Category Archives: Menswear

Review: Engravers Guild

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The Dents Leather Card Holder has been supplied and personalised by Engravers Guild for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

What can be nicer than a personalised gift of quality to give to your loved one at Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary, Valentines or just simply to say, “For You, with love”? Engravers Guild have a fine range of gifts that all benefit from bespoke personalisation and I was delighted to review their gifts and personalisation skills.

THE BRAND

Engravers Guild specialises in beautiful personalised gifts for both men and women, including watches, bracelets and wallets. It is a family business that can trace its heritage back to 1887, in Birmingham’s historic jewellery quarter. Today the company specialises in bespoke embossing – for the leather wallets, for example, they use only brass lettersets to create a crisp impression, giving the customer the option of infilling initials with gold foil, silver foil or blind. We found the embossing to be very neat and exactly what we wanted.

THE PRODUCT

The Engravers Guild website was very nice, clean and well ordered with a plethora of gifts on offer to cater for everybody’s whim. For this review, my husband chose the Dents Leather Card Holder in tan. The wallet was manufactured by Dents, suppliers to HRH the Prince of Wales … and Dents products have also been used by James Bond too! Dents were founded in England in 1777 and are well known for their leather products, notably gloves and wallets. Adam chose to have the wallet personalised in a “blind embossed” style, serif font. It was so, so simple to order the bespoke embossing – you could pick up to 4 initials; a choice of gold, silver or blind embossment; and two font choices. You are able to preview your embossment before making your final decision.

The card holder itself simply oozes luxury but in an understated way that screams per class. A simple design in the finest leather, featuring 7 credit card pockets and a middle section for notes with a grosgrain lining. The holder measures 8cm by 10cm and is perfectly functional. The embossing was extremely neat and exactly what Adam had required. The presentation box was a classy touch too.



THE COST & AVAILABILITY

The Dents Leather Card Holder costs £29.95 which includes bespoke personalisation and presentation box. The card holder is available in tan, black, brown & blue. UK delivery: standard delivery is 3 – 5 days; with next day and 2 day delivery services available too. Unfortunately during the COVID-19 pandemic, international delivery has been temporarily stopped.

For more information: https://www.engraversguild.co.uk

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Thank you to Engravers Guild for allowing me the chance to review the holder – very impressed.

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden



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Review: Trendhim

Men’s jewellery is enjoying a bit of a revival, especially when it comes to bracelets. In the past, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, gold curb and rope chain necklaces and bracelets were in vogue. Chunkier the better, and yellow gold was the colour. I remember shopping in Corfu Town in 1992 and there were jewellery shops selling gold rope and curb chains by the length. Pop icons such as Wham enhanced this fashion for men. Spring forward to 2020 and men’s jewellery is enjoying popularity again but with a more subtle approach – beads and leather bracelets in blacks, browns, and other shades are worn either on their own or in a stack – teenagers, businessmen, musicians, young, old, bikers, cyclists… you get the drift. It’s a trend that you can wear on any occasion too. Having the chance to review a bracelet for Trendhim, a company based in Denmark – my husband Adam, a fan of leather bracelets, was pleased to take part, of course!

Disclosure: I was gifted the “Lucleon Pleated Black Leather Bracelet ” in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are entirely my ownand Adam’s imput too!

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SO WHO ARE TRENDHIM?

Trendhim are a menswear/accessory brand founded in late 2007 by Sebastian and Mikkel. Their products are designed in Denmark and they currently offer 13 unique house brands and they launch several collections a year. In 2014, Trendhim expanded into Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands. At the end of February 2016, they had further expanded into 11 new countries, hired 43 translators as all 3000 of their products and website had to be translated into 8 different languages! In 2017, Trendhim became the 10th fastest growing company in Denmark. In 2018 Trendhim has opened up in 12 new countries including Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Canada, NewZealand and the USA.

THE WEBSITE

https://www.trendhim.co.uk/

https://www.trendhim.com

Apart from the main Trendhim website, there are also dedicated websites for both the UK and USA. I looked at both the USA & UK websites and found them to be very slick, informative, good selection of products, easy to navigate and reasonable prices too. The pictures on the website are pretty much what you get. For the bracelets, selecting your size was pretty simple: you need to measure your own wrist – my husband’s was just under 7.5 inches. The sizes then go by wrist size and whether you want a tight fit or a loose fit. My husband opted for a loose fit, and it was true to size.

Showing the fit of the Lucleon Pleated Black Leather Bracelet, in large (7.5 inches) loose fit.

PACKAGING & DELIVERY

There were two options of delivery available – standard delivery quoted as being 3 – 5 working days; and next day delivery by DHL. I did feel that the next day delivery charge to the UK was a bit steep at £12. The standard option was £4 ( in some cases free). If you are a regular reader of my reviews then you’ll know that I do have a wee browse in the reviews of brands left by customers. I am pleased to report that the majority of customers were very satisfied, but those that did have a grumble wasn’t anything to do with the products but delivery times. It was being reported of waiting up to 10 working days for items – it was around Christmas time so that might have disturbed the apple cart. My experience – I opted for the standard delivery; I received tracking details. I could see that the company had processed and despatched my order within 24 hours. And then Brexit happened. Things slowed down somewhere between Denmark & UK . I am not going to lie – I did get anxious. When it comes to deliveries I do like a quick service… but I waited 5 days…. the parcel came on working day 6. Not too horrendously late. Trendhim are working to try and improve delivery times, but unfortunately they are tied by the efficiency (or non efficiency) of the courier companies. My advice? Learn to chill! If you are ordering for a special occasion, order 2 weeks in advance or go for the next day service. The bracelet came in a strong “climate controlled Jiffy- type bag envelopealong with 2 yummy sherbet lemon sweets (gratefully devoured after the photo was taken). The bracelet was not in a box or pouch – there are available extras: personalised engraving, gift box, wrapping & gift tags, wooden jewellery stand – details on website.

Inside the package
The Envelope

THE BRACELET

Our chosen bracelet was the Trendhim brand Lucleon Pleated Black Leather Bracelet. As my husband Adam is a Leo, the brand’s lion logo instantly appealed. The bracelet is double thickness plait design – he already has a Pandora leather single plaited bracelet, so Trendhim’s bracelet compliments his “stack”. The clasp is magnetic, which is unusual – there is no locking mechanism although it is highly unlikely that the bracelet will come undone . The workmanship of the bracelet is really good – the leather is good quality and it is visually stunning.

Close up of the plaited design
The logo
Magnetic clasp

MY VERDICT

Trendhim’s website and newsletters contain a wealth of information regarding how to care for your jewellery, how to wear bracelets, how to create your perfect stack, how to wear your bracelet with your watch…. signing up to the newsletter would also give you the chance to get free gifts with your orders such as socks etc .

Adam has given the bracelet a score of 8/10 – it is very well made but his only fear was the clasp coming undone, although his fear might be unfounded.

My thanks goes to Trendhim for gifting the beautiful bracelet for this review.

Linda x

All photographs are copyright © Linda Hobden




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5 Reasons To Choose Wool

There are so many textiles in the world, and when you pick out garments for your wardrobe, do you really think about the material? After reading the reports by clothing brand, Celtic & Co, about the impact that microplastics have on polluting our waterways and that every time we wash our synthetic made clothes thousands upon thousands are released into our waterways via the humble washing machine; I began to look into the benefits of natural textiles such as cotton and, as it is currently winter in the UK, wool. You can read my blogpost about Celtic & Co’s report HERE. There is certainly more to wool than meets the eye – and here are my 5 reasons to choose wool:


Photo::Linda Hobden

WOOL IS A NATURAL PRODUCT. Wool is renewable. Wool obviously comes from sheep, but also wool is obtained from other animals including alpaca, llama, camel, goat, yak, beaver, otter, rabbit…. Wool has many eco-advantages over synthetic materials, such as polyester, acrylic and nylon: synthetic fibres all derive from plastic and wool, unlike synthetic materials, is naturally flame retardant. It is the flame retardant properties that makes wool the choice material for garments made for firefighters and soldiers – also wool is a natural insulator and is breathable. Have you noticed that wool carpets are used on trains and planes too?

WOOL IS RENEWABLE AND RECYCLABLE. When wool is disposed of, it naturally decomposes releasing valuable nitrogen-based nutrients into the ground. Recycled Wool is made by cutting or tearing apart existing wool fabric and then respinning the fibres, sometimes adding raw wool – this process was invented in West Yorkshire. It makes absolute sense to me to unravel old woollen items and respin or knit …

Photo: Celtic & Co

WOOL IS ODOUR RESISTANT. Wool clothing doesn’t smell, it doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria and is stain resistant too! Good news if you do perspire a lot, especially as wool is breathable so you don’t feel clammy. Wool doesn’t need to be washed as often as synthetic clothes – saving water, power, and you’re not releasing those microplastics into the environment either via your washing machine. Superwash wool ( or washable wool) technology first appeared in the early 1970s – this is wool that has been especially treated so that it is machine washable and may be tumble dried. So wool is even more convenient. According to Wikipedia, in 2007, a new wool suit was developed and sold in Japan that can be washed in the shower, dries off ready to wear within hours with no ironing required. The suit was developed using Australian Merino wool.

WOOL LASTS. Fashions come and go, but wool garments are usually very classical in style. My navy blue wool coat has been in my wardrobe for well over 20 years, might even be nudging 30 years old – it is a classic style that hasn’t dated, it is still immaculate, it still fits and it is still very warm indeed. Wool garments may be more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, but they do tend to last longer.

Wool clothing by Celtic & Co: Toscana Gilet, Flecked Funnel Neck Jumper; Aran Cable Beanie. https://celticandco.com

WOOL IS MICRO-CLIMATIC. Wool is amazing! Wool can keep you warm in winter, and can actually keep you cool in summer! Wool has a natural high level of UV protection. That is why desert peoples, such as the Bedouins and Tuaregs, use wool clothes for their insulation properties. Wool fabrics have a greater bulk than other textiles, and they hold air, which in turn causes the fabric to retain heat. Weather and geographical locations do influence wool in terms of quality and type of fleece – for example, Welsh Mountain Sheep have fleeces that are strong and robust – as the animals have to endure harsh weather; Lowland sheep have fleece that is often softer and finer, which is perfect for blankets. Sheep are resilient animals and can thrive in the hardiest of places where other livestock struggle to survive and crops can’t be grown. No wonder wool is one of the oldest textiles in the world!

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Thanks to Celtic & Co for their report on Synthetic v Wool; Wikipedia & MakeitBritish.co.uk for the facts about wool.
Photographs are by Linda Hobden apart from the Celtic & Co photos that have been marked as such in the article

Linda x

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An Interview With Village Leathers

Established in 1974 by Tony & Angie, Village Leathers is a small family-based business based in London that specialises in a wide range of belts, bags and accessories for both men and women. They began as street traders, growing to stores in Covent Garden, now online too. Although a lot of their styles are classics, their latest accessory ranges are very colourful and very much on trend. I caught up with Verity, part of “Team Village Leathers” to find out more about the very swish bags that she and the team make! Hi Verity!

Hi! I’m Verity from Village Leathers, I’ve been working here for years and I’m part of the team who hand make our leather goods. Village Leathers is a family owned business which started out by selling handmade leather belts from a suitcase on the streets of London in 1974. Since then we’ve grown to have two small shops in Covent Garden’s Jubilee Market and more recently set up a website too. We’re still a small team with just 10 of us in total split between the shops and the studio where we produce leathers belts and accessories in small batches by hand.

Starting life as street traders, progressing to shops in London’s Covent Garden (one of my favourite London spots) and now online – what challenges have you had to face (business or personal) in each selling arena, eg adapting to selling from a market stall to a shop environment or adapting to online technology etc?

When we started selling online it was a big learning curve for us. We do all the photography and website maintenance in house so we had to learn a whole new skillset as well as keep up with the production of goods. It was challenging but such a brilliant experience. The other issue we face, which I know many small independent business’ struggle with, is online exposure. We’re a small fish in a big pond so competing with bigger brands was a little tricky at first, luckily our customers soon found us and valued our ethos. They recognise the craftsmanship and quality of materials we’ve sourced for our range of handmade goods. This means our customers can buy better products, fewer times, supporting the growing number of people trying to reign in overconsuming tendencies.

As for our shops we’re having lots of fun at the moment redesigning the layout ready for a refit next year. As we are based in small shops offering a wide range of products and colourways showcasing all our designs is really important for us but can look a bit overwhelming to shop visitors. To make it a pleasure to shop with us we’ll be implementing sections and adding much more signage throughout the shop that communicates everything you’ll need to know about our leathers, sizing and collections. It’s quite an undertaking but it will make such a difference as I think it’s been about 15 years since the last one!

I love the brightly coloured Leather Belt Bag – a sophisticated version of the bumbag/fanny pack! Your latest ranges, Chroma and Roam collections, are available in a stunning range of bright colours- Yellow, Red, Green, Sky Blue, Tangerine Orange – they are all simply gorgeous! However, what bags are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season? Is there a difference between the popularity stakes of items purchased from your shop and those purchased online?

I’m so glad you like the Belt Bag, it’s new territory for us as we haven’t entered that market before but it was so nice to design such a contemporary product and the response so far has been really positive. Over this season we’ve definitely seen customers both instore and online being drawn to the more fruity and vibrant colours like the sunny yellow of the Chroma Shoulder Bag, zesty Orange Roam Clutch Bag and now that we’re entering Autumn we’re seeing the Tan, Olive and Grey colourways come into their own. In terms of bag design I think the Chroma Shoulder Bag has pipped it this season, it’s such a nifty little bag, ideal for days out and it looks stunning. With a simple silhouette and secure turnlock it means you can pair it with every outfit effortlessly. 

In the shops we have a lot of people come in looking for a special gift to take back from London for their friends and family at home, that usually takes the form of something like a Roam Clutch Bag and matching zip purse. It’s so nice to see people really thinking about which colour or design their loved one will treasure the most. It’s only right they treat themselves to something as well for being so considerate! 

Have you got any personal favourites?

So, one of my favourite products we make sounds so basic but I get really excited telling people about it so here goes. It’s our Classic Black 1 1/4 Belt, the reason I love it is because it is the epitome of a wardrobe staple. I think everyone should own one. It’s made from delicious, thick Italian vegetable tanned leather. This kind of leather is made in the most eco friendly and natural ways by using tannins found in some plants and bark. It’s a very old artisanal process and only a small percentage of leather goods produced worldwide use veg tanned leather because it is slow to produce, therefore more expensive per foot. But, the quality of the leather is so high, rich in colour, supple and ages beautifully. We actually guarantee our Classic belts for 25 years, that’s how good it is, and what’s more is that at the end of it’s like the leather is biodegradable! The other great thing about this belt is that you can swap the buckles really easily to suit your outfit. And yes I have a favourite buckle – Westend Silver, its solid brass!

Your company also offers a bespoke service. Have you had any bizarre bespoke requests?

That’s such a great question! We’re often asked to tweak designs or emboss a meaningful date or name onto pieces to make them extra special. We once individually monogrammed some belts for a group of Groomsmen and one of their nicknames was ‘Snake’, I didn’t ask how he got that!

We work closely with the theatre a lot too and we once had a project that required us to make a bumbag which could hold a cabbage…

As you are based in London, are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes! Absolutely, we send our goods worldwide. It’s amazing to think there are people all over the world enjoying our products that were made in our little workshop. Recently we had a customer send us a picture of a Bag she’d picked up from us in Covent Garden in 1988, she’s been using it daily in Australia since then!

When designing/producing products to add to your collections, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, vintage quality or bits of all those?

All our designs must first meet our values; affordability and handcrafted quality married with classic and practical design. We have a core range of products which have remained practically unchanged for years and years. The idea is they are classic wardrobe staples that can be paired with lots of outfits, the perfect balance between form and function. We make them using highly efficient, time-tested leather crafting techniques so they can last and build patina as they are worn and used, this means the designs are  timeless, reasonably priced and of unparalleled quality. 

Having this core range of classic products allows us to flex our creativity by designing small batches of seasonal products that consider customer needs and micro trends. A good example of this would be our Belt Bag or Hair on Hide Leopard Bag strap, as we manufacture the products ourselves we can make near instant tweaks based on customer feedback such as swapping a popper closure for a push lock on the Belt Bag. This means the customer gets exactly what they need and the design process is more collaborative. 

When you are not making & selling bags and belts, what do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?

Well, as you can imagine we love to make stuff in our spare time but not always from leather. At the moment two of us are making patterns for some dungarees we’re hoping to have done by next summer if we can find the time. If we’re not working on craft projects we like to ride our bikes or enjoy some of the amazing exhibitions that are always going on in London. We love organising staff outings too as an excuse to enjoy some of the great restaurants around Covent Garden, most recently we went to Padella in London Bridge where we ordered two rounds of food.

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

I opt for practical shoes that will protect my toes from any dropped tools or hammers in the workshop, that being said I want to feel chic and stylish at the same time so I’m usually rocking a pair of 1461 Doc Martens. We’re all big fans of Luck and Yak trousers and dungarees which are so comfy to wear at home or work and made in an ethical way. Outside the workshop, when we’re not going to get filthy and covered in thread or leather we really like to dress up and wear our own creations. I go for minimal, comfortable silhouettes made from organic cotton and linen. At the moment my favourite colours are rust and cobalt blue, I’m lusting after a lot of L.F Markey designs at the moment. Obviously all our outfits are accessorised with Village Leathers bags and belts.

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

As a fan of timeless designs I really love having a look around Labour and Wait in London. They offer amazingly curated homewares, I don’t know how they’ve found them but they stock loads of independent makers from all over who make beautiful and functional items that bring me joy. When I’m thinking of adventuring I like to browse Patagonia, I really relate to their brand values and the latest “Black Hole’ collection of bags is amazing as its made from recycled bottles. Online I love looking at Cool Machine Shop for their brilliantly fun, contemporary  and colourful offerings. Locally to me in Crystal Palace you’ll always find me in Lowie or Elkins for their gorgeous womenswear, books and homeware. 

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

I’m saving up for a Rust corduroy Boilersuit I’ve got my eye on. Effortless, chic and functional, what more do you need? 

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – simply because I’m too impatient to bother undoing the laces on boots and nearly cause myself an injury pulling them on and off.

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

https://www.villageleathers.com

@villageleathers on Instagram 

http://instagram.com/villageleathers

https://facebook.com/villageleathers

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Thank you Verity for your fabulous insight into the company you work for. I love the quality of your products and your small Aladdin’s Cave of a shop in Covent Garden is certainly worth checking out!

Linda x

All photographs are published with kind permission of Village Leathers.

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Review: Rydale Boots

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The boots have been supplied by Rydale for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

September! The start of my favourite season of the year – Autumn. Living in the south east of England, I love the warm, sunny days and the cooler nights; I love the changing colours of the countryside; but I think my favourite reason of all is that it heralds the start of “boot” season! I love my boots but I never feel comfortable wearing boots in summer – I do have an open toe heeled pair of boots but it isn’t the same. I like to wear my thick tights or socks with a pair of comfortable boots. So, I was so excited to receive a pair of uber cool suede chelsea style boots to review from outdoor country clothing and footwear company, Rydale.

Ladies Kirby II Heeled Suede Chelsea Boots in Brown/Plum

Rydale is a family company established in 1954 by John Nichols and now it is in the 3rd generation, still based in the heart of Yorkshire. John Nichols was inspired by a true passion for the country lifestyle and today Rydale’s ranges of outdoor country clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and children are truly impressive. Their website features traditional wax jackets, tweed coats, flat caps, jodhpurs, riding boots alongside skinny jeans and, my favourite, the Chelsea Boot. Rydale has invested heavily into waste management and recycling. To offset their small carbon footprint, Rydale have created a woodland and have so far planted over 10,000 trees. All Rydale’s products are inspired and designed in Yorkshire – with an emphasis on quality, reliability and style…. so did the Chelsea Boots live up to the hype??

What a silly question! They were all that I hoped and more! Let’s look more closely at Rydale’s claims…

  1. Quality. These boots are made of the finest soft suede leather fabric and the comfortable faux leather padded interior gave the boots an almost slipper feel. I took the boots for a day and night continuous “road test” – walking around villages and fields during the day and a restaurant meal in the evening. As the heel is only low, it came as no surprise that my feet didn’t ache. What really impressed me was that they felt like slippers and weren’t clunky or cumbersome; they didn’t rub my heel nor squashed my toes; and the boot has a slightly narrow fit which suits me as I have narrow feet and am forever slipping and sliding in standard/wider footwear. 10/10

2. Reliability. Obviously they are suede boots so not suitable for wearing in wet or snowy conditions. Rydale recommend cleaning with a suede protector spray. The boots have a rubber sole – I can only presume that they will be ok on an icy surface – but temperatures here are hovering around 25°C at the moment it was hard to road test the slipability factor.

3. Style. These boots definitely have the style X factor! These boots are an updated version of the original Kirby boots – which are also pretty stylish – and the colourways on offer are pretty scrumptious. My pair are in brown/plum; the other colours in the Kirby II style are Dark Green/Plum and Navy/Plum. I do so love the contrasting elasticated panel – the Plum colour is so on trend this year. 10/10

WEAR WITH…..

I like to wear mine with skinny jeans – in denim of all colours. Rydale do a range of skinny jeans – “Portia” – in a variety of colours from navy denim to berry. I particularly liked the Chelsea boots with Rydale’s dark brown jodhpurs – made a refreshing change from wearing them with traditional riding boots. Don’t be scared of pairing these boots with thick tights and a short tweed skirt; or embrace the current boho trend and wear with a long flowing 1970s style dress …. the possibilities are endless.

Like the boots?

Check out Rydale’s website and feast your eyes on some lovely footwear and clothing. https://www.rydale.com

Delivery of items are quick and postage costs are pretty reasonable too – I especially appreciate the fast delivery option of 1-2 working days – I get impatient waiting for goods!! The good news for my international friends is that Rydale ship to a wide range of destinations in Europe, America and beyond.

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Thank you Rydale for introducing me to your gorgeous footwear range! I’m in love!!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

Photos and Article copyright © LindaHobden.

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An Interview With Max Lemari

Using the finest Italian leather, Italian shoe makers Max Lemari, have added to their collection of the classic Italian male staple shoe, the driving moccasin,  and are now offering customised driving loafers.   These shoes are extremely stylish  – all hand constructed, hand stitched and hand painted.  I was lucky enough to interview the brand CEO Max Guidi about his brand, his obsession with shoes and to ask, if there was going to be a female version of the driving loafer …. Hi Max!

Hello. My name is Max Guidi. I’m CEO of Max Lemari. I’ve been working all my life in the fashion industry.  I was chief product and development officer for Gucci, Armani, Burberry, Dior and collaborated with many more high-end brands. Max Lemari is the union of two names: Max is mine and Donato Lovito Lemari is the artisan responsible for the shoes’ manufacture.

What made your company decide to concentrate on driving loafers?

Because it’s the shoe category that exalt our expertise. Lemari has been manufacturing loafers for over 40 years for some of the most expensive brands in the world. When we handcraft loafers, we are sure that we have the best quality on earth.

In your latest collection, I like the look of the Capri in yellow & blue  What styles and colours are most popular amongst your customers?

During last summer our best seller was the Ischia Taupe & Yellow

https://maxlemari.com/product/ischia-taupe-yellow/

Have you got a favourite style & colour from your collection?

Yes, I love the exclusive silk calf leather and I wear the Salina Mucchina

https://maxlemari.com/product/salina-mucchina/

How can a customer get his loafers customised?

From our website product pages, you can automatically put your initials in our drivers and we will engrave it for you. If you want a total customization, a special number or something else, you can contact us and we will do our best to make it happen.

https://maxlemari.com/contact-us/

Hypothetically speaking, which famous male, dead or alive, would you love to see as the “ambassador” for Max Lemari?

Giorgio Armani – I’ve been working with him and I remember that he was always very elegant yet casual. I think he would have loved our mocs.

Growing up, have you always been obsessed with shoes and been interested in a shoemaking/ designing career?

Actually, my first dream was to be a pilot. Maybe that’s another reason why we are making drivers 😀

At the moment you are only manufacturing driving loafers for men. Have you got plans in the future to design similar footwear for women?

Yes, we want to launch a women driver as well. We are already developing the first prototypes, but for now we’re keeping them secret.

You are based in Italy – are your shoes available to order overseas?

Yes, we want to be global. Customers will have to wait a couple more days for the shoes to arrive, but we are doing our best to ship everywhere.

 

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

During the week I usually wear high end sneakers. They are really comfortable.

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

I like Hermes very much.

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

It’s the Dior jacket with the bee sewn on the heart.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes. Italian weather is not so cold and I’m happy wearing shoes all year long.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Max Lemari and your range of driving loafers for men.

The best place is to visit our website:  http://www.maxlemari.com/

Thank you Max.  My youngest son has ambitions of being a pilot and he does like looking his best… perhaps his future lies in the shoe industry too!  I look forward to those driving shoes for ladies – the men’s styles are fabulous and such gorgeous colourways!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Max Guidi  (Max Lemari)

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An Interview With Sewport

This week I’m delving behind the scenes in the fashion industry to find out all about garment production from an idea through to a production run.  As a person who loves the end product, I was intrigued to find out what processes were involved and just how easy (or how hard) was it to get a sketched idea  manufactured. Luckily enough, my guest this week, Boris, founder of Sewport, was able to provide the answers for me …. Hi Boris!

Thank you for letting me share this with your audience, Linda. I’m  Boris Hodakel, 31, founder of Sewport. I’ve been doing different things in my life but my heart settled years ago when I started working in the fashion industry. I mean, in garment production. Especially living in London, which is a mecca for certain styles and fashion of its own, you get to see so much more than lies on the surface. Sewport started off as a full cycle production service 3 years ago with our own factory working with emerging brands and start-up. It felt like we needed to move on to something bigger. Built a platform to become something else. We used to turn down a lot of people because what they needed was not quite our profile. By thinking that we would still like to help them find what they are looking for, we became an online place where hundreds of clothing brands and garment manufacturers connect with each other. Why should we stand in the way of progress? Our idea is to allow people find more than one option at a time and in one single place. Finding services and companies to launch a product is extremely hard, now there is a one-stop show for everything but with many more possibilities.

What inspired you to launch your business, Sewport?

I was inspired by the Internet of Things and the digitisation of everything. Technology is all around us. We need to allow it to assist or even drive our everyday activities. And then, if we can, bring technology and innovation to industries and areas where it has never been before, we should. Luckily, living in a tipping point era of everything digital, it is so easy to imagine how an online service can improve a certain area of our life or business.

Hypothetically speaking, if I was a fashion designer with just an idea & looking to develop the idea further, what stages would I need to go through to make the finished garment a reality? What services would you be able to offer me?

A fail-safe experience is to have the idea finalised first. You will need to push yourself to as much extent as you feel you are capable of to describe and maybe even draw it technically. It is ok if you can’t  draw that well though, as anything goes and the “Idea”  stage. Sometimes when people build their idea they forget the more important details like pockets, buttons, zips, lining etc. If you feel you can’t do it or the idea is vague or the design is not complete you can always choose to work with a Designer / Technical Specialist freelancer who can help you get that idea production ready. We have plenty of such specialists on our platform preparing documentation, drawings and size specs for brands. A clothing manufacturer will ask certain questions about the design to understand all details anyway. And its good that you will have some of these answers already put down on paper. So, we are done the “Idea” stage … now it gets simpler. You will need to have a sample made. You can do this either with a small sampling studio or get it done with a manufacturer before bulk production. There are factories who can take care of all the details: fabric, trims, printing, embroidery, labels for you. Once a sample is approved and you are happy with the fit, you are ready to go. Sewport has an array of companies, freelancers and service providers for just about anything that might be required on route from Idea to completed product.

Out of all the services you offer, what ones seem to be most popular amongst your clients?

Tech Pack (for those reading who do not know what this is, it’s a Blueprint for your design) making by Freelance designers. Only because it’s the first step, the first tier. As with emerging designers or generally start-ups they might find that they want to change the idea completely, or they trial different designs and pick the best ones. Also, some people never go ahead with bulk production as they find out it’s not as cheap as they thought it would be. But for any garment manufacturer to give a more or less accurate quote, a tech pack is needed.

One of your core goals is to help provide affordable manufacturing services. Why is there is a high minimum order quantity imposed by most manufacturers, and how are you able to offer a more reasonable minimum quantity run?

Good question. The reason that most companies have high MOQ lays in the process of manufacturing. A lot of preparations and procedures which can make production in low quantities either too expensive per piece or unprofitable for the manufacturer. That is why when a manufacturer offers production minimums they just try to make it mutually beneficial and in a quantity, that will make sense to both parties involved. What is different about companies on our platform is that some of them are also small businesses who understand the ways or emerging brands and are ready for their small orders, as they do not need to maintain a workforce of hundreds of workers and tens of different departments. Also, servicing companies on Sewport know that most of the brands want lower quantities. Above all, brands write what sort of quantity they are looking for, and manufacturers write the same in their profile so we are matchmaking them for a better success rate.

Searching for the right fabrics to highlight the designs is a task in itself. Does Sewport offer help and expertise in sourcing fabrics?

We have fabric agents, fabric mills, and factories who will be able to help with this step too. We do encourage people to participate in this, as it’s important to feel the fabric, get to know the fabric so one can not neglect fabric shows and fabric shops – unfortunately having the ability to touch fabric through a computer screen is not something we will see in the nearest future.

You have had many years of experience in the fashion industry. What do you enjoy most about your career?

It is just so rewarding to work alongside creative people who have imminence drive and passion for what they do. It’s never routine or mundane as fashion changes very quickly and there are always new things to learn and explore. And it’s not just me, some colleagues we work with are  experienced veterans and even they would from time to time say “we have not tried this yet, but let us see how it goes”.

Growing up, what career aspirations did you have?

Something serious, corporate, suits. I’m so grateful for the opportunity in life and my wife who supported me to escape the formal office life of the 9 to 5. If you don’t wake up excited and go to sleep anxious that tomorrow is another day in the rat race, you definitely need to shout stop and think where your life is taking you as obviously, you are not taking your life to where you should, if you know what I mean.

As you are based in London, are you able to help designers that are not based in the UK?

Definitely. We have people from all around the globe. It does not matter where you are located. We have customers from Australia working with specialists from the USA. Our goal is to provide really thought through tools to help them facilitate this relationship, and by the location of these deals, people close on our platform – seems like we are doing a really good job.

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

Working in garment production has really changed the way I dress. Buying clothes has become sort of complicated. If you know production you start to look at all the threads hanging out, if seams are dense and straight, the type of fabric, the composition of the fabric is very important. I’m not a big fan of fast fashion, as I believe slow fashion is the way to go. Someone told me once “I’m not rich enough to wear fast-fashion garments”. You end up buying and buying and in the end, you spend more than you would on a good piece of clothing that will last for years. Some people support a really bad trend of buying cheap low quality but trendy clothes and as these garments become quite shabby after a couple of wears and washes they just throw them out. These shopping habits are the reason behind low work standards at factories, use of child labor, sweatshops and that some clothing manufacturing companies in the UK and Europe close down under required price production pressure. Most of the larger brands do not care about these things as they only chase higher margins and they are not concerned with where it takes them. And then, there is the fact that you better know what sort of margins these are. How would you feel buying a shirt for 50 when you know it costs 10 to make. But then there are marketing costs, shop space rental costs… I choose simple designs, natural fabrics and preferably EU/UK made.

Do you have any favorite shops or online sites?

I shop the same brands, mainly online.  Some items I get as perks from working in the industry from suppliers and other manufacturing companies I keep good relationships with. I don’t want to advertise. Certain brands tend to capture the fit of one’s body shape better than the others.

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

Just some loafers for the summer.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. Never know where my life takes me, so better stay comfortable.

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

https://sewport.com

https://facebook.com/sewport

Twitter: @sewport

Link’dIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/borhod/

Thanks Boris for such a detailed and interesting response.  I never realised before how being involved in the garment industry, like you are, could affect the way you dress and pick outfits – but it does stand to reason.  Your enthusiasm for Sewport shines through, Boris,  and I hope it continues to do so – you have a gem of a company there 🙂

Linda x

All photos/pictures ( apart from the photo for pinning) have been published with kind permission from Boris Hodakel of Sewport.

The photo for pinning is by Linda Hobden.

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An Interview With Mandala Dream Co

I’m talking HEMP this week with Jul from Mandala Dream Co.  Jul lives, breathes and talks hemp.  From bed linen and fashions to beauty and skincare…. in fact, over 30,000 products can be made from industrial crop.  Hemp is eco friendly, ethical, sustainable and kinder to both people and the planet.  I caught up with Jul to find out more about this versatile crop and why she is so passionate about hemp…

Hi! I’m Jul from Mandala Dream Co, living & working in Kobble Creek, Queensland, Australia. A beautiful little pocket of the planet, living & loving life, my family & my role as the one man band for Mandala Dream Co. (In truth I do now have the luxury of having a seamstress & pattern maker who work with me & make my life soooooo much more manageable). Nonetheless I’m the blessed being who sows & cultivates our plants for our eco dyeing, harvests & ferments the hand eco dyes, dyes, designs our range, formulates our skincare, along with chief of photography, marketing, blogging, newsletters, website upkeep & all the fun things that make my life full, joyous & satisfying.

What was behind your choice to concentrate on hemp?

Bring on the Green Revolution including all things Hemp I say 😊
My first love was textile art, specifically hand eco dyeing utilising natures botanicals (plants, barks, roots, leaves, kino etc) specifically using organic & sustainable fabrics. After using all manner of fabrics including peace silk, organic cotton, bamboo & hemp I simply could not bring myself to advocate for anything other than humble hemp. It’s impossible once learning about the growing, the water wastage & the manufacturing of other fibres to use anything else in all good conscience. 

The natural beauty we can create with this textile is inspiring, as a little cottage organic hemp creator of bedlinen, eco fashion & skincare I’m proud of our pioneering movement even on this small scale, the fabrics are so very beautiful, becoming softer with each use, heirloom fabrics that last a lifetime and are also resistant to stains, odours, mildew & mould, highest UV factor of all natural fibres, naturally antibacterial.

No pesticides or synthetic fertilisers are needed to successfully grow hemp (unlike the chemically laden crops we currently grow in Australia & on our beloved planet) you could grow it yourself easily. The plants dense roots stave off weeds, and the growing process improves the soil’s nitrogen, making the soil even better for other crops in the future, a perfect rotational crop for farmers and the health of our soils, which are incredibly sour here in Australia. The growth cycle of hemp is generally only four months, so the option to harvest two times in one year would create a huge relief for struggling farmers. Research states that just one acre of hemp produces more oxygen from CO2 and methane than 25 acres of forest, not to mention the water savings (we save 9000 litres of water (compared to traditional cotton bedlinen) with just one sheet 😊

More about my favoured Hemp:

Hemp Biodiesel can replace our need for fossil fuels.
Hemp seeds & cold pressed oils are superfoods containing essential amino acids & easily digested protein. High in the omegas with a naturally perfect ratio. It’s so nutritionally superior you can survive on hemp seeds alone for a long period, can you imagine what this could do to those in famine around the world?

Its oils are used in our Skincare –  it plumps up dry skin & even helps your skin to retain more moisture over time with its use.

Nil petrochemicals from plastics are produced with hemp plastics, from plastic wraps for food, bottles and everyday items all the way through to auto parts, with no harmful BPA. Hemp plastics are not only heat resistant and durable they are 100% biodegradable.
Housing construction materials (such as hempcrete) made from hemp fibres have been found to be far superior to most materials used in housing construction in our era. Inexpensive hemp can be made into a huge variety of building materials, hempcrete, insulation, blocks, plastics, board, even carpets, whilst being so much stronger and will last soooo much longer than what’s being utilised now. Did I mention they are also fire resistant? mould & mildew resistant? rot free? totally non toxic? & good for us and our planet-and totally natural! Have you any idea how many toxic chemicals and compounds are in our newly built housing? So much of the materials used are processed with toxic chemicals that are released into our living areas (with our loved ones) for years and years. In essence anything wood pulp can do, hemp fibres do far better. 70% of our worlds forests have already been eliminated…and yet we pretend we don’t know why our existence is threatened. Hemp paper can be recycled 8 times, whilst from our beautiful century old trees it’s only 3 to 4 times.

 I love the gold coloured hemp cushion covers/bed linen. To date, what has been your most popular hemp item?

The gold colours are infused on the fabrics utilising onion skins, chamomile, turmeric, calendula petals & marigolds (or whatever I have available in our storage & ferments at the time) – I generally harvest our plant dyes all year round. Our most popular items currently are our Natural indigo dyed hemp wrap pants & our Meraki skincare & beauty range.

 

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

For me it’s the bedlinen, we are so in love with ours (one set for life) we take them to hotels when we travel. They start off their life a little stiff (like a good old fashioned linen in your grandmother’s  cupboard), but over time they soften up  & ‘wear in’ becoming at one with your bed & its occupants. They stay fresher for longer (meaning we only wash them every 2nd week) and as they are stain & odour resistant they just make everyday life that little bit more comfortable. They have a far superior wicking factor meaning they are highly absorbent & climate reactive keeping us warm in the cooler months here in Kobble Creek; dry, cool & fresh in our hot summer months. We guarantee our bedlinen for a lifetime, it will last that long, & market them as one set for life.

I’m impressed with the gorgeous colours – and the fact that each colour is organic, free from pesticides, treatments or chemicals. Where do you source the ingredients and what ingredients make up the rich colour tones?

Generally if it grows & is non toxic. I have at least attempted to eco dye with it 😊 Most of our ingredients are grown right here on our 5 acres, though I do have a regular supply of onion skins from our 2 local organic fruit & vegetable producers…which is just as well as we use a lot of those. We collect bloodwood kino (sap) on our family walks from our local trees when they naturally produce; grow our own indigofera, turmeric, berries, cherries, moringa & neem.

I use hemp hand cream daily as it is the only product that keeps my hands soft and crack free. What other hemp based beauty products do you sell? What are the advantages of using hemp beauty products?

Our Meraki range (which is a Greek word meaning created with love & devotion…a little piece of our souls in every formulation) currently includes Hempseed Oil based- Face Serum, Body/Hair Butter, Bath Salts/Soak, Pit Potion Deodorant, Toothypaste, Fragrance, Hair Serum & Dream Mist. We are currently working & trialling a new range which includes Hemp CBD oil, which will be a specific anti ageing range. Hemp seed oil is a little miracle (both topically & nutritionally) with the perfect ratio of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids it’s vital for skin health. The high presence of Vitamin A, D & E ensures repair & rejuvenation of cells, whilst the gamma linolenic acid is a powerful anti inflammatory reducing redness & soreness. Hemp seed oil increases elasticity, is ideal for eczema, psoriasis, rosacea & acne breakouts by naturally balancing the skins oil production, the natural wonder of hemp seed oil teaches our skin how to stay hydrated for longer with every use. Top all that off with how good Hemp is for our planet & you start to feel why I’m such an advocate 😊

Are you introducing any new hemp items to add to your collection into for 2018?

Yes as above (re the new Meraki range). We are also hard at work designing an ethical wardrobe capsule starter kit which will be created using a lightweight Hemp knit blend which will be a lovely easy option for travellers also: 7  initial pieces which can all be worn in different ways (a jacket that doubles as a wrap shirt, a pencil skirt that can be worn comfortably at different lengths etc). We’ve always been a ‘low waste’ business very aware of our environmental footprint (which is why we hold little stock & create to order), using our fabric remnants for a long time in our labelling, hand stamped business cards etc, & are now starting to produce eco wraps (similar to the beeswax eco wraps used in place of single use plastics, sandwich bags etc) but with a twist. The average eco wrap is non organic cotton, dyed with synthetic dyes & uses bees wax & jojoba oil in the coating. Ours will be 100% vegan using our remnants, organic hemp, botanical eco dyes (leftovers, which are also thickened with soy powder to use as block print inks) & candelilla wax (a plant wax) & hemp seed oil creating a far superior wrap which is vegan for the conscious mums packing their beloveds lunches & snacks. (p.s. our youngest attends a Steiner school so I certainly have a ready made market right there) 😊… This photo is of a hemp canvas backpack we recently made for our youngest Kingston, along with hemp drawstring pants for our little people.

As Mandala Dream Co is based in Australia, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

Yes absolutely my biggest market at the moment is Canada (which are hemp early adopters…and just ‘get it’) I’ve also created for clients in the UK, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, Mexico, Cuba, Alaska & even a marines barracks in Fort Benning USA. Delighted to offer to anyone it really speaks to.

Choosing brand names can be a hard task at times, especially when you are trying to pick a name to encapsulate the essence of the brand. What made you decide to pick the name “Mandala Dream Co”?

It was a very personal choice for me & though it doesn’t shout out ‘hemp’, it represents what this little cottage industry meant for me. Mandala Dream Co was born out of me finally finding the calm amidst the chaos., though it took more than a few knocks on my skull before I woke to it. A separation of old wants & new needs really. The Mandala represents the oneness of the psyche with the cosmos, & for me that’s exactly where I found myself in ‘oneness’.
The Mandala is a sacred symbol laying down a map for finding our own way to our self, it represents our connection with our earth. My dream was to renew eco sustainable practices & ancient eco dye practices, whilst delivering humble hemp into every household…..& of course The Co. is you, the company we keep…our clients who we wish to heal body, mind & spirit. With eco, sustainable, organic hemp bed linens & bed sheets, slow fashion, skincare & beauty creations, made by hand with love & devotion to enhance your health, wellbeing, sleep & beauty.  So…for me it’s the essence of the brand, the ethos, the ethics we follow in our business & our every day life, leaving things better than we found them & attracting what’s needed & letting go of things that no longer serve.

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

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now I’m a bit of a ‘hippie’, a tree hugger, a greenie? Generally you’ll find me wearing something casual & comfortable & usually one of our creations, certainly a lot of hemp clothing, samples we’ve made for photography, marketing etc, failed attempts at eco dyeing that had to be reworked etc. Many days it’s just torn jeans & a blouse or a hemp tshirt.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Oh yes indeed, during the week I wear lots of hemp tshirts from www.superegoclothiers.com : wonderful quality & cool (perfect for when I’m working with the dye vat at 60 degrees). My favourite is in one of the photo below worn by our eldest (Sahara) which has the caption ‘Cut From a Different Cloth’ #cfadc, which of course is the different cloth …Hemp. I adore this brand it’s very ‘urban’ with lots of street cred & will one day be collaborating with Tommie T Lark founder of this wonderful brand. Of course I occasionally get dressed up for a ‘date night’ with my gorgeous Jamaican husband Kaleel & then I’ll go all out & wear something I treasure from either an upcycled vintage op shop buy, usually inspired by the wonder Fashion Hound that is Faye Delanty, or a piece that I simply couldn’t live without buying.

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

Honestly I have no wish list, I’m one of those people who don’t usually purchase for ‘occasions’ as have collected & curated so much over the years I generally have all that I’ll ever need. In fact I’m whittling my wardrobe down to a ethical capsule wardrobe with just a few extra special pieces that I must keep for my sanity.

Boots or Shoes?

Oh if I could every single day it would be boots as I think they just give an entire outfit a better line & are so comfortable, but alas it’s often so hot here flat sandals are usually my go to.

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

Website: www.mandaladreamco.com.au
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mandaladreamco/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/mandaladreamco/

Oh Jul, it’s great to hear you are a boots girl – even if it is in spirit only! :). Kobble Creek sounds idyllic, your farm sounds lovely, your children are adorable and your passion for hemp is uplifting – thank you so much for sharing your knowledge 🙂

Linda x

All photos were taken by Julie Grant and published with kind permission.

Models: Sahara & Kingston

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Shopping Fairtrade Style

It’s September already and here in the UK, harvesting is in full flow.  It’s time to think about farmers around the world who toil endlessly – growing cocoa beans, coffee, cotton, tea, bananas, flowers.  I found out the other day that September is the time to celebrate all things organic.  When I think of “organic”, I automatically think of Fairtrade – The Fairtrade Foundation is the UK based organisation behind the Fairtrade trademark – although, to be fair, not all Fairtrade items are organic.

So, what is Fairtrade? Fairtrade is a global movement with a strong and active presence in the UK. There are over 4,500 Fairtrade products from coffee and tea to flowers and gold. According to Fairtrade’s website, their mission is “to connect disadvantaged producers and consumers, promote fairer trading conditions and empower producers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives”.  Fairtrade’s vision: ” a world in which all producers and consumers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on their future”.  Fairtrade has strict standards for companies, farmers & workers  as well as ensuring that worker’s rights are maintained, that payment is made of at least the Fairtrade minimum price and that extra money is given to reinvest in business/community projects of the community’s choice. By choosing to buy Fairtrade goods, you can positively help farmers, workers & their communities.

Buying Fairtrade products is easier than you think – products are on sale in supermarkets, independent shops, cafes, restaurants, catering suppliers & wholesalers, as well as online.  I’m lucky, my local village coffee shop/book shop is also the local mecca for Fairtrade goods from companies such as Divine and Traidcraft.  It’s great to see the crafts, products, jewellery and clothes – they make fantastic gifts and it is great to have a browse.

Divine chocolate – I love the plain dark chocolate but I am tempted to try the Dark Chocolate with Himalayan Salt! Divine is the only mainstream chocolate company 44% owned by the farmers who supply the cocoa!  Other Fairtrade chocolates include Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Green & Black’s Organic, M & S, Rawr Foods, Sainsbury’s “Taste The Difference” White, Dark & Milk chocolate bars, The Co-Op; Meaningful Chocolate Company, Raw Chocolate Company, Traidcraft, Waitrose “Seriously” & Belgian range, and Zotter Chocolate.

Traidcraft do some fantastic stem ginger cookies – I devoured packets whilst I was pregnant with my children ( ginger cookies and lemons/limes were my pregnancy cravings!)  Traidcraft itself has been at the fore front of Fairtrade since 1979. The company offers the widest range of fair trade products in the UK.  They even do Fairtrade wine – but I haven’t tasted it yet so I can’t comment.  I can recommend their range of spices, dried fruits and rices; their craft boxes, jewellery, socks, scarves are all pretty and make good gifts. Their clothing range is pricy but having said that the Fairtrade ethos is fair price to the workers and to be honest I rather pay a bit more knowing that the workers are not young children toiling under horrendous conditions to produce a t shirt. I know that they are getting a decent wage for their labours.

I have included some pictures of the Fairtrade items sold in my local shop … if you wish to find out more about Fairtrade or wish to shop/browse Traidcraft’s goods online, here are some websites you might find useful:

http://fairtrade.org.uk

http://www.traidcraftshop.co.uk

Happy Shopping!

Linda x

All photos 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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