Fashion Rambler meets Henry Holland

Selfridges Manchester Trafford Centre hosted a bit of a do to celebrate a new concept in Menswear. Yes, Primark is now stocked within the Menswear Department. *pause for effect*
If you’re bored of hearing about Primark. Scroll down for the interview with Mr Henry Holland. (pictured above)
And although Primark wasn’t the only alteration to the Menswear offer in the out-of-town Shopping Mecca, it was certainly the most talked about. 
Whilst Mixologists concocted potent potions from Whiskey and Rum, whilst Henry Holland span the decks and whilst half naked underwear models (including Stuart from Big Brother) strutted around the floor with balloons – I was sussing out the Menswear offer from Primark.

You may have read my blog that recently announced the Primark/Selfridges collaboration [read it here] and the pictures of the Menswear Edit would have left the snob in you feeling decidedly uncomfortable about their stance on the matter. Why? The truth is, the clothes are relatively spot-on and the price is to die for in this pocket-money-less climate. 

The department benefits from ample floorspace (more than most concessions) but is tucked away under the grand staircase towards the very rear of the shop. Primark have provided bespoke fixtures and fittings that are a leap away from the drap faux-pine and blue plastic we’ve come to associate with their stand-alone stores.

What is interesting and troubling about the clothes is that they look the part within the store. They’re colourful, exciting and the prices are just fantastic (note: Primark is the only concession in Selfridges to advertise item prices on bold end-of-arm boards). 

Why is this troubling? Well, the inner clothes snob in me is about to come out… when you take these clothes home they’re still Primark. You lose the prestige of the store and have nothing to fall back on except a Cederwood State or Denim Co. label.

So. My answer to this snobbery is to buy well. Avoid ‘basics’ and go for the gimick. YES it’s Primark and NO you don’t care (or at least you’re too poor to care). Also, some of the gimmick items, like this Xmas sweater, don’t have Primark labels! (Bonus)

I got a couple of minutes with Mr Henry Holland, designer and resident DJ for the partay.

Fashion Rambler: Mr Holland, what do you think of Primark being welcomed into Selfridges Manchester Trafford Centre?

Henry Holland; I think the official line for Selfridges is quite good in that they say their customer buys everything from Primark to Prada and they think there is a real cross over between high end and low end. They don’t think people shop one and not the other. People like to mix and match their own styles. I think it’s fine. I don’t know what the big hoo-har is about. It’s a massive store so I think Selfridges is big enough to cater to all different markets.
FR: What were your best bits of this season’s London Fashion Week?
HH: Usually every season the best bit is when my show’s finished and I can have a drink! But I think this season everyone was saying Christopher Kane’s [show] was really good. I wasn’t there in person but people were crying and that because it was so amazing. It was beautiful – the fabrics and stuff he developed were so amazing. Richard Nichol was really good. I went to that one. It was beautiful. I thought that Roksanda Ilincic was great and I was at Louise Gray as well that was great. Really good.
Note: I saw Mr Holland at Nicoll’s show, he was a little boozy and asked if his breath smelt of Vodka. It did. 🙂 
FR: You operate two brands, your mainline: House of Holland, and your diffusion line in Debenhams: H! By Henry Holland. How do you manage to juggle the two?
HH: It’s quite easy. We kind of oversee what happens with the diffusion line – working with the design team and designing that stuff is very different. It’s really rewarding because you see it a lot. You see it on girls. It’s about building a new brand. It’s two separate entities, a very different customer and in a very different space. Whereas House of Holland – there’s nothing that happens in my office that I don’t know about. From sales to distribution, to production, to all the design – every single thing. There’s still a team of five of us and people think we’re a huge company. We have a very wide reach. We distribute far and wide.

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 calls Jeff Banks

This time last week I was off to London Fashion Week for my first time at the capital’s fashion catwalks. (see my LFW diary here)
En route, I was still playing journo. I had a slot to phone the one and only Jeff Banks for an interview. A phone call that would continually be cut off because of tunnels but one that unearthed some surprising results.
Allow me to elaborate.

Fashion Rambler: What are you doing in Manchester?

Jeff Banks: I’m at the People’s Catwalk at Manchester Trafford Centre and launching the new Debenhams refit.
fR: You’ve always been a keen supporter of young British design talent, setting up and sitting on the board of Graduate Fashion Week. Where do you stand on idea that today’s bloggers are tomorrow’s journalists and fashion forecasters?
I got cut off. Ring back, repeat.
JB: Actually, I think bloggers have become too egotistical and are not journalistic at all. Bloggers are not affecting trends or new design, it all tends to be very personal. If you ask me will blogs take over, I’d say no.


fR: I was not expecting that, but I do see where you’re coming from.
JB: What?
fR: Never mind, How do you envisage the future for small independent stores with big shopping centres like Manchester Trafford Centre opening and demanding too-high rents?
JB: I think it is actually a big opportunity. Big centres open up and give young designers the opportunity to get cheap rents in town. If they’ve got good product, there will be a resurgence.
Got cut off. Text PR with next question.
fR: What are your thoughts on the BIBA reincarnation? (a contemporary of Banks)
JB: If anyone should reincarnate BIBA is should have been Barbara Hulanicki.

Build Your Own Havaianas at Selfridges Manchester Trafford

On a few of my most recent trips to the famed Selfridges Manchester Trafford Centre I have spotted something rather exciting. Flipflops being made for people. Havaiana Flipflops to be precise (the Louboutin of the Flipflop world to those not in the toe-bar community)
I had to check it out.

Havaianas are a Brazilian brand of summer footwear and are the most comfortable Flipflops you’ll ever buy. Seriously. I purchased some from OiPolloi before my break away to Gran Canaria and I barely wore anything else the entire holiday. They’re comfortable, durable and go with anything (in the right colours) I even wore them out at night (for shame) and they looked the part because, if you’re going to dance in flipflops, they should at least be Havaianas!

So. I have some white OiPolloi Havaianas but Adam (the BF) doesn’t, thought I’d treat him and be all nice.

Upon arrival you’re teleported from the sleek shiny Selfridges ground floor to the insane world of multi-coloured foam footwear.

I loved the merchandising, it really played up the idea that we were mixing and matching our own creations, it also, oddly, made me hungry. The idea of customising your own footwear has got this corner of the department store a lot of attention, during hard times people want more for their money. So if retailers can go that extra mile (by not putting the shoes together in the first instance) they seem to be on for a winner!

Upon being introduced to Vanessa we began the Three Step customisation process…

We selected our desired sole (top or slim, slim being a more delicate cut), our desired strap and any glitzy additions, like these crystals below. (which we avoided, this time)
The lovely Havaiana Ladies then set to work putting our selections together. Adam opted for Avocado Green Top Sole and White Straps. 

There was a cool/lethal looking machine that punched the straps through the sole and, un, deux trois, we were done.

 As you can see by Vanessa’s co-worker’s hair, the work can get demanding….

Simply the best in flipflops. 
Exclusive to Manchester Trafford Centre Selfridges for the next few week of Summer, from £20.00.


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 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

Maje Spring/Summer’11

I was at a ladies wear Spring/Summer trends showcase the other morning and, whilst inhaling my Brioche and Cappuccino, was introduced to the North West’s latest French infiltration.
Maje is a French fashion label that has been propelled to popularity in our fair old Brity since that chick from Harry Potter sported a lacey top on VOGUE’s cover. Some PR got a raise ‘eh?
So, the label have opened a stand-alone in London and also are available in London’s Selfridges on Oxford Road but I was introduced to the Maje collections in the only other UK outlet in Selfridges Manchester Trafford. The brand occupies a significant percentage of the ladies wear concessions department and stands alongside fellow French import Sandro, whose elbow pads got me and Katie from Stylist magazine all just a little bit too excited. I must remember to buy a sewing machine and subsequently take over the world with hot elbow pads.
Anywho, Maje has had it so good in the UK that their French HQ are setting up shop in the UK to closely analysis their slow invasion of the UK premium fashion sector. I quizzed, just about whoever would listen including a rather petrified Sales Advisor, whether Maje would be adding a North Western division to its UK operations. No one was sure. 
I wonder, will Maje aim to navigate the NW from London without popping up to say hello OR will the French brand realise the benefits of regional brand investment and make the leap to a North Western arm?
Only time will tell, in the meantime have a gander at these pretty pictures – gotta have a bit of ladies stuff on ‘ere I s’pose.
Selfridges & Co Ltd

Tag, I’m it!

I’ve been a busy pea these last few weeks. So, in light of my revision nightmare I’m going to plan this blog before writing it.
Introduction: DONE
1. Post-Christmas trauma
2. Exam revision 
3. Moving house
4. Sale shopping 
5. Conclusion
Those of you delightful stalkers that follow my life on Twitter will no doubt already know about all of this and more.
So, Christmas was amazing. I didn’t want it to end, hence being so bloody late with my Xmas review. I got lots of lovely pressies and gave some homemade joy too. Adam and I (in a bid to save money) made: candles, bath bombes, gingerbreadmen, soaps, shortbread, truffles, decorations and more (and ended up spending a fortune!) But it was fun.
This is me being all Wolf Whistle with my new camera from Mother and Father and my new Fashion Rambler (publicity whore) bag from the rents too (I know, cool parents ‘eh?)
Hair, not done (I’ve been busy!)
T-Shirt, Religion
Jeans, H&M
Socks, ASOS
New Flat’s funky mirror, included in rent. 
2. Revision Hell. Why would I bore you with that?
3. Moving House. We’ve moved from our lovely green-house of a glass box to a bigger more comfortable premises in the historic heart of Manchester. 
Google Maps
The Victorian train lines go over head, the canal systems merge with the old Mills (now £3,500 pcm Penthouses and Key 103 FM HQs) and the bars sell £4.50 pints. The whole place, an urban heritage park, is beautiful and Mancunian and post-industrial and amazing. Very fitting since I’m currently reading Shirley and it’s all about Yorkshire Mills and petticoats. Outfit posts feat. the surroundings coming soon (maybe even a petticoat)
4.  Sale Shopping: I think the sales have been poor this year. Just pants. Although I found an amazing Galliano Tee (The Galliano Gazette Tee) for Harvey Nichols from £105 to £75!!! I hesitated, waiting for final reductions. When they came the Harvey Nichols Manchester twitter announced the reductions, I tweeted them to ask if the Tee was reduced, IT WAS! So, I ran to the store and….they had sold out. Online too. GUTTED.
5. Conclusion: Sara Wilson, my absolute favourite, has tagged me in one of those tag-a-blogger-for-stupid-reasons games that I (secretly) love.
So, I now have to write seven things about myself… pointless procrastination (much needed)
1. I was deaf when I was born and make up for it by being all loud and stuffs.
2. I had a love affair with London, until I went to New York… though Manchester will forever be my home.
3. I have a thing about tidiness and cleanliness, my home must be orderly for my brain to be.
4. My Mother is my bestest friend, don’t care what Freud would say.
5. I study English Literature despite being dyslexic and never having time to read.
6. I went to a press day yesterday at Selfridges Manchester Trafford and made the Fashion Editor of Manchester Confidential lol when I did a U-turn from a PR trying to get me to sample Sandro S/S’11.
7. I have not even been blogging for a year and consider it one of my bestest hobbies ever.
Now to tag: Buckets & Spades, Male Mode, Fuck Off Kitty: Confessions of a Disney Princess, Disney Roller Girl, Wolf Whistle, Tweet, Dinky’s Delights I can’t be bothered with hyperlinking anyone else… TAGS TO EVERYONE!
Selfridges & Co Ltd

I heart PB, among other things.

I am sat in my car on a shopping park car park in the rain eating a roast chicken sandwich. I am at work and have brought my laptop with me to type my blog because I worry I shall have no time in which to do it and that wouldn’t be fair to you now would it?

SO, guess you I met on Saturday? Paul Slade. “Who?” I hear you ask, Paul Slade is the man behind the ghetto fabulous ladies accessories brand Paul’s Boutique!

Paul was at the Manchester Trafford Centre branch of BANK for a customisation day which allowed his best customers the chance to meet the designer and get a Hoodie customised by him personally. Brill!

Paul Slade and Womenswear buyer for BANK Fashion, Jemma Lane

After pushing past the queue of tweens sat on the floor outside the store I managed to get inside BANK where I met the lovely Suzy from BANK’s parent company JD Sports Fashion. Suzy was rushing around organising the event so I left her to it and perused the shop waiting for my slot with Mr Slade. The flagship store was in a total flurry of excitement as the guest of honour set up his workshop on the Mezzanine level. If you’re familiar with BANK you’ll know all about their attention to merchandising design and the ‘customer experience’ within their store. Antique armoires are cramped with studded hoodies, walls are piled high with edgy street fashion and the whole store has an exciting theme much akin to a theme park!

I eventually got the chance to pull Paul aside, before the stampede entered, to ask him a few questions. You can read a full interview with Paul at Manchester Fashion Network, however, I kept these two questions just for Fashion Rambler 😀

Fashion Rambler: After establishing your brand within the ladies accessories sector, and recently moving into clothing, does Paul’s Boutique have any plans to begin a menswear line in any form?

Paul Slade: We’re bringing out a menswear label, that’ll be coming out in February. It’ll be called Heritage, by Paul’s Boutique and will be quite preppy.

FR: Do you have a favourite bag?

PS: The Mollie bag.

After shaking Paul’s hand I skirted the crowd and exited pondering over the preppy Heritage offerings for early 2011.