This video by H&M featuring their Spring 2014 collection is certainly ok, but for a brand with such deep pockets you’d think they would have stepped it up a bit. Nothing fancy, just a little more context to help convey the direction of the line. The parred down, simple direction and clean aesthetic works well for women’s, but showing a male model getting his eyebrows brushed, lotion rubbed onto his arm and make-up applied is off the mark. Get outside, hop on a bicycle, sit at a cafe, do pretty much anything, read Le Figaro, paint – just don’t try on clothes all day and expect the viewer to watch till the end.


By Leo Parker. It goes without saying that London is one of the top fashion capitals of the world and the lucky chaps of the UK’s most fashionable city have plenty of choice when it comes to dressing in a dapper way. Here’s a quick look at three of the best London-based stores, for those who want to showcase their sartorial style.



Somewhat of an institution on the London fashion scene, Gieves & Hawkes is one of the City’s most reputable and revered tailors, and the quality of their wares is unparalleled. Based on the world-famous Savile Row, this purveyor of fine gentleman’s wear is certainly a must-see starting point for visitors to London who want to ramp up their sophistication with a dress shirt or some fine accessories. gievesandhawkes.com (more…)



L.L. Bean took over a vast loft space in New York this past week to showcase their Fall/Winter 2013 line-up of outdoor inspired clothing and accessories. It was a sweltering day, and refreshing to walk into a cold, alpine scented winter stage. As always, the highlights within the main L.L. Bean collection were the boots, bags and accessories. And the Signature line continues to be a stand out, with it’s more fitted silhouette and modern take on today’s sportsmen. The above hiking boots with double laces get special mention – an item every guy could use this fall. Here are some more highlights from the preview. (more…)



A lot has been written about newcomer Suitsupply since they brought their brand of no-frills, easy and affordable tailoring to the U.S. from Amsterdam. So I decided to give it a try and see what the buzz is all about. Located up a steep flight of stairs at 453 Broome Street in Soho, the design of the store is wide open and simple to navigate. One giant wall of shirts, one wall for ties and a long sweeping presentation of suits, with “casual wear” mixed in on the floor. Unlike traditional retailers who carry multiple brands, everything you see (more…)




As February’s fashion shows proved, the obsession with history and heritage in menswear remains strong, with the unfortunate side effect that many of the collections were hard to tell apart. You could have saved time and just lined up four or five and had them go directly one after the other. Professorial tweeds, preppy stripes, layers upon layers upon layers – has menswear become repetitive?


If there was a quest to find true authenticity, Hudson’s Bay Company, the oldest commercial corporation in North America, and one of the (more…)



Founded in 1902 in New Haven, Connecticut, American clothier J.Press has been helping young Ivy Leaguers look sharp for over a century. So it’s no surprise that their preppy, buttoned-up aesthetic matches up well with the style on the hit show Downton Abbey. In Sunday’s episode, we saw the Crawley family at leisure, enjoying a game a cricket and looking as laid back as ever in sport shirts, white trousers and cable knit cricket vests. Not the outfit you or I play ball in, but remember, this was a time when tuxedos were considered informal.

J.Press recently launched a new menswear line called York Street. The collection is designed by Creative Directors Ariel and Shimon Ovadia, who were named GQ’s Best New Menswear Designers in America in 2012. “110 years of classics provide the foundation for a new turn on American style. York Street. Slimmer fit. Unexpected fabrics. Perfect details. A daring new line from J. Press.” I’m not sure how daring it is, but it is a sharp looking collection, and a smart extension of the main J.Press line. Here are two items from the collection that Lord Grantham would find acceptable.


V-neck cricket cable sweater with navy and kelly green stripe. $225. White tennis polo $115. Best worn with jeans and a pair of white Adidas Stan Smiths.




This is a cool video highlighting a recent collaboration between H&M’s design team and the creatives behind Brick Lane Bikes, a legendary shop in East London. “H&M for Brick Lane Bikes,” is a men’s collection combining the function of cycling wear with great city style for both on and off the bike. It is made from more sustainable materials as part of H&M’s Conscious work. In the short film, you meet Feya Buchwald, Founder of BLB; Chris Christodolo, Creative Designer BLB; and Petter Klusell, Designer H&M. They talk about the H&M collection which will be launched on March 7, 2013 worldwide. Bike culture can be pretty aggressive but there’s nothing over the top about these cool cats.



The Retail Sales Report, one of the most important indicators for economists and investors, was released today for the month of October and the news was positive. Macy’s Inc. same-store sales increased 4.1%, beating expectations for 3.1%, Kohl’s Corp. sales rose 3.3%, when 1.1% was expected, and high end retailer, Nordstrom Inc. crushed estimates, posting a 9.8% rise in same-store sales, ahead of the expected increase of 6%. Overall, the 17 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters are expected to report 4.3% growth in October sales. The retailers ended their fiscal October on Saturday, before Sandy reached the Northeast.


Positive news this morning from the Commerce Department as retail sales in the U.S. rose more than projected in September, a 1.1 percent gain, following a 1.2 percent gain in August. This should help the confidence of mass retailers like Target who are directly affected by the news, along with last week’s report on firming housing prices and a 7.8% jobless rate.



Highlights from the recently concluded Pitti Immagine Uomo show in Florence, produced by Luisa Via Roma, a global luxury shopping site.



May proved to be yet another disappointing month for retailers as overall sales fell by 0.2 percent. After a torrid start in the first quarter through March, April was the first indicator that consumer spending had slowed dramatically. For more details, read Bloomberg’s full recap here.


Underwhelming is the best way to describe the April retail sales report released today. Coming off a torrid 0.8% increase in March, April’s 0.1% wasn’t totally unexpected. After unseasonably warm weather brought in customers earlier in the season, a let down was inevitable. For the full report: Businessweek.



Tucked away amongst massive, long abandoned brick warehouses along the Androscoggin River in Lewiston, Maine, sits a small, rather unassuming building humming with activity, and doing big things. Rancourt & Company is a third generation, family owned and operated business who’s commitment to the art of shoe making is genuine and timely – with only a handful of shoe manufacturers remaining in the U.S., word has quickly gotten out to an American menswear industry consumed with all things “Made in the U.S.A.” I recently made the trip north to see the factory, and meet with Kyle Rancourt, the youngest member of the family business. He discussed the companies history, their signature shoe and what it means to be “Made in Maine.”


Rancourt & Company is a family owned American business, tell me briefly about the company and the unique skill set of its workers? My family is in its third continuous generation of shoe making in Maine – with Rancourt & Co. my father and I really had a goal of expanding beyond the contract manufacturing we’d done in the past and creating our own brand that reflected our heritage and the skill set of our craftspeople. The skill set in our factory is really unique because we have the ability to (more…)


Wearing a dress shirt and tie doesn’t have to be stuffy. Just take a stroll across any New England prep school and you’ll notice a purposefully disheveled approach, with loosely knotted ties, untucked, wrinkled shirts and who-knows-what type of trouser. It’s charming at age 14, but fast forward to 28 and you’ll need to tighten things up a bit. Tuck the shirt back in, wear fitted trousers that compliment your shape, but keep the tie loose. Casual prep is a hugely popular trend at the moment, with “The Hilfigers” campaign a perfect example of old meets new. Take classic inspired American sportswear, (more…)


Few can match the retail prowess of Ralph Lauren when it comes to visual merchandising, a critical aspect of a brand’s identity. The popular trend towards downsizing and making each store look unique was perfected by Mr. Lauren, and there is no better example of this then his Rugby store in East Hampton, NY. Iconic images of surfing, sailing, biking, even a stack of wood complete with “Firewood Courtesy of Vermont Good Wood” – adorn the store. These perfectly mixed and matched objects make the space feel part of the local neighborhood, softening the corporate image of the store, and loosening up fat wallets along the way. The message: (more…)


The collaboration between designer John Varvatos and Converse is one of the more natural and successful partnerships in recent memory. In most cases a guest designer will come on board to design one collection and it will be highly scrutinized, with sales results often taking a back seat to the big personalities involved. Converse was a very smart and strategic move by Varvatos and helped put his label on the map after his departure as creative director of Nautica. Whether his decision to become a judge on “Fashion Star” was smart is another question entirely. Perhaps he’s hoping to capture the magic that Michael Kors has experienced through his starring role on “Project Runway.” Respect within the upper echelon of the fashion industry or wider national recognition and thus sales? How often can it be both? (more…)


One of the reasons J.Crew has managed to stay on top of the retail world is the fact that they are never complacent. Through partnerships with brands with rich histories (Red Wing), and support of emerging talent (Saturdays Surf), they’ve become a generous fashion incubator, not just another retailer. For fashion brands looking to gain more market share there are a few simple steps to consider, all currently being executed, and often invented by, J.Crew: 1) bring in outside talent. No need for the drama of an H&M designer collaboration – just look for, and make a list of brands that could use a little dusting off and placing back on the shelf. Pony comes to mind. That shoe brand is a classic. Anything American made is a huge plus. 2) Revamp your store mix so (more…)


What happens when a New York City lawyer decides to move back home to New Orleans and open a menswear shop? For Parker Hutchinson, the result was “Friend” – a relaxed, well-edited store with all the key elements for a promising future. I spoke with Parker about his motivations, biggest challenges, and how there are very encouraging signs of retail growth in a city still very much in recovery.


What is the retail environment in New Orleans right now, and where did you see an opening that you are trying to fill?

There’s been a real spate of store openings in New Orleans recently. I was fortunate to find a great storefront on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District, an area that’s shaping up to be a shopping destination for men. Within two blocks of Friend, there are at least 8 other menswear or men’s accessories stores, with half of those opening only in the last year. (more…)


What happens when Apple takes over a massive retailer? It becomes instantly cooler. Check out the new J.C. Penney logo – actually now it should be referred to as the “jcpenney” logo – the name of the company itself has changed. Ron Johnson, the former head of Apple’s incredibly successful retail division, became CEO of jcpenney in June of 2011 and his massive changes were unveiled yesterday in New York.

To put everything in context it’s important to look back. Two Oscar seasons ago J.C. Penney clearly wanted to play with the stars in retail by creating a more upscale perception of their brand. They executed a massive marketing push around awards season including expensive advertising, an official sponsorship of the Oscar’s and a temporary and massive ‘pop-up’ shop in the middle of Times Square. The problem? None of this did anything to solve the core issue – that the name and branding of the company in and of itself was the problem. (more…)


Grenson is a well respected shoe company founded in England 1886 by William Green. It is often a challenge to balance the rich history and heritage of a storied brand with the need to innovate and stay competitive. I spoke with the owner and creative director, Tim Little.

For the novice buyer, what should one look for when trying to find a well made dress shoe? What are the basics in good shoe construction?

Firstly find one that you like, don’t buy something just on quality.  The easy way to tell is the upper leather.  Look closely to see if you can see the grain of the leather.  If it’s a shiny plastic-looking finish, it’s usually cheaper leather.  Ask what the construction is.  Many shoes that have stuck on soles have a fake stitch to make them look Goodyear Welted. It sounds obvious but look at the price, most brands work on the same profit margin so if its expensive its because it cost a lot to make.  Finally, (more…)


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