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. 
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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.
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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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Fashion Rambler mees Lynda Moyo of Confidential Publications

I got to chat to my Editor at Manchester Confidential about the industry and her thoughts on ‘online’.
Fashion Rambler: What are your thoughts on the power of online media, will it take out print or not?
Lynda Moyo: I think most people in their 20s and 30s read the news online these days as it’s more accessible; most of us are sat on computers all day anyway. I used to buy all the glossy magazines, but what I’ve found now is that by the time I’ve bought them they’re actually out of date because I’ve already seen all the outfits online. This is why all newspapers and magazines are now dedicating more time to developing their websites. That said, I think there will also always be a place for print (I love getting the papers delivered on a Sunday) but the ratio is shifting remarkably, in favour of online. As I type this, the following story has just popped up in my Google news feed: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/14/us-media-readership-idUSTRE72D0WC20110314 
Lynda in British Vogue (left)
FR: What differences do you think are apparent between a role in print and a role in digital daily publications? 
LM: I have always worked in online, apart from a few stints of print work experience down in London. I enjoy online because it’s instant and whilst we do have deadlines, we’re not bound by them. If a huge story breaks, we will get it out there first and that is very satisfying.  You also get to understand the technical side of publishing for the web, which is a great skill to have in the modern day. 
FR: Do you consider the NW fashion sphere the focus of your work or the national/international fashion world?
LM: I cover Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and the surrounding areas. We are launching www.LondonConfidential.co.uk   this spring, so the scope will become national too and hopefully, one day, international. Confidential is taking over the world. You heard it here first….
Follow Lynda on Twitter: @lyndamoyo
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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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