Monday, 22 September 2014

Drake's AW14 - very British design menswear and accessories

I mentioned Drake's in a previous post when I described how a bespoke tie was made for me at their factory in East London. I now want to show you some of their AW14 collection. The superb images below, taken by my Man/Men colleague Jonathan Daniel Pryce, say more than I can. They show only a small selection of the beautiful clothes and accessories available and I suggest you pay a visit to their shop at Clifford Street, London, their factory shop in Haberdasher Street, or go to Drake's website for more information.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

A Scottish celebration: Future Legend - Ten30 tweed and Dauvit Alexander

As an Anglo-Welshman, the thought of losing our Scottish friends and neighbours in the recent independence vote had filled me with horror. I therefore wanted to mark the outcome of the referendum, and the preservation of the United Kingdom, with a Scottish special.

I'm grateful to Alan Moore of ten30 and Dauvit Alexander, jeweller, aka the Justified Sinner, who have collaborated on this photographic project celebrating tweed, jewellery and Scottish creativity. They rushed these images to me to help me mark this momentous occasion.

All images Simon Murphy, 2013

Alan told me about the project:

"My name is Alan Moore, I am a Glasgow School of Art graduate and I started my own label, ten30, in 2011. In the beginning the focus was on womanswear, using a lot of digital printed silks and embroidery on simple shapes. The brand was quite conceptual and I did a lot of exhibitions, films and photography as well as artist collaboration. The womenswear days were a lot of fun and very expressive as a designer, but ultimately, not working as a business. 

My ethos has always to produce garments in Scotland, using raw materials sourced from the UK. This caught the attention of Harris Tweed Hebrides, one of the biggest producers of the cloth, and they approached me with a commission proposal. The idea was to produce a small collection of men's jackets, 100% made in Scotland with a strong concept of heritage and story behind them. This is the kind of brief I relish and I got really into it. I was given three tartans to work with, a burnt orange and grey check, a modern Mackenzie hunting-look tartan and a white Stewart look tartan. 

My initial idea was to look at the cloth and develop a concept and story around that, then a garment would come naturally. With the orange cloth, it instantly reminded me of smoked salmon (a very strange correlation, but it was the first thing into my head and I usually trust my first instinct) I ran with the fishing theme and thought it went well with the cloth, the heritage of the Scottish fishing industry and the fact that it's still relevant today. So around this concept I designed a double breasted peacoat, complete with a thick quilt lining and waxed cotton collar and pockets, making the jacket as practical as it as aesthetical.

The Mackenzie tartan reminded me of the Scottish landscape, for me it was a real example of Scottishness. From this I looked into the history of Scottish kings and Nobles. Although he had a colourful and controversial history, the story of Robert the Bruce picking himself up after defeat after defeat at the hands of the English was inspiring to me. I called the single breasted 2 button, The Bruce. It has leather detailing on the pockets and is a traditional square cut jacket. The final jacket was the white Stewart tartan. This cloth was multicoloured, slightly garish and almost arrogant. I had to find a concept or character that would fit into the cloth, and who could pull it off. 

With the Stewart connection, I looked to racing driver Jackie Stewart as my inspiration. A double breasted, peaked lapel 4 button seemed to fit the bill, as the wearer would need to have a bit of confidence about him to pull it off.

The jackets were photographed by Simon Murphy, one of the best photographers in Scotland at the moment, and published on the front cover of the Scotland on Sunday magazine. Since then people started to ask about buying the jackets and asking for more options in menswear. The womenswear came to an end round about January this year when I decided I no longer loved that part of the industry. The label has been gaining strength and popularity since then and I have grand plans for the future".

See ten30 and Dauvit Alexander for more information, or to buy.

Made in Scotland

Friday, 19 September 2014

Grey Fox's Friday Favourites: socks, hair, boxer shorts, Private White VC

This is the first of an occasional Friday round-up of news and of products I've tried and approved of. If you'd like to contribute your selected tips, news or recommendations about favourite products, please e-mail me.

Archer & Peyton socks

I'm a bit of a sucker for a nice pair of socks, particularly if they come brightly-coloured. I've had to struggle hard to manipulate this image to show the lovely apple-green of these socks from Archer & Peyton, whose products are beautifully-made in Italy. Lovely colour, lovely socks.

Visit Archer & Peyton's website for a range of patterned and colourful socks, with style advice, limited editions, information and a shop to buy your choice of hosiery.

White Hot hair products

I reviewed these products for grey and white hair a while ago. I recently realised how much I'd come to rely on them when I ran out of their shooshing creme, which so effectively keeps my longer Fox locks on place. An urgent message and replacements were rushed to me by the lovely people at White Hot.

I've been using a number of their products, from shampoo to conditioner, and they've been ideal for my grey hair as it becomes whiter, keeping it lustrous and healthy-looking. Highly recommended.

For men and women, they can be ordered from the White Hot Hair website.

British Boxers introduce stretch trunks, made in England

Another brand I've talked about before, British Boxers have added stretch trunks to their range. For those of us who prefer their assets to be held more securely than looser conventional shorts, these provide the very comfortable answer. I'm planning a feature on this brand soon.

Meanwhile, you can buy the stretch trunks online at British Boxers (new website due soon) or at Susannah Hall Tailors.

Private White VC news

It's been a busy time at Private White VC. They've welcomed The Princess Royal at their Manchester factory, refurbished their shop in Lamb's Conduit Street in London, had a successful time at Goodwood Revival and are about to open a second London store. Their AW14 collection contains some mouth-watering products, including gorgeous knitwear and the rather nice cashmere Ashley blazer.

It's good to see their collection developing each year and to see a proud British menswear producer achieving the recognition they deserve.

The Princess Royal pays homage to Brutus, head of Private White VC

Thursday, 18 September 2014

An internet dating survey: where are all the stylish older men? Part 2

In a previous post, Where are all the stylish older men? I revealed that women over 40 feel that many men they meet while internet dating make little effort over their appearance and style.

Fascinated by such complaints, Grey Fox contributor, Sarah Gilfillan, carried out a survey to find out more so that we could advise the older man how to prepare for an internet date.

Image Ste Johnson

This is Sarah's report on the information she gathered -
I sent out a short survey to find out how women liked to see guys over 40 dressed and I thought it would be interesting to share the results with Grey Fox readers. 
In general terms, when asked how they liked their man to dress, women want to see a man looking smart, groomed, and wearing good quality, well-fitting clothing. There seemed to be a slight leaning towards soft tactile fabrics - like cashmere sweaters, velvet jackets and soft brushed cotton shirts - all the better to cuddle up to! 
It was pretty clear what they didn't like on their guys over 40: baggy jeans, bright logo tees, trainers, and poorly-fitting clothes. Men tend to wear over-large garments, which looks sloppy. There were a few comments about mismatched items - either in terms of colour/pattern/fabric or the styles ie: walking trousers and a smart shirt.
No one thought guys over 40 should stop wearing jeans, as long as they're dark, smart, fit well and are not too faded, ripped, skinny, or showing pants! Worn with a smart, plain t-shirt, polo shirt or casual shirt and perhaps a v-neck or half zip sweater, most felt that jeans are good weekend staples.
Many favoured boots for casual wear as an alternative to trainers - desert boots, Chelsea boots, Redwing boots all came up as ones they liked. The other favourite was the ever popular pair of brogues.
For a smarter look - going out for dinner - nearly all said smart jeans again, or trousers/cords and a shirt, possibly with a smart jacket and worn again with brogues or smart shoes. Interestingly, only one person said a suit. 
Nearly all of the women asked said that grooming was very important, but not overly groomed TOWIE style (which they found a complete turn off)! Most preferred clean-shaven, but some were happy with a beard as long as it was not too long or scruffy. All said regular haircuts were a must - even if there's not much left, it needs to be neat round the edges. Other aspects mentioned were tidying up nose and ear hair, and clean short nails - fingers and toes!! 

Image Ste Johnson

There were mixed views on aftershave - one said "lots so it wafts" and some said it wasn't important. It generally seemed that the ladies did like some sort of scent (I guess to denote that you're fresh and clean) but not to go overboard. 
One of the other things that cropped up was the importance of accessories, helping to make an outfit look groomed and smart and also contributing to a more modern, youthful look when chosen carefully. Colourful socks, good quality belts, bags and wallets plus hats - either flat caps/baker boy style/trilby (maybe as a distraction from thinning hair?) were items mentioned. 
Some of the brands the guys bought and the ladies liked were Nudie, Eton, Tiger of Sweden, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Joseph, Redwing, CP Company and Levi's. 
The overall conclusion was that simple, smart, classy and well fitted clothes work. You don’t need to try to be too young or fun, just find your own style and make sure it fits well! Update your look with interesting, quality accessories to keep it fresh and modern.
Every woman, bar one, said that it made their man more attractive to them when they were better dressed. Good advice!
But if you are feeling intimidated by this or think it's shallow, you might be cheered by the couple of girls who said "he's a bit of a scruff, but I love him" and "I knew I was marrying a scruffy muppet so no problem!" I would still argue though that you should get ahead in the dating game by not being a "scruffy muppet" but dressing well and giving yourself an edge over all the other men.
So, gentlemen, whatever you may think, the women's perception is that older men entering the dating game aren't trying their best. As one woman remarked, "We make all the effort only to find that the man hasn't even tried to look presentable".
Next week, in the final part of this series, we'll summarise with advice for the older man preparing for a date.

NOTE: I'd like to thank Ste Johnson for his permission to use the images in this Internet Dating series. To see more of his wonderful work visit his website here.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

David Gandy's M&S underwear - Grey Fox tries it on

This package arrived yesterday from Marks & Spencer - it contains a sample of their new David Gandy for Autograph briefs, launched this week in a hugely muscular global campaign. 

This raised a few questions. How is a picture of David Gandy meant to sell underwear to a red-blooded male like me? Wouldn't it be better if the image was of a scantily clad female (preferably grey-haired)? Does it suggest that most underwear is bought by women for their menfolk? If so, would I want underwear bought for me by a woman who's been attracted to buy them by a picture of David Gandy? All very mysterious. But, of course, M&S are right; men will buy them in the hope that they'll make us look as buff.

Anyway, enough of this jocular philosophising. The briefs are to M&S's usual high quality; comfortable (I can vouch for this; I wear them as I type) and well-made. Also available in the range are boxers of different shapes. All were developed closely with David Gandy in soft, high quality and durable cotton and Lycra. Cost £20 for a pack of two. 

Click here to buy - Marks & Spencer. There, you may, if interested, also find a video lingering on Gandy's musculature. Gandy will be touring M&S flagship stores, starting with Marble Arch London on Thursday 18th September at 12pm and moving on to Ireland, Hong Kong and France.

M&S promise that Gandy will 'personally unveil the collection', so it all sounds very exciting. Book your ticket now.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The British Belt Company - bravely bringing back British braces

The British Belt Company is part of Arnold Willis & Co, based in Rutland since 1946 and still family-owned. Naturally they make beautiful leather belts, but for this post I was interested in the colourful range of English-made braces, which are made in their factory in Uppingham.

Braces aren't seen as frequently as in days of yore, but, with their colour and comfort, particularly for those who find the constriction of belts uncomfortable, they're making something of a comeback.

Each pair of braces comes with an interchangeable metal clip and leather fastening (with buttons for attaching them to your trousers) and this month they're introducing a new silk collection which will be available online. There's a huge range of colours and designs; see The British Belt Company for more information. They also have a range of luggage.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Goodwood Revival - everything a man needs

If I were a perfumer charged with creating a new man's fragrance it would have a base of fresh upland air laced with a sea breeze, hints of warm grass, pipe tobacco and barbecue smoke and a dash of warm car leather. Above this would hang the sweet and stirring scent of hot motor oil, vapourised by the overheated and over-revving engine of a 1930s racing Bugatti. Finally I would add hints of floral and citrus from the perfumes of passing well-dressed and elegant women. 

Or maybe I'd just go to Goodwood Revival, taking place this weekend.

This beautiful woman apologised for getting in the picture - she thought I was photographing the car!

At Goodwood Revival you'll experience all the above, with the welcome addition of two further senses. The tearing-calico sound of vintage racing cars, pushed to the limit by their proud owners and the sight of beautifully-dressed and elegant women for whom the forties and fifties were the height of flattering femininity (what's happened since to hide women's natural curves?) Goodwood provides all the elements of the perfect weekend for a man. 

And I haven't mentioned the Battle of Britain Memorial flight, with the steady bass of Rolls Royce Merlin engines droning overhead, or the sinister whisper of early jet fighters such as the Gloster Meteor or the Canberra bomber.

I was at Goodwood Revival as a guest of Private White VC, those Manchester manufacturers of casual menswear, who had a couple of cars racing on the track (below). They are, of course, as British in style as Goodwood Revival itself.

Nick Ashley, designer, and some of the Private White VC team