Category Archives: Menswear

Crazy About Shirts

Do you like shirts?  My husband is a fan. I have 4 sons – my eldest lives in football (soccer) shirts; my 2nd son likes his Jack & Jones t shirts; my 3rd son worships his baggy trousers, t shirts and hoodies ….. and my youngest son, well, he is just plain crazy about shirts! So he has agreed to talk about his love of shirts and give us some insight into what is “cool” in the world of shirts today!

Hi! I’m Ethan.  I’m 10 years old and I really love shirts!

What is it about shirts that you really love?

They are airy and cool you down in summer.

Do you prefer long sleeves or short sleeves?

It depends on the time of year – I like long sleeves in winter and short sleeves in summer. I don’t like my sleeves rolled up.

Do you have a favourite shirt?

Yes, my flamingo one. It is summery and cool.  ( I bought this shirt for Ethan from Next )

From Next

Do you have a favourite colour? 

Blue is my favourite colour.  I like wearing all colours apart from black. I do like bright colours.  

From Next

Who is your style icon?

Ricky Wilson (lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs). He wears cool shirts and waistcoats. I would like to wear a shirt and waistcoat for Sian’s wedding next year.  (Sian is my daughter, Ethan’s sister).

Out of your dad’s shirts, do you have a favourite that he wears?

My dad has a really cool butterfly shirt.

Dad’s butterfly shirt

What outfit do you like to wear when going out somewhere special?

Short sleeve white shirt, skinny blue jeans, and my leather jacket.

Do you like wearing your school uniform?

Yes, because I can wear a white shirt and it makes me look smart.

I notice that you and your friends wear your shirts buttoned right up to the top. Why?

(Shrugs)… I like to look smart and it’s how everybody wears a shirt at school. 

For pinning later

What’s next on your clothes wishlist?

A shirt, of course …. or jeans, skinny not baggy.  

What would you like to do when you are older?

I would like to be an airline pilot.

So, dear readers…. out of the mouth of babes, my youngest child has carved out a fashion style of his own – in stark contrast to his older brothers!  Do you have children who follow different styles?  Do share your observations!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Classic Portuguese

Launched in October 2016, new artisanal menswear brand Classic Portugal aims to showcase the traditional manufacturing techniques from the rugged, yet beautiful Serra Da Estrela in Northern Portugal.  The Serra Da Estrela region has long been the centre of a thriving wool trade and each sweater in the Classic Portuguese collection has been made from a fine blend of 90% merino wool and 10% cashmere.  I recently caught up with the founder, Robin da Silva, to find out more. Welcome Robin…

Hi!  I’m Robin, the son of a Portuguese Father and British mother and a recent graduate from University College London. I have lived in London for over 5 years now and have no intention of leaving it behind! I enjoy going shopping and seeking out new fashion trends that I can adopt. I’ve really become a young fashionista with a passion for entrepreneurship. I love designing, creating and seeing ideas turning into real items I can touch and feel.

What was the inspiration behind Classic Portuguese?

I was walking through the hills of the Serra da Estrela, when I came across an old Portuguese mill. It was only after we’d met with the owner that we’d understood how much heritage and history there was behind wool trade and manufacturing in the area, that had been passed on from generation to generation. It so happened that I’d already been living in London for a few years now and I’d learnt to understand the luxury goods market, and the growing demand for quality Portuguese items. That’s when the idea was born.

Growing up, was your career aspirations fashion orientated or did you have another career in mind? When did you start to cultivate an interest in textiles?

If I’m honest, I always thought I was going to become a footballer, as I was playing professional football throughout my teenage years. I was put through to the Belgian national trials and a friend of mine is now playing for Atletico Madrid. As you can see, my career was never intended to end up in fashion, but I quickly developed a passion for dressing well while in London due to the constant exposure to new trends and styles. Although I also wanted to start my own company and couldn’t find a brand I could 100% relate to, my visit to the Serra da Estrela and life in London, perfectly aligned with my growing passion for fashion and starting a company. I believed (and still do) that I had an idea that was unique enough to make a positive change to everybody’s perception of Portuguese luxury.

Your Serra capsule collection of sweaters consist of 3 styles. What do you look for when deciding what styles to add to your brand – popular trend styles, traditional designs, customer suggestions, your own tastes or bits of all those?

I look for styles that are simple, classic and make people look and feel good. I like to create designs that never go out of fashion and I also try and avoid clothes where the logos are too obvious. I want people to recognise the piece of clothing for its quality and style, not for the brand.

From your current collection, what has been your most popular design? Have you got a personal favourite?

The Terracotta Serra (beige) has been the most popular by far but my favourite definitely has to be the Alpine one. However, I do like all three in the collection (of course).

Your artisanal menswear hails from the Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain range in Portugal. What is it about the area that has encouraged such a thriving wool trade?

For centuries, the Serra da Estrela has been known for its unique characteristics, offering an ideal meeting point for seasonal flock paths which enabled many mountain towns to specialise in wool manufacturing. Some of these flock paths date back to the 13th century which were formed by shepherds who would follow wool routes with their herd. The people of the Serra relied on wool which was used to protect, provide comfort and make a living. This rare culture, allowed manufacturing and dyeing knowledge to be preserved and improved throughout hundreds of years, creating an unparalleled hub for wool manufacturing.

The Serra capsule collection of sweaters for this current season are available in shades of Alpine, Ocean and Terracotta. What new items/styles/colours are you planning to add to your menswear collection in 2017?

We will be diversifying our selected range by adding a few more dyes, possibly black and will also be looking at offering thick 100% cotton t-shirts, made in Portugal.

Although the sweaters are made in Portugal, are they available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, we offer free delivery world-wide as standard. We pride ourselves in offering nothing but the best service. So you’re definitely in good hands.

Do you see Classic Portuguese branching out into womenswear, unisex, or children swear in the future or are you just concentrating on the menswear market?

Yes, eventually we see ourselves developing a women’s range as we’ve had considerable interest. It’s still very early days but we are excited for the future. We’re concentrating our efforts on menswear for now.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

It really depends where I’m heading to, but I always like to be ready for any occasion. That’s why I like blending smart and casual items, and the Classic Portuguese sweaters offer the perfect balance. I’d often wear the Alpine Serra or the Terracotta Serra over a white shirt or t-shirt with some black jeans, complimented by some black desert boots. My collection turns dressing elegantly into an effortless task.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I really like A.P.C. and A.M.I, or the select range Liberty offers as they focus on luxury boutique brands. I also really like J.Crew as they offer quality staple styles.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I was thinking of purchasing a couple of light shirts fom J.Crew that would really look good beneath one of the sweaters of The Serra Collection. I’m also looking at some Clarks desert boots which go well with anything when you want to dress smart casual. I also love my Superga trainers for those chilled-out evenings, so I’m also looking at getting another pair.

Boots or Shoes?

Definitely boots for me. I prefer the style that they have when wearing slim jeans which is what I always wear.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Classic Portuguese

www.classicportuguese.com
Facebook: facebook.com/classicportuguese
Instagram: instagram.com/classicportuguese
Twitter: https://twitter.com/classicportu

Thank you very much for agreeing to be on the blog, Robin, and I’m so pleased that you’re loving life in my home city & birthplace, London.  Going back some generations though, my mum’s family (via her dad) originally came from Portugal.  I’m loving how your idea for Classic Portuguese came about too.  Dear readers, have you ever experienced such a moment when a visit to somewhere changed the course of your life?  Don’t be shy, do share your experiences, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Robin da Silva/Classic Portuguese.

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An Interview With Oriental African

Fashion blending both African and Far East Asian cultures with a pinch of Western mainstream influences is today’s topic on my blog. Snubbing mass-produced disposable fashion, Oriental African, online fashion retailers,  instead offer to both men and women of all sizes, responsibly sourced and ethically produced fashion from independent grassroots designers.  I recently caught up with Mary Akpeki, creative director & co-founder, to find out more ….hi Mary!

Hi, my name is Mary.I’m a co founder at Oriental African and a student at Kent University.

What inspired you to set up your brand, Oriental African?

My niece because she represents a mixed heritage of Korean, Nigerian, and British cultures. This made me realise there is a gap within the fashion industry, these three distinct cultures are already powerful on their own and have vibrant styles, prints and patterns. So my sister and I began to imagine how we could infuse these influential prints together and that’s how Oriental African was born. We were also really passionate about helping African and Asian designers who wanted to reach a wider audience in the West.

Have you always had a passion for fashion, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?

Yes I’ve always loved fashion and love dressing up, styling pieces together. I was lucky enough to have African print clothing growing up, that my mum would bring back from Nigeria and I was able to style these with western clothes from shops like H&M etc so that’s where my interest in fashion really started to grow.

Your online shop retails a fashion blend incorporating both African and Far East Asian cultures. What items are proving popular amongst your customers?

We have a shirt that blends Chinese frog buttons and African print, a ripped dashiki hoodie that channels the Yeezy collection, and Dashiki longline shirts which are really popular in the entertainment industry right now.

Out of all the outfits that you sell, do you have any favourites?

I really like the co-ord sets that I have, the OA crop top and trousers or bra-let and skirt they can be styled for both work and leisure and I think that represents my style.

Snubbing mass-produced disposable fashion, you consciously only showcase independent grassroots designers. How do you make sure everything you offer is responsibly sourced and ethically produced?

Quality checks, we insure we buy all the fabrics, that we give them the fair price for it and they are all ethically sourced and all the money we make from the clothes a percentage is given back to the designer.

As your clothes are from two distinct parts of the world, I am going to put you on the spot and ask whether you have a favourite country? What place is number one on your travel bucket list?
What place is number one on your travel bucket list?

Thailand – because the beaches look so beautiful and I love Thai food. I’ve always wanted to go to Bangkok.

Your company is based in England – are your designs available to purchase worldwide?

For now they’re not but within the next few months we should be able to ship worldwide,so watch this space.

When adding outfits to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional styles or bits of all those?

All of the above factors contribute and inspire us for each piece of clothing we put on the platform.

 Hypothetically speaking, who would you pick, dead or alive, to be the “face” of Oriental African?

Beyoncé is really an amazing personality and we also love Keyonce who impersonates her really well.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Ankle length boots, choker, high waist jeans, Bardot tops and our OA Lere bomber jacket.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

ASOS and New Look

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Well I’m creating a range of African print swim suits and I would to steal one and take it with me on holiday. Timberlands.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots because they go with anything and I love versatility when it comes to fashion.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Oriental African.

www.orientalafrican.co.uk
@orientalafrican

Fabulous speaking to you Mary and I wish Oriental African every success in the future.  So, dear readers, what do you think of “blended” fashion?  Do you like the ideas that Oriental African are promoting?  Have you ever mixed an expensive designer dress with cheap shoes bought at a garage sale for pennies?  Teamed a tankini top with jeans for a night out? Worn your partner’s shirt as a dress? Do share your stories – I’d love to know!

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission of Mary Akpeki/Oriental African

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Spotlight On Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel

Snow has already descended on parts of Canada, USA, Scotland and Northern England, heralding the start of the winter ski season in the Northern Hemisphere.  It seems most fitting, therefore, to introduce onto my blog one of the finest, if not the finest (in my opinion), alpine designer fashion  & ready-to-wear ski wear shop in the world – Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel.  Founded in 1975 in Courchevel, Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel  was named after the famous alpine skier.  Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel is more than just a shop, as I found out…..

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Why did you pick Courchevel as the location for your shop?

Courchevel is a luxurious ski resort located in the French Alps, with one of the largest ski areas in the world: 3 Valleys.  The ski resort hosts the most prestigious international clientele.  This ski paradise is also one of the most luxurious places in the world with a high concentration of 5 star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and unique boutiques.

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What are your most popular products?

Just like every year since forever, Moon Boots are very popular.  The most popular shoe brand is Jimmy Choo, so it stands to reason that their moon boots are a great hit.

What’s new for the 2016 winter season?

Chiara Ferragni  Moonboots, some exclusive Fendi Sportswear, and the launch of Balmain Man at Bernard Orcel.

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What makes Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel special?

Maison Bernard Orcel offers customers the chance to unwind and relax by being surrounded by beauty and quality.  Florence, the Head of House for 25 years, knows and recognises the very dear Bernard Orcel clientele. Like a real concierge, the whole Bernard Orcel team supports our customers during their stay in Courchevel for any of their requests. We offer our customers a shopping service at home. The collections (ready-to-wear or skiwear) are presented by a personal shopper from our team. Our seamstress is also at the disposal of our customers throughout the season to adjust and retouch their purchases.

Although you are in France, do you deliver worldwide?

According to the client’s wishes, we offer the possibility of a delivery service any time in Courchevel, and all over the world.

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What brands do you stock (ready-to-wear)?

Balmain, Brioni, Brunello Cucinelli, Chiara Ferragni, Dsquared, Fabiana Filippi, Faubourg 32, Jacob Cohen, Maison Ullens, Sartorial Tramarossa, Simonetta Ravizza, Stefano Ricci…..

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….And Skiwear?

AZ Atelier, Bogner, Dsquared Ski Capsule, Fendi Ski Collection, Jet Set, Kru, Toni Sailer, Zai, Zero Ski.   We also provide sales services and ski rental delivery directly into the hotel or chalet in Courchevel.    This service also includes the possibility to try and buy our skiwear collections. A full service from the ski outfit to the technical equipment!

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….And Shoes?

Buscemi, Emma Salimova & Ugg, Guiseppe Zanotti, Jimmy Choo, Ludwig Reiter, Santoni, Tod’s.

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Fashion & Art

Bernard Orcel has invited the famous artist Leo Caillard to exhibit his work as a tribute to the classic sculpture. The exhibition, entitled “Hipster In Store”, offers an unique alliance of fashion and art through sculptures of antiquity. Dressed in a contemporary way, the gods Zeus, Hercules and the goddess Diana enter our era wearing shirt, jeans and a little dress.

Shop Details

Bernard Orcel, Rue du Rocher Courchevel 1850, 73120 Saint Bon Tarentaise.

www.bernard-orcel.com 

Instagram:  Bernard Orcel

FB: Bernard Orcel Courchevel

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So, when you next go skiing in the French Alps check out Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel  and have a browse amongst the rails and enjoy the unique art exhibitions too! What a shopping experience!  Dear readers, do you enjoy partaking in winter sports? Do you have a favourite skiing location?  

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission from Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel.

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An Interview With Goldgenie

I’m going for gold this week as my guest on the blog is Laban Roomes, founder of high-end brand Goldgenie.  Specialising in luxury personalised gifts and items using pure 24K gold, Rose Gold, Platinum and Diamonds… in fact, they are best known for their decadent designs and blingworthy materials. From 24K gold shoes and embellished Apple watches to a 24K gold bike worth more than a Ferrari, there’s hardly anything in the world that can not be given the Midas touch.  I caught up with Laban recently and used the golden opportunity to ask a few questions…. Hi Laban !

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Hello 🙂 My name is Laban Roomes, founder of Luxury Gift and customisation services company, Goldgenie. I developed an innovative portable plating device that can gold plate pretty much any item that is conductive. Our clients include The Oscars and Emmy awards in Los Angeles, HTC, Samsung, BlackBerry, AMEX and our flagship client Lexus as well as iconic retail outlets like Harrods and Selfridges, plus a host of Celebrities including the Beckhams, Elton John, P. Diddy, Denzel Washington, Rhianna and Mark Wahlberg to name just a few.

What inspired you to launch your business venture, Goldgenie?

The business suited my character as someone that always had a keen interest in luxury goods and services. I thought better to develop something that I can do and live with a passion then just do something for the money… It just so happened that money came anyway. I also believe that the self development that occurs mentally and spiritually for oneself can be profound if approached in a certain way.

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Goldgenie featured on BBC television’s programme “Dragons Den” and received backing from James Caan. Was it a nerve racking experience? What surprised you most about the experience?

Yes it was a nerve racking experience and as time went on and I was losing the support of the Dragons something switched on inside of me, the fighting extinct came alive as there was no way I was going home without the investment! What this confirmed to me is that people really do buy into people and the more you let your light shine the more powerful you are and the more you radiate and exude confidence,which everyone wants a piece of. The biggest shock was that the stairs I walked up on the Dragons Den was on a set 2 miles away from the actual studio that I appeared on and got my investment.

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What products are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season for embellishing with pure 24K gold, rose gold, platinum & diamonds?

The iPhone 6s remains triumphant so far and close second is the Apple Watch and iPad. Ever since we customised the first ever iPhone way back in 2007 this has without a doubt been our best performing product to date. Finishes available are 24k Gold, Platinum, Rose Gold and Diamonds.

Out of all the products you’ve decorated, do you have a favourite item?

Not really as everything is still so fascinating to watch and see the total transformation a product undergoes during our processes – but the two I have been most proud of to date is the Neasden Temple in London and the range of Swarovski crystal encrusted iPods I personally designed for Elton John to raise funds for his EJAF charity.

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Adding the Midas touch to everything from new technology to footwear, what has been the most unusual item you’ve decorated in 24K gold?

This has to be the Sultan Of Brunei’s toilet.. Or maybe a top of the range vibrator Ann Summers commissioned us to do for a well known celebrity I’m not at liberty to mention.

Your collaboration with designer shoe maker Deeasjer has resulted in an awesome limited “Pure Gold” capsule collection of Deeasjer shoes each incorporating 24K gold embellished heels & featuring Deeasjer’s signature brand symbol – the Rose. How did the collaboration first come about?

Goldgenie sponsored a fashion show for Deeasjer many moons ago, when the owner Charlene Beckett was designing the “Pure Gold” Capsule collection she asked me to be involved in the designs – I just had to,of course, feature 24k Gold heels.

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You have expanded from the UK into the UAE … Have you any plans to expand elsewhere globally in the future?

Yes we have expanded recently to the UAE with our first retail store opening in the first week of July and have plans to open a shop in Los Angeles or Puerto Banus in Spain next year – hopefully we will be able to do both.

As you are based in the UK, do you offer embellished products or services overseas too?

Yes we do and have an award winning service that can pick up your item anywhere in the world with our secure and trackable courier service, have your item customised and returned within 14 days of pick up.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am fortunate that whatever I put on because of my build I look good in (not bragging, of course) but I do like brands like Sisley and Paul Smith or I will get my suits made. In saying that, I also buy clothes for the fit more than the brand behind it. For footwear I love Clarkes and Cruyff shoes, brogues without a doubt are a key part of my wardrobe and Adidas.. keeping it simple.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Yes, I have a passion for watches and do like online watch sites like Rolex, Patek Philipe and Brietling – I have great admiration for the Apple brand including their online and retail stores. Steve Jobs is one of my all time favourite entrepreneurs and his success to me has really made a positive impact on the world, anyone that starts their business with little or no money from a garage and grows it to be one of the richest and most cutting edge companies in the world, you just have to admire.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

I intend to buy myself some fresh tracksuits and trainers – you can never have enough trainers.

Boots or Shoes?

That will be more Cruyff shoes – they suit me down to a T.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Goldgenie

Web: www.goldgenie.com
Twitter: @Goldgenie
Instagram: goldgenie_uk
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/GoldgenieGoldPlating/

Thank you Laban for joining me on the blog and giving the blog a touch of golden glamour.  So, dear readers, have you any items that could benefit from the golden touch?  I do love the golden heels and I’m sure even my trainers would benefit from a lick of gold! Wouldn’t a golden Harley Davidson look cool too?!? ..as always, share your ideas, I’d love to know what you think!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Laban Roomes/ Goldgenie

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An Interview With Grannies Inc

My granny loved to knit! My cousins, sister and I all had some rather colourful pieces every year in our Christmas stocking.  My two boy cousins had fetching tank tops in colours trending at the time – burgundy was a big favourite.  For my cousin Jane, my sister and I, well, we had bright turquoise & white ponchos and white roll neck “ski” jumpers with multicoloured stripes.  My husband’s granny knits pullovers and blankets for our children.  My guest this week, Kai Poldoja of Grannies Inc has a vision of spreading the love of granny-made knitwear throughout the world and by employing talented knitting grannies to produce a range of bespoke knitwear,  they are endeavouring to do just that. Intrigued? I was! So, I caught up with Kai to find out more….

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Hi! Grannies, Inc. was launched in 2009 .Grannies, Inc. strives to connect people who love wearing unique, quality handmade garment with knitters who love knitting. Our knitters are passionate, experienced and most importantly, they love knitting.

What inspired the launch of Grannies Inc?

My grandma was a passionate knitter and I remember all the warm socks she knitted for everyone in the family. Most of the time she knitted more than we could wear and all my friends loved  my grandma’s socks. That made me think that it would be great to establish a website that connects all those grannies like my grandma with all those people that don’t have a grandma like mine.

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If I wanted a particular knitted item design, how do I go about ordering the bespoke item?

Ordering bespoke items is very simple. Just go to www.granniesinc.co.uk and send us some photos of what you want knitted. Our grannies can replicate almost anything from a photo, or they can make your sketch or drawing come to life.

What’s the most unusual or strangest knitted item that has been requested?

We are often asked to knit miniature garments for objects, like bottles. We had a season where we knitted more items for objects than people due to some corporate orders. We once knitted giant socks for a massive statue in the US. But the strangest requests are usually the ones our grannies are asked to knit up: some “special occasion” garments. I won’t share any more details 🙂

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To date, what has been your most popular knitted item ordered?

It’s our fingerless gloves, especially the Norwegian Selbu fingerless gloves. People love them, because they keep their hands warm, yet the fingers free to use their smartphones or type. They are super cute too.

Out of your knitted items, has any item been a bit of a challenge for your knitters?

I remember a 5XL jumper. It was knitted to a very complicated pattern. It was quite heavy due to the size and the knitter was struggling to hold the weight of it whilst knitting. In the end it was so big that when we laid it out flat we had to climb on ladders to take a photo of it as the whole jumper wouldn’t fit on the photo. It was a truly beautiful item however. The customer was over the moon.

Your knitters only use 100% merino wool that has been sourced ethically in South Africa and spun in a yarn mill in Devon. Why did you pick merino wool over other types?

Merino wool is one of the highest quality yarns. It’s suitable for various types of garments as it is very robust, yet warm. Whilst keeping you warm it doesn’t overheat. It’s an absolutely gorgeous fabric, all natural with nothing synthetic. It is sustainable and doesn’t damage the environment. We love it.

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Your company is based in the UK – are your knitted items able to be made to ship to customers overseas?

Yes, we often have orders around the world. We sold to more than 100 countries, from Greenland all the way to the other side of the world, with one item having made it to a South Pole expedition.

The talent of your workforce is clear to see – and they obviously have a passion for knitting. What do you look for when hiring your knitters? 

We look for passion and skill. Our items aren’t the cheapest around, but we like to think they are the best hand knitted items one can buy online.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

On cold days I like wearing my merino base layer and a nice woollen jumper on top. In my view wool is the best fabric one can choose for clothing.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Grannies Inc.

Website: http://www.granniesinc.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/granniesinc

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/granniesinc

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So, dear readers, do you or did you have a granny who loves to knit? What was your favourite knitted item that they made?  Or, perhaps you are a grandma who knits? If so, what do you like knitting? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Grannies Inc.

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An Interview With Maison De Marrakech

I’m being inspired by all things Morocco this week as I explore a London-based interior and fashion design online shop specialising in Bohemian lifestyles and Moroccan charm.  Think kaftans, Argan Oil beauty products, leather poufs, gorgeous colour palettes ..the list is endless!  It was with great excitement that I caught up with  Reina Hagen-Cherquaoui, founder of this paradise online shop – Maison De Marrakech.  Hi Reina!

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Please introduce Maison de Marrakech …

Maison de Marrakech is a bohemian lifestyle company. Our motto is to bring that beautiful, peaceful, elegant, yet simple lifestyle of Morocco into the lives of every woman (or man, of course!). I initially started by creating small numbers of kaftans or tunics that I thought would bring exotic-ness and beauty into the everyday lives of women around the world. Marrakech has a uniqueness that enriches your life, and awakens all your senses, and Maison de Marrakech is a place where you can find products that re-creates that beautiful ambience. Therefore, although we are known for our kaftans, our ultimate goal is to introduce the bohemian ‘lifestyle products’ into people’s lives. Also, as most items are handmade, it creates that feeling of directness, and you can feel the history in each product. Each product of ours has a history, not just anonymous.

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What inspired you to set up Maison de Marrakech?

It was definitely love at first sight. I felt my passion and enthusiasm come alive the moment I stepped into the Medina of Marrakech.
Marrakech, to me, was very mysterious, rustic, elegant, simple, rich, colourful, bohemian, deep, new & old, so much diversity and depth. To me, it felt like, “I had found what I was looking for all my life”. Moroccan design/art/crafts, had every element I looked for in beauty, and gave me that peace of harmony & happiness in life. For me, looking at beauty is pleasing to the eyes, and being surrounded, living in that space, creates happiness. It’s exactly this blissful moment, this happiness and richness that I wanted to share with everyone. This is how I started my company. It’s simply to share what brought me happiness, and to visually share this with the world; as well as to help women feel absolutely beautiful and exotic about themselves, to encourage their self esteem, and to bring out their inner beauty.

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As you were born in Japan, what attracted you to Marrakech?

Marrakech gave me every element I was looking for in beauty. Its richness, simplicity, complexity, colours, passion, harmony, and elegance was hard to resist. What’s really surprising is that, Marrakech (or Morocco in general) could have 2 completely different elements, but they blend so well together, eg.  rich, yet simple; passionate yet calming. I loved the Japanese traditional arts, and have seen much beauty around the world, but for me, Moroccan art gave me a feeling of ‘coming home’. This is what attracted me to Marrakech, and still does.

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I love the Turquoise Leather Pouf – it’s gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our popular items are definitely the ‘one size’ Marrakech Resort Kaftan series, the tan Moroccan poufs, and some more trendy kaftans we are creating such as the ‘zigzag Zahara kaftan’.

Out of all the outfits, accessories, beauty & boho interior products in your collection, do you have any favourites?

I must say, I do agree with my clients, in that my favourite will be the same as my customers: the one size Marrakech kaftans, our new boho style kaftans & the Moroccan leather poufs.

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Your travels around the world have left you with a profound appreciation of arts & culture – this is evident through your love of Marrakech. So, what place is now on the top of your travel bucket list?

I love travelling to places where the ambience is beautiful and peaceful – somewhere you could have gone 100 years ago and would have still been the same as today. For this reason, I’d love to travel to places like: Florence in Italy and Rajasthan in India.

Your shop specialises in promoting Bohemian lifestyles – which famous lady and man would you love to see as the “faces” of Maison de Marrakech?

It would have to be a type of person who has the gorgeous exotic look that could pull off a simple kaftan and make it look absolutely stunning, and also lives a kind of bohemian lifestyle: Kate Moss.

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Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016, what new items will you be introducing?

AW2016 will be quite exciting for us, as we will be creating new boho-style Moro inspired jackets, and create a new look, where we’ll be creating new tunics, that you can layer with a turtle neck, or with any winter clothing. We will also introduce more of the accessories, bags and Beni Ouirain types of rugs to keep your home nice and cosy for the coming winter season.

As you are based in London (& Morocco), are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes, we are an online based company. All products could be purchased via online , shipped to anywhere around the world.

When designing outfits to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

I do incorporate a bit of the trend, customers taste, but I always am loyal to what I believe and use the Moro traditional charm as my base of design.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I used to wear only high heels from Karen Miller, Anne Klein and Jimmy Choo, but now with raising children and juggling work, I tend to wear sandals from Tory Burch (they do have beautiful elegant sandals!)

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

Yes. I love the boho vibe of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’d love to get one of those gladiator sandals, they look fab and bring a flair of glamour to any outfit but especially with short skirts/shorts. Or a pair of tan boots (with heels ). I would also love a golden bling Jimmy Choo type of party high heels, just to keep myself feeling feminine!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are always great for a walk in the woods or for picking up kids –  you could wear them anytime, anywhere (except for holiday beaches). You just pop them on, and they’re so practical. So, I love boots!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Maison de Marrakech.

You can find us on :
www.maisondemarrakech.com
www.etsy.com/shop/maisonmarrakech
www.maisonmarrakech.com
www.instagram.com/maisondemarrakech
https://www.facebook.com/Maison-Marrakech-135621059788738/

Thank you Reina for chatting on the blog today and I absolutely adore your products – oh the colours!  I love your travel ideas of going to  places virtually untouched by the modern world…. I visited once a village called Greffeil in  the foothills of the French Pyrenees … some houses still had hay in the basement/ground floor to house their goats overnight, the goat herders still shepherded as they had always done for years … It was like stepping back 100 years.  Have any of you, dear readers, visited places that have remained virtually unchanged? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Reina Hagen – Cherquaoui / Maison De Marrakech

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An Interview With Merrimaking

I’m feeling playful this week – and it is just as well as I’m going to be talking about clothes inspired by playful ideas! Grabbing attention at festivals from 2009 with their handmade animal hoods, my guest this week – Meg from Merrimaking – has since branched out to include a playful range of glittery jumpers, tropical bumbags and gender-free slogan t-shirts.  I caught up with Meg recently to find out more about this fun loving brand…. Hi Meg….

Hi, I’m Meg, co-founder of Merrimaking. I live in Brighton with my wife, 4 dogs and a hamster called Sally. And I love to rollerskate.

What inspired you to set up your clothing company, Merrimaking?

Being self employed and running a creative company was always going to suit me, but setting Merrimaking up was actually a bit of a happy accident! It was nearing the end of summer, Harri and I had just graduated and we really wanted to go to the Green Man Festival to see Bon Iver, but we’d spent the summer going to various festivals and we’d run out of money! At uni I’d been making Animal Hoods for parties and just generally life, and that summer at Secret Garden Party they started to get a lot of attention. Harri and I thought that if we made some extra, we could take them to sell them on site at the Green Man Festival and cover costs of being there plus a train home. So we made 30, cycled to Wales and we sold them all! They even had their on stage debut with Molotov Jukebox. So, with Bestival left to go, we decided to try it again… and then we started getting invited to make them at various events (including at the Tate, which was so exciting!). It wasn’t long before Selfridges bought 200, and then it really kicked off! What started as a label that hand-made faux fur Animal Hoods, Merrimaking now hosts an entire wardrobe of playful ideas.

Have you always had a background in, and a passion for, fashion and sewing?

I’ve always been making things, ever since I was young. I think my brain very much works in 3D, so creating pattern pieces, for example, comes quite naturally. My degree was in Fine Art, and my practice involved a lot of costume-making, and the hoods led on from that really… I’m very visual and I think looking back through photos, I experimented a lot with my clothing! Identity really interests me, and clothing plays a big part in that.

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I love the cake sweatshirt and the woven patches! What styles are proving popular amongst your customers this season?

The ‘cake sweatshirt’ is one of my favourites! Popular this season… Watermelons have been selling well, the Cloud Jumpers/tees and the Bumbags too, and our ‘Over It’ Rainbow Beanies.

Out of all the outfits/accessories in your collection, do you have a favourite?

The hoods will always have their place, just because that’s where it all started. And obviously our ‘Dog Party’ sweatshirt because it features my 4 dogs! Saying that, I most often wear the ‘Cake’ sweatshirt, or the ‘Disco’.

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Your brand is influenced by playful ideas and the festival scene – have you a favourite festival? If you could go to any festival anywhere in the world to get inspiration for a new collection, where would you go?

I grew up at festivals, and having revolved pretty much every summer of my life around them, I’m actually taking a year off! I know… though I did say this last year and then I found myself at Secret Garden Party! (…and I did go to Love Saves The Day festival a few weekends ago…). For inspiration… I’d probably hop between Dreamland in Margate, and Ocean Drive / Miami Beach. I watched The Birdcage recently and I loved it! All the architecture and the rollerskates and the queens!

Your clothes have already been worn by celebrities such as Ellie Goulding, Zoe Ball, Rizzle Kicks and Rob Da Bank. However, which famous lady/ gent would you love to see as the “face(s)” of Merrimaking?

I’ve always really liked Lily Allen, M.I.A and Sia, in fact I met Sia and gave her a hood, but in the end her drummer wore it. Still made my night though, it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. Also, can I go back in time to the 90’s and say a spice girl?

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Your Summer 2016 collection included the themes of clouds, glitter, fruit, and a clear love of pastels. Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016 – will you be adding more styles and/or colours?

The short answer is yes! I’ve lots in the pipeline…. but whether I can wait to launch them in Autumn is another question! I get excited once they’re complete, and I really want to put them out there! I can never force myself to come up with new work, so I have to seize the moment when I’m feeling inspired, meaning I create new collections on a very adhoc basis and they’re often very current. Fortunately, because all of our pieces are made in the UK, and mostly made/assembled by us, it does mean that once we have a new design, it can be finalised and added to our website within just a few weeks (sometimes even less). This isn’t very helpful when press releases often need to be sent out 6 months in advance!

As you are based in UK, are your outfits available to purchase overseas?

Yes absolutely! I love sending our pieces far and wide. For the first few years we plotted on a map each time we sent a parcel to a new country, and we’ve spread ourselves pretty far now 🙂

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When designing and making outfits to add to your collection – do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, or bits of all those?

I try to design pieces that either I, or a specific couple of my friends would want to wear. I never sit and trawl through the internet, or look at fashion forecasting, it never holds my attention. My own personal interests come into it hugely, I’m noticing that the clothes I’m drawn to are increasingly more camp and I’m enjoying exploring that through Merrimaking. If a design goes down really well, I try to give our audience more of what they like by creating variations or working with the same theme.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Right now I’m wearing leggings, a t-shirt with a high neck and a ridiculously good pendant that Harri made me, which features my dogs Tomboy and Dexter!I have this pink fluffy bomber jacket that I made out of a huge teddy bear, it has a dogs head instead of a hood and I literally love wearing it! But that one only comes out for flamboyant occasions… and when I can be bothered to spend the evening being stroked by passers by!

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I struggle with Etsy as I can’t quite shake-off finding it a bit too craft-based and ‘twee’ over all, but I’m starting to find it more exciting and there are some really great finds on there by amazingly talented, independent designers! I shop in American Apparel a lot too. I love that you can tell one of their pieces a mile off, but it’s never smothered in their logo. I’m not always opposed to brands,for instance,  I love the three stripes on Adidas Originals!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I have fallen completely in love with an Alexander Mcqueen fur-trimmed bomber jacket, but it’s real fur and I won’t go anywhere near real fur. I’m so gutted though!

Boots or Shoes? 

… do Rollerboots count? 🙂 I otherwise only ever wear trainers. Even wore them on my wedding day with my dress!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Merrimaking.

Website: www.merrimaking.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/merrimakingofficial

Instagram: www.instagram.com/merrimaking

Twitter: www.twitter.com/merrimaking

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/merrimaking

Thank you Meg for chatting to us on the blog today and I really do love your fun attitude!  So dear readers, a bit of a fun question for you – Meg does a variety of animal hoods but if she did a hood of an animal or other mythical creature that depicts you, your personality or just your favourite beast – what would it be?  I love the book, The Girl  With A Dragon Tattoo – I wanted a dragon tattoo but have got a sort of lightening bird pattern instead – so I would pick a dragon 🙂 I look forward to finding out what beasts you all are!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Merrimaking.

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An Interview With TRNDSXL

Fashion anarchy on my blog this week as I introduce to you the  forward thinking clothing label, TRNDSXL, whose collections are designed to flatter both male and female alike – with the aims of inspiring fashion individuals as well as attempting to blur the lines between men & women’s fashions.  Intrigued?  I caught up with designer Francesca Soroccos  to find out more….

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Hi! My name is Frankie, I am 24 years old and originally from South East London.

TRNDSXL is a forward thinking clothing label advocating for social change through the medium of gender fluid fashion. What inspired you to set up the label, rejecting the High Street conventions that support gender divisions?

For me, when I was conceptualizing the brand, it was really important that it had a social core. At the time, unisex clothing was pretty new and there wasn’t a lot out there in terms of different styles and designers. I wanted to offer something a bit different to the market.

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Have you always had a background in, and a passion for, fashion?

Yes! I have always loved fashion; I studied at LCF for about 6 months and then dropped out! The course just wasn’t right for me and I just wasn’t the same as the other people in my class, so I just decided to try something else. It was then I went to Southampton and studied hair and make-up design, which was great and so creative, but at the end of my degree, I said to my tutors that I wanted to create a fashion brand for my FMP, and was that okay?! 2 years later, here we are!

I love the silk dress shirts – such a classic & classy design. What pieces are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Thank you! The fabric is from Lake Como in Italy and there were only 10 metres left in the world, so I had it digitally re-printed at Glasgow School of Art. It really reminds me of Italian renaissance art, but it’s just so retro and cool too! Every fabric in the collection is limited and non-repeatable, so each garment is limited edition really, there are only four of each left…

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Out of all the outfits in your collection, what is your favourite?

I love the Silk Dress Shirt and Trousers but the Duchesse Satin just looks really seventies high school prom which is so much fun! And the plum suiting is really wearable.

Your outfits are timeless classics designed to act as statement pieces in your wardrobe. Where did you draw inspiration from for your collection?

It’s a fusion of minimal tailoring with an urban/seventies vibe. What inspires me is when I can look at a fabric and think that it will never go out of style, because it’s so classic! 

If you were able to visit any where in the world, to inspire a collection, where would you go?

Cuba, in Havana – apparently it’s like stepping into a time warp; or if money was no object, a road trip around the USA.

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Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of the TRNDSXL collection?

Haha! I can dream! Well, I have actually written a letter and tweeted Boy George, but he hasn’t replied yet…I’m keeping everything crossed!

Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016 – what styles/ colours do you hope will dominate your collection?

It still has a slight nod to the seventies minimal theme but in a different way and playing about with silhouettes a bit more, with maybe an unexpected colour…

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As you are based in England, is your clothing range available to purchase overseas too?

Yes, everything is made and sourced in the UK, but I do ship to Europe and America too, so don’t be shy!

For each item sold you will be donating 5% of the cost to the Nail Transphobia campaign. Can you tell us a bit about the campaign?

Nail Transphobia is a campaign founded by Charlie Craggs to break down antagonistic attitudes towards trans people; to do this she offers a free nail service so people can come and meet her and ask any questions they have about trans people. She has achieved so much and is currently running a petition that people can sign so all GPs will be given in-depth training on treating transgender patients as part of the GP curriculum. This is so important and could really help thousands of people that are struggling to understand what they are feeling. If you haven’t already, go and sign it!
https://www.change.org/p/nhs-england-end-transphobia-in-the-nhs-teach-gp-s-how-to-deal-with-trans-patients?recruiter=144525045&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Day to day I wear black, black and more black! ….with black shoes of course! It just feels like a kind of non-uniform uniform I guess?!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

I am constantly browsing the Internet for cool things, so it constantly changes, but I love Studio Nicholson’s silhouettes.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I am still searching for the perfect jacket…..

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes or ankle boots, as I always like to be showing a bit of skin in the ankle area 😉

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about TRNDSXL

http://trndsxl.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/TRNDSXL
https://www.instagram.com/trndsxl/
https://twitter.com/TRNDSXL

I wish you well with your clothing label, Frankie…. it is refreshing to find a label that blurs the gender line. I’ve been known to  borrow my 18year old son’s T shirts…. In fact, my husband’s t-shirts, shirts, socks  & jumpers have been fair game too!  Dear readers, what do you think about blurring the gender lines?  What unisex clothing do you wear? What do you wear that was originally meant for the opposite sex?  Do share your opinions, I’d love to know what you think…

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission from TRNDSXL.

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An Interview With Undercrackers

I’m talking underpants this week with Drew Weymont, CEO of Undercrackers, the company that claim to make the most comfortable underpants on the market. Constructed from UK made premium cotton jersey fabrics, the underpants are made to fit not just the average Joe but to all men of all shapes, sizes and requirements. I caught up with Drew recently to find out more….

Hi! My name is Drew Weymont & I am the creator & CEO of Undercrackers men’s underwear. My background as a computer scientist revolved around technological development & in particular the IT processes & logistics required to design, develop & distribute products & applications for an array of sectors & markets.

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What was the inspiration behind Undercrackers?

I had several unconnected conversations with male friends who moaned about the lack of comfortable underwear on the market. Knowing that I had recently developed a small range of sportswear, these conversations became more involved & I decided to take a long hard look at the underwear products currently available on the UK market. I quickly realised that there was a real gulf between high street, low cost underwear & high end designer products with very little in the middle. I spent the next 6 months working alongside the same designers whom I had previously worked with and began to develop a small range of high quality yet affordable underwear. After spending months testing various fabrics we finally found a perfect match in a beautiful, high quality cotton jersey fabric that is manufactured & dyed in Nottingham. The name Undercrackers came to me as a bolt out of the blue, however it is a traditionally humorous term that always made me smile & it seemed to be a great fit for something that I truly hope will become a truly British icon.

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As you are based in the UK, are your underpants available to purchase overseas?

Yes, we sell to men across the globe, particularly the US & Asia. We have many repeat clients who love the product which is a great feeling. I personally find it tragic that much of our manufacturing heritage has disappeared from the UK & whilst I understand the economic benefits of overseas production, it gives me great pleasure to see our small Manchester factory employing local talent & bucking the trend by exporting to the Far East & around the world!

Growing up, was your career aspirations fashion orientated or did you have another career in mind? When did you start to cultivate an interest in fashion?

I was always interested in fashion however, I joined the Army aged 15, left at 22 & took a computer science degree that helped me to design, develop & distribute products & applications for an array of sectors & markets.  Whilst I did not knowingly seek out fashion as a specific career path it became apparent that my logical, process based approach was highly appropriate to fashion design & product development.

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Packed in iconic gold boxed packaging, every garment in the 2016 range is made by hand at the Undercrackers Manchester factory, constructed from UK made premium cotton jersey fabrics. Your company claim that it makes the most comfortable underpants on the market. So what makes them the most comfortable – is it the fabric, sizing, style etc?

Undercrackers are comfortable because we designed them for real men. That may sound a little clichéd however we recruited a team of male guinea pigs to test our prototype designs & then listened carefully to their feedback. This was a critical stage of the brand’s development as we had selected a real cross section of men that comprised of every possible body shape & size. I was very keen to create a comfortable brief that provided comfort to men of all sizes rather than just a 32” waist ‘average man’. I also do not believe in selling any style that I myself do not personally wear & love. I try every new variant & even wash it to check how well it wears over time. The comfort comes from a combination of supportive design & high quality, breathable fabric. We have even conducted ‘blind’ comparison tests with other products on the market & ours (thankfully) have always come out on top. Of course everyone has a personal preference when it comes to style & this is why we have stuck with 3 base options, a brief, short trunk & boxer trunk. Hopefully there is something for every man out there!

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For 2016, you plan to add to the collection of underpants – swimwear, base layers and functional undergarments. What do you look for when deciding what to add to your brand – popular styles, old favourites, customer suggestions, your own tastes or bits of all those?

We do listen to our customer feedback & in fact our new traditional cotton long johns are the result of a customer request. The majority of our new lines are based on our initial game plan which was always to launch the underwear & then add staple products such as undershirts & base layers around them. As I mentioned earlier, we only develop something that we would like to wear ourselves & this keeps myself & my team grounded as our goal is to maintain & build an iconic undergarment brand. We are not about to launch shirts or knitwear! We have tons of swimwear ideas as, similar to underwear, men’s swimwear is a little underrepresented in the middle ground & we hope to have our first range ready for this summer.

From your current collection, what has been your most popular design to date? Have you got a personal favourite?

The boxer trunk is far & away the most popular in terms of sales however my favourite remains the solid brief simply because this to me is what a perfect pair of underpants should look like!

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When not selling underpants, what sports or activities do you enjoy pursuing?

I love the Lake District, walking & open natural spaces as it gives me true ‘me time’ however I also run & exercise daily & still get regularly beaten at squash!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

My favourite menswear designer is Orlebar Brown, his shirts just work with anything & his style is unique yet definitive if that makes sense. Shoes must be Campanile or Mr Hare. The first are seriously comfortable & the latter just beautifully made & iconic however my Gucci boots are also an absolute wardrobe essential for me. I have so many fashion faves that I could list them all day but I do have a soft spot for Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label as he uses the finest Italian threads & fabrics that make you feel truly special!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I love Mr Porter, Matches Fashion, Woodhouse Clothing & Ralph Lauren. If I can’t find what I like on one of these then I give up as they all offer a great selection of styles for both formal & casualwear!

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What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I only wear suits occasionally but I am in the market for a new one & Kilgour or Richard James is in my sights however my bank manager may try & talk me out of it!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots because they are just so much more versatile. One great pair of boots is worth 8 pairs of shoes in my reckoning because I can wear them with loads of different outfits including, off duty, semi-formal & workwear.

Which famous gent (dead or alive) would you love to see as the “body” of Undercrackers?

It would have to be Mr Roger Moore. I may be showing my age here, but he was the best Bond & a real cool Brit icon.

Website/social media details…..

Website: www.undercrackers.co.uk                                                                

Twitter: twitter.com/undercrackersuk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/undercrackersuk

Thanks for chatting to us on the blog, Drew! I definitely agree with you about Roger Moore – he was my favourite Bond too! Comfortable underwear is a must whatever your sex – I go for thongs or lace shorties…. What underwear do you consider comfortable?  Do tell…..

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Undercrackers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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