Paris Calling

Hello all,
Just a quickie (Oh la la). I’m off to Paris for a few days. I’ll be taking in the sites, food and Champagne. I’m hoping to update with bits and pieces from my excursions throughout the trip but if not, I certainly will when I’m back.
Be good, look after Blighty for me.


Fashion Rambler meets Henry Holland

Selfridges Manchester Trafford Centre hosted a bit of a do to celebrate a new concept in Menswear. Yes, Primark is now stocked within the Menswear Department. *pause for effect*
If you’re bored of hearing about Primark. Scroll down for the interview with Mr Henry Holland. (pictured above)
And although Primark wasn’t the only alteration to the Menswear offer in the out-of-town Shopping Mecca, it was certainly the most talked about. 
Whilst Mixologists concocted potent potions from Whiskey and Rum, whilst Henry Holland span the decks and whilst half naked underwear models (including Stuart from Big Brother) strutted around the floor with balloons – I was sussing out the Menswear offer from Primark.

You may have read my blog that recently announced the Primark/Selfridges collaboration [read it here] and the pictures of the Menswear Edit would have left the snob in you feeling decidedly uncomfortable about their stance on the matter. Why? The truth is, the clothes are relatively spot-on and the price is to die for in this pocket-money-less climate. 

The department benefits from ample floorspace (more than most concessions) but is tucked away under the grand staircase towards the very rear of the shop. Primark have provided bespoke fixtures and fittings that are a leap away from the drap faux-pine and blue plastic we’ve come to associate with their stand-alone stores.

What is interesting and troubling about the clothes is that they look the part within the store. They’re colourful, exciting and the prices are just fantastic (note: Primark is the only concession in Selfridges to advertise item prices on bold end-of-arm boards). 

Why is this troubling? Well, the inner clothes snob in me is about to come out… when you take these clothes home they’re still Primark. You lose the prestige of the store and have nothing to fall back on except a Cederwood State or Denim Co. label.

So. My answer to this snobbery is to buy well. Avoid ‘basics’ and go for the gimick. YES it’s Primark and NO you don’t care (or at least you’re too poor to care). Also, some of the gimmick items, like this Xmas sweater, don’t have Primark labels! (Bonus)

I got a couple of minutes with Mr Henry Holland, designer and resident DJ for the partay.

Fashion Rambler: Mr Holland, what do you think of Primark being welcomed into Selfridges Manchester Trafford Centre?

Henry Holland; I think the official line for Selfridges is quite good in that they say their customer buys everything from Primark to Prada and they think there is a real cross over between high end and low end. They don’t think people shop one and not the other. People like to mix and match their own styles. I think it’s fine. I don’t know what the big hoo-har is about. It’s a massive store so I think Selfridges is big enough to cater to all different markets.
FR: What were your best bits of this season’s London Fashion Week?
HH: Usually every season the best bit is when my show’s finished and I can have a drink! But I think this season everyone was saying Christopher Kane’s [show] was really good. I wasn’t there in person but people were crying and that because it was so amazing. It was beautiful – the fabrics and stuff he developed were so amazing. Richard Nichol was really good. I went to that one. It was beautiful. I thought that Roksanda Ilincic was great and I was at Louise Gray as well that was great. Really good.
Note: I saw Mr Holland at Nicoll’s show, he was a little boozy and asked if his breath smelt of Vodka. It did. 🙂 
FR: You operate two brands, your mainline: House of Holland, and your diffusion line in Debenhams: H! By Henry Holland. How do you manage to juggle the two?
HH: It’s quite easy. We kind of oversee what happens with the diffusion line – working with the design team and designing that stuff is very different. It’s really rewarding because you see it a lot. You see it on girls. It’s about building a new brand. It’s two separate entities, a very different customer and in a very different space. Whereas House of Holland – there’s nothing that happens in my office that I don’t know about. From sales to distribution, to production, to all the design – every single thing. There’s still a team of five of us and people think we’re a huge company. We have a very wide reach. We distribute far and wide.

Be the Business

I’ve recently been on the peripherals of a campaign that was in support of progress, enterprise and trade in a local town that is dying on its feet.
The campaign’s main objective was to get local businesses to vote in favour of adding a little extra, around £135.00 p/a for most small retailers, onto their Council Tax bill. This money would then be totted up and given back to the community at the end of the year to do with what the community felt was most important. Perhaps hanging baskets to brighten the town centre, perhaps marketing to support a Christmas market. The possibilities were endless. The money was for the town’s businesses to invest in what they cared about most. Not only this, but by being part of the scheme the town would have been open to a plethora of other international funds and money pots, basically because they were showing effort and initiative. 
The main plan for this town was to spruce it up and get it on the map with key events in the tourist season and out-of-season to drum up business where it is needed most.
Working with a budget of £52,500 p/a based on the participation of 350 businesses in the BID area: £13000 had been designated for new events, £5000 for festive lights to illuminate the appalling effort currently made by the council, £7000 to help support the administrative arm of the new Chamber of Commerce and even £2500 had been designated as Contingency.
The vote went to ballot and the result was negative. What is so crushing is that it was not turned down because of an overwhelming opposition, but instead because of overwhelming apathy.
How does business, small independent business at that, hope to dig itself out of this recession if the people behind the businesses can’t be arsed to pick up a pen and paper and make their voice heard. I’m not talking about committing to weekly meetings, knocking on doors. There are people with more guts and energy in every town that are happy to do that for you, for free, they just need you to show one ounce of support to give them to go ahead to make your towns and your businesses thrive.
My passion is in business and independent business is the key to a prosperous future but that future is nothing but a dream if these businesses don’t wake up and make use of the few tools they have at this time.
If you’re interested in the case study I’ve presented, you can find out more here:

It is the only town in the history of this specific BID to have turned down the opportunity.


Fashion Rambler meets Monica Vinader

A while back now I was asked to pop to the Moet bar in Selfridges Manchester Exchange Square to meet a very important lady. This lady was Monica Vinader, of the jewellery brand that takes her name.

The Rio in Sterling Silver, from £100.00, buy here.

Monica Vinader started in 2002 as a bespoke jewellery brand whilst Vinader was working in South America with her husband. However, once the world got a peak at Vinader’s stones, demand exploded and just 9 years on we’re sat in Manchester discussing the launch of Monica’s first two out-of-London UK stores. Monica has four of her own boutiques worldwide, sells in Selfridges, Harrods, Liberty’s, on her own site and online with net-a-porter et al.

My Rio Bracelet. 
I chose Black because, in the world of Monica Vinader, it represents Energy,
(something I need lots of!)

Quietly impressed with the UK’s second city (yes you heard, bog off Birmingham), the brand has opened not one but two concessions in the city’s two Selfridges stores. Leading the way with signature friendship-style bracelets the brand is known for their Fiji and Rio unisex ranges. That’s how I know the brand.

However, when I asked about Monica’s ‘menswear line’ for 2012 I was shocked to hear (rarely heard) honesty: “Do you know, I don’t think I do a menswear collection yet”. 

PR, Tyler stopped breathing and I pushed my dictaphone closer. “What?”

“No not yet, I think the Fiji and Rio are very unisex but I don’t think I’ve had a proper go at menswear”. 

Monica Vinader

It isn’t often we see a business owner being self-critical on the record but I have to say that I agree. Although I adore the Fiji and Rio bracelets, the look, the idea. I don’t think they, alone, constitute a menswear line. Not to say I think Monica Vinader needs anything else to please the menfolk, the Fiji and Rio do that quite well as it is. But, like Monica, I agree that if you’re going to call it a menswear collection it needs to be a collection.

The Fiji (with gems), from £85.00, buy here.

Our conversation bounced between Indian sourcing, ecommerce, social media and Hugo from Made In Chelsea (a fan of the brand) and throughout Monica proved every bit the professional but keen for a giggle.

You can see the rest of the interview with Monica on The Fashion Network here


BAGGED: A post of recent purchases

So. I’ve got a few bits and bobs to show you. I’ve been waiting to show you them for a while, so some are worn and a little grubby. But hey. This isn’t VOGUE, this is a blog!

NIKE High Tops, ASOS, £can’t remember…

LOVE these Sky Force NIKE hi-tops that I nabbed in the ASOS Sale! they’re a little small but I don’t care because I feel like I’m in Saved By The Bell 😀

This is a very special addition to my wardrobe as it is from Black White Denim and is a new Classic Cambridge Satch from the Cambridge Satchel Company. I absolutely love this. After stealing my Bosses over London Fashion Week I thought it was about time to get my own.

As seen on my VOGUE/DirectorsOf.Com Best Dressed Nomination this is a nicey from Gola and is a collaboration with Tado.

Messenger Bag, GOLA, £30.00

These were a spontaneous purchase from TOPMAN in the sale. 100% Leather and 100% Winter.

Boots, TOPMAN, £25.00 WAS £80.00

Can I take this opportunity to thank you all for your support over the VOGUE/DirectorsOf.Com Best Dressed Nomination. Results in December, I’ll keep you informed!


Primark sets up shop in Selfridges

I know. WAH!? But, listen. This is a GOOD thing. I’m rather excited. Why? because when Primark get it right, they get it right and I love a bargain (don’t you). BUT, as is probably the same with the majority of the sane British public, I don’t like their stores. 
They’re messy, sweaty, filled with nasty people and generally rather depressing. I understand that it is this cutting corners and cutting costs that makes the fashion so cheap BUT still, WWMPD (What would Mary Portas do?)
So. I think this is a rather exciting prospect for the King of low-end to shack up with the King of High End. Plus, can’t wait to get my hands on these rather sexy items!

Primark Menswear Edit. Coming soon to Selfridges Manchester Trafford.

VIVA MAGAZINE AW Manchester Edition

It’s that time of year again, when VIVA Magazine (Manchester and Cheshire’s premium glossy) gets published and distributed throughout the district in pubs, clubs, barbers and bars, showrooms and changing rooms and anywhere there is free champagne.
This issue marks my last with the magazine. I’ve come full circle, from writing the Xmas Partywear pages in 2010 to the Winter warmers this year. (Pages 35 and 37) I have loved working with the VIVA Team and wish them all the luck in the future. I’ll always be a reader.

You can also see a little more of me on page 47 for my VOGUE.COM/DirectorsOf.Com Best Dressed Male Nomination!