Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A Visit To End Hunting Co

In recent months we have tried to shine the spotlight on the members of society that we have huge respect for, the independent store owners. Britain used to be described as 'a nation of shopkeepers'. Whether it was the eighteenth century economist Adam Smith or Napoleon who described this group of islands as such matters very little, what does matter is that this nation has lost its retail heart. Over the years the retail landscape has changed from busy, bustling stores to empty, with boarded up shop fronts being the norm. That said, there are a few individuals leading the way throughout the country who suggest that we could once again be crowned a nation of menswear shopkeepers. Up until now our A Visit to series has concentrated the spotlight on London stores but all that changes after a trip to Newcastle. Last week, just as the snow began to fall on the northern half of the country, this southern fairy made its way to unchartered (cold) territory. The purpose of the trip was to explore Nigel Cabourn's studio (an amazing experience but more on that later this week) but I could not resist a quick nosy around the city's flagship menswear store, End.

End was born in 2005. Located on High Bridge, the store brings the best brands from around to world to the city. The two floor space is relaxed, informal and its staff have no attitude. The shopping experience is a pleasant and productive one. However, I'd like to focus your attention on their second store. In the Autumn of last year, End unveiled their sophomore concept with 'End hunting Co.' Inspired, as the name indicates, by hunting and outdoor pursuits, the hunting lodge spaces draws on the opulence and luxury of many twentieth Century gentleman’s clubs, with wooden clad walls and ornate antiques and a fusion with rustic Americana influences. The space makes perfect sense. As the snow fell heavily outside there was much protective temptation inside. The astute buying of the founders, John and Christiaan, still only in their late 20s, is hugely impressive. Highlights includes Bleu de Paname's denim, Our Legacy's heavyweight shirting, Heritage Research's Modified Longline Parka and Visvim's Luminaria backpack. Now, the best way to get a feel of the place is to explore it so rather than rabbit on about the stock, lets show you...

The mannequin stands confidently in front of the Levis Vintage rail and wears Norse Projects, Kitsune and Visvim.

The most popular purchase in the store, Inventory.

Started in 1924 Calabrese is produced and designed today by the great-grandchildren of founder Eugenio, to the same exacting standards in their small Neapolitan factory. The Cenito zip wallet sits in front of Comme des Garcons Play shirts and accessories.

Anderson belts sit in front of Calabrese bags. Anderson's are regarded as one of the best belt makers in the World. The Italian company have been emulating Parma's leather artisans since 1966, creating belts that are as durable and good looking as any you will find.

This heavyweight hunting inspired overshirt from Our Legacy embodies the store perfectly. Made from 100% virgin wool, with a classic indigo flannel style check, the shirt is perfect for keeping out the cold winter winds.

Our Legacy have become synonymous with quality shirting, and for good reason, these button down check shirts are prime examples.

Long sleeve button down shirt from Norse Projects. The Scandinavian brand love to reference heritage design and the canvas work shirt is one of the most enduring of silhouettes around, given some typically modern details. Wonderful basic.

Founded in Germany over forty years ago, Burlington are the pioneers of the Argyle patterned sock. They make the ideal Christmas gift for any male family member.

Norse Projects Husavik scarf. 100% wool scarf from the Danish label. Made in Italy, perfect for the cold north. I was sorely tempted as I watched the snow fall rapidly from the cold, grey skies.

Nigel Cabourn Army Satchel. The combination of canvas and authentic bespoke Harris Tweed construction makes this multi use shoulder bag something very special indeed.

The show-piece in the Quoddy collection and certainly the style everyone instantly recognises as Quoddy is the Grizzly.

A row of Abingtons. The Guide Boot is based on vintage hunting moccasins, one of the most enduring footwear styles to come from North America. While, The the Hiker Boot is based on a classic outdoor silhouette, with the addition of Gore Tex uppers to this already incredibly finished boot.

Thankfully Band Of Outsiders returned for another seasons collaboration with Sperry Topsider.Using the finest materials and adding their own unique features Band Of Outsiders have created some interesting make-ups for the iconic brand. For example the middle pair is constructed from corduroy and lined with cotton Oxford.

The quintessential hiking boot design, Fracap are handmade in Italy, and until recently solely for the Japanese market. Now they can be seen on the feet of many (few of which are worn anywhere close to a mountain).

A selection of Tricker brogues and Grenson boots make the fireplace even more inviting.

This is the original Trickers Brogue, a timeless style that is yet to be surpassed. The Malton is handmade, using only the finest leather, meaning these should last you a lifetime.

The snowy High Bridge street scene.

End Hunting Co showcases products with a level of quality and craftsmanship rarely seen in the UK and the fact that they are housed in a unique environment, makes this a special store indeed. My trip up north has inspired me to escape from the bubble that surrounds the capital more often.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Seventy Eight Per Cent

Back in March I unearthed a gem of a retail space in the Wanchai area of Hong Kong. Kapok showcased products by younger labels, those whose work has not previously been available in this bustling, shopping obsessed city. The stock presented a well curated selection of European and Asian brands. It was great to find a store which had such an obvious desire to showcase products that see a happy marriage between craft and design. It included a mouth watering array of old favourite labels but also introduced me to a few new ones. Local accessories label Seventy Eight Percent was certainly the latter.

Seventy Eight Percent's passion for bags was clear and contagious the moment my eyes fell on their much loved Back to School collection. Here, the label managed to meld the functionality and performance of outdoor equipment with the craftsmanship of couture and the edginess of urban street-style. The bags are engineered to fulfill people’s practical needs and are built to last. Unsurprisingly, I wasn't the only one impressed and the label has since been featured in Milk, Monocle and most recently Wallpaper. With the recent launch of a new collection, Harrison Fold and a plethora of new products, we caught up with the man behind the label, Shai Levy to discuss the evolution of the brand and to take a closer look at the latest designs...

A close look at the leather notepad.

SS: What were your inspirations, dreams and the driving catalyst for launching in to the world of accessories?
Shai Levy: I have always loved bags. I love travelling and being mobile and I think that bags are intertwined with these experiences. My launch into the world of accessories was therefore driven by my love of the product and the fact that I could not find bags that I really liked.
Running my own brand was not a calculated decision; rather, it was an emotional one. I had to do it, to create something from scratch and take it as far as possible. Had I thought about it too much I would probably still be working for someone else, I am glad I didn't.

Among the people who inspired me to go out there and start my own gig are Sir Paul Smith and Sir Richard Branson. Both are highly creative spirits who built successful brands that are different and cheerful. They also managed to do so while keeping a healthy family life. Being a father of four, I find that very inspiring.

Dreams? Many. If there is one dream that sums it all up, it has have my grandchildren run around the sample room playing with pieces of leather.

An aged Fritz Card Holder

SS: What does Seventy Eight Percent mean to you? What can you tell us about the story behind the name? How has the design philosophy of Elad Klein influenced your brand?
Shai Levy: 78% is a conceptual design manifest created by Elad Klein, an artist, designer, musician and an uncommon creative spirit who was a very good friend and creative partner who died in a kayak accident in Hong Kong. In short, the manifest calls for designers to embed intentional flaws in their designs, thus creating products that are less than 100% functional. The idea is to force the user to develop new ways in using daily objects and adjust his behaviour to compensate for the product's flaw. Elad figured out that 78% is just the right amount to flaw an object. More than that would not create the desired impact and less than that would result in a useless product.

Naming the brand Seventy Eight Percent and using the whimsical logo, which Elad designed, gives me a constant reminder of Elad’s restless creativity and joyful, energetic spirit. More than the philosophy of the Seventy Eight Percent manifest, it is Elad’s spirit that influences my brand and creative path.

Two Fritz Card Holders side by side, one aged and one new.

SS: How would you describe your style and your own design philosophy?
Shai Levy: My design philosophy is very simple: Things should work, last and be desired. They should connect with us, users, in an emotional manner. They must be innovative. I see no point in doing the same old. I do not design towards a target price but a target value. That's about it.
It is a bit harder for me to define my style, as it is rather intuitive. I stay away from trends but to create timeless products. It is very much about proportions too. Function aside, good proportion is the most important aspect of any object. I will never compromise on that. I also like to celebrate with diverse colors, as they set the tone of the products, like soundtracks do for movies. I am lucky to be married to a woman with great understanding of style. She is a great advisor and a tough critic.

The srecently launched Small Leather Goods collection

SS: I recently read that you spent two years sourcing the right materials, could you tell us about this search and how you arrived at the perfect combination of vegetable tanned Italian leather and Egyptian cotton canvas dyed and woven in Japan?
Shai Levy: You should not take everything you read for granted. I was a bit misunderstood on that point. It took me two years to develop the first collection; finding the right materials was only one part of it. The quest for the right materials started very methodically, then eventually, luck kicked in. I had a very clear vision of the bags from the get go and knew exactly how I wanted them to look, feel and age. I knew that to achieve that look and feel I had to combine cotton canvas and vegetable-tanned leather and that the materials must be extraordinary.
With the leather it was somewhat simple. It had to be Italian. No one else does vegetable-tanned leather as well as they do. I searched for quite awhile until eventually, in a trade show, I found what I was looking for. There were these skins that were like nothing I have seen before. The natural feel, the smell and the vivid colours were amazing. They had beautiful natural marks. It happened to be that they were made by one of the top vegetable leather tanneries in Italy. One box was ticked.

The canvas took a bit longer. I checked canvases from many quality suppliers but their canvases, albeit very nice, lacked the X-factor. I was than introduced to a Japanese bag designer called Mr. Sato. He showed me his beautiful bags, made of leather and canvas that looked and felt like no other cotton canvas. Hearing the story behind the manufacturing of that canvas it made me want it even more. I hesitatingly asked Mr. Sato to introduce me to the canvas manufacturer and to my surprise he agreed. It was very kind of him. He really liked what I was doing and realised that although we are both bag makers, my style is very different to his.

Made from Japanese canvas and Italian leather.

SS: What were the first and last item you remember designing?
Shai Levy: I was designing and building things since I was a kid. I am not really sure what was the first item. The first Seventy Eight Percent item I designed was never produced. It kept evolving on the drawing board for quite a long time and ended up as Dimitri, the first Seventy Eight Percent bag.

It is hard to decide what is the last item. Ideas keep on flowing and we are working on so many product at the same time. There is one that we are about to launch. It is a wallet made of 100% leather and it is very unique. Very functional and like no other wallet that I know of. We named it Vax.

The Gustav messenger from the new Harrison Fold collection

SS: As all of your designs are expertly handmade, craft and local manufacture are obviously very important to you...
Shai Levy: Craft is indeed very important for me. I think that this is a pivotal factor in making products desirable and valuable. The fingerprints of the person who makes the bags, the fact that each bag is slightly different, that means a lot to me. The same goes for local manufacturing. I need be very close to where my products are made. I am quite a control freak this way. I cannot send drawings and wait for the sample to get back with a courier, I need to be there when the product is actually developed. Many design decisions are made on the production floor. I have to be there to feel the materials, see how they work together and what does it take to actually make them. Same goes for production - I am there on top of the craftsmen and women, checking each one of the products in person, to make sure that it meets the standards of Seventy Eight Percent.

Some people are put off by the fact that I make my bags in China. However they miss the fact that I live in Hong Kong which is two hours drive from the workshop. That's as local as it gets. Not to mention that the level of workmanship in China can be very high. As high as in Europe.

A closer look at the Gustav

SS: Each bag is hand made by up to three craftsmen and women that spend as much as fifty hours to assemble one bag. Can you talk us through some of the process involved in creating your accessories? What can you tell us about the workshop?
Shai Levy: The workshop itself is pretty simple. A hall with tools and equipment. It does not look like a renaissance-period library as it appears in some brand’s advertisements. It is the people that makes it tick. A mix of people with various skills: leather craftsmen, fabric seamstresses and more. I have been working with them for three and a half years now, during which they got to understand my style and expectations, and I also got to learn their abilities and strengths. They used to think that I am crazy and tough but now they are happy to see me.
Some of my bags are indeed very complicated to produce. It is really mind-blowing to see the bag come together in so many parts with so many processes involved. Lots of steps, which all have to be executed at the highest level.

One of the most interesting step is cutting the leather. Each skin is different and within the same skin there are lots of variations. The natural marks, the thickness, mosquito bites and scars. We use rather large pieces of leather and finding the right piece of leather for each bag is very challenging. We have to make sure that the marks work well with the silhouette and that the thickness is right. We also have to bear in mind that the leather we use is very expensive , so cutting it right is very important to reduce wastage. If you see several of our bags together could see that each of them is unique.

Another amazing step is making the internal three-dimensional pockets of the Back To Old School Collection. Each pocket is made of several pieces of fabric and a strip of leather. Every time I see a bag being made it strikes me how many steps there are and how much time it takes to assemble one single pocket, and each bag has three of these 3D pockets. I can keep on going for hours as there are so many steps and challenges in building our bags right. I plan to film it one day, when I have the time.

The Jurgen

SS: Now on to your latest collection, could you talk us through Harrison Fold and the inspiration behind the pieces?
Shai Levy: Harrison Fold was an interesting collection to design in several aspects. Firstly, it was a collaboration between myself and Harold Poon, a young talented designer who joined Seventy Eight Percent after graduating design school in Australia. Secondly, it had to meet high expectations following the success of the Back To Old School Collection but at the same time be different. The pressure was on!

The inspiration initially came from waterproof outdoor bags that have roll top closures (hence the FOLD), and was influenced by Indiana Jones' shoulder bag.

The Dirk

SS: Do you have a typical type of person in mind when designing and if so does this evolve with each season?
Shai Levy: The person I have in mind is pretty much like myself. Creative, professional, urban, international and alternative. My products are designed around my likings: I like objects that are functional. I like things that people can fix rather than throw away and replace. I like things that age well and tell a story. I like things that make me feel special and unique. I like to keep things as simple as possible and to make them well, from the best materials. There is not a single Seventy Eight Product that does not meet all of these characteristics.

The evolution is not seasonal but depends on my personal development and on the people who join Seventy Eight Percent. Harold, for an example, is pretty much a Seventy Eight Percent type of guy. He is 15 years younger than me and comes from a different background. You can sense it when you compare the Back To Old School Collection to the Harrison Fold. They share the same DNA but are evolutionary.

A closer look at the Jurgen.

SS: What bag did you carry with you today? What was inside it?
Shai Levy: I carry the same bag that I carry for almost two years (apart from testing new products) - the Schults. I love this bag. It is big as I always carry a lot of stuff with me. In it: 15" Macbook Pro with its charger, Moleskin notebook, Emile notepad, Lumix LX5 camera with its spare battery, SD card reader, USB memory stick, online banking pin generator, Monocle’s November issue, sunglasses, reading spectacles, chewing gum, Tylenol, lots of papers from my accountant, earphones, iPhone with its sync cable, wallet, keys, Magnifying glass (for my nerdy leather inspection), passport, business cards and an avocado and cheese sandwich.

The other side of Dirk

SS: Finally, how would you like to see the brand evolve over the coming seasons?
Shai Levy: Firstly, I want to see more shops stocking my bags. I get a lot of enquiries from people around the world that wants to see the products and I want to have shops where I can send them to. Secondly, I would like the brand to gain global recognition and to be associated with strong creativity and high product quality: I want people to know who we are and what we stand for. Thirdly, I would like to include more creative spirits in Seventy Eight Percent. I enjoy working with people and hope to have enough staff to have small corporate parties. I want to have a full time DJ working in the office, a DJ would probably have been our first employee if Elad was running the brand.

Seventy Eight Percent's Harrison Fold collection is now available to purchase from online and from Kapok, Lane Crawford and Cumulus.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

ASOS Ma}ke

At the beginning of the year, the first crop of fashion design graduates showcased their work with the LCF MA show taking place in the ornate Raphael Gallery at the V&A. As mentioned previously, I was fortunate enough to take my seat to watch it all unfold and I was utterly blown away by the menswear design talent on show. From the nineteen students who were showcased it was the menswear design graduates that really shone through. Among them was Domingo Rodriguez who went on to enjoy a hugely successful 2010. Since showing his widely acclaimed MA collection back in January, he has presented his SS11 offering in Paris as part of Esquire's '7 Brilliant Brits' and has now collaborated with ASOS.

The enticing fruits of ASOS MA}ke, Domingo Rodriguez and Yong Li Lee's capsule collection.

As part of its continued commitment to nurturing and supporting emerging designers, ASOS selected one menswear and one womenswear designer from crop of MA graduates to embark on MA}ke. Ma}ke is an exciting mentoring initiative which culminates with both designers creating capsule collections to be sold on the hugely popular and ever growing site. The successful 2010 graduates selected to be part of MA}ke were menswear designer Domingo Rodriguez, and womenswear designer Young li Lee. The two graduates joined ASOS in April and have since worked closely with the different functions of the business to help create their capsule collections. Each year there are a handful of extremely talented graduates from each of the main institutions but the question of how best to develop this raw talent in to success (commercial or otherwise) is an intriguing one. This initiative is ASOS' answer and the results are extremely promising. To mark the imminent availability of Rodriguez' understated cool capsule collection, we sat down with the designer to discuss the initiative, to look back over a remarkable year and also to look forward.

SS:Describe the moment you realised you wanted to be a menswear designer?
Domingo Rodriguez: I've always had a desire to do fashion - I started off studying art and graphic design but was very daunted to admit it! It’s a very women’s dominated area at college level but I quickly got over myself and started my BA in Fashion Design and Textiles. I quickly realised I didn't connect to a woman’s form, womenswear comes easy but I was stuck on... boobs! I moved over to menswear and everything just clicked. I haven't looked back since!

SS: How did you become involved with ASOS Ma}ke?
Domingo Rodriguez: I got involved with the project after the MA show, they came to the V&A catwalk and then we met up and I got to show them the collection up close. My MA collection is very subtle so I was able to show them all the soft detailing and pattern cutting details in person. After working tirelessly on the MA collection for months leading up to the show and to be recognised for all the hard work was fantastic!

SS: Along with Young li Lee, you joined ASOS.com in April and have since worked closely with the different functions of the business. The experience must have provided invaluable insight into the business of fashion. What have you learned over the last seven months? What advice would you give to a prospective menswear design student?
Domingo Rodriguez: Working with the design team has been one of the most eye opening and freeing experiences of my career so far. I got to go through the whole design cycle, from inception to tech packs, pattern cutting, fabrication, samplings, fittings, I got to see how the real creative commercial world works. The amount of detail and the quality of the MA}ke collection is fantastic, we've done things technically that I can’t produce for myself so its been exhilarating! My advice for students is to get experience in the real fashion world, just seeing how it works means you can make that leap from dreaming of fashion to understanding and realising it.

SS: What was your starting point for this design brief and how did it evolve in to the capsule collection we see today? How did the ASOS team help realise your creations?
Domingo Rodriguez: I have tried to build upon the world I created for my MA collection. So the core vision; the design, cut and pattern-work are all extended from catwalk show. I reworked my signature styles, translating my distinguishing details such as J-shaped sleeves, drape fronts, chevron textures and grosgrain details. Tonally I slightly tweaked the colour palette from the show to make it more accessible, mostly because I want to be able to wear them everyday! We have some amazing details like the flat suture stitch and magnet fastenings!

SS: I love the beautifully cut, soft tailoring pieces crafted in luxurious fabrications but how would you describe the collection in your own words?
Domingo Rodriguez: I think soft is a key word, soft progressive menswear. My pieces feel very familiar, echoing on traditional men’s pieces but up close subtle details become apparent. Bias rib going down the spine or rib cage, one piece cutting around the body and waterfall drape fronts with a very tonal and homogenous colour palette.

SS: What type of man do you envision wearing your designs?
Domingo Rodriguez: I hope it appeals to a broad range of men. I've tried to create a balance of more familiar pieces and more accessible progressive pieces so that there is room for it to fit into any wardrobe.

SS: 2010 has undoubtedly been a pivotal year for you. Since showing your widely acclaimed MA collection back in January, you have presented in Paris as part of Esquire's '7 Brilliant Brits' and have now collaborated with ASOS. Are you working on anything else in the near future? What do you hope 2011 will bring?
Domingo Rodriguez: I hope to carry on the momentum of the past year into the future and slowly build something in my name. I'm currently working on my next collection for AW11, and I have some exciting collaborations with Kopenhagen Fur and PHI-NOM in the works to look forward to. I'm very excited about the future and the launch of the MA}ke project!


Through MA}ke, ASOS want to give their customers access to beautiful, considered pieces whilst giving young designers a vital leg up in the industry. Both Rodriguez and Lee were designers to watch the moment they unveiled their MA collections but with the online powerhouses help, we have been afforded an early opportunity to support their talent.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

BoF and Nick Knight Livestream

Tomorrow is a day of talk.  As part of Liberty's shoe weekend, I am hosting the Q&A session with Mr Hare in the men’s shoe department between 5pm and 7pm (please do come down if you can and keep me company. Around the same time, inside London's Hospital Club, Imran Amed of The Business of Fashion will sit down for an in-depth interview with Nick Knight. This will be the third in their series of Fashion Pioneers speaking to a small, select live studio audience in London and livestreamed to thousands of people around the world. This groundbreaking series features innovators at the heart of the constantly evolving, ever fascinating and all consuming fashion industry and gives the audience a rare opportunity to understand fashion from a behind-the-scenes, professional point of view.

There are few individuals who have participated in fashion's digital revolution with the same passion and foresight as Nick Knight. With Amed's knowledgeable direction, Nick Knight will discuss the evolution of fashion image creation in the digital age and reflect on ten years of the groundbreaking website, SHOWstudio.com. Not only has Nick Knight created some of the most memorable fashion images of our time but his use of the internet has been truly groundbreaking. There is no doubt that Knight is a true fashion pioneer and I for one am keen to hear his thoughts on where he sees fashion communication moving forward now that we are well in to the digital revolution and to hear what he has learned from his experience with SHOWstudio.

We invite you all to tune in. And while you are watching, please send questions for Nick Knight to the @_BoF_ Twitter account using the hashtag #BoFLive

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

La La La+h

 Wrapping up in La+h for Winter

There is a definite chill in the air. As our favourite Autumn hues begin to fade and frost is one of the first things we see each morning, we are confronted with the prospect of a long winter. Today the Met Office issued a severe weather warnings for snow, predicting the earliest significant snowfall since 1993 apparently. The time to wrap, layer and protect that bit more has come. I'm reaching for an assortment of comfortable and practical fabrics; wool, tweed, cashmere and anything else I can get my hands on should will now be used to layer and envelop.

Just before the mercury began to plummet I was conveniently reminded about La+h. I first encountered the Japanese accessories label whilst exploring Trunk Clothiers but 3939 seemingly has an even more impressive collection. La+h is borne out of a pure passion and commitment to a rich Japanese textile tradition.  Through working closely with local artisans and craftsman, the label creates something beautiful, tactile and new. “Karami” (Leno weave) creates a mix of colour and texture on each thread. One colour is mixed with another and this twine of warp and weft creates something quite unusual...

As you can see from the above selection, different layers of colours are used to create new tones, textures and feeling all the while complemented by their rich craftsmanship. Originality, variation and delicate combinations are all part of their simple design and what makes La+h so covetable at this moment in time. It is items like these that actually make me look forward to a long, cold winter.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A Visit To 3939

Over the last few months my faith in the retail landscape of the capital has been restored and my enthusiasm ignited. From Trunk Clothiers' carefully curated selection of the finest menswear and accessories from across the globe based in a seventy square metre space in Marylebone to the recently opened, high impact concept store LN-CC in deepest, darkest Dalston. The future is looking far brighter with the opening of these intriguingly different properties scattered across the city. The launch of online and mortar-and-brick lifestyle boutique 3939 provides yet another reason to be excited.

3939 launched as a lifestyle and retail concept located in the basement of a well loved Japanese restaurant, Life just last Wednesday. Set up by three creative friend in Tatsuo, Pippa and Peter, tomorrow morning marks the unveiling of its online destination. Both the physical and digital spaces showcase the trios unique ideas, collaborations and exclusive products which have been developed in association with the craftsmen and talent that they all adore. This is a truly independent project driven forward by the determination to offer something different. 3939 incorporates a unique point of view and leaves me excited in the process...

Primarily a retail space, the basement location also functions as a showroom and gallery to promote artists and offer them to new markets, first up Yuko Kondo.

The space might not be as vast as LN-CC but architect/interior designer, Iwan Halstead has helped create something perfectly formed. Within it, menswear, womenswear and accessories all feature and are based around the concept of unisex styling. Highlights include favourite pieces from Sibling, Postalco, Armor Lux, Solmate Socks, La+h and trainers by Lewis Leathers. As you can tell from this list, items have been carefully collected from Japan, Singapore, USA, Argentina, Hong Kong, Europe and beyond. Exclusive products have been developed for 3939shop through a close-knit network - nurtured through their years of experience and knowledge in the fashion and media industries from East to West. Furthermore, the trio have developed a close working relationship with a selection of UK manufacturers to create new and exciting products. Collaborations with Cumbrian based Chapman bags and a south west located, fourth generation family run gloves manufactures have been particularly fruitful. In addition to fashion and accessories, the store also offers a range of stationary, books and magazines which are either currently unavailable or damn hard to get hold of in the UK.  The moment it opened its doors I was a fan. Lucky for me, the store is only a few minutes walk from my office so whenever I need to indulge in a moment or two of retail therapy I now have a new destination.  Now, I could wax lyrical about the store but I'd only bore you, the best way to get a feel of the place is to explore it. 3939 is bursting discovery because its creators passion for creating and promoting unknown gems...

A corner of treats. Sibling knitwear, Chapman bags and Lewis Leathers trainers join forces to produce a whole lot of temptation.

Much loved knitwear pieces from London design trio Sibling hang behind a new discovery. Manga porn t shirts designed by emerging styling talent, Matthew Josephs. 

Retro with a twist, London based illustrator and graphic designer Haniboi presents a new way to store your money and cards. This playful yet sturdy piece is made of silicone rubber and firmly fastened by magnets, durable and splash proof.

Postalco is a stationery and leather goods company based in Tokyo and owned by Mike and Yuri Abelson. Together they combine their individual strengths to produce finely crafted products that have garnered them praise and devoted fans not just in Japan but around the world

Cosy colour. Solmate socks are knit from recycled cotton yarns, which are created by grinding down and re-spinning scraps from the production of other cotton products, mainly t-shirts.

Mucu notepads placed alongside a selection of soft leather gloves.

Each Mucu notepad is hand-finished in the firm’s compact Tokyo workshop and made using mainly untreated materials including canvas, tarpaulin and newspaper-grade stock. Mucu's aim is to restore to everyday life contact with unabashedly raw textures that age nicely over an extended period. I could not resist picking one up for myself.

Like us, 3939 love "made in the UK" products. Here, they have collaborated with a fourth generation family run glove company based in the south west of England. Just beautiful!

These leather accessories by Ki:ts are all handmade in London. These are Takaharu Osako's new belt, bracelet and trouser belt line, all are handmade in UK one by one. He started this label in 2009 and commercially started launching in 2009 by selling to International Gallery Beams in Tokyo and his collection is continuously stocked there. All the leathers are sourced from Italy. The label is pronounced as Keats.

I was able to flick through Penter Yip's Fashionary for the first time, before walking away with one for myself and Susie. The term comes from "Fashion + Dictionary + Diary". The sketchbook is combined with intensive fashion information and blended figure templates. It is the perfect tool for brainstorming, fast sketching and quick referencing.

Cute iphone cases.

These are not your average ties. It is all about the fabric and colours produced courtesy of the world's finest and blogger favourite fabric, Harris Tweed. Sson, an exciting label from Sweden collaboration with Harris Tweeds. The label offer clean looking bicycles in addition to stylish yet functional clothing. The labels aim is to get more people on bikes and make them look good.

Armor Lux hails out of the small french town of Quimper. A true fishermens classic, Armor Lux have been making their breton style knits, jerseys & reefer jackets since 1938. Their products are still made in France using virtually the same techniques and fabric.

Another British collaboration sees the store work with Chapman bags. John Chapman makes hand crafted bags in the heart of Cumbria.

Yuko Kondo was chosen for the first exhibition. Kondo is a London based Japanese illustrator. Amazing and slightly surreal colourful graphics hang throughout the store.

With its array of carefully curated products and mouth watering collaborations, the store has quickly become my favoured outlet for that most dreaded of consumer requirements, Christmas shopping. Who needs to brave the crowds of central when 3939 offers far more thoughtful and sought after gift ideas. Now, if you know me the likelihood of you receiving a gift bought from this store is very high indeed. Alternatively, if you would like to bring some festive cheer to me and are struggling to find a gift that encapsulates your love for me, then I point you in the direction of 3939. Thank you, thank you.


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