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:

http://www.torbaytowncentrescompany.co.uk/bids/brixhambid/index.php

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

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CK Calvin Klein UK Launch

You’ve heard of Calvin Klein, but have you heard of CK Calvin Klein? Perhaps.. but chances are that you have not shopped there. CK Calvin Klein is yet another diffusion line part of the super-brand’s global domination strategy. 
CK Calvin Klein bridges the gap between Calvin Klein (NYC Fashion Week etc. etc.) and CK Jeans (at your local out-of-town shopping village). The first UK CK Calvin Klein store is opening it’s doors in Manchester’s new shopping desination The Avenue at Spinningfields and I was there to sup the champers.
 Moi and ma homies. image courtesy of manchesterconfidential.com
If you follow me on Twitter (and yes, you should) you’ll no doubt have seen my tweets last Thursday night declaring my innate predictability concerning what to wear to the shin-dig. Of course I wore Calvin Klein (no, not CK Calvin Klein, the store have only just opened, keep up). 
I got the shirt whilst shopping in NYC, as you do and before you ask no this shirt is a little more TKMaxx than Fifth Avenue (see my blog about Century21 Department Store/discount Mecca here).
Anywho when paired with Adam’s trusty Wrangler skinny jeans and my new 80s retro flattop I was looking rather swish. I say flat top… it’s not exactly a flat top, more a series of flat tops… I think my hairdresser was pissed.
You can see my full report here
Oh, the clothes: CK Calvin Klein’s SS11 menswear line was very new-tral and earthy, i.e., exactly like the Calvin Klein shirt I was wearing! Bang on trend. (don’t call me Gok).

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Fashion Rambler meet Heidi Gosman

After a delay of volcanic proportions Heidi Gosman of Heidi Klein touched down at Manchester’s Harvey Nichols to chat to me about her latest venture. Menswear.
The London shopkeeper boasts two swim and holiday-wear boutiques in Westbourne Grove and Chelsea. After a significant impact online with both their own buy label other brands stocked Gosman and her business partner at going global. Stores are planned for Miami, New York and Montenegro whilst pop-ups are being tested in Manchester’s Harvey Nichols ahead of possible national expansion.
Another feather in Gosman’s cap will soon be that of menswear designer, adding menswear to the online store.
I had to test her skills out…
Fashion Rambler: Speedos, Boxer Briefs or Shorts?
Heidi Gosman: Never Speedos! It’s the shorts. I think men need more choice, as I think menswear is where womenswear was ten years ago and men are becoming more savvy and going on holiday more.
FR: European influence I think, Italian men get swimwear.
HG: Yes! The women on the continent change bikinis all day!
FR: Flip-flops or sandals?
HG: Flip-flops, but nice ones. You can get nice sandals sometimes but flip-flops are great.]

FR: Foot care for men?
HG: They have to do it. I was in St. Tropez last week and this really nice looking young boy was just getting off one of the yachts. He walked past and his feet were…. well, the illusion had just gone!
FR: Parasol or Windbreaker?
Sorry?
FR: Parasol of Windbreaker?
I think a windbreaker can look quite nice and retro… with a deckchair (we use them a lot in our windows)
FR: Quite Victorian… Beer or Cocktail?
HG: Cocktail.
And she was doing so well.

My favourite picks for the current offer?

 Vilerequin Shorts £110.00, buy here

Vilebrequin Vintage Shorts, £80.00, buy here

You can see the full interview with Heidi here.

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American Apparel Fail

Bought from American Apparel the other day. Not exactly a nice experience.

Firstly, the website isn’t user friendly. I got attracted to the site from a Tweet from @americanapparel advertising ‘20% off Basics’, could I find the discounted basics? Could I hell. It wasn’t until the checkout that I was informed that the discount was automatic….
The categories are also confusing. Each banner link presents with it a plethora of other options, but navigating the options throughout the platform (i.e. from bracelets to shorts) is not so easy.

So. Anyway, I went to the checkout after getting 10% off for signing up to the newsletter. Brill. I then got an email to push for more info in return for 15% off. Bonus. I went through the questions and filled in my deets to get my 15% off discount code. Input it, got the discount and made my purchase.
Or so I thought. My code miraculously turned into the 10% code and reverted back and I lost my discount. Upon realising this I tweeted @americanapparel for help, as I would have tweeted @ASOS_HereToHelp and I’ve yet to receive a reply. Why have a twitter if you’re not going to converse?
In other news: one of the items I paid for isn’t in stock and I’ve got to wait 3 week for it.
Great.
I love American Apparel and I love what the brand does globally BUT come on!
END.

Fashion Rambler meets Charlie Miller of Grazia Magazine

At a recent S/S’11 womenswear show at Selfridgesicon Manchester Trafford, Charlie Miller the Executive Fashion and Beauty Editor for Grazia gave her advice on the latest trends. I managed to corner her for a chat

 Sophie Heldley of Selfridges and Charlie Miller
Fashion Rambler: what value do you place on blogs as a means of gaining experience and as a medium of fashion press?
Charlie Miller: I think it has been a revolutionary thing for fashion. I was reading on Business of Fashion that Suzanne Menkes of International Herald Tribune and she said “The world changed when fashion instead of being a monologue, became a conversation”… Now we have live streaming at shows, we got Brian Boy front row, it all goes hand-in-hand. Street Style is huge too because at the end of the day, that is where the credibility lies. I can show you a beautiful designer dress but sometimes it is a little bit more interesting to see what that girl over there is wearing and how she put it together. We tweet, blog and file reports in the cab between shows and so I think we’re really on it as a magazine.
FR: Do you think that, in order for magazines to stay relevant, social media and multi-platform communications are important?
CM: I do, and I think some are probably not at the moment, as much as we are. We’re new and we’re used to speed so we’re probably a little ahead of the monthly publications. They’ll get there.
FR: There are Magazines with little online presence, those with both and those that are just online. Is the future a balance or is online taking over print?
CM: I don’t think it’s taking over. I think it is very important, particularly with young kids who haven’t found a magazine that has really spoken to them. So, I understand that they are getting a lot of their information online. I don’t think it’ll take over, at least I hope not! What I think print does is give you that luxury of kicking back without looking at a screen and getting into that blue sky world.
FR: Is this a major factor when publishing on the duel platforms, both the faster daily updates of GraziaDaily.co.uk and the equally relevant but weekly Grazia Magazine?
CM: Often at times we can’t take everything onboard in the magazine, so we try to not cannibalise what is happenSing in the magazine. The Grazia Daily girls are really smart and I think it is a great partnership.
To see more of this interview click here
Selfridges & Co Ltd
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