Fashion Rambler meets Michael Brown of Frater Menswear

Gotta love a newbie. Frater Menswear is a new Manchester brand that has launched online and has big plans for nationwide exposure. The brand suits that guy who care what he looks like without caring much about ‘trend’ or ‘fashion’, the guys that smell good and have floppy hair in the pub. 

I got to quiz Michael Brown, the brand owner, about his career, brand and future.
Fashion Rambler: Would you consider Frater synonymous with Manchester or a Brand with broader roots?
Michael Brown: Frater definitely has deep roots in Manchester due to the fact that I’ve grown up here, being inspired by Manchester’s last creative generation from Joy Division to Peter Saville – there’s so much music and cultural heritage here to draw from. I hope that Frater will be part of the next wave of creativity to come out of the city, and think that Manchester has a really exciting future, but I also take inspiration from places and people all over the world – it’s important for the brand’s development that we’re always looking beyond where we are at the moment.

FR: Who is the Frater customer, who do you design for?
MB: When I put together a new collection or design a new piece, I’m always aiming to come up with something that my friends and I would wear and get excited about. The whole brotherhood of Frater is based on looking at my peer group and designing for them, and I want the Frater customer to be passionate about the clothes and feel something for what they’re wearing. I don’t want to create clothing that’s generic, I want our customers to have an opinion – items like our Liberty and Pierson t-shirts are a good example of this, the bold graphic wartime prints really show how art and fashion can flow together, and the people that wear them want to make this statement.
FR: What are the plans for the future of the Brand?
MB: Our ultimate are aim is to become an established brand in the UK market and continue to push forward, creating something different and unique as we go along, which people will be excited to see and feel proud to wear. We’re conscious of not growing things too quickly, and want to develop the brand personality while building the business over time.

To see more of this interview go here

My Stitch Menswear Finds: Fruit of the Loom

Remember Fruit of the Loom? The brand your Mum always said did the best socks? Well, they did indeed do the best socks…and knickers too! Fruit of the Loom have taken over the US underwear market and are invading Europe with a passion to do the same. The fruity boxers and briefs on offer at Stitch were reminiscent of Diesel underwear and totally caught me off guard! Available now on Amazon and soon in a store near you.

My Stitch Menswear Finds: Peter Werth

Peter Werth rose out of North East London as a knitwear specialist to become a powerhouse of British design with collections spanning casual, tailoring, accessories and footwear and stocked throughout the UK and the world. Peter Werth was at Stitch punting for business to increase its already heafty list of stockists in the UK including, Baron Jon, Duffers and Scotts. From 1975 to 2011 the brand has evolved to suit a changing fashion climate and today presents Stitch buyers with a unique approach to A/W’11.

A collection that touches on both trends and classics the Peter Werth A/W’11 offering comprises Military, Mod, British Heritage al la Barbour or Henri Lloyd to create a collection with depth, scope and something for everyone. In other words, a buyer’s wet dream.
The look book is moody, urban and supremely British without leaning on gimmick or satire and I love it!

My Stitch Menswear Finds: Selected

Stitch Menswear unearthed many brands for me, some new, some old and some like Selected that I didn’t expect to find. Menswear is often dubbed an area of fashion that isn’t necessarily trend lead. But when I witnessed a room filled with brands that each had their own version of the Barbour jacket for A/W’11, I beg to differ. Trends may not change as quickly or be as radical as womenswear but they certainly help to shape the menswear fashion sector. Danish brand, Selected seems to defy this rule. Selected comprises two different menswear brands, Selected Homme and Selected Jeans the former being formalwear and the latter casual, both of which have presented something different for next season.

Selected Jeans has taken inspiration from The American Old West for Autumn/Winter 2011. The collection draws on the broad landscapes of California on the Cowboys riding through Nevada and on the dry heat of Texas to evoke an epic feel of the great West. Functional clothing is paramount as the clothing of The Old American West was worn until it fell apart. Bleached jeans and dusty pallets dominate a collection made to last but one that looks like it may not.

Selected Homme is a little more modern. The Modernist collection draws from timeless retro classics from 1950s and 60s Mod London. Slim suiting inspired by Saville Row tailoring pays homage to the Golden era of men’s tailoring. Suits teamed with duffle coats and Vespas kick in retro and youthful rebellion.
Stocked: Denmark, Germany, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Ukraine and Sweden.

Selfridges S/S’11 In Assosiation with GQ

Gentleman’s Quarterly has put its name to the Selfridges S/S’11 Menswear collections this season to preempt the upcoming Selfridges pull-out supplement in GQ. I met with Menswear Manager for Manchester Exchange and Manchester Trafford Selfridges stores, Ben Wilson, to sample the latest offering. His fantastic tour of the department (and hypnotic Irish tones) got me inspired for this season and here are my interpretations of the trends via Selfridges.
A look synonymous with Cambridge canal punting, strawberries and cream at Wimbledon and Charlotte Bronte; Riviera is the name given to the look that comprises lightweight summer blazers, rolled up chinos and maybe even a straw hat?
I love this GANT linen blazer because it is light enough for summer but easily adapted to winter then teamed with woolly knits and think denim.
Team these amazing Ferngully chino shorts with a nautical Jil Sander T (everywhere this season) and the aforementioned blazer and you’ve got a trend!
Also, I’m well into these Fin’s George Loafers at the moment. They’re not in Selfridges but they’d look great with this look.
Colour Block me a Rainbow:
Colour Blocking is all over Womenswear and it the main focus of the Selfridges VOGUE supplement too. However, to see this transcend the barriers and set up camp in the Menswear Department is exciting. Colour blocking needn’t be terrifying. The look is easily replicated and can be done to your own comfort level.
This light blue Maison Martin Margiela collarless shirt might not be an obvious choice for a colourful trend but when paired with slightly brighter pieces the trend can be replicated without looking all Lady Gaga.



Ralph Lauren, a brand linked with pop colour? Perhaps not, but these trousers are bold enough for the trend and understated enough to be able to walk down Market Street without being abused.
KG by Kurt Geiger have these brogues in just about every bloody colour under the sun. Easy Peasey.
I’m excited for the sun to come out. Let’s get shopping!

Pure London and Stitch Menswear Trade Shows

I spent last Sunday at the opening of Pure London and Stitch Menswear A/W’11 trade shows. I saw so many brilliant brands hoping to make it this A/W, some from the past and some brand new. I’ll be posting some juicy look book scans soon from some of my favourite brands but first, a general round up of my day.
I got there at just before 11 and immediately set out to see who was on offer at Stitch Menswear (the UK’s only dedicated menswear trade show). I found LUKE, Peter Werth, Kappa and even La Coq Sportif! Anywho, more about the brands in coming posts. As well as sampling the merch from the brands on offer I attended some seminars and talks across the event held in both Earl’s Court and Olympia. In Earl’s Court I was among the hundreds that crowded around the Pure Spirit Inspiration Stage to witness the unveiling of Katie Price’s latest fashion label Day 22. I won’t bore you with a commentary of the clothing as you’ve no doubt heard about it already but what I will say is that Miss Price shouldn’t be underestimated. 
After closing the catwalk show Miss Price was interviewed by some journo along with her fellow business partner Lamis Khamis, the designer. Miss Price commented on how she had never been accepted in the fashion world, “ever!”, and looked out to the see of fashion journos and buyers, before she declared that by 14:00pm on their first day of pitching the brand had nearly sold out to buyers! Pretty good going when not one brand I visited that day had made a sale. Katie finished her little interview by calling out to the crowd, “thank you for letting me come to your fashion event”… In other words, she stuck two fingers up.
Straight after Katie was a talk entitled “10 Things I Wish I Knew” which saw Editor of industry magazine Drapers interview, owner of Drapers Award for Best Indie winner, Lewis Yates. But, the talk was a bit rubbish. Jessica interviewed Yates, which was fine, but no top ten tips for indies were ever divulged and Yates have obviously not prepared. I was a little disappointed.
One thing that was of interest was Yate’s hesitation to talk his successful boutique online. I was shocked when he shrugged his shoulders and said it was too much work but upon pondering the answer I suppose it is a lot to talk on if your team is small. OiPolloi of Manchester have a whole floor of their HQ dedicated to eCommerce alone..
Another talk I went to was at the contemporary stage in Pure at Olympia. Here two lovely techies talked through the best ways to use Video media to maximise your eCommerce business. Three types of video were played: the Dorothy Perkins Xmas Stock Shoot which was an example of ‘behind the scenes’. A moody musicy typically Jordan Scott for Prada piece for some indie brand and finally a MyTV interview from with stylist Grace Woodward. The three videos aimed to show examples of the ways you can engage a customer with your brand through video media output on your website. The boys talked about the best ways to go it on the cheap including, sourcing independent music from local bands etc. Using basic editing software but not making it obvious you have by keeping edits simple and graphics bold and standard.
I missed the rest because I had to dash for the tube.

SEO, come again?

I got lost on the A-something the other day on my way to The E Word headquarters for a lightening speed introduction to Search Engine Optimisation Marketing. Thrilling I know. What is SEO? Search Engine Optimisation is the name given to the method website owners use to increase their Search Engine rankings.

Al Mackin of The E Word, an award winning specialist SEO Consultancy, chaired the event for me and a few other webbies to learn all about ranking boosting tactics FOR FREE. Mackin began by letting us in on some industry stats. First and foremost, Google pretty much are King. 92% of all online searches performed in Jan 2010 alone were through Google, 3% for Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo and 1% for the rest of the little ones. Of these searches 60% performed on Google were successful and linked searchers with their desired site, 80% performed on Yahoo were also successes. Despite this dip The E Word still spend 89% of their client’s money on Google advertising and SEO initiatives.

What was interesting about the presentation was the introduction of SEO via Social Media. The E Word credit sites like Facebook as valuable tools to advertise with, free company pages are also a clever way to increase both Google rankings and general website traffic. Mackin also said that Twitter is important to website owners wanting to boost Google ratings. If Twitter feeds are linked to websites, their regular updates can boost visibility to Google. Regular updates to websites are also needed to help websites remain on the surface of the web and for Google to see them easily. 100+ updates pcm would be best, websites owners can get close to this with editorial sections to their sites.

Why do all this boosting? What’s in it for you and your website? Well, a jump from Google position two to one can see a visitor increase of 300%… wait for it, from number ten to one, an increase of 2200%! I know, scary.

So, link a Twitter feed to your site, get a Facebook, either update an editorial section regularly or link in a blog. AND. There is one more tip to help your SEO stats for free. Leave HTML tags on other sites and blogs. When commenting on Newspaper articles, BBC pages and forums leave tags as this will help Google see your URL more easily. If you can get sites like the BBC, your local creditable newspaper etc. to link your site on their pages all the better as Google favours ‘authority’ sites.


Harvey Nichols S/S ’11 Catwalk Show

It was that time of year again. The time for WAGs and Fashion Insiders alike (I’m somewhere in-between methinks) to gather and be mesmerized by the Harvey Nichols Collections Catwalk Show.
This season’s show was hosted in one of my favourite Manchester landmarks, the Manchester Art Gallery. Upon moving back to Manchester one of my first dates with the city was spent here. I would wander the halls aimlessly for hours, alone, contemplative and supremely happy. The drama of the 18c epics and the intricacy of the antiques is something no one can pass by. The place has always had a special place in my heart and so it was a thrill to spend the evening among the greats in Art and in Fashion.
The show itself was hosted in one of the temporary exhibition lots towards the rear of the Gallery. Guest wondered through the gallery with drinks and were papped en route to their seats. The usual gaggle of WAGs were present although as far as celebrity guests were concerned they must have been filming late at Granada because I spotted non of the usual crowd. The biggest clique by far was the Manchester Confidential lot who stole the twitter airwaves throughout the show with the hashtag #mclt (Manchester Confidential Live Tweet) and ended up getting the discussion topic trending as one of the most tweeted topics in Manchester! Read there commentary of the night here, see if you can spot my tweets!
 from left Lynda Moyo: Fashion Editor for Manchester Confidential, Mike: Brands Assistant for The Fashion Network, Emma: PR for The Fashion Network, Katie: Manchester Corespondant for Stylist Magazine and moi.
Before I delve into my favourites of the menswear effort I’ll let you know what I wore. Everything was new with a healthy (for my bank balance) ratio of 1:3 designer to highstreet.

 Blazer, Zara
T-Shirt, John Galliano
Trouser, TOPMAN Ltd. Edition
Scent, Tom Ford (of course)
The show was separated into 12 trends, six for each gender. My favourites for menswear were American Preppy and Sports Luxe.
Prep was represented by some of the usual American suspects i.e. Ralph Lauren and Ray Ban but the Yanks were teamed with the Best of British to create a transatlantic sense of summer tosh.

Nicole Farhi cardigan (£160), Nicole Farhi shorts (£109), Polo Ralph Lauren polo (£70), Dolce
& Gabbana bow tie (£95), Paul Smith bag (£175), FFOR shoes (£80)

Ralph Lauren polo top (£70), Gucci jacket (£865), Nicole Fahri trousers (£99), D&G tie (£65),
Sperry shoes (£82), Polo Ralph Lauren socks (£10.50)
What I loved about the American Preppy look is that is is so easy to replicate when on a budget. Half of the staples I have in my ‘it might come back into fashion’ pile and the extras are easy to find in the high street. Although, I wouldn’t mind treating myself to a D&G Bow Tie…
Sports Luxe was a surprise because whenever I see a show with a sports theme I usually get bored and think, “these are the clothes they couldn’t fit into another theme”. This was not the case this time! Sports Luxe wowed and got me thinking, I should get that gym membership.

Moncler gilet (£275), Markus Lupfer jumper (£195), D&G shorts (£125), Balenciaga bag
(£550), Balenciaga hi tops (£345), Casio watch (£85)

D&G shorts (£125), Umbro jacket (£120), Umbro t-shirt (£40), Paul Smith bag (£120),
Alexander McQueen trainers (£145), Casio watch (£110)
I was especially impressed with the way Umbro was styled into the theme. Umbro have recently launched a new line designed by Peter Saville formerly of Factory Records. I went to the launch and will blog soon! Anyway, the New Fabric of England collection ‘tailored by Umbro’ was a smash hit and injected a little Manc passion to the sports proceedings.
The show ended and guests shopped the show at Harvey Nichols just down the road. enroute myself and my ever-gorgeous +1 Christopher Hulme stumbled across a H&M Student 20% Lock In and had our mug shot taken… odd.
Before I sign off. An important message. £10 of every ticket sold for the Harvey Nichols show was donated to the Manchester Art Gallery to keep the Arts alive in Manchester. The Arts desperately need the support of the people who enjoy them in these disastrous economical times. Cameron has already dissolved the UK Film Council, what’s next? Don’t let art die in the UK, support it here.