Can elevated basics help fix the fast fashion problem?

Back to Basics - the rise of blank staples

What’s the appeal of blank staples?

H&M just launched Blank Staples, a line of sub American Apparel plain sweats and tees marketed in the millennial language of muted minimalism to capture the post-COVID, stay-home crowd. Meanwhile, COS (also owned by the H&M group) has launched its Core by COS* collection, which will feature seasonal wardrobe essentials for men and women.

The H&M product (below) actually looks really nice. I’m not a tracksuit kinda girl but I do have a fetish for superior quality heavyweight sweatshirts and hoodies. The Blank Staples line is a collaboration with the media brand Highsnobiety, so is targeting the maturing streetwear crowd who want quieter sporty staples. The product – well-cut sweats*, tees*, hoodies* and track pants* in 460g cotton (sweats) and 240g terry cotton (tees) with zero branding or embellishment – comes in calm neutrals around the £12-£30 mark. In streetwear speak, it’s a ‘drop’ model, meaning when they’re gone, they’re gone. (Where they failed is by not making this gender-netural. Missed a massive trick by excluding women – or womxn even – there, guys!)

Highsnobiety X H&M Blank Staples
Highsnobiety X H&M Blank Staples hoodies
The Core by COS* collection (below) is more varied. Made from sustainably sourced materials, it features a variety of Scandi casual-luxe staples like trench coats, sweats and stripy tees. The kind of stuff you always expect to find at COS but marketed as a standalone edit.

Core by COS

So why is this interesting?

If you didn’t see it, the New York Times has a very good article on the death of fashion as we know it, pointing to the excess production problem and unsustainable thirst for fast consumption. This all started before the pandemic but in the wake of COVID I can see more brands pulling back from capital F Fashion and using these minimalist staple collections as something of a palate cleanser. Even though they may seem unexciting, well-made basics can do as much to reinvigorate your wardrobe as a statement piece. If people are being more careful about how they spend, they’ll want the pieces with longevity. Quality is key here.

Of course, as is inevitable, once all the brands jump on this bandwagon, the consumer will get bored rather quickly. And that’s when they start craving novelty again. It’s this cycle that drives Fashion after all, and it was ever thus. But could the cycle be slowed once they have tasted the pleasure of a more considered pace? Well that’s the $64,000 question. To be continued…


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Daria Werbowy by David Sims for Paris Vogue; Highsnobiety X H&M Blank Staples x 2; COS
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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What should I buy from Chanel Beauty?

Boy de Chanel beauty and make-up

A friend WhatsApped me to ask what beauty products she should get from Chanel.

This friend is well-versed in beauty so I was surprised she asked me, but actually I really do rate Chanel beauty. It manages to be of the moment, yet never bandwagon-y or too out there. Even when Lucia Pica debuted with her all-red collection, she executed it in an incredibly elegant way. And I’ve honestly never met a Chanel skincare product that didn’t agree with me. Here are the staples I recommended that I use all the time…

HYDRA BEAUTY MICRO SERUM. Unlike most serums that come in teeny dropper bottles, Chanel Hydra Beauty Micro Serum* is more of a water-gel. Its main property is hydration, courtesy of a plumping lipid extracted from the camellia flower. For me it’s a lovely wake-up-your-skin product for any time of year that feels quenching and refreshing.

BOY DE CHANEL. A newish sub-range from Chanel beauty, Boy de Chanel (above and below) is ostensibly its men’s skincare and make-up line. But its conciseness also makes it perfect for make-up minimalists who don’t want too much choice, just a ‘my face but better’ effect. New to the line is the fab Fortifying Gel Moisturizer*, which both Mr DRG and I have been enjoying using this summer. It’s extremely light but just as effective as a rich cream, containing hyaluronic acid and antioxidant Costa Rican green coffee to strengthen and protect the skin – note the macho action words! The dark navy, frosted packaging is also extremely cool [gift]. Make-up wise, I’ve been very impressed with the Matte Concealer*. In a creamy slimline stick format, it’s not quite as long-lasting as my holy grail Cle de Peau concealer but it still gives excellent coverage, blends well and comes in eight shades (I wear number 14 medium). The 3-in-1 Eye Pencil* is for the guy who is more Johnny Depp than Johnny Cash. You can use this as a smudgy eye shadow, a lower lid kohl pencil, or an upper lashline eyeliner (my preference). It’s super-soft (so don’t drop it) and pigmented and comes in three shades.

Boy de Chanel gel moisturizer

HEALTHY GLOW BRONZING CREAM. This cream-gel bronzer has a near-mythical status for its ease of application and subtle sunkissed finish. It has recently been reformulated so it’s slightly creamier than its predecessor, Tan de Soleil. This product is best applied with a kabuki brush to the tops of cheekbones, edges of hairline and the bridge of the nose. One tub will last for several summers. The only downside to this is it only comes in one shade. I think it could afford to stretch to at lease two more. Buy it here*.

LES BEIGES WATER FRESH TINT. For foundation-lite types, this unusual water-oil formulation is like nothing else you’ve tried. It gives the lightest veil of coverage, while the oil component keeps skin hydrated throughout the day. It comes with its own mini kabuki brush (but you can easily use fingers) and is now available in darker shades. Buy it here*.

BAUM ESSENTIEL MULTI USE GLOW STICK IN ROSÉE. A new shade for this multi-tasking stick balm, it can be used to add a moisturising sheen to lips, lids and cheekbones. I usually use the colourless one, but this rose-tinted version* adds a little more colour with very little effort. Buy it at Chanel or Nordstrom.

ROUGE COCO LIP BLUSH. For a super-natural wash of colour on the cheeks, I love these sheer gel-cream formulations. I think these perform best as cheek products and while they do need replying, they’re fast and foolproof. Corail Naturel* and Teasing Pink* are my year-round staples.


WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Chanel Beauty by Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links* and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

CLICK HERE to get Disneyrollergirl blog posts straight to your inbox once a week
CLICK HERE to buy my book The New Garconne: How to be a Modern Gentlewoman

TRP Travel Retail Style Index: September 2020

NARS Icons Sanya travel retail

Welcome to a new travel retail column for DRG by Alison Farrington aka The Retail Planner (TRP)

As global travel picks up again, we look at the business and shopping trends of the travel retail world. In particular, the beauty, fashion, accessories, and watches & jewellery categories, dipping into the product exclusives and digital strategies that often launch in Asia and give the rest of the world an idea of innovations coming soon.

DFS X WECHAT LIVESTREAM.  If you’re getting ready for a Golden Week shopping trip at the end of this month in time for the Chinese autumn break, then DFS is a go-to retailer with downtown and airport locations in Hong Kong and Singapore among others. Whether you still shop in physical stores or not, if there’s one thing Covid has done for consumerism, it’s to accelerate the trend for live stream shopping and this has been especially prevalent across China via WeChat. Now DFS has joined the live stream party. (more…)

What’s the deal with Byredo make-up?

Byredo beauty make-up

Much excitement about the incoming Byredo make-up line. Famous for its much-copied candles and perfumes – the name comes from ‘By Redolence’ – the brand followed with luxury leather goods and accessories.

What makes the Byredo beauty line stand out from other make-up lines is its unapologetic creativity. It’s not pegged as just another millennial make-up line and in fact it has some pretty radical ideas. This all becomes clear when you realise that Isamaya Ffrench is the make-up artist and ‘collaborator’ on board to shape the product. (more…)