While navigating the River Island press day it was hard not to notice a number of signs dotted about the merchandise proudly proclaiming ‘All the items you see at this press day will go into River Island stores’. Well, that goes without saying, right? Not necessarily. A common whinge from magazine readers is that clothes are featured in shoots but then impossible to find in the stores. So here’s the deal. The stores have one big presentation where they show the entire new collection to all the press. That can be newspapers, weeklies, websites, glossies. There’s no discrimination when it comes to the high street, Vogue and That’s Life get to see exactly the same clothes. When it comes to ‘calling in’ the samples for shoots, the press office or PR agency only has so much control over what gets used when. Quite often an item won’t get used for the issue it was intended for and the fashion editor will hang onto it for a future issue. By the time that issue comes out, the item has been in-store and gone. And the poor reader can’t get hold of it. This could be remedied with stricter PRs and more reader-friendly fashion editors but sometimes one faces a dilemma. If I really want to use a piece and I know it won’t be in store by the time the magazine comes out, I have to make a decision. Should I be the consumer champion and substitute something else, something less show-stopping but more likely to be available in the shops? Or should I use my beloved piece, get praised for the shoot and let the readers go without? You see the dilemma?
But sometimes the retailer is at fault. On occasion, an item will be made up in a sample, shown to the press and used in shoots. And only at the last minute will a problem be detected and the decision be made not to produce it. Even though it’s already been featured in Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle. And maybe even papped on Alexa Chung! This is bad enough, but just about excusable if it’s a production issue. But, naming no names, there are stores who are notorious for making press samples with no intention of putting the piece into production. One well-known high street store is renowned for showing a spectacular evening gown as its ‘key piece for the season’ while openly admitting to fashion editors that the piece won’t be produced. And do we care? Not enough. At the end of the day, our pages look good, the brand gets its coverage and the consumer is told ‘oh that dress was only made in a limited number and they’ve all sold out’.
Times are changing with the popularity of ‘in store this week’ pages. This trend was initiated by Grazia and copied by Glamour and Look. So magazines have to be much stricter about what they feature. It’s cruel enough to shoot an item that’s never going to be sold but to specifically send readers on a wild goose chase on a given date is beyond mean. Hence the clampdown on ‘just for press’ pieces and River Island’s statement.
Pics: River Island spring-summer 08
At last! The bane of any fashion editor’s life, the week-after-week trawl of new season previews is over! The bulk of the high street brands show last, so Arcadia, New Look, River Island and Urban Outfitters have all been unveiled in the last couple of weeks. I must say, I’m usually very picky but on the whole there have been some not-bad-at-all presentations. Continue reading
Ugh, it’s already started. That feverish rush to see everybody you know before Christmas as if the world’s going to end. This year I’m opting out. Far better to see them all in January when there’s nothing else to do (and you can buy their ‘Christmas’ pressies in the sales. Oops did I really say that?)
Oh my! Imagine my shock when I opened Grazia yesterday to see not just Susie Bubble from www.stylebubble.typepad.com’s fringe-framed face peering out of the pages, but Michelle and Marie from www.kingdomofstyle.typepad.co.uk. It’s no secret that Tuesday is Grazia day in my household and this was like seeing my real-life friends in my favourite magazine. I felt so proud! It’s great that blogging is being taken seriously by print media but I was more enthused that it was “my” blogs that were being championed rather than any old blog. As much as I love www.whowhatweardaily.com and www.bagsnob.com is a useful information resource, it was really gratifying to see real girls like Susie, Marie and Michelle being bigged up for their personal, independent fashion blogs that are labours of love toiled over in addition to their day jobs. Way to go ladies!
Thanks for all the comments you guys! FYI, I still have no home internet access since moving house, it’s been weeks now which is a real bitch as I’m missing my blogging. I’ve been able to put up a few posts but have hardly been able to read any blogs or leave comments. Please don’t think I’ve deserted you. I’m promised my home phone line will be hooked up today but BT have been saying that for the last three weeks. Fingers crossed this time…
While Burberry continues to profit on its £2600 handbags (profits are up an astounding 31%), an altogether quieter relaunch is going on elsewhere in British heritage-land. Since the arrival of CEO Belinda Earl from Debenhams in 2004, the Jaeger brand has taken baby steps to haul its name into the 21st century and it looks like success could be theirs at last. Reviving a heritage brand is no walk in the park. You have to keep the traditional customers happy while trying to tempt a new generation of shoppers who, if they have £200 knocking about in their bank account would rather spend it in D & G or Marc than a fuddy duddy label their grandmother used to wear.
An attempt a few years ago to reposition the brand had Jaeger calling on the skills of Bella Freud as a consultant. As lovely as her logoed cashmere knits were, they proved a shade too directional for the genteel Jaeger customer so Freud was shown the door and the ball was set in motion again. What Jaeger has done this time around is focus the brand on four collections under the Jaeger umbrella. The main ‘Jaeger’ range is fairly safe, aimed at the old school customer who likes what the label stands for – class, quality and easy-to-coordinate pieces. ‘Jaeger London’ is the fashion-forward (but not too scary) collection which for spring/summer 2008 is big on ikat prints, Marni-esque embellishment, a bold fuchsia and black colour combo and a strong stripe that owes a nod to Missoni without blatant copying. Then – crucially – there is ‘Jaeger Limited’ which is a stepping stone between ‘Jaeger’ and ‘Jaeger London’. This features some of the prints from ‘Jaeger London’ but in simpler shapes so the older customer can feel the younger influence while keeping within their comfort zone. And then ‘Jaeger Black’ is the high end range featuring £250 chiffon blouses and forties tailoring for the confident customer who wants quality and class as well as a contemporary cut, but is happy with what Jaeger stands for and doesn’t feel the urge to upgrade to a ‘proper’ designer label.
What I think is clever and what is so hard to do is that Jaeger has covered all its bases. You can see the older glamour-type shopper here (think Helen Mirren) as well as her wannabe cousin (Barbara Windsor). You can picture your Erin O’Connors and Laura Baileys in the chiffon star prints that are on sale now (a revisited version of a Bella Freud print that Kate Moss has popularised) while the style-savvy up and comer who likes to be a bit different (Alexa Chung, Daisy Lowe) might also cherry pick a bag or a scarf – the accessories are as well thought out as the clothes. In time, especially if the celebrity take-up is high, they’ll get the WAG contingent as Burberry did, although this can be a curse as much as a blessing. Jaeger has even got a head start in ecommerce – its online store www.jaeger.co.uk was launched recently – something that not many big brands have properly delved into yet. Time will tell just how successful this revival is, but on the strength of what they’ve shown so far, it looks like Jaeger is finally back on track.
I’ve got a new style crush and it’s not a he or a she but… a boot. Yes, I’ve just found out that those funny western boots that are a bit like cowboy boots but without the cuban heel and pointy toe have got a proper name. My WhoWhatWearDaily.com newsletter tells me these beauties are called roper boots. And suddenly they’re everywhere.
Five reasons to love Roper boots:
1. They’re understated but when kicked about have that inherent cool quality that you don’t get from cowboy boots (too in-your-face) or biker boots (too this season).
2. They’re practical without being ugly and they’re a breeze to walk in, having originally been designed for rodeo events where running is as much a requirement as riding.
3. They’re a welcome change from Converse with jeans.
4. They fit in perfectly with my androgynous aesthetic.
5. They’re already available at Office (‘Foxy Horserider’ boots) for £85.
The downside? Everyone’s wearing them.
Is anyone waiting with baited breath for tomorrow? Roberto Cavalli’s animal print fest is set to drop at H & M and I for one can’t make my mind up. From what I’ve seen it really is a jungle of flammable leopard print and clingy Lycra jersey but in amongst the horror is a gold pleated Oscar-worthy gown (£199) and a fake fur chubby (£49.99) for wannabe Siennas.
Animal print is really hard to get right. Call me a frump but the print itself is wild enough without adding sheer, clingy or mini to the mix. For me, leopard spots and tiger stripes work best downplayed in a casual slouchy tee, a pair of high-top trainers or skinny jeans in an early-80s post-punk statement. ‘Sexy’ animal print is just too obvious unless you’re rocking a vintage fur coat and throw it on over something scruffy and even then you need the face of an angel to pull it off. As for leopard-print bustiers, sheer cardigans and kick-flare pants, they’re strictly for the suburban slag contingent. And Nancy Dell’Olio.
Uniqlo has opened a new Oxford Street flagship store and revamped one further up the road and boy do they want you to know about it. I popped into the opening last night and a bigger fash bash I haven’t seen in a very long time. The store was wall-to-wall models and I don’t mean the naff Kimberley Stewart variety. I’m talking about uber-cool club kids with messy hair and shabby-chic outfits. I arrived towards the end so I missed the live band but there was plenty of DJ action and ‘look at me’ dancing, not to mention celebrity style eye candy in the form of Alexa Chung and The Kills’ Alison Mosshart.
While the guests were mostly interested in the free flowing cocktails, I thought it would be polite to check out the clothes. As I thought, it’s still all cashmere sweaters and badly-cut trousers with the odd directional piece thrown in (I saw a tweed cape). But really it’s all about the marketing and Uniqlo are streets ahead of Gap on this count. From the too cool party crowd to the collectable Uniqlo magazine full of gorgeous photos depicting aforementioned models styled by Dazed stylist Nicola Formachetti, perception of the brand is everything. A bash like this costs a fortune to produce but when the results will be on pap pages in every daily paper and in next Tuesday’s issues of Grazia, Look and Heat, as far as Uniqlo is concerned it’s worth every yen.
Sorry for the protracted absence. I’ve been moving house and have been without internet for 2 weeks! And I’m too tight to pay to use it. I have however just found a local pub with free wi-fi so I’m frantically checking my 200+ emails and blogging as fast as I can before my laptop runs out of power. Normal services should be resumed shortly. In the meantime, here’s something I prepared earlier…
Well stone me. There was I, browsing the art bookshops of Charing Cross Road and what did I stumble upon? Only the book that I thought was but a mere figment of my imagination. Tim Walker, a photographer whose bonkers indoor-outdoor settings always makes me smile, who creates surreal assemblages and colourful fairytale-like fashion shoots for Vogue has at last published a book! Well, not quite. He actually has an exhibition on at this very moment in Hanover, Germany called ‘I Love Pictures!’ The book is the accompanying catalogue that goes with the exhibition and has somehow found its way to Koenig Books in Charing Cross Road. The exciting bit is that the exhibition is still on at the Kestnergersellschaft gallery until 4th November 2007*. Do I dare wish that the exhibition might make it to London?
*Eek, that’s today. Sorry German Tim Walker fans, I should’ve posted this sooner!