The thing with the Manchester fashion scene is, for ages nothing happens and then all of a sudden EVERYTHING HAPPENS! Last Thursday night played host to three events all of which I was invited to attend. One was the relaunch of the newly refurbished TOPMAN in Manchester Arndale, a party with DJs, drinks and style consultations. The second was the opening of the first ever Kuyichi store in the UK on King Street and the third the Attitude Magazine men’s swimwear and underwear show at Selfridges Manchester Exchange Square! What is a boy to do?
Naturally the Attitude gig was a must, but luckily I also got to pop to the Kuyichi event just in time to neck a glass of Champers before closing! Here is the tale of 26th August 2010 for Mr McDowell.
It was 5:30 and we were running late, so after phoning Christopher to hurry him up (he was sat with his rollers in painting his toe nails) we minced down the canal to Exchange Square. The show was hosted within the menswear Department on the first floor of the super dooper department store and the whole event was organised perfectly (despite my name being originally absent from the guest list, epic fail, don’t they know who I am!?) The complimentary and ever-so-strong cocktails were poured by Patron Tequila and Coors beer (Light, naturally) was iced and on offer from various lovely gentlemen carrying trays. Muscle marys in aussieBum knickers were handing out copies of this month’s Attitude and St Tropez were spraying gay boys needing a bronzing before Pride. It was the campest I’ve ever seen Selfridges (probably).
Meanwhile, drink in hand, myself and my + twos (Adam and Christopher) meandered through the menswear collections to see the Manchester Pride Photography Exhibit on show exclusively in Selfridges Manchester Exchange Square. The exhibit features photos of various celebrities who all pledge their support for Pride and LGBT rights. Lovely.
Now, the naked men. The catwalk was square and boarded the menswear section so we took our seats, sandwiched between Dior and the tie collections, for a prefect view. David, the menswear buying director for Selfridges Manchester, took to the mic to introduce the night saying that ‘the attitude show is my favourite on the Selfridges calendar’. Bless him. Without further ado the music was cracked up and the boys were let loose to the horny, tipsy gays and their whistles (provided to ensure nothing about the evening was civilised).
The models nervously strutted out onto the catwalk, and if there was ever any confusion as to what was expected of them as male models the lovely people at Selfridges had ensured that instructions like, ‘walk this way’ and ‘strike a pose’ were plastered all over the floor.
Oh the clothes… The swimwear and underwear on offer was a mixed bag from boxers and shorts to near-thongs and speedos! Brands exhibited included aussieBum (of course), Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein (natch) and one of my new favourites and my personal brand of underwear for that specific night, Diesel. The last change saw the models sporting I HEART MCR PRIDE Tees which gave the campest evening on the Manchester fashion calendar the cherry on its proverbial cake.
After the show a rather hyped up and excited crowd returned to the bar for drinks as we snuck off to catch the last orders at the Kuyichi Denim store opening on King Street!
The usual MFN crowd were present although by the time we staggered in many had left. Still Faun (my new favourite shop assistant) popped open another bottle of Champagne for us and we took time to stroke the lovely jeans. It was at this point that I bumped into the lovely Martine Alexander and was finally able to put a face to the Twitter account! BONUS!
What a busy night it was, and now I’m off to get ready for Night One of The Manchester Pride Big Weekend! Blog post delights to follow!
P.S. was totally mentioned in the Twitter section of this month’s Attitude.
I recently attended an audience with Sarah Curran, CEO and Founder of my-wardrobe.com and her Director of Marketing, Lauren Stevenson.
The evening was chaired by Dale Hicks of MFN who introduced the ladieswho then in turn told the audience a little bit about themselves. Curran left school at 18, skipping University and heading straight for London where she worked for various companies including L’Oreal. Sarah eventually found herself working with News International, the parent conglomerate behind The Sun and The Times, which saw her land a job as sub-editor with The Times Online. “I was very lucky” says Curran, “falling into a sub Editor on the Times Online, no one wanted to be it … we were shoved right in the corner by the toilets … that was in 2000/02, it’s amazing how things have changed”.
Lauren Stevenson studied Marketing at University and whilst studying gained work experience at top stylist agency Aurelia who boast clients such as Versace, Jaguar and Krug Champagne. Stevenson had always wanted to be a Stylist but after witnessing the industry first hand whilst interning in PR she felt she was better suited to PR and Marketing. Upon graduating Lauren took a job at Versace and worked in PR which soon led to a PR job at Ketchum, “I went from working with Versace to working on Whiskers Cat Food” says Stevenson, “but what the job did me was excellent experience in Marketing communication”. Stevenson then moved then to competitor agency Hill and Knowlton which is where she met Sarah who was to become, firstly her client and eventually, her employer.
You can read all about what was asked and answered regarding the company’s Marketing strategies by visiting the MFN report here. But the remainder of this blog will focus on what was said about the company’s recent introduction of Menswear in February of this year.
Curran and Stevenson sought out Luisa de Paula to head up their buying division; Paula has experience in both womenswear and menswear from the likes of Selfridges and Liberty. But my-wardrobe.com also poached Steven Spears from industry magazine Drapers to come onboard as PR Director for Menswear. Assigning specific roles to tackle the menswear fight back from ASOS is a clever move as the two genders are never as far apart as they are in fashion.
Curran admitted that introducing and marketing menswear had been difficult as they, at first, approached the advertising in the same way as they had approached their womenswear. Sarah went on to say that “guys don’t actively seek out fashion page in magazine or newspaper” their strategy quickly became to latch onto other modes of communication that men were interested in and “accepting we weren’t going to the primary mode of communication in that piece”. After introducing the menswear arm earlier this year Curran admitted that it had “not had that ticking point” and that the split for my-wardrobe.com sales was 20%-80% to womenswear.
The work carried about my the etailer with focus groups and data collection lead Curran to conclude, rather exasperatedly, that “men are far more complicated”. Where the etailer found that women were impulsive and active in their approach to fashion the webstore found that men were more passive and were harder to attract in store. Stevenson said of their findings: “men only shop for a reason, a festival, a gig, a holiday” but Stevenson sees this as an opportunity for the etailer to maximise on its offering. She gave her husband’s approach to shopping as an example “he hates shopping” she said, “his worst nightmare would be walking into Harvey Nichols and being pounced on by a Sales Assistant.” Stevenson went on to prove that online provided a platform for men like her husband, who hate shopping but like designer gear, to shop without any of the negative to dissuade them from spending, “no hot changing rooms or sales assistants”.
I am not quite sure where I stand personally within the gender split, impulsive or passive, but what I can be sure of is that much care and attention is being paid to it by my-wardrobe.com and it is refreshing to see a dedication to a menswear marketing strategy revealed.
Photographs by Jennifer Urwin
People tend to change clothes very often and spend many hours on shopping. However, it is more like an attraction “to get something new today”, to socialize or simply check new arrivals in shops. New clothes push out the old ones even though many of them are still suitable to wear. So people could give some of them away, maybe sell few or swap them into something different and more interesting. We believe, that the clothes can get a second wind and their life circle can be prolonged. On second thoughts, it saves time, resources and, of course, your money! We all had the situation, when after shopping we realize that the size is wrong or a new jacket does not really look that good, so everything can be posted and re-sold on our site. We also want to encourage creative people to promote their handcrafted clothes and accessories which can be made of original materials.
There is one simple rule for the site users – they have to become members. However, membership creates the community where people can communicate to each other, write letters, comment and discuss, share their interests. Here we aim to create the community that shares their ideas & skills, all related to fashion and lifestyle. We do not dictate trends here, members create them themselves.
According to our colleagues, Lithuanian website proved that this idea rounds up people into a so called affinity group. Many of the members became good friends that meet up for coffee, organise small meetings and share their personal stories.
You’re the only member of the friendlyfashion.co.uk team in the UK at present, does the UK website have strong ties to its Lithuanian counterpart?
The circumstances determined that another Friendly Fashion team member works from Lithuania and I am the only member in the UK at present. The public interest in our idea of more meaningful consumption is growing; I believe, soon we will need few more enthusiasts to work on this project in the UK. Certainly, we are lucky to have our colleagues running the sites in other countries as their experience and advices are priceless. Such international cooperation really helps to spread our messages mouth-to-mouth, as members are happy to tell about us to their friends abroad and share their experiences. However, Lithuanian and German sites have their own face and obviously the English site is going to develop its own membership contingent and ideas.
See what I’ve got for sale here expect FCUK, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein!
(please buy because I’m saving for my NYC trip in November! :D)
More of this interview can be read at MFN
Damion Le Cappelain was kind enough to agree to a little interview with me for Manchester Fashion Network. But, I have saved these last couple of questions just for Fashion Rambler. He he
Jordan McDowell: Would you consider your work to be typically British in its creative endeavours or would you attribute your personal creative style to something else entirely?
Damion Le Cappelain: Part of my aesthetic is ‘Dickensian work wear’ which is obviously historically British, but apart from that no. My work sits in some dark unfathomable place. I don’t know where it came from. I think I’ve just listened to too much techno over the years. British fashion is very street/youth culture. I’m not that.
What a pants image eh’? See the big juicy slideshow here.
JMc: You were awarded the UPS Movement and Mobility award in 2009 for a collection of shoes. What can you tell us about the idea and inspiration behind your collection for the competition?
DLC: The project brief was Movement and Mobility. I designed collection of footwear, all of which can be worn by the delivery guys in any environment – functioning in dessert, ice, jungle, urban. I also added armour so they can beworn by the delivery guys in any environment – functioning in dessert, ice, jungle, urban. I also added armour so they can be worm in dangerous places. You never know a parcel might need to be delivered in Sierra Leone?
JMc: After graduating with a Diploma in footwear from the London College of Fashion and this year from The Royal College of Art with a Masters in Menswear Design, specialising once again in Footwear, what is next for Damion Le Cappelain?
DLC: To launch my own collection and probably expand into Leather jackets and some basic garments. The shoes are going to be very expensive as they are not easy to produce, so they will be available in very limited numbers from a few select boutiques. That’s the plan anyway.
We were ready for a swashbuckling shindig, our second escapade to the Isle of Fallowfield, ahargh me mateys, all aboard for James’ housewarming!
The theme was Pirate, my favourite. We kinda went all out, natch. Adam wore a full length red velvet faux Captain’s coat with lace motif, Tricorn hat, fishbone necklace, pantaloons and TOMs espadrilles (authentic, we thought so). He also donned a treasure chest not-at-all-femme shoulder bag filled with all that a Pirate Captain would need for a good old knees-up. Chocolate coins and LUSH lip balm.
I wore an authentic Royal Canadian Horse Artillery dress uniform jacket circa 1905 from a fabulous vintage shop in Totnes, Devon. You may ask, why a Royal Canadian Horse Artillery dress uniform jacket? Well, it makes a rather impressive statement as a Pirate Captain despite the inaccuracies in its origin. I teamed the vintage with the new, Superdry white crops, McQueen-esque bandana, eye patch, belt, plastic fencing sword and Pilgrim style booties.
The Rum flowed all rather too freely, and the music was at cannon shot volume as James had unpacked his decks and super-club standard speakers. Needless to say I avoided the rum and drank Absolute vodka with pomegranate and high jacked the decks to blast out Ke$ha to a displeased crowd. Isn’t this what Piracy is about?
Poor dead parrot.
Come 2 o’clock the scallywags were flagging and the glow sticks had faded, it was time to board our vessel homeward and wave good bye to the Isle of Fallowfield once more. Who knew she held such treasure?
I was lucky enough to be invited to a rather lovely do at The General Store on Deansgate in Manchester the other night. The night was another of the store’s Brands of Manchester launches which, after a competition to find a winner, welcomes a new designer into the premium indie store for a three month stint. Last season’s winner was Pretty Disturbia women’s wear and for the next three months Mononoko Couture has taken the coveted position on the second floor of the Barton Arcade store.
The lovely ladies from Urban Decay in Manchester Debenhams were on hand to do up models with their Deluxe Pallet of bold and bright shades and to assist guests on everything from false lash application to lip gloss dilemmas. Urban Decay in Manchester Debenhams offer master classes on a regular basis and can offer full make-overs from £20.00 redeemable against products. Contact Anna and the ladies on their Facebook page here or search Manchester Debenhams Urban Decay.
Whilst circulating the room and networking rather shamelessly I managed to grab Mary, the designer behind Mononoko, for a quick word about her new collection, exclusive to General Store.
Mary told me that she found out she had won the competition only three weeks before launching in General Store and at that point had no collection to sell, ‘I had what the girls are wearing … and other bits and bobs basically’. Mary went on to talk about her capsule collection, saying of the pallet: ‘my autumn winter collection was black, white and red, so I’m moving on from that but throwing in splashes of colour.’ As Mary adds to the small capsule collection we can expect an infusion of the ethnic, ‘for my spring summer eleven collection I’ve been taking on a lot of Moroccan and North African influences’. When asked if this influence was the origin of the infamous Mononoko earrings Mary said ‘No… I don’t know where they came from, they’re just random!’
Good luck to Mary and Mononoko, I’ll be in again soon to see the latest editions!
Photos provided by Anna J Westerman
I know this news broke a while ago but I’ve only just begun to get over the shock and disbelief. The UK Government are going to axe the UK Film Council which is responsible for the funding, promotion and distribution of UK cinema film. WHY!?
I’ve just finished a rather special novel. It was written by Jackie Kay who is a poet and writer who lives in Manchester. The novel was dedicated to fellow Manc poet and the current Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.