Wednesday, 26 November 2014

#WishlistWednesday - 50 Shades Of Grey

We don't have Black Friday sales in the UK, but we do have 50 Shades Of Grey (weather). Presenting my 50 favourite items, no shade please.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A visit to the Mulberry factory in Somerset

Mulberry leather goods factory visit Somerset UK

Recognise the iconic Mulberry tree logo above? We visited the Mulberry factory in Somerset recently, about two and a bit hours by train away from London. We visited The Willows, which is their second UK factory in Somerset, after The Rookery which is not too far down the road. I have been lucky enough to do a few factory visits for the blog over the years, and it is something that I really enjoy. In my past life as an auditor, I have probably seen it all. Stock takes, start to end process notes, what is so interesting you ask. To put it in rather cliche terms, life is pretty much about the journey, not the destination. Take a train ride around the scenic fjords in Norway and you will understand, blink and you might miss it. I often engage with the PR teams, if we can do factory visits to see how some of the products are made, if we can visit the design studios to further understand what gives the final product sitting on the shelves. Opening up the factory floors to the press is no mean feat, it says "we have nothing to hide" and all is laid bare to see. I have been to a few where the press visits are fairly staged, and you can really smell the fish a mile away. 

Mulberry leather goods factory visit Somerset UK

Factories have always been a touchy feely thing for most retail companies. Some have huge PR campaigns telling us what a feminist looks like, but backfired in the most amazing fashion (pun intended?) when the nation's favourite tabloid uncovered evidences of sweatshop conditions in making of said PR related products. Or Banksy-type guerrilla labels being sewn into garments of a certain retailer with flagships at the unfashionable ends of Oxford Street in London. Nothing this exciting at The Willows though, when the bell rang at 12:30pm and half the factory evacuated for the subsidised canteen, that is as real as it gets. Mind you, I'll do that too.

Mulberry leather goods factory visit Somerset UK

The opening of The Willows is a new chapter in Mulberry's manufacturing story, and reflects a £7.5 million investment in British manufacturing. The government's Regional Growth Fund also granted a further £2.5 million towards recruitment and training, if they could fulfil the various requirements, like hiring of over 50s or people with little or no post qualifications. Manufacturing in a developed country is expensive, anyone can tell you that. Mulberry is one of the last few high end retailers who chose to stay here and not be tempted by our cheaper EU neighbours, or my fellow comrades from the Far East. The shiny new factory in Somerset boast of solar panels which can generate 20% of their required electricity, and they collect enough rainwater to flush all the toilets. Trust me when I say it rains a lot here in the country. Mulberry is making significant investments to stay put, and the Made In England tag is fast becoming a luxury item as it is increasingly rare. All this, and I have not even mentioned about the craft.

Mulberry leather goods factory visit Somerset UK

Craft and heritage are something that consumers buy into these days. At the beginning of the visit, we were told of some line staff having emotional moments when they saw their final finished products. Some of us sniggered, I just thought "hashtag TOTES EMOSH!". These stories are not unheard of, I wrote about that when I visited the John Lobb shoe factory in Northampton a while back. I don't think taking pride in our work is anything to be ashamed of, when was the last time you were truly proud of what you achieved? I treated myself to a new bag when I beaten several candidates at a job interview at a major investment bank, where I had to solve a series of complicated Microsoft Excel formula  queries within a set time as part of their initial screening. That was my past life as an accountant, having a little Keira Knightley moment in The Imitation Game, go see?

Empowerment is important to us, we all want to better ourselves. It is expensive, and I am more than qualified to tell you that as I have been a victim of ill-informed outsourcing, only to hear stories of how operations were scaled back to the UK after a while. I feel that retailers with low volume but high margin products should rightly invest in their people. I am careful not to use the term luxury, as this company issued several profit warnings in a row and adjusted their price points, so I am not exactly sure where we are at. Maybe I should put on my Finance hat and interview the management, but that is another story.

It was a short fleeting factory visit, the train journey was way longer. Alas, no fjords but I did have good company with me. The thing I took away was that Mulberry is proud to remain manufacturing in the UK (and a bag too, yes wham bam thank you ma'am). All that is left, is for someone to head and creatively direct the team in a permanent capacity. We all love Cara Delevingne and her Mulberry range is surprisingly appealing, but she has movies to act and runways to strut. At close of writing, I was assured that the Creative Director front will be revealed very soon. Let the rumours commence.

Mulberry leather goods factory visit Somerset UK




Sunday, 23 November 2014

Tony Yang You-Ning [杨佑宁] in Tom Ford - 51st Golden Horse Awards

Tony Yang You-Ning wears Tom Ford Fall Winter 2014 velvet Alexander tuxedo jacket to 51st Golden Horse Awards on 22nd November 2014 in Taiwan / 杨佑宁亮相第51届金马奖颁奖礼,光头造型加汤姆福特服饰十分显眼。
Tony Yang You-Ning / Sina | Tom Ford Fall Winter 2014

Tony Yang You-Ning attended the 51st Golden Horse Awards on 22nd November 2014 in Taiwan. Tony Yang wore an 'Alexander' purple viscose, cotton and silk floral velvet jacket from Tom Ford Fall Winter 2014.

杨佑宁亮相第51届金马奖颁奖礼,光头造型加汤姆福特服饰十分显眼。

Tony Yang You-Ning wears Tom Ford Fall Winter 2014 velvet Alexander tuxedo jacket to 51st Golden Horse Awards on 22nd November 2014 in Taiwan / 杨佑宁亮相第51届金马奖颁奖礼,光头造型加汤姆福特服饰十分显眼。
Tony Yang You-Ning / Sina 

In yet another case of "careful what you wish for" recently on the blog, we see the statuesque Taiwanese actor stepping out in a Tom Ford velvet tuxedo. Earlier in the week, we saw South Korean actor Lee Jung-Jae wore a similar Tom Ford velvet jacket, in which I said I would wear it over a black roll neck instead.

If you see the blog not being updated for a considerable length of time, please assume that I have won the lottery and sunning myself in some exotic tropical island. Now, how do I add emoticons to the blog, the one with the golden aura hands clasped...


Shop Tom Ford online:


Lewis Hamilton's Union x Buscemi 100mm sneakers - F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

Lewis Hamilton wears Union x Buscemi suede and crocodile sneakers at F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi 23rd November 2014
Lewis Hamilton / Source: Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe

Lewis Hamilton was pictured at the garage of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on 23rd November 2014 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Besides the eye catching weighty chain necklace, I believe Lewis Hamilton wore the very much coveted Union x Buscemi 100mm sneakers.
Cult sneakers brand Buscemi burst onto the scene a little while ago with their high end footwear with Birkin-like features. The above sneakers, which I believe Lewis Hamilton was pictured with, marks a special collaboration between Buscemi and Los Angeles based The Union. The Union x Buscemi sneakers come in suede with crocodile embossed accent. The shoes also feature 18k gold plated hardware, calfskin lining with Italian margam rubber cup sole, crocodile ankle strap with gold pass-throughs, a lock and keyhole shaped clochette. You can shop the sneakers online from Farfetch.com.

Stunning stunning sneakers, definitely one fit for an extraordinary winner.

Lewis Hamilton wins the World Championship and the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on 23rd November 2014 in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
Lewis Hamilton / source: Mark Thompson/Getty Images Europe

A few hours after leaving the F1 garage, an emotional Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP was pictured on the winners podium. The British Formula One racing driver won the World Championship and the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.

Lewis Hamilton wins the World Championship and the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on 23rd November 2014 in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates
Lewis Hamilton / Source: Clive Mason/Getty Images Europe

Lewis Hamilton clinched his second drivers' world championship. The 2008 champion became the fourth Briton to win two world titles. Many congratulations! #Hammertime





Friday, 21 November 2014

Lee Jung-Jae [이정재 / 李政宰] in Tom Ford - 51st Daejong Film Awards

Lee Jung-Jae [이정재 / 李政宰] wears Tom Ford velvet ikat print tuxedo jacket to 51st Daejong Film Awards 21st November 2014 Seoul South Korea
Lee Jung-Jae / Source: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images AsiaPac | Tom Ford Fall Winter 2014

Lee Jung-Jae [이정재 / 李政宰] attended the 51st Daejong Film Awards on 21st November 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. Lee Jung-Jae wore an Alexander cocktail jacket in indigo cotton silk velvet ikat from Tom Ford Fall Winter 2014.

Very good look from Lee Jung-Jae. When it comes to red carpet ceremonies, the South Koreans really is at another league. The velvet jacket fitted the statuesque actor really well, and I love it that he went all the way with the styling, including the cummerbund which is just about visible. If I get my style rules right, the cummerbund is to hide the so called 'triangle of sin', the bit between the jacket button and tip of the trousers where the white shirt is usually seen. Sartorial dressing is just too much effort for me, but well done Mr Lee. A little undecided about the pocket square against the rather festive and busy print jacket, and I would have gone for the black roll neck instead of the white shirt. But that is just lazy me, no ironing!

Do you prefer Lee's styling, or the laid-back nonchalance from the lookbook?


Shop Tom Ford online:



Tom Meighan in Alexander McQueen - Kasabian & The Maccabees At SSE Hydro, Glasgow


Tom Meighan of Kasabian performed at The SSE Hydro on 19th November 2014 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. Tom Meighan wore a pink and black check jacket from Alexander McQueen Fall Winter 2014.

Alexander McQueen Fall Winter 2014
Alexander McQueen Fall Winter 2014


Nice jacket, thought it fitted Tom Meighan pretty well. Would have like him to wear the full check suit though, the impact could have been far greater on stage. Perhaps not with the kilt as per runway but then again the concert was in Scotland. And I need more pictures, "two-er" means nothing to me...






Shop Alexander McQueen online from Farfetch.com: