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


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.

Fashion Rambler meets James Roome of iCom

I got the chance to pick the brains of one of the Social Media boffins at iCom. So I did. Here is what James Roome has to say about Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the rest of the Social world.

Fashion Rambler: How do you envisage Social Media platforms and their ever increasing role in eCommerce unfolding? Will we really be buying fashion in Facebook?
James Roome: Yes I think we will; in fact we already are. Massive global brands like Starbucks and big name fashion brands like ASOS are using social commerce, so I’d say it isn’t going anywhere. Facebook’s massive user base is just too tempting for retailers.
Social commerce is also handy for smaller brands that haven’t had a mobile site or shopping app built, as it helps them to tap in to the mobile market. We’re actually in the process of building an F-commerce tab for one of our fashion clients, so we’re looking forward to getting some more concrete information on how just how lucrative Facebook shopping is.  
Of course, there are hurdles for social commerce to overcome. There are usability issues with the integration of social commerce apps in Facebook such as page load times, and the inevitable security concerns. There are also issues relating to the overhead for the business in managing another distribution channel which may not generate enormous sales whilst the concept of F-commerce is still in its infancy.
FR: What dashboard do you favour? (Hootsuite, tweetdeck etc…)
JR: I use Hootsuite PRO. To be honest there’s not a great deal to separate them, I just prefer the user interface to that of Tweetdeck.
It also offers decent reporting options and I like the fact that I can schedule tweets by uploading a csv. 
FR: Following my recent post on how Scheduling lead to back-lash during the riots (see how Twitter Backfires here) Is Scheduling as convenient as retailers think or will consumers start to switch off to tweet-bots?
JR; I think consumers already switch off to tweet bots. The only fully scheduled accounts that can possibly work are those belonging to already massive brands that don’t have to do anywhere near as much work to build a following online.
Having said that, I do think scheduling has a place in a properly managed social media account. For example, there’s nothing wrong with scheduling a few tweets for a weekend event. In fact, we scheduled some tweets for one of our clients over the recent Manchester Pride weekend.
As long as you ensure that you monitor your account and are ready to reply to your followers’ queries, retweet their content and generally interact, there’s no problem with setting up a few tweets in advance to bulk out your feed.
You just have to be careful that it doesn’t take over; simply setting up a Twitterfeed of vaguely relevant content and auto-publishing to your account is a big waste of time. 
Read more of this interview at The Fashion Network here.


VOGUE’s Online Fashion Week

I’m so into this. Remember Fashion’s Night Out… where Anna Wintour got us all to go out and spend to ensure there were still stores for her to have included in her magazine during the recession… see my blog on Manchester’s efforts here.
Well, then there came Fashion’s Night In where convinced VOGUE.COM to encourage people to stay in and shop ONLINE instead. It was huge. See my TFN report of the night’s shopping brilliance here 
Sarah Curran CEO and founder of Read about when I met her here
So, after the success of FNI, British VOGUE.COM decided to step it up once more and kick off Online Fashion Week.
Has anything ever sounded quite so cool. A Fashion week where you can attend in your PJs with a brew! I’m on board. + this is such a fantastic to way to truly signal that the online highstreet is as important as the brick-and-mortar stores in our towns, especially in the high end market!
The event kicks off on December 5th 2011 until the 9th and will revolve around the VOGUE.COM blog which acts as a sign-post for what’s hot online right that moment.
Retailer interested in getting on board? email:
Find out more here
I know a few stores/brand who are getting involved but I’m sworn to secrecy by penalty of death by stiletto.

Stay tuned!


When Twitter backfires

Riots, riots, riots. What a dramatic couple of days, one where Social Media has been used for good and for bad. 
I’m typing this from my living room whilst watching Twitter and the itv live blog update on the goings on as the riots hit my home town,. 
Right this second Miss Selfridges has gone up in flames in Manchester City Centre and Manchester Arndale has been broken into.

images from @mtattersallitv
Explosions have been reported and a Didsbury resident is being held over using Twitter to organise riots.
But you know all this. You’ve seen it on the news.
What I’m interested in is how Twitter has been used by fashion retailers during the chaos. TOPSHOP came under fire because their tweets seemed insensitive to some followers. TOPSHOP’s marketing division had undoubtedly scheduled their tweets in a few days prior, as most large organisations do. 
Their tweets read things like: ‘@TOPSHOP We’re busy busy over here with exciting things for AW11! What’s everybody else up to?’
Admittedly, this could seem sad to someone sat outside their burning shop, but can we expect retailers to alter their marketing strategies to suit the political mood of the moment? It would too seem sad to someone who had just been the victim of an unfortunate situation unrelated to the UK Riots.
A helicopter has just gone over my house….
Twitter is reactive, it is of the moment, but why do we care what retailers are tweeting when we’re worried about loved ones, some might even say that if retailers jumped on the PR carosel and tweeted #riot themed posts that they would also be insensitive.
Harvey Nichols in Manchester also came under fire, tweeting: ‘@HN_Manchester Our tweets today have been pre-scheduled. We’ve had to close. Apologies if we seemed insensitive.’
Personally, I think this is the least of the problems when retailers are having to close during the toughest month because of stupid scumbags not having anything to do.
Trams have been stopped to and from Manchester city centre and this man has just been arrested for trying to damage the stationary vehicle.
images from @mazherabidi
Perhaps this is the end of scheduled postings?
What do you think?

ADDED AT 20:05

Diesel just tweeted me after I included them in a list of attacked stores in the City. They are using Twitter to asertain the damage to their chain. Clever/sad that they have to.

 images from @mtattersallitv


fashion Rambler meets Philip Stephens and Jodie Harsh at Unconditional + Manchester Launch

Unconditional, the clothing brand that loves a bit of male cleavage (heavage if you will) opened their first Northern flagship store in Manchester’s Exchange Square last week. Designer and brand owner Philip Stephens and his posse of Soho club kids, including the infamous Miss Jodie Harsh, came up for the do to introduce the north to sexy clothing for men (and women, but that’s not as interesting to me).
Anna Westerman of Flux Magazine (see my interview with the mag’s founder here), Christopher Hulme (ma +1), Lynda Moyo and Ryan (Senior Sales Advisor for Unconditional)
The store is huge and a great use of an empty unit that I’ve known for years since it used to be a unit that held sample sales and pop-up shops so I was always having a good old nosey. Unconditional took the unit primarily because of the fact that the ceiling consisted of exposed pipe work and the floor was concrete. That’s their thing. Stephens told me it was ‘like a dream’ because it needed so little doing to it.
The store stocks both the brand’s famous menswear and the womenswear collections as well as the company’s latest venture into homeware by way of scented candles and throws. 
Jonathan on the flyer for the last Circus night.
The party was very cool, it had a London androgyny about it, boys dressed as girls and girls dressed… well, as girls but not as convincingly. We met Jonathan, the latest Cover-girl for Harsh’s London club night Circus. He was a size 00 and modeled the latest Unconditional ladieswear perfectly (ouch, size 00 debate) he also danced like a nothing Manchester has seen before.
Unconditional Launch Party
Jodie Harsh, Philip Stephens, Lynda Moyo (see my interview with Lynda here) and Me!
It was pretty cool to be able to hear Jodie Harsh play a set too since an appearance in Manchester during the Ibiza season and Circus’ prime is something of a rarity. I managed to get behind the DJ deck to give her a mwah-mwah-darling welcome to the North and as I kissed her left cheek I got stuck in her hairsprayed weave. Beautiful. I will cherish the moment I peeled my face off hers.
I managed to speak to Philip Stephens earlier in the day about his move to Manchester, you can see the interview here. I have saved this little snippet for fR readers:
Fashion Rambler: How is the new transactional website doing?
Philip Stephens: It’s going well, it is interesting because Unconditional is me, it’s completely financed by me and we’re not part of some huge chain and we don’t have lots of money so we have to do one thing at a time. I don’t have a huge master plan but obviously you can have all these ideas but you need the infrastructure to support it. We launched the site but we’ve not pushed it, it get hits and we sell but without even pushing. It’s a process.
FR: So, the company’s approach to Social Media isn’t strong if you’re not pushing the site?
PS: I started Facebook reluctantly. I think I’m going to start twitter.
FR: You have to.
PS: I know, Jodie (Harsh), well Jay is my friend and he’s busy on Twitter and I have a friend in Social Media PR and he’s telling me I have to do it. I know I’ve got to, you’ve got to embrace these things.
Shop Unconditional here.

Selfridges London Oxford, a world of fantasty, indoor snow and roof top lakes.

I made a little trip to the Big Smoke last week for a press event regarding Selfridges
icon‘ Xmas (I know, fashion works way too far in advanced for one to remain sane). Want to see some of the more rediculous from the world of high-end retail?

White (not yellow) bag, Victora Beckham, £18,000.00 (made to order) exclusive to Selfridges

The new IT hat, as modelled by yours truly. (photo courtesy of the lovely Lynda Moyo’s iPhone, see my interview with Lynda here)

Tiny slutty shoes, as hand-modelled by myself and Casey Gillespie of London Confidential. The whole 25 pairs of shoes act as an Advent Calendar for the bargain price of £18,000.00.

So, whilst milling around the press room spotting treats and delights, eating gorgeous things and touching expensive fashions all of which are soon to be on offer for Xmas shoppers I was told about a secret…. there was a party on the roof.

In true Selfridges style they’d spied an opportunity for fantasy and flooded the bloody roof to make way for a pop-up boating lake. Why? Because some rich bloke founded a new sugar (darling) and we must make cocktails to celebrate! I felt I was in an episode of AbFab. After Oysters and HixFix cocktails at Hix Restaurant we went up the express lift (with a library within it…) to have a look.

Incredible isn’t it?

Collective + Bob Carlos Clarke Launch at 202 Westbourne Grove

Went to a bit of a do the other day at 202 in Notting Hill. Yes the Manc went southward for free booze, desperate times…
So, what was being launched? Collective make organic Tees and Bob Carlos Clarke used to make amazing images. Bob’s dead. But, his pieces are owned by The Little Black Gallery and Clarke’s Mrs and Tamara Beckwith (oddly) have let Collective print his prints on their Tees for girls and boys. Few, we got there.

I love this one. Her bum is beautiful.

Here are some flicks of the night….

Karla and I found a little bar where we drank coffee in the sunshine before the do. We also inevitably took photographs. We had visited the Museum of Brands which is AMAZING if you’re a media boffin like us.

Some pretty lady… and her mother, who is also pretty.

Amber, the PR.

We met Mark Cullum of A La Male. He’s lovely… and gets the Central Line.

We also took numerous photos.


H’atelier: a gold mine of headwear.

I totally forgot to tell you all about another little find of mine. Well, to be fair H’atelier existed before my discovering it but still, let me tell you about it.
Jen is a milliner which means she makes hats. Jen makes hats in a showroom come workshop in Manchester. Jen’s showroom come workshop is called H’atelier (a pun, gold star if you can figure it out).
Want to see Jen’s amazing work space?
It’s a fairy tale girlie space, reminds me of a girlie version of James Personal Tailoring & Son Tailors, which you can see here.
You can read my interview with Jen at The Fashion Network here.