Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Are Designer Discounts Soon to be a Thing of the Past?

This weekend, a new law was passed in Europe that may sound the death knell for on-line discount shopping of designer labels. But is this law necessary and what implications will it have for both the e-retailer and the consumer?

Due to the new rules formed in the European capital Brussels, the hub of European policy and Government, buyers will face higher prices on luxury clothing, perfumes, accessories and bags as luxury brands can block the sale of their goods on websites. This means brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Gucci can block the sale of good for e-retailers that don't have 'bricks-and-mortar' stores on the high street. This means, any e-retailer that is not on the face of the high street, such as SecretSales.com and BrandAlley.co.uk based in the UK and even Gilt.com, based in the USA are under threat.

Gucci and Louis Vuitton welcome the new law claiming discount sites 'freeload their profits'.

But why has this come about, and why now? This decision is not timed to coincide with a particular event or change in related policy, but it has been lobbied by manufacturers for some time who see discount sites as freeloaders on their profits from "carefully crafted" campaigns and endorsements from celebrities. But with the world economic recession still in the grips of many, it may be better to keep their brand in the minds, and aspirations, of the consumer who may buy full price at a later date. More over, the sale of overstocked apparel and accessories from retailers ensures that, whilst they may be making a loss on the original purchase, discount sites are giving them more than they would have received if it had lay in a stock room 'out back' for months on end.

The new rules, that come into effect this summer, give labels with large market shares the power to prevent the sale of goods from e-retailers. However, whilst the likes of eBay.com and Amazon.com are in the favor of manufacturers, smaller outlets are not. This means a small site exclusive to one country, will almost certainly be faced with higher prices on their luxury bargains.

Gilt Man in the USA may also be subject to the crack down.

The rules apply to all manufactures but the luxury goods industry have been the biggest supporter of the change. Speaking to The Times Online, based in London, one anonymous source said, “We don’t invest huge amounts of time building these brands only to have someone come along and basically free-ride off the investment we make." They went on to say, “We have no problem with online — it’s a crucial tool for us — but we don’t want the customer to feel like they’re buying stuff off the back of a lorry.”

This decision may sound the death knell for bargain hunting online but the rules will ensure quality and authenticity, without worrying about if the product is of good quality. However, in times such as these, fashion followers are looking harder for cheaper ways of keeping up with the trends and breaking away this invaluable avenue may deter buyers from choosing a particular brand. And once the global crisis is restored to its former self, will consumers go back to those brands?

It's a risk the luxury manufacturers are willing to take, but are they so sure that their profits are so strong they are ready to exclude their future, full-priced buyers?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

1205 at Oki-Ni

Oki-Ni has long championed the worlds most fashion forward and exciting designers that push the boundaries of style and captivate thousands of fashion followers.
In their new feature 'New Faces', they have bought brands whose collections stand up to those produced by more established designers, and also feel that that the industry is not giving them the platform they deserve to showcase their talent.

One such designers is Paula Gerbase behind the '1205' label. A graduate of Central Saint Martins in London, she worked for Alistair Carr and Gareth Pugh before she began a tailoring training program with stalwart and King of Savile Row, Hardy Aimes. From there she went onto work for Kilgour, and since leaving launched this debut collection, entitled 'One'.

These two pieces below are stunning, and are unisex which opens up her audience without compromising on style or quality. They are what you see them to be, with no pretension, which for me, is a fantastic edge to have.

Silk scarf in a black, grey and white cloudy print, which measures 52” x 60” from here.

Unstructured navy cardigan blazer that hangs loosely with no fastening from here.

1205 have also produced his captivating and artistic video to represent their brand, showcasing the entire collection and showing the ideology behind the brand, as well as how to wear it.

Another fantastic designer is Omar Kashoura, who has been guided by Lulu Kennedy amongst other industry insiders - coincidently, one of them is my old tutor from university. He has given a fantastic interview here, take the time to read it as it gives a fascinating insight into not only his world, but the London fashion scene too.

Designer Polo Shirts at MainLine Menswear

Summer has well and truly arrived, and whilst many would say at the first sign of sun, Britain strips off, it's best to stay covered up. And as Father's Day is soon approaching, and no doubt countless birthdays, anniversary's or any occasion that springs to mind, Mainline Menswear has an outstanding choice of polo shirts.

The 'preppy' trend is a key look for this year - both for Spring/Summer and later on for Autumn/Winter - and the polo is a great alternative to a t-shirt for social occasions or just to smarten up in general. Here are my best picks bellow from a great choice of designers.

Geek Chic at its best. Classic, fun and a great colour pallet from Penguin here.

Custom fit with oversized pony, it's high society but perfect for any situation here.

Sharp, stylish but with an edge that will stand out, Two Stoned limited edition here.

Perfect for any situation, flattering on the body and an on trend colour pallet from Ted Baker here.

A real statement piece that will have people envying the distinct logo design from Vivienne Westwood here.

One of the hottest labels at the moment is Lyle and Scott, and here is my pick of the five that would go down well in my wardrobe. There is a large choice on the website, so don't miss a trick and take a quick look.

A fantastic, vibrant piece that will lift any wardrobe, here.

Tartan is a key trend for Autumn/Winter 2010 and embrace it with this polo, here.

Classic, on trend for the ever popular Spring/Summer nautical trend, this piece is a must have, here.

Striking with the aqua blue on black, this piece is a great addition or present, here.

Not only is this great basic, yet unique, t-shirt, it is flattering and in a vibrant pattern, here.

Courtney MC: London's Hottest New Talent

Courtney MC is the new label from Royal College of Art student - and soon to be graduate - Courtney McWilliams. Her debut collection is mostly menswear but this isn't her first acclaim in design. For McWilliams has been involved with many indsutry projects, with labels such as sports brand Umbro and one of the worlds most exclusive outfitters; Brioni.

Her debut collection, due to be shown in June, is themed around reinventing the key pieces that men, universally, cannot live without. She has a flair for the eclectic; mixing street with luxury, masculinity with femininity, and quirky with sophisticated and isn't afraid to be frank about her fascination with chavs.

McWilliams was featured in Vogue Italia in 2009 as one of 140 international up-and-coming designers, and she does fail to deliver beautifully wearable pieces. I love her pieces, and it is some of the best work and design skill from not only a graduate, but from a London based designer. One to watch I think...

Hillier Accessories that Sparkle

They are some of the hottest accessories of the season, with Henry Holland a fan, owning a bunny and a custom-made crocodile.

Hillier is the personal jewelry line by Katie Hillier who is a leading accessories designer that has worked with labels such as Marc by Marc Jacobs, Loewe, Salvatore Ferragamo, Giles and House of Holland to name a few.

White Gold Bunny with Violet Diamond.

I really, really, really, love this range of pieces as they are incredibly unique, but also so simple and stylized which make an impact. Their simplistic lines highlight the quality of the workmanship as well as the stones but also portrays a desirable naivety that is incredibly popular. Simple, classic and just divine.

Rose Gold Bunny with Claret Diamond.

Hillier launched with the 0.1 bunny paper clip necklace that has become one of the most covetable pieces of jewelry ever to have launched in London. Why? Because each bunny is handcrafted using 18ct gold with a stunning diamond eye. It is then placed on a 18ct gold chain which features a makers logo lozenge tag, and can be worn individually or grouped together to make a deeper impression.

Black Gold Bunny with White Diamond.

The brilliant Hillier has developed her line further with a whole group of animals, featuring a mouse, squirrel, owl, snail and a dachshund - or as I like to call them, a sausage dog. They come in a range of precious metals such as white, yellow and pink gold with a variety of coloured diamonds, such as black, navy and claret, as their sparking eyes that give them a personality.

Image by Toby McFarlan Pond.

Hillier is stocked at some of the hottest stores in London; Dover Street Market, Matches Wimbeldon and Matches Notting Hill as well as my favourite store, Collete, in Paris.

Festival Cool at Topman

With Coachella in the USA, one of the coolest music festivals in the world, having just drawn to a close, the question arises what trends will arise at Glastonbury and other music events here.
One of the hottest faces at Coachella was designer Henry Holland, seen below with model Agyness Deyn, who were leading the fashion-pack to success in a nod to the 90s but a lot cooler.

Coachella, the Glasto of Hollywood, is set 156 miles from Los Angeles but it still has that laid back, care free Californian spirit, and I think these pieces from Topman encapsulate the ideology of Cali and many music festivals perfectly. Just add your choice of footwear and, of course, sunglasses.

Skinny jeans might be over, but this slim style with ripped detail gives it an edge that will never tire. To add an extra bit of fashion know-how, roll up the bottoms to just above ankle length, here.

Eugh, I LOVE vests and this American inspired print is great to wear out under a shirt, or just on its own, here.

T-shirt prints say a lot about your self, and this other American inspired print is a lively and fun piece to wear with shorts or jeans, here.

Checks are the hottest pattern for the Spring/Summer 2010 season and will return in tartan form in Autumn/Winter 2010, and this is perfect for colder evenings as it has a hood, here.

Single denim, double denim or triple denim...Denim is hott and a denim jacket, or a jacket with the sleeves cut if DIY style is a wardrobe essential, here.

H By Henry Holland at Debenhams

Designer collaborations and ranges at high street stores are de rigeur now, opening up the opportunity for the public to own a piece of their favorite labels without breaking the bank.

Henry Holland, one of the UK's hottest and most popular designers has now launched a range of women's clothing and unisex accessories at Debenhams, under the H! By Henry Holland brand. The range is a colorful, youthful collection of items, and these pieces below are probably the best that are suited to us guys. It's very street, grungy and a a little bit more than cool...quirky with a great sense of humor. Henry is one of fashion's biggest jokers, and his lively personality shines though in these pieces.

Tan 'Quentin' Satchel

Silver Diamonte Skull Ring

Gold Colored Large Dice Necklace

Black and White Tie-Dye Scarf

Black and Purple Check Scarf

Purple Check Umbrella

Monday, 19 April 2010

Freddie Windsor Joins the Savile Row Fold

Hardy Amies is the last name in English style. He speaks for a generation, or two, in how style communicates through dress.The presentation at London Fashion Week's Menswear Day was a very stylish event, and one that is not to be forgotten easily. It set the tone for the Autumn/Winter 2010 trend of tailoring perfectly.

For four decades, Sir Hardy Amies was dress maker to Queen Elizabeth II and the company extend that relationship with Lord Frederick 'Freddie' Windsor, making him the new Royal Brand Ambassador.

Lord Frederick Windsor prefers a more traditional choice for his wardrobe, as he explains: “I wear the more classic English style well, it’s a look I feel at ease with and comfortable in”. Lord Frederick’s distinctively English look pays homage to his father, Prince Michael of Kent. Athletic, confident, with effortless style and charismatic personality, Lord Frederick is the embodiment for the new Hardy Amies Man.

Now, still emanating from the elegant townhouse at 14 Savile Row, Oliver J. Benjamin, new Design Director for Hardy Amies, has picked up the baton and presents his first collection for the brand. Sir Hardy Amies’s mantra, “A man should look as if he bought his clothes with intelligence; put them on with care; and then forgotten about them”, drives Oliver J. Benjamin’s ethos as he has now created clothes for Town, Country, Weekend and Evening.

Town – City-inspired with British, classic suiting - from navy herringbone to grey birdseye. Highlights in this range are a faint chalkstriped flannel suit and a navy pindot, single breasted 1-button suit.

Country – British tweeds, world famous and perfectly cut. Black and grey-flecked Donegal tweeds are cut into single and double-breasted suits.

Weekend – Single breasted blazers, including a textured navy hopsack, are worn with mid-grey and charcoal grey flannel trousers.

Evening – The style the Englishman does best, the range includes Oliver J. Benjamin’s homage to Sir Hardy’s signature evening jacket with a midnight blue barathea dinner suit, also available in black.

CLOT x Converse

CLOT, the Hong Kong based design crew, have once again teamed up with Converse to produce this rather nice pair of sneakers, in rich nubuck, available at Colette in Paris and online.

The collaboration is part of the (PRODUCT) RED project that plays a huge part in fighting AIDS in Africa, and ten per cent of the net wholesale price will go to the charity. So not only will you have some hott kicks, you will be helping out a very worthy cause that is particaully close to my heart.

Priced at 120Euro, plus p&p, they can be had here.

Jimmy's Gone Flat: Jimmy Choo Sneakers

No two things go together more perfectly than the red carpet and Jimmy Choo heals. But Choo has announced he is going flat and launching his first range of sneakers. OK, they may be for women, but looking at the styles, a shape quite similar to those of Hogan, Tods and Dior Homme, they will fit perfectly on us boys.

Luxurious soft suede and leather trainers in white/silver featuring hott gold eyelets and striking star-printed soles.

Luxurious soft supple suede and glossy patent trainers in black or taupe featuring the gold eyelets and ever striking star-printed soles

Made from a wealth of materials, such as snakeskin, suede and leather, the range costs up to £395 and look utterly worth it. They will be arriving on the Jimmy Choo site next month but there is already a lengthy waiting list. But a quick check of the sites, a pop up comes up enabling you to enter your email to try and win a pair.

Luxuriously embossed leather and exotic elaphe snakeskin trainers in one colour only (shown) featuring the gold eyelets and striking star-printed soles.

Exotic elaphe snakeskin trainers in purple featuring the gold eyelets and striking star-printed soles.

Tamara Melon, CEO of Jimmy Choo, has been on record as saying, 'The high-top design is sleek, lux and combines a hint of old school trainer style with a glamorous yet effortlessly cool look'. But my favourite pair? The silver and white high tops above. Christmas can't come soon enough!

Luxuriously soft, supple suede and glossy patent trainers in taupe with the gold eyelets and star-printed soles.

Luxuriously leather and soft, supple suede trainers in white/silver featuring the gold eyelets and striking star-printed soles.