Thursday, November 28, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Self-gifting is a fancy marketeers phrase for "spending the money you intended to spend on others on yourself". It's sort of like the post-recession version of maxing out your credit card where instead of simply spending more money you re-allocate the funds you'd initially meant to go towards your Grandad's new slippers/ your Mum's pyjamas on, oops, on a new pair of shoes. In the US, self-gifting is expected to account for 20% of festive season spending, rising to 35-40% on Black Friday and the following weekend.

Perhaps calling it self-gifting is one of those delusory tactics which makes us feel a bit better about what is essentially splashing out on one of the many, many tempting things shops cram themselves with at this time of year and which we are supposed to buy for our nearest and dearest, rather than ourselves. Part of the 'problem' is that you are so easy to buy for. This morning, Kate Brindley, Liberty's Head of Marketing and Communications, tweeted about the forthcoming Nicholas Kirkwood sample sale:

Nicholas Kirkwood sample sale coming soon! Perfect for self gifting!

Of course, the Nicholas Kirkwood sale is perfect for self-gifting because, unless you have a sister or a very generous best friend, nobody else in your gift-giving line-up is likely to make the effort to elbow into a sample sale and have the knack to pick out the gems. Self-gifting is all about the gifts only you can really give yourself. In a way self-gifted presents might be the most useful but do they take away the charm of the practical, comfy slippers you unwrap from your Auntie on Christmas morning?

Harvey Nichols are pinning all their Christmas hopes on the notion of self-gifting with their very funny "I spent it on myself" ad campaign. In fact, they see it as such a retail moment that they have produced a range of super cheap gifts like gravel for £1.61 or paperclips for 99p to give a tiny section of their store a bit of a Poundland vibe. You give these miserly gifts to your loved ones on Christmas morning as you stroke your new Givenchy bag or twirl in your Dolce and Gabbana party dress. The logical conclusion of the trend would be stuffing the whole "giving" concept and us all just gathering on the 25th December to show off the big purchases we've treated ourselves too in the last few weeks. Bit sad, no?

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

 A natural part of the life cycle of an H&M collaboration is the furious eBaying which ensues the moment it goes on sale. And so it has been with the launch of Isabel Marant's collection today. I've just got back into the office having been out all day to discover that the current asking price on the tuxedo jacket (retail price £79.99) is up to £900. The fringed boots which are one of the star items of the range would have set back sharp elbowed shoppers £149.99 this morning but can now be snapped on up eBay for £400. 

Just a thought but checking out the latest real deal Marant buys on Matches and Net-a-Porter shows that for £725 you could pick up a sleek pair of boots and still have change from the £900 you were going to spend on the blazer. Or perhaps get some Bekett's for £30 less than the collab boots on eBay. It's a fraught kind of fashion maths which would be ripe for some sort of physiological experiment. When there's this kind of shopping moment does our appetite for the "real" thing dull compared to the need for the limited edition piece?





Friday, November 8, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

In case you hadn't heard, J.Crew opened today on Regent Street. There was a big queue, a fancy party and a massive bunch of balloons to hail its much-anticipated arrival after years of being a kind of mythical style mecca to which anyone in-the-know flocked on touchdown in the US. It will be interesting to see how our collective J.Crew love evolves now that we are not in a long distance relationship, especially if you actually live in London. I doubt it'll be a reverse case of "absence makes the heart grow fonder" but it's almost certain that there will be far more conversations in which cooing over a particular garment  leads to a discovery that said item was picked up on the wearer's way home from work, IN J.Crew rather than "I saw something like it on the J.Crew site and got inspired and went and bought something like it in XXX". There are a few subtleties to J.Crew's UK arrival which I've been thinking about...

1. They are embracing Englishness

The magazine/ lookbook which has been produced in tandem with the UK round of shop openings features a very English country scene which, unusually for J.Crew, does not immediately scream "J.CREW". It actually looks more like a humble homage to the pastimes which J.Crew expects its new segment of UK customers will enjoy. This images feels to me like it is aimed at the people who aren't actually excited about the brand's arrival because they don't know it exists yet- shocking/ how is that possible, I know. These are the ones who will come in for armfuls of cashmere jumpers (if they deem it to be better than M&S's) and the preppier pieces. It will take them a long time to be converted to jazzy necklaces and sequin pencil skirts. This is the ultimate gently, gently image.

2. They are delivering impeccable service

When I went into the men's store when it opened on Lamb's Conduit Street a few weeks ago, they gave me a free umbrella, were friendly (but not too friendly) and stood back, making it feel like you could just browse in a shop which is really so tiny that it could be intimidating to go inside for fear that a shop assistant would be breathing down your neck the whole time. Impressive. This could be where J.Crew makes a real difference in the UK, blending the best of both service cultures.

3. They might be trying to evolve the classic Jenna Lyons look

Back to this lookbook and some of the images within are a real departure from the Jenna look which has been a huge part of putting J Crew on the fashion map. Some of the shirt collars are undone. Lips are bare, not red. There are no glasses. The brilliant outfit ideas are still there but I love that they are introducing J.Crew to the UK at this fresh level. It sort of feels new again.

4. They probably won't "change the high street".

There has been a lot of talk that the arrival of J.Crew might change the high street. This is probably not going to happen. The mid-market/ high street landscape is very different here to in the US and I think we like a store with a strong identity (see: COS, Topshop, Uniqlo, Whistles). J. Crew will bring something new to that mix but any influence their styling was going to have has probably been felt already.

And with that, I, along with countless others (probably) am finally off down to Regent Street.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

Fendi Peekaboo bag bug
High fashion was once the preserve of very serious clothes. It was straight-faced, not quite sensible but definitely targeted at being investment standard. Obviously there are always exceptions, but for the most part it was all about projecting a certain kind of pulled- together, grown-up vibe. You certainly wouldn't have expected to be able to compare a designer handbag to a character from Rainbow. Fashion has found its sense of humour though; think about gorgeous designer shoes by Charlotte Olympia and Sophia Webster which come with girly, fantastical themes likes carnivals, fairytales and Barbie. Or they way Karl Lagerfeld puts a hula hoop bag on the Chanel runway. Once upon a time, you'd have to go to  joke shop for that sort of thing, now you find it in… Harrods.

Fendi Bag bugs £375 each
This is where Fendi, whose FF logo incidentally stands for Fun Fur, have just opened a pop-up boutique for their Bag Bugs range which is fabulously colourful, fun and Instagram-able (a pretty crucial part of the strategy I'm sure). Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld introduced Bag Bugs for Aw13 and Silvia Fendi herself came up with their names- Snobius, Furyou and Nutty- as they are now a permanent fixture in the Fendi offering. They transform one of those very strait-laced, sensibly purchased handbags into a sweet statement. The only downside is that they are made from real fur. If mink isn't your thing, then the range includes purses, bags and scarves decorated with big, funny bug eyes. I particularly loved the Peekaboo tote which you can close up to look like a sleek, businesslike bag all the while knowing that there's a goggly pair of eyes inside. It reminds me of Zippy, hence the Rainbow reference.
The 2jour bag £1140

Totally amazing Fendi Baguette, bag bugged.

Fendi Bag Bug bags = Zippy dead ringers

More Peekaboo tote (£3720)

Oh and look out for Fendi's bag bug video which goes live on Tuesday, here's the teaser

L'invasion des Bags Bugs de Fendi by VOGUEPARIS

The Bag Bug pop-up is open at Harrods until November 30th- it's so fun, go! Find it through Door 9.