Brands

A day at Dr Martens



Dr Martens factory
Heritage is the watchword of the moment, so how timely that Dr Martens should invite me on a trip to their super-dooper factory last week. The British workwear boot company celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and has, ooh, millions of projects on the go to celebrate. On arrival at the HQ in Northamptonshire, our first stop was the showroom (more…)



Bicester Village supports young designers



Despite my not-so-subtle hints, Bicester Village has sadly not fallen for my self-serving genius idea of a pop-up shop in London. I shouldn’t cry too hard though as it has gone for something else, even cleverer.

Last Wednesday saw the launch of the British Designer Collective, a Bicester Village pop-up shop (open 31 Mar – 7 May) to celebrate emerging British design talent and expose it to the quality-conscious customer who loves original design but would like it not to be super-expensive. The beauty of Bicester Village is that its collections are two seasons old. So if you’re buying in April 10, you’ll be buying April 09’s collection. For young British designers like Erdem, Emma Cook and Atlanta Weller, it’s a way to make money on the pieces that didn’t sell while giving customers a second chance to buy from a past collection.
Like a sample sale then? God no! Unlike a sample sale, the merchandise is beautifully presented in a boutique setting. There are fitting rooms! They take credit cards! You can return it if you change your mind! Yes, it’s exactly like a proper shop, except the prices are generously reduced. In the current still-cautious climate, these value-conscious initiatives are more than welcome. For online customers there is Brand Alley, Gilt Groupe, Vente-Privee, The Outnet and Ebay’s new ‘flash fashion’ sales. For those who like shopping in shops, there’s Bicester Village. And for those who favour Maria Francesca Pepe over Marni, there’s the British Designer Collective.

MARIA FRANCESCA PEPE

EMMA COOK
GEORGINA GOODMAN
THE DECOR
HOUSE OF HOLLAND

ATLANTA WELLER
LOUISE AMSTRUP


Stealth snaps at Harvey Nichols new 4th floor




So finally, the unveiling of Harvey Nichols’ new 4th floor of contemporary fashion. First impressions were of a minimalist, London version of Colette. The store has pitched the new fashion floor as having a ‘concept store feel’ and it will be constantly evolving with new lines, products, exhibitions and installations. This I like. But I have to say, not much of this was in evidence on the first day. I have to give them props for opening on time however and I always try not to judge too harshly on first impressions as I think with anything, things generally take a while to fall into place.

Aside from the bright modernity of the space, the things that reminded me of Colette were the affordable gifty items – Assouline books, Opening Ceremony tote bags, Ambush lighters, iPods… not much that I haven’t seen before. There is an impressive selection of vintage Chanel bags, which you can also get at D & Me and Matches so nice as they were, I wasn’t knocked out. The promised vintage magazines don’t seem to be on view yet.

The long-awaited trainer wall boasts studded Converse by What Goes Around Comes Around, zebra-print ponyskin Keds by Opening Ceremony and the new Louboutin trainers. And clothing-wise there is representation from a wealth of ‘It Brit’ labels (Mary Katrantzou, Richard Nicoll, Markus Lupfer…) as well as cool hipster brands (Marc by Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Acne, See by Chloe). Alongside these are the label-lover brands – D&G, Anglomania – while the ‘supermarket of luxury’ curated by Alber Elbaz looks to me to be a sweet but limited array of Lanvin knick knacks – Umbrellas! Fans! China figurines! Expensive pencils!

I’m not sure who it’s all aimed at. Earlier reports suggested that Harvey Nichols was hoping to entice a Peaches Geldof demographic but would a Peaches or Cory Kennedy wear D&G? Although there’s a hint of the cool, streety Colette vibe with the books and lighters and gifty things, the fashion still seems to me to be the same Harvey Nicks labels I have been seeing for the last few seasons. Overall, it’s not a bad start but it could do with some of the buzz of the Marc by Marc Jacobs store or the unexpected variety of Anthropologie. I would like to see more surprises round every corner … hopefully that’s to come.

STEALTH SNAPS

Vintage Chanel and Assouline books

Acne

D & G
Trainer wall
Lanvin’s ‘supermarket of luxury’
Lanvin fan!
Lanvin figurine
Marc coat
Vivienne Westwood seat
See by Chloe
4th floor preview




Hermes to launch new brand



More news on the Hermès front following my rant last week. (By the way, very strangely, the day after posting my moan about Hermès’ inefficient supply system, my elusive cravate foulard miraculously appeared in the Selfridges store. That Christian Blanckaert has totally been reading my blog.)

According to CPP-Luxury, the Hermès group will launch a new brand aimed at the Chinese market in 2010. The lower-priced brand called Shang Xia will be made using traditional Chinese materials and techniques to take advantage of the new Chinese luxury consumer. This chimes with research I have recently undertaken on the luxury market for the next decade. Heritage and authenticity is something that luxury brands will be focussing on, moving away from the noughties version of luxury that was more to do with brand names and status than the quality and craftsmanship of the goods. This is certainly a brand to watch as if it does well, others are sure to follow.

Update