes willing to sacrifice fashion for warmth/comfort (just ask anyone who caught a glimpse of me over the Christmas holidays), it didn’t feel like the right choice with Spring supposedly just around the corner. I was thrilled to find my new jacket in Urban Outfitters’ Urban Renewal section – the sheepskin collar offers some differentiation from the thousands of washed out Levi’s jacket lemmings and doesn’t mean sacrificing the jacket’s lines. Less thrilled about the £65 price tag, but you gotta do what ya gotta do.
Gant Rugger Shirt Despite some uncharacteristically questionable service from Gant the other day, since remedied by an apology from the company and the receipt of TWO replacement pairs of socks, I couldn’t resist splashing some of the gift card I received for Christmas on this handloom Oxford shirt. I already have a ton of check shirts with colourways made of red, white and blue. Managed to mix it up with some green this time. As with every Gant Rugger shirt I’ve bought, it’s incredibly soft and has that ‘oh my God, I want to live in this shirt’ quality to it.
New Look Denim Shirt If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that last year I posted a preview of New Look’s S/S ’13 menswear line. In that post, I mentioned a denim shirt with some subtle Aztec touches. I stand by my assertion that tribal prints are over, but I think that this shirt gets around that – the detailing is more reminiscent of Native Americana than the gaudy prints that dominated last season. Pictured below? A/W ’13, ‘duh.
Air Jordan IVs This marks the only time I’ve ever really treated myself on a pair of shoes. I think I’m probably going to do a separate unboxing post about them to keep the sneakerheads happy.
Eastpak Backpack When I found this at a third off the usual price buying it was an easy decision, as I’ve wanted an Eastpak backpack for a while. Lord knows I’ve had enough exposure to them at skramz and hardcore gigs. Although Eastpak produce some pretty crazy designs…
…I was mindful of Oscar Wilde’s advice - ’Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.’ I figured that although camo is a bit of a trend, it will also last me a long time without looking dated. And since the bag came with a 30 year guarantee, that can only be a good thing. It will appear again soon in a ‘What’s in my bag?’ post…
Can you reach any conclusion about my ‘~ trend predictions ~’ for 2013 based on this wardrobe refresh? Lots of denim. I suppose it’s also pretty notable that I’m stepping away from really prominent, flashy branding on clothing and making more of a statement through accessories and shoes instead. As practically fluorescent snapbacks and epilepsy inducing prints become more popular on the high street, I envision my own style becoming more stripped back and ‘classic’. It may be worth pointing out that street style shots from LCM have shown a lot of other guys doing just that. But apparently not the girls…
Until fairly recently (say, a couple of years ago), I wasn’t even aware that New Look did menswear. The fact that they are now one of the dominant forces on the high street and, in my opinion, one of the few big retailers doing anything varied or offbeat demonstrates the extent to which they’ve focused on developing the menswear side of things. As does the fact that they hosted a press day last week featuring only men’s clothing, something of an anomaly in a world where male collections tend to be something of a footnote at a lot of events hosted by high street brands. One of New Look’s PR team, Nicola, told me that this was a conscious effort on the part of the brand – ‘Menswear has outgrown that notion of only occupying a corner at otherwise female centric events – we like to host events like these, get the guys down and feed them up!’ She’s not wrong; the spread is spectacular, featuring everything from fish and chips and battered sausages to langoustines and an ocean of Buck’s Fizz. In which I pretty much drowned…
The room was divided into three, which corresponded to three main categories – ’90s revival, island life and rockabilly – the latter of which excited me the most. I instantly fell in love with this Day of the Dead inspired Mexican skulls t-shirt -
I was initially a bit sad to see that there are still a load of tribal prints around (I’ve kinda been over it since Topman decided putting it on EVERYTHING was a good idea), but I did like some of the more subtle Aztec touches. Like those on this shirt, for example -
Another favourite of mine was a pair of swimming trunks that seem to have been inspired by Orlebar Brown…
…but I somehow doubt that New Look’s dupe will sport the same £80+ price tag. I also have a suspicion that they’ll be finding their way into my wardrobe.
On the slightly more extravagant side of things…
Some of the ’90s section was a little more subtle, with shirts like this giving a quiet nod to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and splashy ’90s prints -
Overall, I think the team have done a great job of coming up with something fresh (yes, like the t-shirt above – THAT’S THE JOKE.) and original. I really like the rockabilly influences and can see it making a big splash on the high street. Who knows – maybe next summer all the One Direction-alikes who spend their Saturdays roaming Westfield will be dressing like James Dean and Elvis. All I know is those clydes better stay away from Bloomsbury Lanes or they’ll get a knuckle sandwich, ya dig?
Now, to get you in the rockabilly mood, here’s Tiger Army.
No, this isn’t going to be ANOTHER downer post, because my first LFW was actually pretty good…if a bit weird.
To say I was woefully unprepared for London Fashion Week would be the understatement of the century. I had thought I was going to be away with work last weekend, so I didn’t pre-register, I didn’t apply to go to any shows, I didn’t even shmooze any PRs in that oh so obvious ‘yeah, yeah, I so agree. You’re always so on the money. Oh by the way it’s London Fashion Week next week and can you get me tickets to all of the shows please and thanks?’ kinda way. When you combine this with the fact that I’ve only really been writing about fashion for around 8 or 9 months, you can pretty much consider this LFW 101.
The first thing I wanted to do was get myself accredited. I had heard that out of nearly 1,000 bloggers who pre-registered around 80% were turned down, but I’d also heard through the grapevine that registering on the day wasn’t too hard as long as you had a business card and get over 5,000 page views a month. I filled in a form, the guy behind the counter flirted with me a bit (either that or he just tells everyone he ‘likes their blogs’) and even scored me a Mulberry tote. So far, so good. While this was all well and good for me, it’s kind of a shame for people like Unlimited by JK, a friend of mine who runs a blog that gets thousands of hits a month alongside a full-time university course but didn’t hear back when he tried to pre-register. AND he’s the only male finalist in the Cosmo Blog Awards…
Truthfully, even if I’d known I was going to be around for LFW I probably wouldn’t have applied for any shows anyway. In my eyes, catwalk shows are most relevant for photographers – by having a subject that’s already ‘art’, a good photographer should not only take catwalk shots that make you feel as if you were there, but also impart something more with their photos. I don’t consider myself a photographer, nor do I consider people who try to cover up how horrifically blurry their pics are by using Instagram photographers…But more on this by a friend here.
While seeing who’s on the frow is a curiosity for me, I don’t particularly have any desire to rub elbows with Andy Murray (who recently bagged a seven figure sum from Rado for a watch sponsorship…because who hasn’t bought a watch and thought ‘gee, I wonder what brand fashion guru Andy Murray wears?’) or one of the Kardashians. Although, to be fair, Kim was ok when I ran into her on South Bank. While I fully respect that people who are desperate to check out a show would do it, hitting up PRs for show tickets just isn’t my thing, because it feels like asking to come to a party that you weren’t invited to. If a brand actually wanted me there (and a couple did invite me to stuff) because they want to know what I think? That’s a very different story.
Most of the shows I was invited to (I think I scored about 5 or 6 invites in total) actually came not through PRs, but through friends and fellow bloggers. This is why, and I can’t stress the importance of this enough, I truly believe that the greatest strength of the blogosphere (vom that I just used that word) lies in the fact that most of us do genuinely want to foster a community. If Vogue had a spare ticket to a show, would they give it to Cosmo? Probably not. But when Debs had a spare ticket to Clements Ribeiro, who was the first person she called? Well…probably not me, but I was close enough to the top of the list to get a call anyway. Yes, I’m occasionally pretty snarky on my blog, but in person I always try to be charming, kind and generous. Well, most of the time…
The thing that scared me most about London Fashion Week? How earnest I started getting about it. In my post on Fashion’s Night Out I wrote that the fashion world is a bubble, and I definitely got sucked into it this weekend. After getting a manicure on Thursday night, I started wondering whether I should repaint my nails when I went in for the day on Saturday. I found myself wondering about just how outrageous I could make my outfit before I’d be too scared to get the bus to Somerset House (to be fair, my bus does go through some rough bits in Newington). Of course, I still wanted to tweet sarcastic things like ‘BREAKING: No-one’s cured cancer yet, it is still just clothes and that. #LFW’, but another party of me started taking everything weirdly seriously. Which is so not like me.
So, why the slightly more conservative approach? Well, firstly, I’ve realised that fashion is probably THE thing that I most enjoy writing about. And there’s a very fine line between being the guy who’s hard to please and the guy you KNOW you’re not going to please. And I don’t want to cross that line. Secondly, although a lot of people are just there to make a scene and be there ‘for the sake of it’, you can tell that some are genuinely excited about creating things. Yes, most of them may have the same look in their eyes as naive wannabe starlets who go out to Hollywood because they think they’re going to ‘make it’, but the success stories of underdogs and outcasts like JW Anderson, Mary Katrantzou and Alexander McQueen gives them hope. The dominant feeling in the air throughout LFW was that sense of hope, excitement and ambition, and you can’t be too critical of that.
So, I’ll be back to LFW next year. If they’ll have me, that is…