Sunday, 20 June 2010

Yup, it's that time of year again. My Marc Jacobs wellies are packed, as is my Hermes towel, one pair of shorts, one jeans, four tee's, Tom's and my RayBan's. Packing light this year...

Last Style of Defense will be back Tuesday 28th.


Bag a Marc B

Second to sneakers, bags have me hooked. Short of owning an Hermes Birkin HAC (50cm in black please Hermes PR's) I have a few satchels, weekend bags but very few companies, except H by Harris, really hit the design spot.

However, last week I met the PR for Marc B bags who was telling me about the mens range and it's influences, as well as it's popularity of those in the know. What's great about them is that they are reasonable - all under £50 - and although may not be made from high grade leather that have been hand crafted in Italy, there is a certain look about them that is highly attractive.

The quilting trend has been upon us for quite a while now, first with jackets and then accessories, but it's hott. The Taylor comes in black, which I prefer, or a khaki, which is great for going to work with, or a small weekend bag. But considering my track record with excess baggage, I don't quite know what I would fit in there.

It's smaller brother, The Franklin is a shoulder bag for running around town in. Sometimes a satchel is a bit too big, so for items such as keys, wallet and phone, this is just the right size. Available black also, I really think this color works the best.

The Newton is described as an intelligent bag. I don't know why, but it has nods to Dior Homme's collection of spherical bags under Hedi Slimane. Spacious, a great style and a fantastic price, I rate this one highly.

The Tyler is a very classic weekend bag which is my personal pick. As a great overnight bag, it would not look too out of place alongside some high end accessory companies products. All available online, I hear they will soon be stocked in Topshop/Topman soon, so get one before everyone else finds out.

Diesel X-Ray Collection

This is a seriously hott collection of watches. Time pieces are not just time pieces, they are a reflection of our personalities and an extension of our personal style. I am very fortunate to own a Rolex Submariner, a Versace and Armani watches, but they are all very classic.

Though for something more stylized, this X-Ray collection has some glowing results. For each piece features a smattering of neon colors making these watches something like no other. The individualism of Diesel's latest outing is headed up by Creative Director Wilbert Das, who alongside his team, have given the brand cult status in my eyes.

The tag line for the collection, which features jewellery too, is 'Reveal or Be Revealed' , which is a nod to the x-ray theme. Each piece is encased in stainless steel, so for what can be called a 'fashion watch', you get the quality of a Rolex.

These are only a selection, so check out Diesel Time Frames too see under the skin of the brand.


Shop for Rolex watches at Mayors 

Inside John Smedley

The Archway at John Smedley

The word luxury has changed its meaning over the past couple of years, since we found ourselves a little less well-off. Logo's have been banished to the back of the wardrobe and items that subtly show that we are in the know have come forward.
Though one thing many of us know is that luxury doesn't now mean expense, but quality, not just in the item but what it brings to us.

This week, I attended a press trip to the factory of John Smedley, the menswear brand (known mostly for their knitwear), nestled in the rolling hills of Derbyshire, a stones throw from Matlock. The company, which dates from 1784, is a very tight-knit community of local's who have worked there for twenty and thirty years, some in the oldest parts of the building from the 1780s, to the newer parts from the 1950s. But what ever their location, each worker has their own individual part to play in the family of John Smedley.

The Showroom, housed in the 1700s part of the factory. The building is so old, it is classified as an historical monument.

Like some other British brands, Smedley has become a 'heritage' one, seeing fashionista's under their target market (35-45 years old) vying for both their staple and boutique items. Meeting Dawne Stubbs, the company's Creative Director, she spoke of the loyalty from customers who have been with the brand for 50 years, to those who have just discovered it. They introduced tailoring 3 seasons ago to much acclaim, using incredibly soft wools for trousers, tailored shorts and two piece suits. Whilst their modern introduction of Sea Island cotton shirts feature some contemporary patterns, the collars look to the vintage - 1920s short and rounded - they are designed to fit perfectly inside the classic v-neck sweater.

We were taken on a tour of the mammoth and winding factory, from the top floor to the bowls, that made the place seem more like a ship than a building. Taken from the 'spinning' area, where once upon a time 50 kilos of wool were spun a day, to quality control and through to production, seeing the process of producing luxury was mesmerizing. Using machines from both the 1950s and present day, I found it ironic that even after 60 years it still takes 80 minutes to make one garment. However, whilst the old machines made them in pieces, the newer ones make it as a whole.

The mammoth 1950s machines that were, when this was taken, producing sleeves for a jumper.

From here we explored some of 'finishing' departments, such as pressing and washing, and were told of how each Smedley item is washed and rinsed using Derbyshire water. Not quite as glamorous as Fiji or Vos, if the water is good enough to produce soft wool envied the world over, it must be good enough to drink.

The 5th generation company looks after their own, and the sense of community was never more so apparent as we entered the final stages of the finishing rooms. A small army of ladies were huddled around their work stations trimming garments to perfection, joining collars to bodies and then checking each item ready to be folded by someone else. All around were pictures of their nights out, shrines to Derby City and England football teams, as well as little toys adorning their area.

Smedley is a brand that is enjoyed the world over, with a huge fan base in Japan and Italy - even the Italian's are envious of the quality of the products - as well as from our own Royal Family. Princes William and Harry wear the John Smedley 'Long Johns' on their skiing trips, and HM The Queen is a wearer of the wool and cotton vests. I don't know if I was meant to tell you that, maybe I will get locked in the Tower for revealing the Queen's choice of underwear.

Recently, Louis Vuitton, Goyard and Gucci have had craftsman tours within their stores, giving the opportunity for fans to see how the items are made. Very few people get to see this process, and I feel very privileged to be allowed to see inside the Smedley family, and learning how true luxury is made.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

For the Daddy Who Has Everything

It's Father's Day on Sunday (the 20th) and I find buying for my Dad impossible. His tastes are very simple, and being quite a loyal traditionalist, something from Tom Ford would not appeal to him.

But for the very fashionable Dad (or Sugar Daddy) here are two of the hottest pieces that I have found. They break the mould in terms of 'normality', because from now until Sunday, you will see pages and pages of ties, cufflinks, watches, belts, wallets and all that boring stuff. So for the quirky, and fun-loving Dad, who doesn't like any of the above, football or cars out of his price range, here it goes...

Accessories brand BOW! by Davy Limliman Vallecer is a wonderful hub of handmade BOW! ties in all sizes, be it small, medium, large or super large! They are all hand designed and created by Davy herself and with plenty features an array of unique patterns, prints and colour pallets too.

With the BOW! selector service you can design your very own completely unique, BOW! tie, and perhaps follow the style icons of George Clooney and Johnny Depp.

But if your Dad is more of a collector, or someone who likes something that little bit special, then look no further than this. I really want it, and I have no children to give it too me (well, at least I don't think so).

Richard Christiansen, Creative Director of preeminent creative house, Chandeier Creative, in collaboration with Partners & Spade, both based in New York, have created a set of 24 Carat gold ‘toy soldiers’. Bang on trend with the military theme, it's a modern twist on an old classic. They are $500 for the set, or $125 individually.

Happy Shopping!

They're NOT Tom's, They're MINE!

So after long admiring the ethical values, and very style focused aesthetic of Tom's, I got a great pair from Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge. Trying them on, I had to remind myself they would 'give' quite a bit, being canvas, but the 8 is perfect. But more than just being an ethical trophy in many a fashionable wardrobe, they are incredibly comfortable, with a really cushioned sole and insole.

What's more, knowing that the pair I bought, for £35, Tom's will give another to a person in the Third World, which makes my visit guilt free. So, I really do get my (ethical) kicks from Harvey Nick's!

Under The Influence Launch

Last weekend, it was models and hott creatives galore at the Under The Influence issue launch in Hackney. The issue is based around former Prime Minister and fashion icon Margaret Thatcher, in which there is academic, cultural and comical references to her legacy. The womenswear is mostly from the greatest British designer, Vivienne Westwood, who was prolific particularly in the Thatcher era.

The launch, held in a gallery space, saw a projection of the magazine with a small exhibition of prints from the various shoots taken for the publication. Mingling around with Double Pink gin, who sponsored the event, were a host of musicans, creative PR's, East London faces and models. One of which was Jethro Cave, who after having a couple of drinks with him, began horsing around with model/photographer Cosmo MacDonald, who kindly took a portrait of me and a friend.

Forgive the snaps, my BlackBerry was playing up and my friend Vikram was getting progressively 'more jolly and less steady''. Read into that what you will! Enjoy!

Jethro Cave and friend.

The very lovely Cosmo MacDonald.

Gallery owner Michal Gnilka

Arcadia at The Ivy

Well, I have had the biggest technology fail since I attended a mammoth amount of events, some of which are worth writing about. But basically my MacBook died (many thanks to Apple at Cabot Circus, Bristol for fixing it so quickly) and my BlackBerry has been on the blink.

The first event last week was the Arcadia dinner at The Ivy Club, the private members wing of the illustrious London restaurant. A fantastic space, akin to an old school members club of Mayfair, it was attended by some of the best, if not the best, bloggers in the UK such as Suzie Style Bubble, Style Steve Salvage and Disney Roller Girl.

Unfortunatly, pictures were not allowed in the space, but take a look at Grazia magazines coverage here.

The event was 'The Future of Fashion Integration' in which we chatted and discussed, as well as celebrated, the 'mutual respect for all opinion forming journalists and bloggers'. Sponsored by FaceHunter and Flip, we were all given the new generation Flip Camera, below. Many thanks Arcadia!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Arms in Ireland

I have long said about, particularly in this economic climate, that pieces should be exclusive. Wether that is by a high price tag or, more preferably, by little tell-tale signs that identify the label to other admirers of the brand. One such label is Arms, a brand that has come out of Ireland and taken Europe by storm.

It looks like a simple grey sweater, but look closer at the mid-area, it has a really great squared detail. That's what I'm talking about - no obvious or ostentatious logo's but a little detail goes a long way.

With a look of the 1960s with the small collar and short body, this shirt is simple, smart and stylized. The three button detail keeps the look clean too, without compromising on the semi-formal look.

More quirky than anything, but the little pencil slot gives this piece a 'cuteness' of geek-chic. A winner, I think.

I love the classic twist of the elbow patches on a contemporary sweater. It may hark back to my substitute Geography teacher, but this reminiscent twist is also practical as it is stylized.

Arms is available to buy at Aioi in Aichi, Japan; Coolhunter in Local Drcha, Spain; Bespoke Boutique in Norwich and Circus Store in Dublin.

Bob Cousy Lo All-American Sneakers

It is not often that sneaker brands launch a heritage line, unlike apparel labels such as Halston, but one that is of special note is the Bob Cousy Lo All-American. Originally released in 1956, BOB COUSY LO ALL-AMERICAN was originally released in 1956, the rare basketball low top, as apposed to baseball shoes, they were worn by the sports first superstar, Bob Cousy.

A ledgend in his own right, and the basketball equivalent of baseballs Chuck Taylor (who Converse named their shoes after) so these really are a once in a lifetime statement or collectors sneaker. They come in red canvas, as well as natural, black, navy, light grey, and ivory and are available at Neiman Marcus in the USA. I know, sort of bad times for us Brits, but at $70 they are pretty much a steal, plus a little bit extra for the NM International shipping.

The sneakers have a one-of-a-kind Gullwing Closure™, exlusive to this brand, and model-specific logo markings as well as a Posture Foundation insole. So not only will you look great, you can stand tall wearing them. What's more, they are light weight so are pretty ideal for the summer.


Friday, 4 June 2010

All Decked Out With Timberland

Boat shoes, deck shoes, what ever you call them, they are the must have summer footwear item. They look cute with shorts, jeans rolled up or with jeans rolled down - teamed with a shirt or a simple t-shirt, and these Timberland ones are perfect.

The really kind guys over at Timberland sent them over, as I had been banging on for ages on Twitter about them. So today, I was stoked that these blue suede pair arrived just as I was drinking my morning coffee. I slipped them on this afternoon, which showed how supple they are for new shoes, supporting the ethos of the brand.

They are part of the new S/S10 collection of athletic footwear, headed by Timberland's first athletic trainers. But these boat shoes have a slightly thicker sole to support the foot during 'vigorous activity', as well as having strong, short laces. However, I will be wearing them casually, and defiantly not for anything to strenuous.

Moreover, they are also environmentally ethical, featuring Green Rubber™ outsoles made from 42% recycled rubber. There is a little symbol for this embedded into the sole, and on the insole in the shoe too, which is a great little touch.

So a big thank you to Timberland, and take a look for yourself here.

Men in Red

The Guardian newspaper has long been the thinking-person's fashion indulgence, and with shoot's like these, it is not hard to see why. Men in Red is Simon Chilver's tropical yet quintessentially Eurocrat creation, photographed by Nicky Emmerson.

With Louis Vuitton, Prada and Calvin Klien taking centre stage with the fashion, the subtle and very gentlemanly aesthetic is slightly mysterious by the setting combined with the garments. The red works really well in this paradise, breaking up the safe pallet on the majority of the apparel.

Photographer’s assistant: Gemma Harris
Grooming: Matt Raine at One Makeup using Givenchy Man Skincare.