Friday, 30 October 2009

Boots for the rugged man

The Abington Hiker Boots.

With the winter season lurking around the next corner my mind frequently turns to boots. So the launch of Timberland's latest Abington collection is quite timely. I was fortunate enough to make it to the London launch at their Spitalfields store so could inspect the new designs up close. Last night saw me take my first steps inside a Timberland store and I liked what I found but the Abington collection was certainly one of the highlights.

The collection is aptly named because the brand was originally called The Abington Shoe Company way back when. It is made up of clean, modern classics inspired by the fields and factories of old. The collection, now in its third season, is inspired by traditional boots from a time when the land was rugged, the people were rugged, and the essentials they depended upon had to be as well. Now, I'm hardly the most rugged man out there and my daily activities don't require something quite as rugged as these but I can but dream. Even a Southern Fairy like me holds some romantic notions of exploring the great outdoors in boots like these. I have to confess that as I strolled around the store with the smell of leather filling my nostrils, I did feel that bit 'manlier.'

The Work Chukka - Clean, simple and lightweight design.

SS10 see the launch of three new silhouettes; the Work chukka, Foreman Boot and the Rugged Handsewn shoe. In each, premium materials including leathers from the Horween leather Company of America and the Charles F. Stead & Co Ltd of England, are crafted for warmer weather and the rigours of wear over time. As much as I liked the work chukka with it's clean, simple and lightweight design the real star of the offering is the Hiker...

The Hiker.

The Hiker is a classic hiking boot silhouette with hinged lace holes, a thick sole and high ankle support using the finest Horween leather and Vibram soles. Despite falling short in the required amount of typical 'manliness' needed to pull of these boots I can certainly get on board with their construction and finish. The collection is hand crafted from premium leathers and rich materials that reflect Timberland’s history of quality and craftsmanship.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Competition time: Win £500 to spend on YMC at!

To celebrate the arrival of YMC, we have joined up with to offer one lucky reader £500 to spend on a new winter wardrobe. The British born YMC were one of the very first brands we featured here on the blog. Way back in July 2007 when we all that bit younger and freer, we cooed about its wearable yet distinctive offerings. Having just returned from Manchester where the label was widely stocked (it has since spread much further throughout the country) it was obvious that this was a brand that helps satisfy the demand for stylish, functional, modern clothing which is made all the better by giving a measured nod to the past in the process. Keep your eyes peeled for a special interview with the YMC chaps next week. Here is how we would spend the prize money…

For autumn/winter 09/10, YMC’s collection harks back to the harsh but simpler times of early 20th century. Inspired by European and American work wear from the great depression of the 1930s, the menswear collection features traditional natural fabrics - cotton, flannel, and cotton and wool mixes. Leather coats are lined with military blankets, while priest collars lend shirts an air of austerity. Other pieces, though inspired by pioneer hunting and fishing, benefit from modern technical advances. Alongside their Autumn Winter collection you'll also find the brand's iconic side cinch zip cardigan designed in an exclusive shade of plum (our favourite) to mark their arrival at If you were to win this competition your winter wardrobe would certainly thank you!

We do like a good competition here at Style Salvage and this definitely is a good competition. So good in fact we were extremely tempted not to share it with you and just try to win the prize for ourselves but the truth of the matter is, we love you guys… and it’s against the rules. Damn. Enter here. Good luck!
EDIT: The competition is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Why does it always rain on me?

Norwegian Rain. Image from Selectism

"Growing up in Bergen, Norway means a life in rain. You can hate it or love it. No matter how you approach it, one thing is certain; it will rain tomorrow, or the day after."
Alexander Helle in an inteview with Dazed Digital.

We all grumble about the wet weather but rarely do anything about it aside from getting all wet and bothered. Travis wrote a catchy song about it in the 90s but what use is that when your soaked through in 2009? Alexander Helle and his team decided to take action. Rather than moan or write a song, they decided to create something useful. From the rainiest city in Europe, Bergen, Norwegian Rain is something of a labour of love to protect oneself from the elements. It is little surprise that this project has received a fair bit of online attention, initially on Selectism and Esquire and most recently an interview piece with Dazed Digital because the debut collection is really something to covet.

Growing up in this small, creative city in the western part of Norway sparked and shaped the 28 year old founder's decision to finally become dry and comfortable no matter what the weather. A thriving collaboration between acknowledged local designers and soaked citizens of Bergen has evolved, drop by drop. The debut collection, inspired by Japanese simplicity and Scandinavian functionalism is truly something. Selectism reliably informs us that the chaps from Bergen have worked with a high end Japanese textile maker, to ensure that the jackets remain eco-friendly by using waterproof and breathable materials made from recycled fibers. The limited edition collection, three hundred and fifty pieces (in all and all numbered), is a subtle mix of traditional men’s tailoring and the technology found in extreme rain protection.

The Raincho is the real highlight of the debut offering. It would certainly provide a quirky and sculptural contrast to my everyday uniform but this coat offers so much more than floaty light aesthetics. Everything is considered. The two inner bike handles makes it an interesting alternative to urban bicyclers whilst the wonderfully named storm flap is made with cashmere lining for ultimate comfort on those cold and windy days. It really is time to throw away those broken umbrellas and look forward to the impending wet weather...

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Past. Present. Future

Faced with a weekend without my good friend the Internet, not to mention two tiresome train journeys I made sure I packed a few magazines for my recent trip back home to Kent. As I waited for my train to arrive at the platform, I doubted whether the latest issues of Monocle and Man About Town would provide enough printed entertainment so went on a last minute publication dash to the poorly stocked WH Smith at Victoria Station. After a few minutes of indecision perusing the sorry excuse for a newsagent I plumped for the Inside/Outside issue of i-D. Aside from the odd flick through at Borders or whilst I'm waiting for my turn to sit on the hairdressers chair, I've not read an issue for months. I'm glad I did though because this issue is packed full of features which kept my mind occupied throughout the journey. Highlights include chats with JW Anderson, Patrick Ervell and Thomas Engel-Hart, a Tao editorial and an up close and personal with Karl Lagerfeld. However, it is the feature on Aitor Throup which really captured my imagination and in particular the below image...

Image from Aitor Throup, used in i-D Fall 09. Concept and Styling by Aitor Throup, Photography by Neil Bedford with Styling Assistant Stephen Mann.

The feature focuses on the designers technically advanced reinterpretation of C.P Company's most iconic jackets. Of course, I've already posted about this collaboration (twice in fact) so I won;t rehash the details again but I just wanted to share the image with you. The above image, dreamt up and styled by the designer himself wonderfully illustrates how he approached the collaboration. The image was accompanied by an insightful interview with the publications Deputy Editor, Holly Shackleton and provided the highlight of my train journey. I could quite happily post the interview in its entirety but it might be best to just pick out my favourite question and answer.

What type of man do you envisage wearing the jacket?
I hope that the big followers and collectors of this iconic piece will embrace it and appreciate its integrity. I would love for the rich narrative, which is part of the design, to help introduce C.P. Company to people who perhaps didn't realise just how much integrity and heritage there is in this brand. Stylistically it's a really accessible piece. It can be seen as a really directional statement on one person, whilst on another it can look quite normal. I'd love to see a variety of completely different people wearing it in different ways.

At the exhibition launch on Thursday, I noted the variety of people in attendance. There were C.P Company representatives, next to brand enthusiasts and collectors (a few wearing releases of the iconic jacket) sandwiched between the fashion crowd and frequent exhibition opening attendees. I am quite certain that most people in attendance took something different away with them but all were united in agreement that the exciting design talent had bought the goggle jacket firmly in the twenty first century.

Stop Motion Inspired

Inspired by stop motion, the stylish Fantastic Mr Fox.

Last month, our old chum from across the water, The Sunday Best, asked the question "Is it strange to find style inspiration in an animated movie?' and duly answered his own pondering with 'Probably not when that movie is directed by Wes Anderson and features George Clooney'. I was fortunate enough to watch the film yesterday evening and in between scoffing my face with popcorn (half salted, half sweet) and covering my nose (after someone was sick a few rows back) I was certainly inspired and in awe of the style on show in this stop motion animated film. I find style inspiration everywhere, in fact more often than not I find it in the places where you'd least expect. This is very much more a Wes Anderson film than it is the Roald Dahl book that I remember but this is no bad thing. There are all the Anderson archetypes which have made this director great; stunning visuals with an exquisite attention to detail, issues of fatherhood, musical guest appearances and literary flourishes throughout. Everything is just so - from Mr Fox's well fitted double breasted corduroy suit to Badger's pocket square. Everything is measured, everything is perfect. I certainly could take a more measured approach to my everyday dressing. Everything should have a place, I just need to find said place...

Wes Anderson illustration by James Taylor for the Guardian.

Mr Fox's ensemble is a tight-fitting corduroy suit based on fabric from one of the dandyish forty year olds own suits. Mr Fox's suit is made of orange/brown-ish corduroy. It should come as no surprise to see that its hero sports a natty double-breasted version of Anderson's beloved suit, (as captured by the Sartorialist on at least one occasion) tastefully accessorised with a few ears of wheat in the breast pocket. The whole look is akin the colour of a leaf in autumn, in fact Anderson and his team wanted the whole film to look like Autumn. It is little wonder then that this film's style resonates so strongly, as you all know, I am obsessed by the colours of the season and dressing accordingly.

Wes Anderson in Paris. Shot by the Sartorialist (who else?!)

The talented chaps over at Street Etiquette recently highlighted the virtues of corduroy and I've certainly been respecting this durable textile much more in recent years. I'm somewhat embrassed to admit that there was a time when I would outright refuse to wear anything corduroy because my adoloescent mind deemed it far too uncool for me. Thankfully, I have grown out of this phase and truly respect it for what it is, a versaitle fabric perfect for the cooler months. "I rely on corduroy," Anderson admits in the recent Guardian interview. "I've been here in London a week – this is all I've got. "They last a couple of years. I have a guy who makes them specially for me. They're very inexpensive and I can just call him up and say, 'Can I have another one please?'" I'd certainly like his tailors number. In the meantime, I plan to swing by Lambs Conduit street to pop in to Pokit to inspect their corduroy suit offering because I have heard great things about this tailors.

Monday, 26 October 2009

The shoe that fits...

Shoes worth waiting for...Lodger's Striped Oxford.

In an era before shoe stores, every pair of shoes was custom made. Lodger Footwear are dedicated to reviving the tradition of custom made footwear through the combination of age old handcrafted techniques alongside the use of modern technology. Back in July my head was turned by their latest shoe of the month. The breathtaking Striped Oxford was duly added to my shoe list and after saving the required pennies needed, I decided to invest in a pair. Inspired by the Duke of Windsor (undoubtedly one of the best dressed men of all time) the design is a interesting blend of fine Scabal striped linen and burnished French calf. It is this combination which makes it a great addition to the shoe pile for the warmer months. All in all, these make for a fine investment. The only downside was I had to play the waiting game because the shoe had to be custom made. I only describe it as a downside merely because I am an impatient chap, however, after my initial finger tapping moments my outlook altered. As the weeks passed, I increasingly became excited by the thought that my shoes were being made to order. To my specification. I began to truly appreciate what I was about to receive. Now the time has come and my shoes are ready, they are mine and they are truly something.

From the regular emails I received to update me on the shoe making progress right through to the moment I entered the Clifford Street store to pick up the finished pieces, I knew these were special shoes. This was carried through to how the shoes were beautifully packaged. The folks at Lodger don't like waste, so they give the customer a box that they will want to keep and actually help organise their shoe collection.

The shoe bag is specifically designed to cradle the shape of the new shoes perfectly whilst minimising waste. Every pair of Lodgers comes complete with a pair of bespoke shoe trees that are turned from the original last used to make the shoes. As they are built to exactly the same size as my shoes, they will keep them perfectly formed for many summers to come.

Lodger Footwear have an irrational passion for beautiful shoes and they quite remarkably release a new shoe each month. Each shoe is individually made using the latest technology in a factory with more than one hundred years of shoe making experience. It is this mix of continuous design, in combination with cutting edge technology and traditional craftsmanship, which makes this a truly unique shoe company. These are shoes worth waiting for. By releasing a shoe every month, they design for every occasion throughout the year. These are a treat for those winter holidays taken in sunnier climates than London. Now, all I need to is escape this gloomy city...

Friday, 23 October 2009

Goggle Jacket: Past and Future

Back in May we featured the most exciting collaboration of the year. Style Salvage favourite Aitor Throup was asked to design the anniversary edition of C.P. Company's most iconic jackets, the 1000m Goggle Jacket. Last night, I was able to examine it up close and I've still got a smile on my face today. Ever since I encountered his mind blowingly good graduate collection back in 2006 my heart races every time I see or hear his name mentioned. Since graduating, Aitor continues to push the boundaries of technically advanced clothing and utilitarian menswear in to fresh and exciting directions. Back in April, the exciting design talent curated an exhibition to showcase the Goggle Jacket's past and present at the International Furniture Fair in Milan way back in April. Of course I was able to see much of the exhibition virtually, thanks to the wonders of the Internet , but I longed to see the showcase of design innovation up close. Thankfully an even stronger and more impressive exhibition has opened up at the RCA and I was fortunate enough to see it last night. The exhibition is now open to the public for a limited period of two days (today and Saturday, 10am until 4pm both days) so you'll have to be quick!

Exhibition folk enjoying two of the twenty iconic designs on show...

The Mille Miglia Car race, was a one thousand miles open-road endurance race that started in 1927. From 1977 until nowadays, the name was revised in 'Mille Miglia Storica', with all competing cars being pre-1957. In 1988 C.P. Company sponsored the race and for this special occasion Massimo Osti exclusively designed and produced, as a promotional piece for the Mille Miglia competitors, the very first Goggle Jacket. The Past and Future exhibition features twenty archive designs including this very first jacket. A way to celebrate C.P. Company's route through the different steps of this iconic item which, season after season, has been subject to continuous experimentation and evolution. This marvellous exhibition is a story of materials, special treatments and shape research.

One of the exhibition highlights, the evolution of Aitor's designs...

As mentioned every time I jot down the designer's name, I was fortunate enough to listen in to his conversation with Sarah Mower at the V&A last Summer and during this chat Throup's face lit up and his passion took over as soon as he started talking about this iconic jacket. Growing up in Burnley in the 90s, Aitor first became aware of the jacket adorning the backs of the football casuals. Anything connected to Massimo Osti had the most aspirational value for the terraces. As a long term fan and collaborator with C.P Company, Aitor was the natural choice for the brand to approach to redesign the anniversary edition of their cult jacket. For his own innovative design, Throup has analysed all of the original elements of the first Goggle Jacket and has looked deep into the aspects of postural anatomy. He has gone deeper than the aesthetics and functional approaches of previous designs and has created a garment even more focused on the concept of driving. Aitor Throup had this to say on the 1000m Goggle Jacket: "I have taken a literal approach to driving ergonomics and functionality, with the aim of creating a piece which is even further informed by its driving concept than the original." The most distinguishing features are goggles, watch viewer window and detachable driving pouch. Aitor truly has pushed function and ergonomics and this is evident as much in the design process as it is in the finished design. I'm certainly not aware of any other driving jacket whose shape shifts in to a driving position when required!

The look of the past and the future. Two looks used in the recent issue of i-D.

For Aitor Throup the brand has not had the respect and attention that it's iconic designs deserve. This exhibition will surely change a few people's perceptions and understanding of C.P. Company. If you are unable to make it down to the RCA in the next couple of days, hopefully my excited ramblings combined with the below video help. Thanks to James Yeomans, Aitor Throup and the whole crew at C.P. Company, Being Hunted were able to provide us with this great time-lapse video that will show you how the installation was set-up...

C.P. Company Past and Future. from James Yeomans on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Taking Pleasure in Everday Wear

Pleasure Wear: Early morning shopping in a Visvim blouson jacket and a Tokito jacket, before slipping in to a Farmers Market jumper and donning the Oliver Peoples spectacles to catch up on a week's worth of magazines. Monocle November 09. Photographer, Seishi Shirakawa. Fashion Editor, Akio Hasegawa.

Having been placed in solitary confinement these past few days I've hardly left the flat. Thanks to the latest issue of Monocle (a brilliant read which will inspire any budding entrepreneur to take the plunge) I have been able to live vicariously through Yusuke Hirayama as he wanders around Tokyo going about his daily business. I just had to share the images with you. The concept of a personal uniform is an interesting one and one which we often return to on the blog. Monocle's Pleasure Wear fashion editorial takes this idea of dressing for the everyday but rather than depicting a set, static ensemble presents which we adopt as a second skin, it looks for dressing especiallyfor each of the different scenarios we might (wish) to encounter.

Enjoying a toasted sandwich and a ginger ale whilst wearing a Mackintosh coat, Dunhill jacket, United Arrows knit and a shirt by Camiceria Thienese.

In Tokyo a day off work is a rare treat, so whether you spend it restocking the cupboards with essentials, walking through the park or working your way through your magazine stash, you'll need the perfect attire. This spread of images instills a desire to insert the odd, additional outfit change in to my day. Edward VII, a major inspiration for the first two offerings of E. Tautz, said it best, "Be always well and suitably dressed for every conceivable occasion." As we might encounter a number of different occassions each day, why not plan for a wardrobe change?

Descending in to Ginza to pick up a few essentials, not to mention the odd admiring glance.

Regular, Monocle readers will recognise Yusuke Hirayama as the publications ever present male model and his editorials never fail to inspire me but this spread of images stoked my everyday style fires. His styling throughout these few pages are faultless. Within the Contributors page we are informed that he's been breaking in to acting and is playing a character in Kadakawa's soon to be released Warau Keikan. Additionally, we are told that on his days off from work, he enjoys practicing martial arts, including doubt at all times he appears utterly stylish. if you've not had a chance to do so yet, I suggest that you go out and pick up the latest issue of Monocle and why not amend your attire accordingly...

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Kimmel's (not Beechams) all in one

In recent weeks my blog posts have dedicated themselves to rejoicing in the joys of Autumn. I was seduced by the layering opportunities afforded by that playful chill in the air. Momentarily dazed by the harvest of colour all around. My interest peaked at the sound of crunching leaves in a new pair of shoes. As wonderful as the warm autumnal hues and all that come with them are, there are of course many negatives which come with this season. The choruses of kumbaya have now come to an abrupt end on the turntable of my mind and an all round darker record has been placed under the needles blasting out a symphony of moans and groans accompanied by a percussion of sneezes and wheezes. Oh woe is me. How could I forget that this season brings so much ill health. If you've not been struck down with some variant yourself, no doubt you are sitting near someone who is more akin to a beige sock filled with mucus than a human being (or at the very least a chap struck down with a red, wet nose who is eager to to remind you of their fate). There have been times over the last few days which I've felt truly terrible and I've spent the entire day in bed today feeling more than a little sorry for myself. Sick of lying and sleeping but still feeling awful I decided to flick through issues of my favourite old magazines. Practically, a member of the living dead my mind was not ready to tackle the latest issues of Monocle, Man About Town or Let The Eat Cake which are crying out to be read, so I turned to familiar paper friends which my eyes have glanced over time and time again...

A Fantastic Man. Adam Kimmel wears a black cotton unijohn with horn buttons from his AW09.

The first dose of magazine medicine was Issue Six of Fantastic Man. I have to confess that I began to feel a little better as I flicked through the piece on stunning architect Rem Koolhaas and the classic cuts for today's gentleman feature but it was the interview with Adam Kimmel along with the accompanying spread of images which forced me to leave my soft prison to post. In all but one of the images shot by Alexei Hay, the no nonsense designer is modelling creations from his AW07 collection. Alongside an appropriation of workwear fabrics and textures, the all in one soon became a trademark look for Kimmel and it was here again in his working man meets post-Beat art star collection. Kimmel's clothing is defiantly masculine and inspired by the past and present macho artists of New York. It is the sight of kimmel's unijohn which prodded my to brain and forced me to type this post. The unijohn becomes surprisingly appealing in my current state of health. My current sartorial situation does not paint a pretty picture. Having been reminded of the Adam Kimmel spread on those monochrome pages of my favourite style journal, my striped pj bottoms from Marks & Spencers combined with an overwashed off white t shirt just don't cut it fact when should they ever have? No, my friends...I need a unijohn. For those unfamiliar with Kimmel's reworking of a classic, it resembles something between a pair of long johns and an oversized romper suit, all realised in the softest cashmere.

Adam wearing a grey vintage unijohn by faith and then wearing a sports blue cotton jersey unijohn from his aw07 line.

Kimmel's all in one certainly leaves a better taste in my mounth than the Beechams all in one I am forcing down my throat...

Monday, 19 October 2009

In amongst the fallen leaves

Despite frequent online procrastination spent looking for street style inspiration from all of the obvious and some not so obvious places, few looks have had such a powerful cerebral effect than Fantastic Man's Look for October. Ever since my eyes first encountered the combination of autumnal hues and the comforting and playful layering (some of you declared it ''Layering on Crack' ha!) I wanted to reproduce something similar to truly celebrate the season of dropped leaves. During the marvelous month of October, we are treated to a feast of colours. The look from Fantastic Man demonstrates that, although numerous they can all be worn at once, creating a marvellous harvest festival of an outfit which left me drooling over my keyboard. In my recent picture postcard post, I mentioned that I couldn't decide what it made me want to do more, sing kumbayah or just to throw myself in a big pile of crispy fallen leaves...Well...I gave it some thought and the voices in my heads were unanimous, it was a landslide victory for the latter....

Playing in the leaves...Carolyn Massey for Topman navy scarf coat, green jumper by Maison Martin Margiela, scarf from COS, wine corduroy shirt and purple jeans both from Uniqlo and mittens by Carolyn Massey.

As I began to assess my Autumn wardrobe, bolstered by the recent purchase of colourful Uniqlo basics (corduroy shirts and socks), I was inspired to recreate an artistic challenge from one of my childhood favourite shows. Despite having little, tangible artistic talent I used to race home after school to watch Neil Buchanan's Art Attack on CITV. Of course I used to try to replicate what I saw on the screen but generally made a mess on the paper and of myself. One of shows most memorable facets was the Big Art Attacks. For those not familiar with the show, were pieces of art created by Buchanan on a huge scale, often on a playing field, tarmac ground and similar. I recall the master turning his hand (and whatever he could get his hands on) to creating a large scale forest scene so surely I could make an Autumn park scene. So, I packed my brown vintage rucksack full of Autumn colour and headed to my favourite green space in London, Hampstead Heath. London has plenty of pretty parks but when I want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, I head to the Heath and it is at its most beautiful during these few months.

Clockwise from bottom left, purple corduroy shirt from Uniqlo, plum socks from Uniqlo, mustard scarf from COS, green corduroy shirt from Uniqlo, brown socks from Uniqlo, red scarf by Universal Works, green jumper by Maison Martin Margiela and orange socks from Uniqlo.

As you can see from the above shot, my 'Big Art Attack' was less of an impressive, large scale piece of art and more of a pile of clothes. Having found a suitably secluded, leafy spot on the Heath, I soon realised that in addition to lacking Neil Buchanan's artistic vision, my rucksack of clothes didn't quite cut it on the amount of raw materials needed to create anything close to being classed as 'Big.' Neil Buchanan I failed you. However, the pile was a celebration of Autumn...of sorts.

Green jumper by Maison Martin Margiela, scarf from COS, wine corduroy shirt and purple jeans both from Uniqlo, trainers by Converse and a vintage leather backpack.

After failing miserable at my art challenge, the only thing that could cheer me up was playing about in the dead leaves in my suitably Autumn outfit. I was always better at making a mess as opposed to a pretty picture. Oh to be eight again! Dressed head to toe in various autumnal hues, it is difficult not to have a little fun standing in a pile of crisp leaves. Am I slightly mad for wanting to dress like a fallen leaf? The answer is of course a resounding yes but do I care? Not a jot. Dressing each morning should be fun! As mentioned above, I injected a much needed shot of colour in to my wardrobe's jugular after a number of recent trips to Uniqlo. I have mentioned the 'Uniqlo effect' at least once before on the blog and the Japanese retailing power house is still having an effect on the colours hanging on my wardrobe rail and I've had a a great deal of fun experimenting with the various hues. Walk in to any Uniqlo store and you are instantly hit with an almost overwhelming number of colour variations. These colour variations confuse the mind initially but ultimately inspire. The brand's colour range has helped seduce me and many other men away from more muted tones. Due to my recent colour experimentation I've discovered that there are a number of colours that actually suit my natural colouring and tones. Colours that I would have previously steered well clear of now grace my back and wrap around my neck. Even if some colours don't work together, it is fun trying.

I first stumbled across Uniqlo's range of corduroy shirts at the beginning of September and since then I have been steadily increasing my investment in this wardrobe staple. My wardrobe now boasts a collection of four out of the six colour variants; purple, wine, olive and blue. However, as much as I adore the corduroy shirt, there is one staple from Uniqlo that I love more than any other, the sock! I find it impossible to leave a Uniqlo store without topping up the latest colour additions and now my sock drawer looks like a rainbow (every time I open it, I have expect to see a leprechaun sitting in amongst the cottons). The latest additions are perfect for autumn...

Friday, 16 October 2009


Hitch hiking my way to winter...

Whilst the mercury has been falling in recent days to create an overall feeling of discontent, I have turned to knitted accessories to keep myself warm, toasty and happy. One accessory in particular has brought huge comfort to me whilst making me feel like a wee child again. I ordered my Carolyn Massey mittens back in March along with my knited jumper and an accompanying scarf to complete a warming, winter look brought to me by one of my favourite designers. I have previously mentioned how much I loved Massey's AW09 knitwear and I followed through with it by getting out my wallet. Carolyn and her knitwear consultant Lynn created so many covetable pieces and I had to sit on my hands at one point to refrain from buying everything. As you can imagine though, having ordered my knitted accessories so early I was waiting impatiently for the weather to cool. Whilst most people were wishing for the hot sun to prolong its stay I was almost, sick of the sight of it and I longed for the sight of people scraping off ice from their car windows each morning. We might not have reached that level of chill factor just yet but the temperature has dropped enough so I can finally, reasonably wear my mittens and what mittens they are too! The contrast flecked wool pattern and textured knitted design and string detailing make them the finest knit a boy of twenty five could possibly own.

As snug as a bug, in a rug by a wood fire. Carolyn Massey for Topman navy scarf coat, scarf from COS and green corduroy shirt from Uniqlo.

My current state of cosines is secured right from my little toes which are protected by a different pair of Autumn friendly colourful socks from Uniqlo and up through to my neck which currently has double the protection, afforded by my Carolyn Massey for Topman navy scarf coat and a scarf from COS in burnt mustard yellow. The real highlights for me though are my mittens. For any doubters out there, of course a grown up child of twenty five can wear mittens...they are both practical and fun! Whilst I am crammed on to a hot, stuffy, depressed and compressed tube all I have to do is look at my new mittens and a wry smile forms on my face and the domino effect spreads the cheekiness around the carriage. I am smitten with my Massey mittens...I've just seen that if you want to be (s)mittened up then you can thanks to ASOS who have a nice collection of Carolyn Massey garb and accesosories available online.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Ceci n'est pas une t-shirt

One of the few locations which my team failed to reach during the Antwerp Fashion Hunt was Hospital. Thankfully, we swung by the concept store on Sunday afternoon to have a nosey around the huge space. The luxury boutique is housed in the former horse stables of Antwerp's race course (which sadly no longer exists) and stocks both Belgian and international designer brands, including the likes of Viktor & Rolf, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Paul Smith, Paul & Joe and Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair but also boasts of a terrific wine cellar and restaurant. However, as good as the other offerings were I entered the store with the sole aim of indulging in some much needed retail therapy...I headed straight to the Viktor & Rolf Monsieur rail...

A look inside the Hospital

From afar, Viktor & Rolf Monsieur served up a surprisingly reserved affair for Aw09. At first glance it lacked the colour, the humour and interesting themes of previous offerings. However, upon closer examination inside Hospital, it was clear that the design duo had created something special. The design duo had borrowed some of my favorite motifs used by René Magritte and created a collection which can be mixed and matched with ease whilst never failing to raise a wry smile...if I had been wearing a bowler hat it would have been tipped.

Looks from Viktor & Rolf Monsieur AW09

Magritte wanted to make people think about what he called "the mystery without which the world would not exist," by showing familiar objects in dreamlike and even surroundings. He believed that all objects are rationally related to each other and certainly explored the relationships between objects in his paintings. The objects painted by Magritte suggest an inherent meaning independent from the viewers' previous experiences, opinions and ideas and as a result, the objects become 'concrete universals.' Similarly, in Viktor & Rolf's collection, a black suit which from my initial squint at the look book appeared to be a simple, textured houndstooth had in fact used smoking pipe pattern and the rest of the designs were packed full of surprises. Bowler hat prints covered dress shirts, bow ties were padded and the herringbone pattern of a mackintosh coat was actually a printed-on nylon...nothing was quite what it initially appeared.

My purchase from Hospital...a cute Viktor & Rolf Monsieur t shirt.

My favourite piece was the T-shirt depicting a pipe-smoking man, with his face obscured by a large green apple. When I saw it hanging on the rails of Hospital I just had to have it! Here I am back home in grey London modelling the new purchase on my balcony half asleep. I'm not too good in the early morning! Annoyingly I have lots of pieces I'd like to show you guys but these super short Autumn days are really limiting my opportunity to shoot them. More of these personal shots to come and I promise I'll look (a little) less dishevelled in the next batch...

New tshirt worn with Carolyn Massey for Topman Lens scarf coat, hanging mittens by Carolyn Massey (you never know how cold it is going to turn), grey double pleated trousers from COS and patent shoes by Swear.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Hear the RA all the way from Antwerp

Peeking behind the reclaimed foam curtain of RA's changing rooms.

Susie might have beaten me to the punch on this and pick pocketed my memory card for a couple of shots to rub salt in to my wounded features but this concept store is too good not to mention here. RA13 will officially open next week but we were given a sneak preview of the huge space (800 sq metres) which is already crammed full of wonder and intrigue even thought most of it was still packed in boxes. When we arrived at the store we were greeted with a dust and sawdust plume as the builders were still frantically working (even on a Sunday) on creating a truly magical space complete with a thatched cottage buying area, reclaimed cinema seating for a music area and an outdoor forest to name but a few features.

It is when we entered the fashion space that we quickly realised how exciting this store was. Not just for the city of Antwerp but for anyone close enough to hop on to a Eurostar to make the trip. Dan The Scout walked us through the huge space and talked us through the array of design talent which left both of us motionless, tongues out, salivating like two hungry stray dogs who had just wandered in to the finest butchers in town. The full lineup is mind blowing and in truth I am too lazy to type them up so I will just give you a few of the names which are currently creating quite the stir my loins; Gareth Pugh, Damir Doma, Juun J, Frank Leder, Ute Ploier, Material Boy, Makin Jan Ma, Peter Jensen and Katie Eary. I was able to nose through the well stocked Frank Leder rail and it was the first time that I had seen his designs up close and I was particularly taken with the outerwear and accessories.

The designs reminded me of the designer. In all honesty, he is a deisnger I'm not too familiar with as I've never been able to buy his design. For this season, Frank Leder continues to weave the story of the ordinary man into the fabric of his own label and this time focusses on the Bavarian poacher. The collection incorporates authentic elements from the inspiration and Dan pointed each feature out to me as we . For example, the designer crafted horn closures from deer antlers (which I'm assured are naturally shed each winter) and shirts were made from antique sheets from the 1960’s. It was great to be able to feel (and possibly buy) designs which previously I had only ever seen online.

In addition to the bounty of design talent hanging on the rails throughout the three hundred square metre fashion space, the store is going to be home to a music area, a bookstore, exhibition area, food area as well as a designer vintage section. Ra promises to be a melting pot for fashion, art, design, music, books and even fine fine food. A quick shopping visit here will no doubt turn in to a long stay as each one of my senses is treated. The experience will start in the Kloosterstraat 13 in the heart of Antwerp giving one persuasive reason for my swift return but then the team wish to extend the experience throughout the virtual world of soon to be relaunched I have previously mentioned that my ultimate dream is to one day open my own menswear store and I even have blueprints bouncing around in my brain. Well, it seems that two recent Royal Academy of Antwerp graduates, Romain Brau and Anna Kushnerova, who came together at a party and dreamed up this project have infiltrated my inner thoughts and are about to unleash a store which is a doppelganger to that of dreams (albeit on a much larger scale). I just cannot wait to shop here...

Monday, 12 October 2009

Louis, Louis, oh baby...

So for those who didn't see my twitter update on Saturday afternoon, we finished (a close) third (out of three) in the Fashion Hunt around Antwerp. The teams who finished in front of us demonstrated a combination of map reading accuracy and speed whilst we showcased a more gentle, measured approach, meandering our way through the city whilst taking far too many photos (as Susie's pretty collages demonstrate). In short, Aesop lied...slow and steady doesn't win the race when you are up against stylish, highly motivated and organised bloggers from Amsterdam and Paris! Despite coming last we had a lot of fun and our efforts were rewarded with gift vouchers to spend at either; Hospital (a relatively new concept store housed in a former horse stables), Elsa (a shoe and accessory boutique) and last but certainly not least Louis. Despite currently suffering from shoe buying fever I resisted the temptation for yet another whiff of that new shoe smell and headed to Louis...

Where I invested my wooden spoon prize...

An Antwerp institution, Louis was one of the first stores in Belgium to carry the work of the local and considerable design talent. Today, the boutique carries a sizable collection of Maison Martin Margiela and pieces by A.F. Vandevorst and Ann Demeulemeester. In addition to local designer fare, the shop also stocks Rick Owens, Balenciaga, and Lanvin to name only a few. Having had to recently throw away the only piece of Margiela in my wardrobe (a white tshirt bought cheaply from Century21 which just fell apart from far too much wear and tear) and inspired by oki-ni's recently unveiled archive/shrine to the influential Belgian designer, I headed straight to the MMM pieces.

The Maison Martin Margiela accessories caught my eye as soon as we entered the menswear area.

The inner Geography teacher lurking deep inside of me was instantly drawn to the ultra soft knitwear complete with fine grain leather elbow patches. I was initially taken with the camel v-neck cardigan (also available on oki-ni) but ultimately my mixed feelings towards the colour forced me to look again. In the end I plumped for a simple, softer than soft, v neck knit complete with matching leather elbow pads in an autumnal shade of forest green.

A close up on those shoulder pads, Miss Ash (my old Geography teacher) would be so proud.

The October Look from Fantastic Man that divided you lot has certainly left an impression on me. My initial style admiration has evolved in to something much more consumerist. The time where I jump in to some crisp Autumn leaves whilst singing 'Kumbayah' might be sooner than you think!

Carolyn Massey for Topman Lens scarf coat, new Maison Martin Margiela knit, blue corduroy shirt, purple jeans and grey socks all from Uniqlo, bag from COS and shoes by Mr. Hare.

Catastrophe almost struck though when my stomach cravings for something typically Belgian diverted my attentions away from my new purchase. After filling my craving belly by scoffing down a giant, ice cream topped waffle from the too tempting Desire de Lille all thoughts about my recent purchase evaporated and I left my shopping bag under neath the table. Thankfully a fellow diner chased after me as I waddled off down the street and reintroduced me to my forgotten friend. Catastrophe averted thanks to the fine people of Antwerp!

A close up of the tasty waffle which almost cost me my knit.


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