BBC Radio Manchester’s Retail Therapy – Listen Again 31/21/11

Hello readers, and now listeners. I’ve just come off air with BBC Radio Manchester and thought that since it’s New Years Eve, you’re probably still in bed. So, you may want the opportunity to listen Retail Therapy on podcast. (Call it a late Christmas present).
I talk you through spending wisely for SS12 and in the current SALE period. Get more for your money by buying into exciting brands, from independent retailers and clothes with a  dash of Northern soul.
When shopping SS12 and the SALES in the coming months, remember to have a firm grasp on those purse strings and recall these easy to memorise bullet points:
  • SALE items are those the store needs to get rid of. Do YOU really need it?
  • A bargain is only a bargain if you would have paid full price!
  • Buy Trans-Seasonal and avoid trends to have a wardrobe fit for the entire year.
  • How can you wear AND re-wear. These pieces need to work all year round!
  • Have a story to tell, the biggest compliment is someone asking where your clothing is from, shock them and have a real reason behind your purchase!
Featured products include:
Online and in store at Origin68, (Chinese Arts Centre, Northern Quarter Manchester)
The Human Being Tee from Origin68. A northern Tee brand with a (possibly obsessive) love for Tees. Organic and ethically sourced cotton that goes the long haul and a bargain at £18.00!
Online and in store at Black White Denim, (Wilmslow)
The Collective Tee. An amazing brand for girls and boys that collaborates with a different artist each season to create something truly original. Become the Art Gallery and walk around with a Bob Carlos Clarke print from the AW11 collection or a Terry O’Neill photo from the SS12 lot.
Online and in store at Each To Their Own (Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield)
Alex Christopher, the northern Designer has a touch of Westwood about his clothes. These Chinos are perfect for the remainder of Winter and for the coming Summer months. Wear and re-wear your wardrobe this year for cost effective fashion!
Online and in store at Black White Denim (Wilmslow)
Victoria Beckham’s denim may be an expense, but it is one you won’t have to make often. Fab quality and around £130.00 in the current sales. Buy now, wear for ages!

I hope you liked the selection and I hope you’ll think twice before buying that supposed bargain when your money could be going to more exciting use!

Listen again to Retail Therapy’s NYE show, available ’til 7/1/12


2011 in retail

What a year. From Boom to Bust and a little more Bust. A downward spiral across the Continent, a failure at Eurovision, riots in the streets and even Sir Phill is out of pocket. But, having said all that and having lived through it all; we’re still here.

Businesses have suffered and closed, we’ve waved good-bye to some of the UK’s best loved multiples and countless indie stores in the process; the ones we’ve kept hold of have changed beyond recognition. Our economy, social morale and understanding of direction for the country is askew.

Landlords don’t understand business owners, businesses are forgetting their customer, customers aren’t spending wisely and playing into the wrong hands. Sales agents happily over-stock indies and don’t provide support, brands bully retailers whilst councils wrap the lot in red tape. This has got to stop.

A landlord that demands double rent during the Christmas season doesn’t understand the difficulty of trading at such a time, especially during 2011. A retailer that forgets its customer forgets why it opened the doors in the first place. Sales agents and brands need to work with retailers to ensure their product is well represented and that the retailer has the best possible chance of shifting it at full margin; bullying and threats don’t make for a nice experience for anyone. Above all Councils and Government need to wake up to the problems and hopefully The Portas Review has gone someway to starting that manoeuvre.

 Picture courtesy of The Portas Review 

Perhaps 2012 will bring about an epiphany? Perhaps not. Perhaps we’ll rediscover our high streets in the depths of recession or perhaps they’ll be demolished to make room for another ASDA*WALMART Super Centre. Perhaps we’ll get a little of each?

2012 will be a big year for everyone because we have everything to lose and everything to gain. On a personal level, it will be a big year for me and I intend to grab it by the horns and not let an opportunity go by without having a good go at it first! I urge you all to do the same because where 2011 was a year of uncompromisable change and un-relentless hardship, we need to make 2012 count by reversing what we can and picking up as many of the pieces.

If you’ve not yet read the Mary Portas review on retailing in the UK, please do. If you take only one thing away from it let it be that if each and every one of us believed in our high streets in the way that Portas seems to; they wouldn’t necessarily be in the predicament that they find themselves in now.


I’ll be back just before New Years Eve with a special announcement and I’ll be blogging in 2012. Expect an interview with Hannah Martin the jewellery designer extraordinaire and hopefully some snaps of Paris if Mother McDowell gets her camera uploaded.

Merry Christmas to all and Seasons Greetings to everyone else, may it be a time of good will and good wine.


VOGUE’s Online Fashion Week, The Report

So. I don’t think anyone was more excited for Online Fashion Week than I. Perhaps someone, but I’ve not met them yet.
You’re waiting for a ‘but’ aren’t you. I don’t want to give one. But (damn it) it wasn’t quite everything I had hoped.

There’s me, pre-OFW, hoping that the independent stores I care so much about (play violins) were finally going to get the platform they needed to compete with the super-giants. It doesn’t seem to have been quite the case.
Although OFW was magical, insane, exhausting, not to mention a headache for’s editor, Dolly Jones and her team… I was left a little deflated after the twentieth post for Harvey Nichols (I exaggerate) (I also love Harvey Nichols) (call me complex).
I had the pleasure of chatting about this confusing debate with the ladies behind some of the independents that participated (or tried to participate) in Online Fashion Week. I also got the chance to chat to Dolly Jones and you can read the whole report here.
To draw a conclusion from the report you’re about to read (I can smell your curiosity) I think that perhaps 2012 should see a more proactive use of the @BritishVogue twitter portal, where tweets from those retailers not being showcased on the blog are prioritised over those tweets from retailers already basking in the glow of a heap of traffic from the OFW Live Blog. 
Perhaps, also, retailers can be forewarned as to their rejection from the Live Blog so that their own means of promotion can be geared around informing shoppers of specific discount codes etc. that would/should have been broadcast on the OFW Live Blog.
What do you think?


Strike a pose

Well. a rather lovely thing happened today. I got a few bizarre tweets/text messages/emails/frantic answer phone messages all alluding to something concerning My face was on it.
As part of British Vogue’s Online Fashion Week, Leon Bailey-Green’s DirectorsOf.Com decided to publish their annual Online Fashion’s Top 100 list of the most influential figures in online fashion on As well as the usual list of CEOs and Journos the list would include several categories up for the public vote which including Best Dressed, for which I was nominated.
Now, I’m going to rip off the plaster… I didn’t win. Mr Daniel Richmond of Tic Watches won with 36% of the vote. Congrats to Daniel and his wardrobe!
Now. The juicy bit. I’m still on the list *pause for effect*. I’m ranked tenth on the list for my work with A) this very blog, B) and C) The Fashion Network.
I’m shocked/amazed/grateful and have butterflies in my belly. But, I must dash as I have a few people on their way over for festive drinks and I’ve yet to wrap my pigs in blankets!
I’ll leave you with the words of my mother: “I can’t believe it, I mean… It’s Kim Kardashian, Cheryl Cole, Stacey Solomon and YOU!”
Oh and congrats to the gorgeous Cillian of Male Mode, the fab Vicki Day, Mr Chris Bishop of 7thingsmedia, Clare Potts of iliketweet (the reason I started blogging), fellow northerner Nitin Passi of and all the rest of the fashpack.
You can request a copy of the list here: DirectorsOf.Com


Fashion Rambler meets Matthew Williamson

So. I had JUST landed from Paris and I was already on it. Matthew Williamson was propping up the bar in Manchester’s new French Brasserie, Aubaine, in Selfridges Exchange Square.
I got a chat with him that you can read on The Fashion Network here.
I picked his brains on LFW, Manchester, Online and Social. Here is what the Chorlton born designer had to say about Online.
Fashion Rambler: Your clothes are all over the .com, but you operate your own transactional website. How does it fare?

Matthew Williamson: It’s been going a year, it’s going OK. I think the internet and social media and anything to do with the internet is a difficult proposition if you don’t have the funds to make it a legitimate engine. We’re doing what we can with what we’ve got. We’ve just joined Facebook, about 10 years behind everyone else. *laughs*

fR: Watch out, you’ll be on Twitter next.
MW: Steady. Don’t hold your breath. We’ve just joined this Facebook and got 8,000 fans now so….
 Matthew’s SS12 Collection
fR: So, online is a big scary world but you’re doing OK since 1 year isn’t long to be in the game and 8,000 Facebook likes means something.
MW: It’s a long, slow thought in our minds. We’re meeting the right people and for it to really work one needs to put in a lot of effort and time. It’s not about slapping up a sight and hoping you sell. You have to do a lot work.
 Customers get a preview of the SS12 Collections in the new French restaurant.

fR: How do you try to keep your own personality as part of the online engine?

MW: We try to with Facebook. We keep our customer in the know. We’ve started, in the last 6 weeks, to post blogs that are personal, from me. They inform readers about what I’m up to. I do an event in my store in London once a month, we plot them 12 months in advance. Next week I’m doing a press event to meet people in industry that I may not have met yet. I know the Alex Shulman’s [Editor of British Vogue] and those kinds of people but not the new generation; bloggers, stylists. 

I love being in the store, seeing the customers, I genuinely like knowing what women think of the clothes. It’s all well and good doing a show, on a girl that has a body like a boy but I do quite like engaging and learning. I’ve been in so many changing rooms with so many women and they’ve told me so many things!

Read the full interview here.


Armani Live

I’m back. Paris was amazing, just a (cold) Fairytale. There was wine, graffiti, wine, an Eiffel Tower, an Arch de Triumph, wine, wine and wine. More on that in another post. 
For now, here are some snaps from the Emporio Armani Live gig at Manchester’s flagship Armani store on Deansgate. Rather a swish affair, leaning more towards sound than style with a fresh crowd of music geeks and lovely elderflower cocktails. Oh and… Bez.

It’s that Bez guy.

Egyptian Hip Hop

JP Cooper.


Slow Club.