BBC Radio Manchester’s Retail Therapy – Listen Again 28/01/12

I dragged myself out of my warm bed this morning and schlepped up Deansgate to Manchester Arndale at 08:00am. Why? BBC Radio Manchester’s Retail Therapy Show was in town! (Why else?)
Becky Want and the team set up their studio in Manchester Arndale to broadcast consumer news, trend reports and money-saving advice to the region. I last appeared on the show on New Years Eve 2011 bringing tips on spending pennies wisely and getting your wardrobe to work harder for your cash. This time, however, I was given a Stylist challenge, of all things!
Roger Dean of Roger Dean Estate Agents was looking for a work suit for the summer months and it was my job to help him find it. My challenge was made all the more exciting as Roger had no budget! Got to love an Estate Agent! 
Braving the Manchester frost and wind we trekked through the city’s most fabulous stores to find the perfect suit.
I introduced Roger to Mr Start in Selfridges Manchester Exchange Square, the Shoreditch tailor founded by Philip Start and Brix Smith-Start as an own-label extension to their retail chain in the capital. Quintessentially Shoreditch Luxury, the suits follow a slim silhouette with a narrow lapel to match the brand’s characteristic narrow collared shirts. Exquisite, but, not Roger’s cup-of-tea. Woops.
It was here in the men’s formal department of Selfridges that Roger got acquainted with Hugo Boss and Ted Baker. I had planned to introduce Roger to Pal Zilieri at Harvey Nichols Manchester, the Italian brand with real heart and superb craftsmanship. I had the pleasure of meeting Bruno, Chief Tailor, who has been with the firm since he was 14, at a Harvey Nichols brunch last year. (Find out more about Pal Zilieri here)
However, Roger had found the suit he wanted in the back SALE rails of Selfridges and it was two sizes too small. Not wanting to let go, we tracked down the same suit in another local store and made a purchase there an then! Bonus! One happy customer.
To find out which suit won Roger’s approval listen to Retail Therapy here (available for next seven days)

I come on at 3.50 mins in and then 1 hour 39 mins in.

I’ll be back on the show live from Manchester’s Trafford Centre on Feburary 11th!


Tee Time! Feat. T-Post, origin68, UNCONDITIONAL, Lulu & Co. and Tim & Sue

Nearly time for T-Shirt weather, thought I would celebrate with a little post about the latest additions to my T-Shirt collection. They’re all rather exciting.
First up was a fab Christmas present from Jo Davies, MD and Founder of Black White Denim. Isn’t she lovely? This amazing vest is from Lulu & Co, a brand I’m very excited to now own! 
Lulu Kennedy is the fairy-god mother of fashion and is the tireless force behind the British designer spring board, Fashion East. Lulu was awarded with an MBE this year in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List and she very much deserves it! 
Lulu & Co. was a brand set up to mark Fashion East’s 10th birthday and features pieces from the archives of the Fashion East catalogue. This design is by artistic duo Tim & Sue and is a revamp of their original 1996 ‘Forever’, an iconic theme that the twosome have returned to throughout their career.

Forever Vest, Tim & Sue for Lulu & Co., £99.00,

Next up is a really cool T from Sweden. T-Post is a very different kind of magazine, the editorial is printed on the tee! Subscribe for a year and receive a tee every month. The magazine’s feature article of the month is printed on the inside and a graphical/photographic interpretation of the article then becomes your T-Shirt’s design. 
This month’s article (well, November’s… must have taken a while to post from Sweden?) was about the recent discovery at the European Southern Observatory of super-earths; planets near identical to ours but in other galaxies. 
It was left to Mauro Gatto, the Italian illustrator and designer (and toy maker! see his toy brand Very Bravo here) to create a complimentary graphic. His playful and colourful alien graphic brings the humour of T-Post to life and represents the excitement surrounding super-earths well!
The tee is inside-out…
Next is a tee you’ve seen before (don’t go calling me predicable) from Manchester based brand origin68. A pair of Tee enthusiasts (like me, apparently) make Tees to suit their own obsession and this is one that stuck out for me. I featured it on my recent radio appearance (can you call it an appearance if it’s radio..?) because I thought it was cool!


It’s made from 100% organic cotton and is carbon neutral because it was manufactured only using wind and solar energy! 

Lastly is this hot number from UNCONDITIONAL. The British brand, headed up by Philip Stevens, arrived in the North last year and I got the chance to interview the designer just before his launch night! (Read my interview with Philip Stevens here)
This vest was in a goody bag from that very night and I only discovered it THIS WEEK under a desk at The Fashion Network. Fail. 

Remembering Christmas

Since the weather has taken a dramatic turn towards I’ve been missing my Christmas tree. This Christmas just gone was a special one for me because It was absolutely exhausted through work and just needed that week to chill. (not literally, I like my central heating, brrr)
Here are some of the lovely jubbly gifts that I got from the people in my life.
Adam got me this gorgeous book, along with some other fab pressies. It’s one of the amazing coffee table books that you start reading and don’t put down! Needless to say, I’ve yet to find time to pick it up but I’ll keep you informed!
The in laws bought me this. My latest guilty pleasure. An old BBC Costume Drama feat. two prim and proper 1920s ladies who open their own fashion house! WAH! I love it, much recommended for those seeking escapist easy watching and flapper skirts!
Among other much appreciated gifts I nabbed myself a copy of Colin McDowell’s Directory of 20th Century Fashion. The lady at dispatch from wherever my Mum bought it from wrote a little note on the delivery invoice saying: ‘I couldn’t help but notice the name, McDowell for McDowell. Enjoy!’ – how sweet?
Mum and Dad also got me new number plates for my car with on them! haha!
As the weather plods along its dismal way, remember those warmer times over Christmas :o)


Fashion Rambler meets Hannah Martin

I met the lovely Hannah Martin an age ago in the Summer of 2011. In this lightening speed world of fashion an interview conducted nearly two seasons ago might seem a little out dated. That is the beauty of Hannah Martin, her work is a timeless collection of trinkets and curiosities that never grow tiresome, let alone go out of style. 
Hannah Martin Portrait 
Her premium jewellery has sparked interest throughout industry press and the bloggersphere. Steve Salter gushed over Miss Martin in this post and her work has been the focal point of many a feature in every major publication from Vogue and GQ to Esquire and LUXX.
What is immediately striking about Hannah’s work is the luxury. In a time where every penny counts Miss Martin makes the extravagence worth every gemstone with an escapist indulgence too exciting to resist. What’s more is that this is jewellery for gents. Hannah Martin London is a jewellery brand for the daring gentleman and Hannah is leading the way in jewellery design that blurs the boundaries between genders. She’s an Alchemist, of sorts.
I got the chance to meet Miss Martin in the loft of a Kings Street building in Manchester. She was helping Todd Lynn out with his AW11 catwalk show at the premium city centre independent store, Hervia Bazaar. (See my interview with Mr Lynn here)
fashion Rambler: The press for your brand has largely involved women’s magazines despite the range being directed towards men. Do women wear the range knowing it is a menswear range or have they claimed it for themselves?

Hannah Martin: I think it is really varies because when I first started the brand the idea was ‘it’s men’s jewellery that their girlfriends can steal’. My style has a masculine edge to it and at the time I couldn’t find anything nice for men, it was either a chunky skull ring or something that looked like it had come from a car. So that’s where I came from, I never wanted it to be a strictly men’s range because I wear men’s clothes and womenswear, I think most people that are aware of fashion do that anyway.

Its jewellery and whoever likes it, likes it. I don’t want to put a label on it. There are stores that sell more to men, others that sell more to women and some that sell equally to each gender. It is quite interesting actually, some stores we’re in the menswear department and some we’re in the womenswear. 

fR: The range is sexy and youthful but the price-point isn’t so youthful. Can we expect a diffusion line or a collaborate line to pitch to shallower pockets?

HM: Totally, we’re actually working on a leather goods line at the moment. It will be small leather goods, wallets and key rings, that kind of stuff and should launch before Christmas. I started out only doing 18 Karat gold but the price of gold has gone up through the roof, it’s been going up since I started the brand. I introduced silver in the 3rd year which was a lower price-point but it is still an expensive precious metal. I struggle with the idea of a diffusion range, it doesn’t really sit with what I’m doing. 
The leather goods are a good way into a lower-end market. We’re in talks with some people about collaborations in jewellery in the future but we’re not there yet. It is definitely something on the cards.

fR: Considering that your items are so unique and so far removed from other fashion jewellery lines in your market, what is it that inspires you?

HM: I only do one collection a year, so it is quite different from fashion seasons. My collections each have a story around them, for each one I create a character, a male character. The character before this line was called Vincent and he was a Russian Oligarch-come-gangster. These characters bubble around in my head and I don’t know what makes me decide which I’m going to go with. Inspiration for the designs comes from all over the place, architecture, graphics, everything.

In terms of other designers, it’s difficult because there are so many that I love. I try not to look to hard at what other jewellery designers are doing, just for my own peace of mind. I design in a bubble. I love Todd’s (Lynn) collection, Rick Owens is another. Not only do they inspire my work but it’s inspiring to see that they’re doing really interesting things in fashion.
Hervia’s Oscar Pinto-Hervia (see my interview with him here), Todd Lynn (see my interview with him here), a lovely but sadly unknown guest and Miss Hannah Martin herself.

fR: Tell me about ‘The man who knew everything’, the latest collection.

HM: He’s the first one I haven’t made up in my head, he is written about a lot. People really believe he is real. He was written about a lot in history across a couple of hundred years. He was written about all over, he would pop up in the French revolution and then in the Russian courts about one hundred years later and he was basically supposed to be an Alchemist who discovered the elixir of life and never died. 
His death was reported about five times and then he would always pop up somewhere else. The idea for the collection was this really mystical and I was looking at masonic symbols and Alchemy and stuff. This new series [phase two of the collection, out for Christmas 2011] is based on the mystical twilight colours. 

fR: What can you tell me about this one [Europhia of Lights Ring]

HM: The triangle is historically supposed to be the strongest structure and is used a lot in masonic symbols, it was really about the power of the geometrics of the triangle. What I wanted to do with the phases is that they have really distinct design features. This is the first time I’ve done this with a collection actually, I usually design a whole collection of like 40 pieces and the different stories are all threaded through the collection. It was a bit of a nightmare because I had this huge collection, once a year, and then we had nothing to talk about all year. It was almost too much to show people. This idea of splitting the collections makes it seasonal without it being seasonal. More bite-sized chunks. 

Phase one was in March/April this year, phase two for Christmas and the last phase in May of next year.
fR: How important to you is it that the consumer understands the story behind the collections?

HM: There is a lot of store training, especially because it is fine jewellery and the stores we work with stock high end fashion and so there is a lot of training there. Obviously the story is impotant for the design process but at the same time if the customer doesn’t give a shit about the story, the jewellery still works. I’m not really precious about everyone understanding the story, if they want to they’ll know more about the collections but I’m not into that conceptual idea that art doesn’t work unless you understand it.

Read EVEN more of this interview at The Fashion Network here.