Spinningfields Screenfields Sex And The City Best Dressed Competition

I was asked by Spinningfields, the new corporate and financial district of Manchester, to judge a competition. 
Perhaps it was to assess the most ecological of the Banks whose HQ are within Spinningfields, perhaps I was to judge the talent of the chefs at any one of the districts restaurants. 
No… I was to find the Best Dressed of the attendees who braved the unpredictable weather to sit on grass and watch Sex And The City: The Movie on the outdoor big screen.
This is the life of a fashion boy.
You can read all about how I got on at the newly resurrected The Fashion Network Blog here.
Oh and, here is what I wore to judge other’s for what they wore….

Jacket, Current/Elliot, BlackWhiteDenim, £275.00
Tee, Chea Mondays, Urban Outfitters, £22.00
Jeans, Wrangler, £80.00
Boots, Primark, £5.00

See the night’s proceedings here.


Lily Allen’s Lucy in Disguise North West Launch in Harvey Nichols

Lily Allen was in Manchester on Thursday night to launch her new Lucy In Disguise brand to Harvey Nichols’ Northern flagship. Accompanied by her business partner and sister Sarah Owen Lily was greeted by paps, journos and fans in the second floor ladies wear department of the designer store.
Lily and Sarah at their covert photo call. 
Champagne circulated and brownies on sticks (i know, odd) were munched by girls in vintage inspired attire whilst grammar-phones played tinny tunes (yes, it did get annoying after a little while).
The designer duo arrived by wheels and were ushered into a lift from the security ridden underground car park. The lift hoisted them up to Womenswear where in Personal Shopping a photo-call for the national press was held before Emma Doyle of Manchester Fashion Network brought them out for questioning. The military precision of the exercise is what amazed me, these event always look for effortless and fun but the work that has gone in, behind the scenes, to prevent Miss Allen throwing a hissy, is immense.
can you see me?

A swift 13 minutes of questions, non direct from the floor out of worry for rude hecklers (heckle, moi?), followed and Miss Doyle surpassed my expectations as a rather fantastic interviewer. 

Emma Doyle and the sisters.

On the reasons for going into fashion Sarah, the considerably more business minded of the two, said: “sizing was always key for us”. The Lucy In Disguise store in London brings vintage clothing from around the world into the contemporary shop floor. Vintage sizes are notoriously awkward and Owen saw a market for change. Lily adds that “contemporary wear theses days is quite androgynous and we thought there was a hole in the market for femininity”

 Shirt, Jaegar
Jeans, ASOS,
Boots, Hudson at Schuh (www.schuh.co.uk)
The pair meet with their ghost designer and bring images, cut-outs, film references and books to the table to sketch out the ideas for their creations. The sisters are very much involved in the design process, Owens telling the crowd: “I am taking it very seriously, I’m just not up my own arse with it”. I asked the question as to whether the brand would branch into Menswear, a question which to my surprise was met with laughter from the pair. Lily screamed: “No!…Brucey in Disguise” to the near applause of the audience. She continued, “I’m not sure how I feel about vintage menswear, I don’t find it very sexy”.
That was me told (but I ignored.)
Lisa Stannard, the North West based Illustrator whose work makes up 
 the Lucy In Disguise branding.
The best coverage of the event has to be Lynda Moyo’s for Body Confidential, here.

Digital Marketing

Went to an event about Digital Marketing in the fashion sector a while back. Was dead interesting.
The world of Digital Marketing kinda interests me a bit and it is something I have started working in quite a bit lately. The art of becoming a YouTube sensation and having millions of Facebook Friends is something companies are desperate for and something companies are paying people in the know to do for them. Who’d have thought that all that time I spent on Facebook when I should have been listening in class would actually pay off? (stay in school kids)
Have a gander at this article about the event. (because I’m waiting for a curry and cba writing about it tbh)
Oh, and, what are your favourite online marketing campaigns?


Photos by Rebecca Rae

Elle Magazine/BFC Talent Launch Pad Party at Hervia Bazaar for Eudon Choi and Holly Fulton

Was at a do the other night. The cocktails were unbelievable. I have told everyone. The Alchemist know their mixing. The other interesting part of the party? Eudon Choi and Holly Fulton were there. 

As part of the Elle Magazine and British Fashion Council’s Talent Launch Pad scheme (breathes) the two young designers (among others) are being supported by the magazine power house and the BFC. As part of the award for getting to the finals each designer gets a spread in the magazine, stocked in a premium independent boutique (Hervia representing the NW) and also presence at LFW and PFW. Excellent.

So, I know what you’re dying to know. What was I wearing? Wonder know more!

Jacket: Vintage RAF Dress Uniform (wore it for my Prom!)
Trousers: TOPMAN
Dog Tags: Real, my Dad’s from the Army.
I mingled the crowds with the ever chic Anna Westerman (Editor at STYLE etc. Magazine) and my partner in interviewing-crime Emma Doyle of The Fashion Network.
One (or two) cocktails later and I was stood in front of Holly Fulton with my Dictaphone. I have to say, her designs blew me away. Having known little of her fame before hand I left wanting to find out more. Inspired by the idea of style icon Joan Collins boarding a Med Cruise, the collection was formed from wearable chic shift dresses and blouses that follow similar graphic prints inspired by North African tribes. The similarities between the items meant mixing and matching was encouraged, even with the bold art-deco earrings and bracelets. 

You can see my interview with Miss Fulton here.
Of Eudon Choi’s designs I knew a little more, since he is already stocked in the North at premium indie, Black White Denim.

Choi was so modest and nervous and lovely. He was genuinely so happy to be part of the scheme and was just proud to now be following in the footsteps of his famous classmate, Holly Fulton. Choi’s SS collection is entitled Industrial Revolution and follows along the lines of his past in menswear design. Sartorial tailoring techniques come together to create a feminine look with edge. His AW collection looks set to continue with this theme as he is keen to remain constant as he emerges into the fashion world.

If you’d like to see my interview with Eudon Choi, click here 


Fashion Rambler meets Michael Brown of Frater Menswear

Gotta love a newbie. Frater Menswear is a new Manchester brand that has launched online and has big plans for nationwide exposure. The brand suits that guy who care what he looks like without caring much about ‘trend’ or ‘fashion’, the guys that smell good and have floppy hair in the pub. 

I got to quiz Michael Brown, the brand owner, about his career, brand and future.
Fashion Rambler: Would you consider Frater synonymous with Manchester or a Brand with broader roots?
Michael Brown: Frater definitely has deep roots in Manchester due to the fact that I’ve grown up here, being inspired by Manchester’s last creative generation from Joy Division to Peter Saville – there’s so much music and cultural heritage here to draw from. I hope that Frater will be part of the next wave of creativity to come out of the city, and think that Manchester has a really exciting future, but I also take inspiration from places and people all over the world – it’s important for the brand’s development that we’re always looking beyond where we are at the moment.

FR: Who is the Frater customer, who do you design for?
MB: When I put together a new collection or design a new piece, I’m always aiming to come up with something that my friends and I would wear and get excited about. The whole brotherhood of Frater is based on looking at my peer group and designing for them, and I want the Frater customer to be passionate about the clothes and feel something for what they’re wearing. I don’t want to create clothing that’s generic, I want our customers to have an opinion – items like our Liberty and Pierson t-shirts are a good example of this, the bold graphic wartime prints really show how art and fashion can flow together, and the people that wear them want to make this statement.
FR: What are the plans for the future of the Brand?
MB: Our ultimate are aim is to become an established brand in the UK market and continue to push forward, creating something different and unique as we go along, which people will be excited to see and feel proud to wear. We’re conscious of not growing things too quickly, and want to develop the brand personality while building the business over time.

To see more of this interview go here

Harvey Nichols S/S ’11 Catwalk Show

It was that time of year again. The time for WAGs and Fashion Insiders alike (I’m somewhere in-between methinks) to gather and be mesmerized by the Harvey Nichols Collections Catwalk Show.
This season’s show was hosted in one of my favourite Manchester landmarks, the Manchester Art Gallery. Upon moving back to Manchester one of my first dates with the city was spent here. I would wander the halls aimlessly for hours, alone, contemplative and supremely happy. The drama of the 18c epics and the intricacy of the antiques is something no one can pass by. The place has always had a special place in my heart and so it was a thrill to spend the evening among the greats in Art and in Fashion.
The show itself was hosted in one of the temporary exhibition lots towards the rear of the Gallery. Guest wondered through the gallery with drinks and were papped en route to their seats. The usual gaggle of WAGs were present although as far as celebrity guests were concerned they must have been filming late at Granada because I spotted non of the usual crowd. The biggest clique by far was the Manchester Confidential lot who stole the twitter airwaves throughout the show with the hashtag #mclt (Manchester Confidential Live Tweet) and ended up getting the discussion topic trending as one of the most tweeted topics in Manchester! Read there commentary of the night here, see if you can spot my tweets!
 from left Lynda Moyo: Fashion Editor for Manchester Confidential, Mike: Brands Assistant for The Fashion Network, Emma: PR for The Fashion Network, Katie: Manchester Corespondant for Stylist Magazine and moi.
Before I delve into my favourites of the menswear effort I’ll let you know what I wore. Everything was new with a healthy (for my bank balance) ratio of 1:3 designer to highstreet.

 Blazer, Zara
T-Shirt, John Galliano
Trouser, TOPMAN Ltd. Edition
Scent, Tom Ford (of course)
The show was separated into 12 trends, six for each gender. My favourites for menswear were American Preppy and Sports Luxe.
Prep was represented by some of the usual American suspects i.e. Ralph Lauren and Ray Ban but the Yanks were teamed with the Best of British to create a transatlantic sense of summer tosh.

Nicole Farhi cardigan (£160), Nicole Farhi shorts (£109), Polo Ralph Lauren polo (£70), Dolce
& Gabbana bow tie (£95), Paul Smith bag (£175), FFOR shoes (£80)

Ralph Lauren polo top (£70), Gucci jacket (£865), Nicole Fahri trousers (£99), D&G tie (£65),
Sperry shoes (£82), Polo Ralph Lauren socks (£10.50)
What I loved about the American Preppy look is that is is so easy to replicate when on a budget. Half of the staples I have in my ‘it might come back into fashion’ pile and the extras are easy to find in the high street. Although, I wouldn’t mind treating myself to a D&G Bow Tie…
Sports Luxe was a surprise because whenever I see a show with a sports theme I usually get bored and think, “these are the clothes they couldn’t fit into another theme”. This was not the case this time! Sports Luxe wowed and got me thinking, I should get that gym membership.

Moncler gilet (£275), Markus Lupfer jumper (£195), D&G shorts (£125), Balenciaga bag
(£550), Balenciaga hi tops (£345), Casio watch (£85)

D&G shorts (£125), Umbro jacket (£120), Umbro t-shirt (£40), Paul Smith bag (£120),
Alexander McQueen trainers (£145), Casio watch (£110)
I was especially impressed with the way Umbro was styled into the theme. Umbro have recently launched a new line designed by Peter Saville formerly of Factory Records. I went to the launch and will blog soon! Anyway, the New Fabric of England collection ‘tailored by Umbro’ was a smash hit and injected a little Manc passion to the sports proceedings.
The show ended and guests shopped the show at Harvey Nichols just down the road. enroute myself and my ever-gorgeous +1 Christopher Hulme stumbled across a H&M Student 20% Lock In and had our mug shot taken… odd.
Before I sign off. An important message. £10 of every ticket sold for the Harvey Nichols show was donated to the Manchester Art Gallery to keep the Arts alive in Manchester. The Arts desperately need the support of the people who enjoy them in these disastrous economical times. Cameron has already dissolved the UK Film Council, what’s next? Don’t let art die in the UK, support it here.

Burley Hurley Back From Bust

This Bury indie has dealt with difficulty over the Recession but has bounced back with 3 new stunning stores and a Drapers Awards win. I got a rare opportunity to quiz Managing Director, Mark Hurley, and you can see the full interview here. I kept these two answers just for Fashion Ramblings readers (cheeky).
Fashion Rambler: Hurley boasts a fantastic online store akin to those offered by international multiples, how are you finding the ecommerce sector?
Mark Hurley: The ecommerce sector has been difficult due the fact that we have issues with the back office side of our website, this is currently under re-construction with a new launch early in 2011.

FR: Would you consider the menswear market the toughest fashion sector during these uncertain economic times and how has Hurley navigated the storm?

MH: All sectors are tough, though we have a good solid core customer base who have been with us for many years and continue to support us, ladies is quite steady but still underpinned by the Ugg phenomenon. The main things is to keep your standards high if not higher than ever before with great customer service which is re-paid by loyalty. We continually look for new brands but the classics are still as important as ever.
Check out the website here.

25Ten Boutique adds Menswear

Fashion Rambler was invited to a little do in Rochdale to celebrate the relocation of a local ladieswear indie, 25Ten Boutique, and their recent inclusion of menswear!

After getting totally lost on Broadway and having to navigate the hills and car parks of central Rochdale I eventually dumped the car and arrived, fashionably, an hour late!

The new store sits prominently on the main high street that skirts the town’s main shopping centre. The move has enabled substantial growth opportunities for the boutique that has see year-on-year sales increase 29.9% from 2007 to August this year. The success of the store, that was once tucked away on Cheetham Street, is undoubtedly down to the couple who own it and their relentless publicity and drive. The store has been featured in national press for: World Cup initiatives and celeb customers, is one of only 20 Project D by Dannii Minogue stockists and is working on an own buy collection designed by local students, to be unveiled at PURE in London next year.

It’s all go!

Still, my focus is menswear and I got to ask the pair a little about their new venture whilst having a glass of pop in the spacious new store on Yorkshire Street.

Fashion Rambler: What enticed the brand to move into Menswear?
The Turner-Mitchells: Although we’ve established ourselves as the first port of call for young women in Rochdale looking for something distinctive and stylish, feedback from our customers suggested that their other halves were looking for more choice in menswear. On our high street there’s not a lot of variety for men. If you want to stand out from the crowd your only choice is to spend a lot of money on top designer brands. 
The response has been really positive with men from across the age range telling us how pleased they are to have some more choice. The problem with men’s clothes is that you sometimes have to really look hard to create an outfit that expresses your individuality. 
FR: Why did 25Ten invest so heavily in the Lambretta label? 
TM: Lambretta is a fairly iconic fashion label whose diversity has stayed close to its roots and heritage, while keeping up with the latest trends to maintain its popularity. In the Autumn/Winter 2010 collection we have focused mainly on knitwear and dress shirts, the styles of which should suit the type of customers we are looking to attract. The response so far to the collection has been extremely positive.
Good luck to 25Ten Boutique! For more of this interview click here


Professional Blogger?

I popped down to the big smoke the other day to attend an event about monetising your blog (don’t worry there is a glossary at the bottom). The event was hosted in the rather fabulous Soho Sanctum Hotel (yes the one owned by Mark Fuller) and enabled brands and bloggers to meet with the people behind the Affiliate Marketing channels at House of Fraser and the Affiliate networks like Commission Junction and Affiliate Window.

So after bumping into the cast of The Only Way Is Essex and leading them to the wrong press-day at the Soho Hotel (woops) and a trip to UNIQLO it was time to get down to business!

I was rather shocked to learn that some bloggers are earning £5,000-£6,000 p/week from their advertising and affiliate strategies! I can assure you I am not one of those, but wow, what an invested interest in ecommerce marketing. Who can call it niche when £48bil p/annum is generated for etailers from Affiliates?

Among other less statistical outcomes of the night was the general consensus that Affiliate Marketing is tricky and can also, as Ross Carter from House of Fraser put it, “be debilitating to your business” if not done right. If you’re an etailer that has fewer than 10,000 unique visitors p/month then you may not generate enough additional sales from an Affiliate programme to justify the Merchant fees charged by the Networks. it was advised that brands blog about their brand and generate and income by becoming an Affiliate Publisher. These blogs, together with Social Media output, will help get the brand name imprinted in cyberspace and then an Affiliate Programme may be worth it! Also, if you’re a blogger or website owner that is a registered Publisher it can be tempting to use Affiliates to dictate your content and this jepodises the readability of your work, no one wants every blog to sound like LOOK magazine.

However, in my role at my Intership I hope to be able to use Affiliate marketing to help generate an income for the business and then maybe I’ll be able to apply this elsewhere… Now, what was a Deep Link again?

Glossary of terms I think I learnt:

Merchant: A brand that has an Affiliate Programme with and Affiliate Network and offers tracked links to  Publishers who write about their products

Publishers: Bloggers and website owners who are signed to Affiliate Networks and have partnerships with brands who have Affiliate Programmes.

Product feed: A catalogue of the brand’s products which includes images and tracked image HTML codes to be included on blogs and websites.

Affiliate Network: An online platform that enables Merchants to meet their Publishers and for both to make money. Affiliate Networks are free for Publishers to join but charge monthly fees to Merchants.

Deep Link: A Web address (URL) that once clicked takes the reader directly to a specific page or product rather than a basic URL that takes the viewer to a homepage.

Embedded Link: A HTML link that is included in a website or blog, also called a Hyperlink.

Monetise: to make money for your website or blog.

PPC: Pay Per Click. Advertising with Google which will ensure your brand appears at the top of the search.

Conversion Rate: the percentage of unique visitors that visit our site and subsequently purchase.


Best of Manchester Fashion Awards

I was lucky enough to grab an invite to the Best of Manchester Fashion Awards the other night and was treated to a glittering ceremony that commemorated the best that Manchester has contributed to the UK Fashion Industry. The event was co-hosted by Manchester Fashion Network and CityCo who were unveiling their new Manchester Heart of Fashion Shopping Guide which features everything the savvy shopper needs to know about Manchester’s various shopping districts.

The event was hosted in St. Ann’s Church (it would seem that Churches are the new host spot since the Harvey Nichols show last month) which is apparently the geographical heart of the city (remember that for Trivial Pursuit MCR Edition!)

I found a pew with a view, champagne in hand and two blondes to chat to, namely Olivia of MFN and Sara of SeraLuxe who was with her lovely boyfriend Ben. The awards were presented by CEO of CityCo Vaughan Allen, from the pulpit, and the categories were: Best New Designer, Best Independent Retailer/Designer and Life Time Achievement Award.

Kirsty Payne

The shortlist for the Best New Designer was derived from the graduate talent from the city’s two fashion institutes, the Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Salford. Salford’s Kirsty Payne won the award beating, MMU graduate and Graduate Fashion Week Gold Award winner, Rebecca Thomson to the £2,000 prize.

Olivia, MY TANGO’D SELF (yikes), Sara and Ben.  
Judges included Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council and fellow Mancunian, who said of Payne’s work: “There is a wealth of talent in Manchester that made judging incredibly difficult, however Kirsty’s pieces showed a level of sophistication that stood out. Recognition and financial support can make a real difference at the beginning of a career and that is what this award is all about.” She also said of her home city “Manchester is a leading style city, remember you have a reputation to uphold” which was quite well received by the crowd.
Daniel Clark and Charlotte Keyworth of Junk Shop

Best Indie was won by Junk Shop.The boutique, which stocks its own label clothing, is the best selling sustainable fashion brand on Oxfam’s online shopping portal and has collaborated with high street giants, TOPSHOP. Judge Rob Warner, the Design Director for Umbro, said of Junk Shop’s win: “Junk is offering so much to the industry and the city. It’s not just a style orientated concept but embraces so many things that are on the minds and in the hearts of progressive fashion thinkers today. This award is very well deserved.”

Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway

The Life Time Achievement award was presented to Gerardine Hemingway, who was behind the famous street style brand Red or Dead. The brand has its origins in Manchester and the famous independent emporium, Afflecks in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. After a successful progression from independent market stalls to being recognized as an international brand, stocked in Macy’s New York City, the business was sold in 1999. Gerardine and her husband, Wayne, now run HemingwayDesign. Gerardine was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Peter Saville, Manchester Creative Director and co-founder of Factory Records.

After the do we all went outside to mingle under the marquee and were treated to canapes.

Images Courtesy of CityCo, the image of me and my entourage was courtesy of Manchester Confidential