VOGUE’s Online Fashion Week, The Report

So. I don’t think anyone was more excited for Online Fashion Week than I. Perhaps someone, but I’ve not met them yet.
You’re waiting for a ‘but’ aren’t you. I don’t want to give one. But (damn it) it wasn’t quite everything I had hoped.

There’s me, pre-OFW, hoping that the independent stores I care so much about (play violins) were finally going to get the platform they needed to compete with the super-giants. It doesn’t seem to have been quite the case.
Although OFW was magical, insane, exhausting, not to mention a headache for vogue.co.uk’s editor, Dolly Jones and her team… I was left a little deflated after the twentieth post for Harvey Nichols (I exaggerate) (I also love Harvey Nichols) (call me complex).
I had the pleasure of chatting about this confusing debate with the ladies behind some of the independents that participated (or tried to participate) in Online Fashion Week. I also got the chance to chat to Dolly Jones and you can read the whole report here.
To draw a conclusion from the report you’re about to read (I can smell your curiosity) I think that perhaps 2012 should see a more proactive use of the @BritishVogue twitter portal, where tweets from those retailers not being showcased on the vogue.co.uk blog are prioritised over those tweets from retailers already basking in the glow of a heap of traffic from the OFW Live Blog. 
Perhaps, also, retailers can be forewarned as to their rejection from the Live Blog so that their own means of promotion can be geared around informing shoppers of specific discount codes etc. that would/should have been broadcast on the OFW Live Blog.
What do you think?


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


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.


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.


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.