Monday 30 March 2009

Reflect Forward with Massey

If you happen to find yourself in London in the month of April you should certainly make a trip to Clerkenwell to catch Reflect Forward. Craft Central’s Reflect Forward initiative offers designer makers the chance to research and show a new body of work and next month one of our favourite designers, Carolyn Massey showcases her craft next month. During our interview with the lady herself we mentioned she had been announced as the first ever fashion designer to be awarded the Reflect Forward award and April sees her showcasing her talent for a wider audience.

"Carolyn's proposal to research historical garments whilst creating a cutting edge contemporary look sat really well with the Reflect Forward aim to enable designers to use museum collections as starting points for creating bold and fascinating new work."
Kate Osborn, Craft Central.

Fresh from LFW, the exhibition will showcase Massey's AW09 collection. Inspired by the Museum of London and National Army Museum, the collection saw her revive seemingly forgotten historic details and silhouettes. The exhibition pulls together the research and development that went in to the collection and offers an exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ peek. I was fortunate enough to visit the designer at her studio last month where I could see the collection up close and the beauty really is in the details. At the time I wished more people could see the collection in this manner and now is your chance.

A closer look at the knits and accessories from Massey's aw09 collection.

After having a good nosey around her workspace it was clear that Massey is at her happiest when researching something she has found, either an old picture or an actual garment. By taking elements from pieces she has seen and found whilst combining them with her vision for menswear she create something new. This exhibition is guaranteed to be a delight. With free admission, the exhibition will be open to the public from 1-25 April and if you are in London during this period it would a crime not to go.

Private buying season is officially open.

This weekend I escaped London and found some cool sunshine on the Kentish coast (one of the reasons for the little holiday from posting). Before I left this fair city and after I had a few post work cocktails I swung by Omar Kashoura's and Carola Euler's private buying evening held at Cube where I could stake my claim for pieces from their aw09 collections. You might have caught my twitter updates but if not, I will elaborate on my Friday evening. Did I mention it was payday...? After a couple of well mixed mojitos and with a glass of wine in my hand I was like a fat kid in a sweet shop ordering quarter after quarter of treats and delights. In this instance the kid had grown up and was ordering the 'bridal piece' of Euler's collection (as proclaimed by Euler herself), two shirts by Euler and a cardigan and a shirt from Kashoura.

The shirt with armour like shoulder detailing and the wedding dress, the trench both by Carola Euler

On the train back to the coast, a little purchaser's guilt did creep in but I soon snapped myself out of it because my choices were the right ones and will fit in in and add to my wardrobe very nicely indeed. The art of my wardrobe building continues in earnest and I have to assure you that my purchases well extremely well thought out despite the consumer bravado brought on by the drink. I have been on the hunt for a grey trench coat for the last few months and as soon as I encountered this one over on BUCK my hunt was over. As for the white shirt, it is a classic which Euler has masterfully updated with her sculptural details. In all honesty, I could have quite happily walked away with both complete collections but I was strong willed and selected carefully.

All I have to do now is play the waiting game for my garments to be made. This really is a great way to buy clothes because it gives you a chance to speak to the designers themselves and make any slight amendments to your order. For example, unfortunately I am not blessed with Antonio Bracciani's perfect body (see issue nine of Fantastic Man) and garments frequently fit me how I'd like them to fit. Carola noticed this instantly and after looking up and down once more declared me to be in between a small and a medium...a smedium if you will (because I'm closer to a medium. Rather than ordering something that was not quite right, Euler would now make the necessary adjustments to create my perfect trench coat. I might not be blessed with the perfect or ideal body but I have found the perfect way to shop. More updates will follow as and when my orders are finished.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Picture Postcard: Season Jumping

Image fron Fiber & Fellow's AW09 lookbook, modelled by Thom Gastelum and shot by Alan Gastelum. Thanks Dapperkid.

Dearest EJ

I am always left in a confused and over stimulated sartorial state because of the fashion season cycle. We have now entered the season of the autumn/winter look book just as we get excited about the prospect of dressing for Spring and my sartorial thoughts are already wooed by images for the following season. In reality I couldn't be happier in waving goodbye to the short days, the cold and the rain and dressing accordingly but when I'm presented with images as beautiful as the one above, I'm left in no man's land. Do you recall the trailers for that truly bad Hayden 'I can't act' Christensen film Jumper... I kind of feel like that and I'm jumping through seasons. Out of a large pile of AW09 look none have had such an impact on me as the above image taken from Fiber & Fellow's AW09 look book. The label have continued their modern take on classic tailoring and Americana and set it in the great outdoors. The whole collection which mixes streetstyle and preppy looks expertly is complimented by the photography and the setting. Now, even though a large part of me longs for the sunshine a significant chunk of me longs for crisp leaves and a chill in the air... part of me wants to go to the beach at the height of summer and the rest of me wants to explore the great outdoors during September with a full beard. All of this is not helped that I will be going to both Carola Euler's and Omar Kashoura's private buying evenings this week where I'll be able to order pieces from their AW09 collection but won't be able to get my hands on them until September... I don't know if I am coming or going anymore.

Who knows what I will wear tomorrow...


Hola Steve!

I hear you man, though at the moment it feels like we're getting at least three seasons in the space of an hour. I thought that it was time to get out a whole different collection of clothes, but it looks like my winter coats are still required. Still, as I've been saying to you all week... patience!


p.s. that beard looks like one the boyf grew when on his archaeological dig. This model has much better hair though.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Style Salvage Speaks to... Richard Gray from 10

Alongside the seemingly untouchable Fantastic Man, 10 Men is one of those magazines that we wait impatiently for each season and gets Steve so excited when it is available in the local newsagent. It is the only fashion magazine which, while providing strong fashion editorials, features and interviews, makes us chuckle to ourselves on public transport (inciting strange looks from fellow commuters). The cause of our mirth is Richard Gray who, as 10's Fashion Features Director, provides more than his fair share of content for each issue. We had grins like a pair of Cheshire cats when Richard dropped us a lovely email to thank us for our recent Magazine in the Spotlight post where he commented "truth is it brought a bit of a tear to the old glass eye and lump to the goitre" so we grasped the opportunity to interview him with all four hands...we appreciate that some of the references might be lost in translation but we hope you enjoy it nevertheless because we certainly did....

Style Salvage: How did you get into the men's fashion journalism? What excites you most about men's fashion?
Richard Gray: I fell into it - like falling down a big slimy well. In fact, I look a lot like her from The Ring - but I've got more split ends. I studied modern languages not fashion. Verstehen Sie? I like new. And clever. Not things for shopping. Grrr....

SS: Is there an agreed 10 men man/muse, if so who? Who would you say is the target reader?
RG: I think our fella likes lager and Eastenders when Kathy knitted her own jumpers in the kitchen. He also like clothes. And is looking for the 'new tight jean'!

SS: What has been your favourite fashion moment of your life/career so far?
RG: When I lost a stone before Christmas and could fit into my old Comme peg trousers from the first ever men's collection. Cue gasps of admiration from Hactor Castro - who was jelly bags beyond. Ha ha!

SS: If you could go back in time and experience one fashion moment, what would it be?
RG: My mum tells me this story (I think she may have made it up) when her and Aunty Sue watched Top of the Pops in the very early 60s, The Supremes were on and they loved their bib and brace dresses (never seen before then). When they came home from work the next day my Nan said: "Go to your bedroom and look on your beds" And she'd made exact copies of the ones on TV the night before. I love that! My mum said they wore them with boots that following Saturday night and everybody commented when they went dancing. I'd go back to then.

16 back issues of 10 Men...

SS: Aside from the ones you contribute to, what are you your favourite magazines?
RG: I like Mail on Sunday You magazine (seriously) and Fantastic Man and I love Arena Homme Plus.

SS: We love 10's new blog so keep up the great work! Do you read any blogs and if so, what is currently on your blogroll?
RG: is flicking wonderful.

SS: We are sure there are a number of budding fashion journalists reading this. What advice would you have for someone who was looking to get into fashion journalism?
RG: Think. Have I read this, said in this way, before? And break all those rules. Who said an interview needs a conclusion? And why can't the interviewee interview the interviewer (not sure I know what that last one means). Also get a sub - my syntax shocking is...

SS: What is inspiring your own personal style at the moment? Do you have any style icons (long or short term)?
RG: Love this question... ermm... I'm heavily into Doctor Robert from The Blow Monkeys and I look like a lot like that little dwarf man from Fantasy Island (Youtube), so anything he wears.

SS: If you could live in a different era which would you choose to live in and why?
: I'd have lived in the 80s, I hear it was amazing. Parp!

SS: What item of clothing (if any) do you wish men wore more?
RG: I think we should all get naked and oil up - there'd be no wars or owt shit like that.

A look inside Issue 17, our review of which can be read here.

SS: We love your 'Ten people you should meet' feature but is there anyone you are currently desperate to meet?
RG: I'd like to meet Denise Robertson, agony aunt from This Morning - I read on Holy Moly that when she goes back home to Newcastle on the train she orders a G&T and a white wine. I bet she has some crisps too. I'd also like to meet Max Blagg, one of our writers who is the funniest man alive. We try and out do each other in email wars. I never get any flocking work done.

SS: Have you got any recommendation that you'd like to share with our readers?
(shops, hairdressers, designers, websites, bars)
RG: I like all the vintage homeware bits in Liberty and in the sale it's all dirt cheap. I like Bang Bang in Soho too - there's an African fella who goes in there and sells all his old Comme from the 80s. I'm in there buying it all up. It smells a bit like wee - but one suffers for one's art. And I like
The Kings Arms on Poland Street in London, because they're all fatter than me which makes me look thinner. (taps side of nose and winks)

SS: Now this is your chance to ask yourself and answer the one question you wish you had been asked but have never had the opportunity to do so.

RG: I'm a bit scared of this because I don't trust myself. Ermmm... Maybe... 'How many people are in your head at any one time?'
Answer - Today there are about three: one thinks he's down-to-earth and doesn't care about fashion and thinks it's silly. Another one, who could be called Trixie Gray is really thin and plays amateur plastic surgeon when he walks round town and is a right cow. Then the last one is somebody small and quiet who would secretly like to go back home to his mum and work in a shop part time and not be jaded. Basically I'm a fucking freak!

SS: Finally, tell us what your ten favourite things related to men's style and fashion...
RG: Leggings (dye John Smedley ones black), Wigs! Political things. Un-preppy things. Black socks. Skinheads (over hairstyles in such a big bogging way - toooo predictable). Clean shaven. Sort of pegs worn with black cotton shirts, not designer-y just worn by people who don't know about fashion crap, say, like in an Essex nightclub. Chanel no.5 (j'adore). Black Levi 501s. There's other stuff too.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Magazines in the spotlight: Another Man

These past few weeks we have been well and truly treated by many great publications which I've duly feasted on and my magazine gluttony continued today with a digital flick through of Another Man. Blindman's Circus (welcome back to the blogging fold, we missed you) beat me to the punch when it came to revealing the news that the latest issue is available online. So, if you've not done so already I suggest you go take a look because it is a strong issue. Ian accompanied the post with the wonderful images from Hedi and Mackie's editorial. I have to be honest with you, I was in a state of ennui by the seemingly endless influx of Hedi's black and white photography but this collaboration with Alister Mackie is really something...but the magazine offers so much more than Hedi...

I love the Lightweight Coats spread in the Style Guide because it showcases looks spookily similar to ones which I've been formulating in my own warped mind. As April Showers are merely a few days away, I've been consumed in the hunt for stylish ways to keep dry. Of course some of the best looks featured in the spread are those from Burberry Prorsum but there are plenty of pieces from a well chosen selection of designers which left me salvitating....I am particularly taken with the woven brogues by Fendi (as featured in the two main images).

These two images above and below showcase a selection of pages from my favourite editorial in this issue. The looks are accompanied by oil paintings by Christian Schoeler which work with and compliment the romantic, slightly damaged aesthetic of the shoot. Here Schoeler and Mackie (again) work together and the boundaries of art and fashion melt away and we are left with something quite remarkable. My art historian blogging partner will no doubt see the atmospheric influences of Manet and Valesquez.

When will my magazine feasting end? Is there such a thing as journalism induced obesity? I think I need to lie down because I've overdosed on glossy pages and aspirational imagery...until the next publication then...

Monday 23 March 2009

E Tautz over another cup of tea

As you all know I met up with Patrick Grant last week and were talked through the E. Tautz collection. My time with the youngest guvnor on Savile Row did not stop there and I was fortunate enough to ask him a few more questions and it was an absolute pleasure to hear his thoughts on men's fashion. The last post was full of great quotes but my particular favourite was "we've got to the point where we'd rather have ten cheap things than one good thing" and the below picks up on this point. Here we talk about the effect of the recession on buying, the art of wardrobe building and the need for more tailors...

SS: What has the interest from buyers been like given the current economic climate?
PG: Japanese buyers have recently confirmed but there were only five buyers actually invited to the show itself. Budget cuts are an issue but the people who came really liked the collection and went away on the hunt for extra buying funds. We are still waiting on hearing back from a few but we will know in the next week or two, so we will see what happens.
SS: I am always jealous of the offerings available to Japanese consumers, they just have it too good!

SS: The art of wardrobe building is one we love but it certainly goes against the prevailing throwaway consumerism of today; what are your thoughts on this way of consuming?
PG: If you buy well you will still have it when it is sixty years old. I've got plenty of bits of clothing in my wardrobe, particularly knitwear and the odd jacket that I had bought from the likes of Gucci, Prada, Helmut Lang, Dolce & Gabbana to a certain extent and a few others and I've still got the best of those pieces and I still wear them. The only thing that doesn't really last are the trousers. If they had been made in the cloths that we use and in the way we make them they would still be fine. Machine hemmed trousers are always falling apart and it is amazing that no one knows how to sew anything anymore.

SS: That is so true, I've only recently started dabbling with replacing buttons on jackets but the effect and response to it has been so positive and it is so simple.
PG: We should put up a number of how to videos on the website instructing people how to get the most out of their clothes through simple tailoring, how to hem your trousers, how to sew a button on your shirt... We used to do it all the time at school, not particularly well but we did it. We used to shorten our trousers: I remember one of my roommate taking in peoples trousers in because we all wanted trousers that, basically you couldn't put your feet through. Few people are bothered to do that now. Now if a button falls off a shirt it is thrown away.

SS: Can you see this attitude changing in the foreseeable future?
PG: There is group called Slow Fashion at St Martins which I went to the first meeting of and it is so brave of them, I think, because it flies in the face of everyone who basically pays for their existence. The more care that is taken in the creation of your clothes, the more enjoyment you will get out of them and the longer you will get to enjoy that. I think, especially for men, there are fashionable men and stylish men and we are talking more to stylish men than fashion men but of course there is a little overlap. I think even fashionable men have a little space in their wardrobes for certain core pieces. Everyone wears black or grey slim trousers and if you have a really great pair that fit you beautifully, look good, kept their crease really nicely and were going to last twenty years, you might think that £800 isn't really that much... it might feel like a lot but think of the wear you will get out of them.

SS: It seems most people have forgotten about the whole cost per calculation.
PG: I mean I used to pay £1200 for an off the peg suit, this is going back a few years so I have no idea how much they are now but I used to wear them fifteen or twenty times and the trousers would be worn out in the crotch, I even had one and the tip of the lapel wore out.
SS: Ha, what were doing in that jacket?
PG: I have no idea but it was strange. I particularly have a problem with the crotch of trousers because I cycle and have big thighs. Of course we have lightweight cloths here that might not last but we would recommend a customer buy two pairs of trousers with their suit.

SS: You just would not get that service in most ready to wear stores.

PG: What's nice about the way we are coming at it is that the people involved in Tautz basically work at Nortons. We spend our lives dealing with the type of people we are hoping to sell Tautz to because they are the equivalent to our customers here who are unable to come here and have their suits made but we want to give them something of that quality. We cut it in a way we think feels like a good Savile Row suit, it has got shape in it and makes you look different, it's not a skinny, slim suit but a well cut suit and you very rarely see that. There aren't very many well cut suits kicking around this town and we want to give Tautz something of Savile Row about it. We eat, sleep and breathe great quality clothes and everything we do is done with integrity.

SS: Have you noticed a change in peoples attitude towards tailoring over time?

PG: Tailoring is an incredibly efficient way of buying clothes cost wise and you really get what you pay for. At Nortons the first suit we make, we don't actually make any money because we have to sew it, fit it, take it apart, re cut it, sew it, fit it, take it apart... you know, it is only when we've made one and have a pattern for you that we actually start to make some money. You are getting tremendous value for money if you go to a tailor and it just so happens that we are in the middle of a community of the best tailors in the world. Certainly what you get here is expensive tailoring but there tailors... actually, sadly there are almost no tailors left.

The country should be filled with tailors and everyone should be buying their suits from a tailor. I used to go to a little tailor in Liverpool and his suits were less than the Prada suits that I was taking in to be altered. My perception then was that Prada was very cool but the fact is he could have cut me and made a better suit for less money and I would have looked better if I wasn't such an idiot swayed by a label which I was at that time. 'The only name in your suit should be your own' is the old adage and that is a nice way of thinking about it. Most of my early suits came from a tailor in Edinburgh which doesn't exist anymore... in fact there is only one tailor in Edinburgh now. A city of half a million people, a capital city with a financial centre and only one tailor.

SS: I remember being tempted by a one page ad featured in GQ which called for more tailors.
PG: If you are good at it you can make a good living. The guys who work on this street certainly do but they are bloody good. It is a difficult street and you have to be really good to make a living here but if you are good, you can do very well. Most sewing tailors are self employed and we share with a number of firms. There are some great young tailors who work very hard, there are some old ones to who start at 6am and work right through to 9pm.

SS: It is such a shame that there are so few...
PG: The problem we have is the cost of training people. After years of lobbying by the Savile Row Bespoke Association they have given us £1,000 per apprentice per year but it costs us more like £20,000 so we can only afford one apprentice here at the moment but ideally we could train three people at a time. The biggest file I have in my drawer is full of applications for apprenticeships and we get about one a day. The thing is, we are flat out here and we desperately need more good tailors.

SS: Lastly, there has been a great deal spoken on luxury in the downturn and this must be on your mind as well...
PG: Many people have asked why we would start a new brand in the midst of this economic disaster and for me it doesn't really matter as to when we start but it feels as though people are interested in proper products, quality and integrity... everything we stand for. Whether or not the economic cycle is poor or good should not affect the decision to do this but there is also this belief that these are the type of thing people retreat to when you haven't got a surplus of cash to spend it should be spent on the items you know are worth it and will last. People will continue to want to dress well and wear nice things, which isn't always the same thing. We have seen this with Nortons which has a heavy British based client base and we actually had our best year in eight years last year, we saw a big jump on the year before despite a disastrous US economy and dour forecasts for the British economy. The start of this year has been really strong with this February being better than the last.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Uniqlo Spring

The much anticipated Opening Ceremony for Uniqlo collection was released here in London and beyond earlier this week and I was fortunate enough to snap up a few pieces. As part of the Uniqlo Designer Invitation Project, Opening Ceremony designed a small men's capsule collection for the textile giant from Japan. The collection which features functional separates such as a wrinkle free check shirts (in two colourways), linen cotton trousers, full zip cardigans, and shawl collar anoraks in traditional colours ranging from black to navy to orange. All of which is priced at less than £50 a piece. The collection has fitted in quite nicely with my own vision for Spring...

Fitted cotton full zip cardigan in an exciting blue and lightweight cotton and linen mix trousers which are simply perfect for Spring worn with sheer white shirt by Handmade in England, vintage wool tie and silver hi tops by bstore.

Check shirt and full zip cardigan providing a much needed burst of colour to my wardrobe worn here with jacket and jeans by APC and hi tops by Lanvin.

In my opinion Uniqlo is so far ahead of the opposition that it must be embarrassing for their competitors, at the very least they must be left scratching their heads how the Japanese constantly deliver on style, quality and of course price. The amazing news that Jil Sander has been tempted out of retirement to make her fashion comeback with a collaboration with the chain is almost typical for Uniqlo. The more I think about this though, the more it makes sense; the Uniqlo style aesthetic is not a million miles away from the mistress of minimalism. Sander is apparently looking forward to the challenge of establishing premium quality designs at democratic prices for autumn 09. In addition to overseeing the core men’s and women’s collections, Sander is working on a standalone premium range for autumn 09.

Uniqlo's emphasis on high quality, low cost basics combined with strong advertising and design talent has seen it achieve post record sales here in the UK but it was almost so very different. Over-ambitious expansion and over-reliance on one product (the fleece) nearly ruined the chain in the early noughties. Thankfully, Yanai invested in design talent and an image change with the help of Kashiwa Sato who helped rebrand and reposition the label (for more on this there is an interesting article in CR). The fact that the chain was close to collapse is probably why the expansion has been somewhat cautious. My heart goes out to any reader who does not have a Uniqlo store near them because there is no one else like them on the high street. As reported in Monocle, Yanai is taking the chain to Paris and Singapore and hunting for the big game in the US so here is hoping that you will all have a store a short car journey away... in the meantime, I'll take advantage of the many stores along Oxford Street and will no doubt pick up a few more items for Spring.

Saturday 21 March 2009

Magazines in the spotlight: Monocle

Are you being served? The latest briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design.

Since it was launched two years ago Monocle has celebrated everything which makes print publications so special and in the process has become a constant fixture in my every day bag in the process. This is a magazine which requires more than a causal flick through because there is a depth of information and content which is incomparable to anything else that I read.

The latest issue is a delight for a budding menswear store owner like myself but as the issue analyses the state of retail it is an interesting and inspiring read for anyone. Within the survey on the state of retail we are introduced to the smartest shopkeepers, best buyers, happiest customers and sharpest ideas on the street, in the aisles and online which makes me long for payday! Long before the current economic slump the decline of many of our high streets has been noted and for me (a point agreed by Mr Brule) this climate is perfect for dynamic entrepreneurs to step forward to help turn things around and the issue looks at some of the example working today across the globe. We used to be called a nation of shopkeepers here in the UK but in recent years the consumer landscape has changed from busy, bustling stores to empty and even boarded up stores fifty four retail chains went in to administration last year. It is not all doom and gloom though, the issue highlights the companies, both large and small, who are making a success of it all whilst offering clever lessons in how to maintain traffic, margins and customer loyalty. Japan of course has many a highlight because it seems Japanese retailers actually try to understand what the customer actually wants and delivers great quality products and extremely good service.

Much of the issue is inspiring but the interview with Tadashi Yanai, President of Japanese company Fast Retailing, the parent company of Uniqlo, is surely the highlight. After record sales in 2008, Yanai is taking Unqilo to Paris and Singapore and hunting for big game in the US (plus The Sunday Best will tempt him to Canada I'm sure), Yanai opened the first Uniqlo store in Hiroshima in 1984 (I was surprised to hear that I'm as old as Uniqlo) and now has 765 stores worldwide. The chains emphasis on high quality, low cost basics combined with strong advertising has certainly struck a chord with consumers and will continue to do so. Below are two of my favourite quotes from Yanai:

"We're just going about our normal business, doing what we have to do as a company, whether it's in Japan or London. We follow this principle all over the world."

"I might look successful but I've had many failures. People take failure too seriously. You have to be positive and believe you will find success next time."

The quality of writing content is what really gets me excited about this magazine but each months fashion shoot is a joy. This Shower Dressing editorial within this issue is the strongest yet. Brands featured in the shoot are Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers, Tomorrowland, Visvim, Hollywood Range Market, Traditional Weather Wear, Woolrich Woolen Mills, Sacai, Tod’s, Gucci, John Smedley and more. The spring looks make the best of light rains and cool breezes by using my my trusty and preferred colour palette with tones of blue.

I will spend the rest of my Saturday poring over the pages whilst enjoying the sunshine... a small part of me wants it to rain though so I can explore the streets in the fashion of the gentlemen pictured...

Friday 20 March 2009

Picture Postcard: Waiting for that Spring in my step

Style which takes whatever Spring might throw at it...Jacket by Gucci, polo shirt by John Smedley, scarf by Sacai, trousers and deck shoes by Visvim, bag by Blue Blue at Hollywood Ranch Market.

Dearest EJ

I have spent an obscene amount on magazines this month days but it has all been worth it because it has these past few days laying on the sofa a lot more bearable. As I keep reminding you I've been struck down with the dreaded 'man flu' and despite a cocktail of drugs (co-codamol ftw) the only thing that works are my favourite magazines. It looks as though I will be sidelined for a little while longer as my recovery continues so as soon as I finish work I will pick up issue twenty two of Monocle. Selectism certainly caused some rumblings in my stomach with the above shot from the main fashion editorial and I cannot wait to sit down and feast on the rest of the issue. This shoot presents perfect Spring outfits with lightweight jackets, t-shirts, classic trainers, boat shoes, blazers and more and I'm more than a little inspired by the featured image. Next time I come to visit my attire will be very similar to have been warned.

Much love



Hola Steve-ola!

I'm loving this picture- all the stripes and checks shouldn't work together, but they do. I really like the trousers too, they're just the right side of chef trousers. I love the sky blue umbrella and jacket especially- not quite a pastel colour, but certainly one that you could do well to introduce to your wardrobe.

I've been a little lax with my magazine reading thus far, I think a trip to Magma is in order for tomorrow (after a day of learning even more about Manchester, that is!).


Thursday 19 March 2009

E. Tautz over tea

The art of wardrobe building with E. Tautz.

Over the last couple of weeks we have been looking at luxury in the downturn and discussing the brands we love... there is now another name to add to our list of favourites. Given that many analysts are predicting doom and gloom for months to come, most people would be dissuaded from launching a luxury brand label on to the scene. Fortunately Patrick Grant is not one of these people. As the steering force behind the revival of the 187 year old Savile Row firm of tailors, Norton & Sons he has turned his attention to the resurrection of E. Tautz.

We posted previously that the list of designers at LFW's extended menswear day gave reason to be optimistic about the state of menswear in this fair city, but I was intrigued most by E. Tautz . The label is rooted in history and history seamlessly runs through the whole collection. Patrick and his team were inspired by the photo archive of the Sandringham Estate, both in terms of its colours and landscape and there are more than a few sartorial nods to Edward VII.

As the presentation was over subscribed I was unable to see it on the day but Patrick Grant extended an invite for me to view the collection over a cup of tea at 16 Savile Row. It was a fittingly quintessentially English date because the collection could not be more English and it took place the evening of last Friday. Over tea, I was able to marvel at the quality on offer throughout this collection and was fortunate enough to have a piece by piece commentary to learn much more about this label than what has previously been made available. Over the course of this post I will attempt to offer the same journey I was fortunate enough to take supported by quotes from the man himself and a further post (in a more standard interview format) will follow shortly. I had close to two hours of material to transcribe - it was an absolute pleasure and privilege speaking to the youngest guvnor on Savile Row and I hope you enjoy it.

The knitted ties and relaxed bow tie make for very appealing every day looks.

The English Way of Clashing...

"There is this classic English way of clashing patterns. A quintessentially English way of mixing patterns together which seems to have disappeared. The only people it seems who are rejoicing in this are the likes of Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers. There is a terrific book written by the Duke of Windsor about clothes and style which includes many pictures of Edward VII who was his hero. There are some great images of him wearing Bengal striped shirts with big brown checked tweed and different handkerchiefs which came together to create a riot of texture with all these elements coming together."

The Shetland knitwear is a real talking point

Back to School
"The aesthetic is much softer with a knitted tie rather than silk. It is almost dare I say it school boyish. Until recently I've not worn a V neck jumper under my suits since school and now I really like it. The Shetland knits are of course handknitted and the felt badges are sewn on by hand. Talking of which these were inspired by colleges using similar crests to differentiate themselves from another, so we have taken something old and forgotten and created a much talked about feature"

The perfect fit and softest leather in hand

Provenance is key...
"You could cycle around London and go to our shirt works in Hackney and go up to Walthamstow along the canal down Kingsland Road and stop off at the leather goods, along Clerkenwell Road to where the ties are made and cycle to here where we make the suits. It is amazing really, apart from the sweaters which are knitted in Shetland, everything else could be picked up by bicycle. I'm so pleased with this network of suppliers, everything that isn't currently made in Britain,will when we are more established. The British thing is certainly not a gimmick. We are competing with labels like Hermes and we are striving for the best. If a British supplier is not quite there yet we will work with them to get them there. The only materials that we buy from outside of the UK, are the shirt cottons which come from Italy and the leather for the bags which come from France - we don't do calves leather because we don't eat enough veal here, we need to change our diets before we get that sorted. I really enjoy that all of my suppliers are in the same time zone and speak the same language and it saves so much time and money."

These two looks sum up the main inspirations behind the collection, old colleges and the military.

Patrick Grant and his team create clothes that last. To illustrate the point, he pulled out an old E. Tautz jacket and its label had a 1910 date scribbled on it. The jacket was 101 years old and aside from a little wear and tear from the wearer's hunting exploits the jacket was in amazingly good condition. Grant himself, has three suits which were his Grandfather's, his evening tails, morning suit and one of his dinner suits which were all made in the 1930s (between 1933 and 1936).

Clothes should last...
"These days people will try things on twice and the garment starts to fall apart and he wants to change this, wanting to create garments which can be passed down from generation to generation, a piece of history. It is just a shame that so little of what is made today, particularly clothing, which will be worth tuppence in ten years time. We've got to the point where we would rather have ten cheap things than one good thing. There is something very charming about building a collection of clothes, every piece has a position in a wardrobe. As you build a wardrobe of clothes, starting in your 20s and continue doing so throughout your adult life and if you bought the good stuff then you will still have it at sixty years old, your wardrobe will almost tell the story of your life. One of our longest clients here died last year after being a customer since 1945 and had an extraordinary wardrobe. He wasn't an extravagant man but bought wisely and it certainly told a story. It is something of a lost art that a lot of people just don't consider anymore."

E. Tautz is a label which champions the notion of dressing properly and of men taking pride in what they wear. It adheres to the age old belief that how you dress reflects your respect for the event and for your host. Unfortunately, this sartorial mentality has been lost over the years but Patrick Grant is certainly helping us all remember. Edward VIII said it best. 'Be always well and suitably dressed for every conceivable occasion.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Aitor and the three lions

Aitor Throup is a designer we have been following for some time and his every move causes a flurry of excitement. Graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2006, Throup has since gone on to work with Stone Island (remember the Modular jacket) and contributed to the Topman Black Trouser Project (creating the only offering worth getting excited about). As previously posted I was fortunate to listen in to his conversation with Sarah Mower at the V&A last year and this only intensified my admiration for him. Hearing him talk about his work you really can see how he is both an artist and designer, solving the problems his mind creates with focus and attention to detail and thirst for processes - his comic book scrawlings transform into reality for the runway (or however he so happens to choose to display them). Throup gave great insight into his design process and what he said only made me marvel at him more. He left the audience with an exciting piece of news, that he had just signed up with Umbro (one of the biggest footballing brands in the UK) in a creative consultant for forward a few months and thanks to a reader pointing us in the direction of the umbro blog we can hear what he has been upto..working on the new England football kit.

The truth is, the concept of fashion itself doesn’t really interest or inspire me. I find some aspects of the fashion industry quite frivolous, and a lot of things about how it functions contradict how I work.

There is so much more to good menswear design than fashion (of course we can appreciate the frivolous side from time to time) and this is why I like writing about it so much.

All my work is centered around the idea of inventing new processes and new objects within an on-going study of the human anatomy. Working on true performance apparel like the new England kit provided a great platform to apply some of those ideas.

The above extract summarises exactly why I got butterflies in my stomach when I read this piece of news. Aitor and his design team built this garment with an understanding of how the body works and how it moves, specifically when playing football to create something which moves with the body, like a second skin. I for one would love to see this prototype make it in to production followed by a full collaborative collection sometime soon.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Fantastic Man Inspired post alert: Fantastic Pastels

Fantastic Man is guaranteed to spark many a post in my mind much to amusement of EJ who jokes that she notices a sharp rise in the frequency of my posts after an issue hits the stores. The latest issue is undeniably strong that I'm sure that this posting trend will continue. A full review and subsequent inspired posts will follow (I already can hardly contain myself from posting on the Perfect Man and Men in Skirts feature pieces) but as time is short today I want to share the below image from their pastels fashion editorial.

Jake Shears in Pastels
The look on the right features two items that I'd love to add to my mostly grey and blue wardrobe. The jacket is from Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers and the pastel footwear is from the Raf Simons for Dr. Martens SS 2009 line. Both of these items have made me rethink my attitude towards these two brands and show that collaborations can create beautiful clothes.

Just last month I posted a few images from the Pastels issue from Fashion156 and these images have reminded me that I need to experiment more with colour. I've mentioned it before but when I think of pastels I have an overriding longing for macaroons - all Susie's influence (on a slight tangent, I'd like to apologise again to EJ for the batch of macaroon I picked up for her in Paris which tasted of nothing but flowers). For me, as well as inducing wide eyes and open mouthed salivation, the windows of Parisian Patisseries frequently offer much needed inspirational colour combinations which are a welcome change from the dark colour palettes we are all pretty bored of now after a long winter.

Monday 16 March 2009

The Denim excuse to shop

The image comes courtesy of the lovely Phil from Streetpeeper who spent the weekend on a blow up bed in our living room whilst capturing some great street style snaps of the folks of London.

EJ's recent picture postcard reminded me of my need to experiment with a certain fabric. For too long in my mind denim has only ever equated to jeans but as previously posted, the fabric has so much more to offer. Spring was always going to be the season when I played with denim and there has been plenty of inspiration in recent months, namely the Lanvin x Acne collaboration and I've considered accessories and much to Thom's disbelief...even denim blazers. Never one to shirk from a challenge, especially when one involves the opportunity to go shop, I ventured in to central and found exactly what I was looking for in bstore. Their ss09 collection had a quintessentially English quality with somewhat nostalgic straw boaters courtesy of Christine Bec for bStore, chambray denim smock tops, triple-pleat trousers which were neatly rolled up to the ankle and cotton shirts. When I saw the chambray denim smock tops hanging on the rails I just knew that I had to have it. I will certainly play with denim over the next few months because I've enjoyed dipping my toe in the chambray waters...I still don't think I can wear an all denim ensemble just yet though. here I teamed up my new purchase with rolled up Uniqlo wool trousers, suede Mario shoes by bstore and as the sun was shining I even dusted off my Linda Farrow for Topman sunglasses!

Saturday 14 March 2009

A whiff of Fantastic

Susie hobbled off the Eurostar this week battered, bruised...and bearing gifts! Whilst she could actually walk she found herself at the Fantastic Man Perfume launch party at Colette and fortunately for me nabbed a goodie bag which included the latest issue (a beautiful read but the full review will follow later), scented soaps and the soap itself. I twittered a succinct reaction which is hard for me to better even after wearing the scent for a few days:

The scent itself is slightly feminine at first but after the fruity notes subside you are left with something light but manly...just like me.

Jop Van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers with the help Ben Gorham (founder of Byredo Parfums) wanted to capture the essence of the magazine in a bottle and they have succeeded. Readers of the magazine will know how amazing those pages smell but thankfully rather than capture the actual essence of the magazine the scent revisits the most classic of men's perfumes to create a true gentleman's cologne.

Friday 13 March 2009

Picture Postcard: Denim all the way

Dear Steve,

Just a quick message from me today as, once again, I'm running late. I remember not so long ago a couple of our readers naysaying denim and, in particular, denim jackets so I though I'd expose them to that wonder of fashion: the all denim outfit.

Bret and Jemaine of Flight of the Conchords quite regularly pull off some unorthodox outfits (hair helmet, anyone?) but head to toe denim in especially Jemaine-ish. So what do you think, something you're up to copying?


Just two months ago I posted that 2009 is the year for denim. A number of Spring Summer 09 look books combined with a well written and image sourced piece within that months issue of BUCK made me see look at denim in a different way. I'm still unsure if I would wear an all denim ensemble but I'm certainly interested in wearing denim in another way. Aside from jeans, it is a fabric I just don't wear but this will soon change because I bought a denim tunic shirt from bstore whilst shopping with a hobbling Susie (a true fashion victim) and I will be wearing it tomorrow (images to follow). Now I just can't stop thinking about hair helmets...

Thursday 12 March 2009

Magazines in the spotlight: Man About Town

After months of waiting we have well and truly hit magazine season, so much so that it is hard to keep up and make the time to sit down and actually read them. Oh it is a hard life. Why can't they space publication out a little more. I'm over dosing on glossy pages right now after months of going cold turkey. Just like the number 43 bus, three publications have arrived all together, Fantastic Man (hallelujah), Another Man and Man About Town (new site as well). My commute into the office has been made all the more brighter, who cares if my face is mere millimetres across from the armpit of a fellow traveller, I will make room to read! First out of the bag is Man About Town...

Whatever your thoughts on the Jamie Hince by Hedi Slimane cover (for the record, my thoughts are best described by..meh) it is what inside which makes the magazine truly special. One of my favourite features is the 'what we like' section which looks at everything from Acne Studios office to recommendations on how to achieve the perfect shave to the perfect wine. Also in this issue in the aptly named Men About Town piece where they talked to the leading men of Paris (including Andre and Olivier Zahm), Berlin (Christopher Roth, Joerg Koch) and New York (Adam Kimmel, Sean MacPherson).

The wonderfully shot editorials showcase the very best of menswear and one of my favourites is the tribute to Yves which is something special but the whole magazine is strong on the styles I love.

Ever since it burst on to the scene, Man About Town has guaranteed a highly enjoyable, informative, and, dare I say, beautiful read. The latest issue is no exception as it contains a carefully acquired collection of interesting people's ideas and experiences, providing articles which I love to read and accompanied by my kind of fashion. Thank goodness for magazines like this one and Fantastic Man, without them the world in my opinion would be a little the very least my morning commute would be.


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