Personalised presents: the beauty of the monogram

The Oxford Street lights have just turned on, so Christmas is, most certainly, coming. Inevitably, the temperatures have dropped, I can start wearing coats so oversized that they practically swallow me up, a distant hum of Michael Buble will soon fill my ears and the Christmas shopping season begins.

But, alas, where do we begin our purchasing marathon? What mysteries await our relatives and friends below the twinkling tannenbaum? I believe that I already know. The answer is in the full wisdom of the practice of the personalisation and, in particular, the monogram. Add a monogram to any item, whether that be a frying pan or fur coat and it immediately becomes an item your loved one would dread parting with, regardless of how compatible it is with their style or taste. Afterall, of all the frying pans in the world, this one, is foremost for them. No matter how far the present is from what your person of significance may have had in mind when they requested something, people are always delighted to receive anything with their initials embossed on it, for this adds a unique and catered dimension to them. Not only this,  but it implies that you were thinking specifically of that person at the time of purchase. In other words, a present that may send the hurried message of “quick, let’s get a trashy candle” to your mother is soon transformed and mutated into a contemplative “look at this candle, the scent does so suit mum’s aura and, well, would you look at that! Here are her initials, it is simply made for her”, all done with the simple additive of basic initials. People lose their sense of “before” and “after”: they cannot imagine the object without their identity so permanently attached to it.

Although not entirely risk free, some of the perceptive among us may see behind the facade of individualisation, monograms have become the conductor behind the sighs of relieved, confused and clueless husbands and the like.

So, why are other forms of customisation a viable seasonal choice? They are, certainly, however none can quite grasp the simplistic concept of a monogram, merely because of the effort level of most customised objects. Star signs are too broad a category to be truly personal and anything more complicated than a few letters, such as images or experiences becomes too much for people picking out a million and one gifts to handle.

The monogram makes economical sense for firms too. It becomes beneficial to firms as soon as it becomes apparent that these items cannot be resold, reducing the problem of lost revenues in resells for companies. This is especially true of the luxury industry. This is something that often hinders many hard luxury companies in two ways. Firstly, the firms could sell out of a certain item, and these items can go one to be sold for astronomical prices, meaning that companies have lost out on increased profit margins. Secondly, once someone grows bored of an item, they then sell it on at a lower price, with no benefit to the firm. Monograms prevent all of this. The luxury industry can cash in on the new desire for individuality in these homogenous and uniform times with reduced consequence.

Like the sound of monograms? Here are a few of my top picks that anyone in your social circle would be happy to find on the 25th:

High End:

9960EAA6-0368-4F34-BFC1-4947CCFC81A5

Louis Vuitton Purse £695

0E6EDD1A-FC6D-4CD0-A49F-A965AF5522FF

Smythson Notepad

 

C7A6AA49-487E-4D3E-8322-0F9474EAFC72

CHAOS phone case £185

For those on a budget:

D282DFB4-1D76-4EC5-9430-778808DC62FD

£22 Not On The Highstreet copper Mugs

E1A412A9-65AD-4715-A0F0-C9B4F9BE2887

Cosmetics bag $19.99

AF5A2688-754A-4C4A-8606-C3945C38D9E8

Iron on patches £2, iron onto cheap t-shirt

Click on the images for the links!

Iz x

Irony is the new black: crass fashion

I remember growing up, thinking that the 70’s was possibly the most shameful era of fashion. The haughty (and clothing obsessed) ten year old I was, would cringe at the sight of my uncle’s throw-back pictures. I would only dare to glimpse for a second at his bell-bottom corduroy trousers and loud shirts, recovered from a dusty family photo-album. I resolved that the 70’s was a time that wouldn’t ever come back to haunt my precious world of fashion.

Fast forward to today and highstreets are swamped with peasant shirts and shaggy jerkins. I imagine my old self would consider it her worst nightmare, but admittedly, feelings of repulsion don’t spring up at all. I, unashamedly, now own flared jeans and a large collared dress (corny textile and all), both of which I find myself reaching for on a regular basis.

So, what has changed? I believe that it is the fashion industry’s discovery of irony. To dress ironically, is inherently a deep expression of self-confidence. What the market has come to appreciate is that a gorgeous vixen dressed like Eddie the Eagle possesses more credit for her beauty than if she was dressed in a simple LBD. Irony amplifies her beauty.

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“Fortune favours the brave”; good things come to those who take risks. Take Gucci, for example, 3 years ago it was a fashion house who’s future hung in the balance, facing an uncertain future after both CEO and creative director stepped down. Then in swoops Alessandro Michelle, floral cape and prominent beard to the rescue, a controversial choice, but nonetheless one Gucci would not regret. Immediately, a change in the vibe of the brand became visible. Gold, glitz and glamour returned to the brand. Opulence and subversion of classic Gucci branding became the key concentrated points of the new look. And naturally, sales soared through the roof. Gucci is now the poster boy for it’s parent, Kering.

Not only this, but Gucci has managed to maintain its heritage and distinctive style despite such drastic changes. The monogram is maintained, the coloured straps too, and a distinctive Italian feel remains. Perhaps this is the perfect way a creative director should approach their work at a massive and historic fashion house. Many who find themselves at the helm of a successful brand, overwhelmed by the resources at their fingertips, can’t resist the temptation of making the brand their own, abandoning any previous identity the house held beforehand. Alessandro, however, prevailed, and in doing so, found the perfect balance of putting his mark on the brand without sacrificing any of the core ideas behind Gucci.

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By this point, many consumers had tired of being delivered mass market and bland looks. Irony and Gucci became the guava sitting next to the gruel being offered to luxury buyers at a continental breakfast. There was no longer a desire to ‘fit in’, the only trend worth following was to be as different and new as possible; the fashion industry had finally woken up and smelt the coffee.

Irony, therefore, has not just been limited to the 70’s revival. Von Dutch hats, slogan crop tops and metallic everything is back, signalling a reignited love of the 90’s.  Gone are the days when we can look back at 80’s sitcoms and disdain at Jennifer Anniston’ outfit choices. Other ironic rebirths, new ways of taking risks in the industry are becoming available. Triggered by the appointment of Demna Gvasalia, creative director of Vetements, to Balenciaga, the IKEA Bag was born and became an instant hit. More and more luxury consumers are rushing to buy what the press are labelling as outrageously expensive trash. I personally believe the media are missing the point. If you can rock a skirt that looks like a car carpet protector or a high-fashion version of retails lowest moment, crocs, then, surely, you could wear anything.

iz x

 

 

The Phenomenal Rise of Streetwear Fashion

FentyxPuma, Off-White, Yeezy, VetementsxChampion, SupremexLouis Vuitton.

Finally, after long last, the luxury fashion industry is taking note of a genre of clothing that has been brewing in the background for a while now.

Although an already prominent style among the masses (from Sports Direct to Liverpool FC shirts), streetwear has never really achieved recognition within the fashion community for its originality and expression of individuality. In the past, it has merely been accepted as practical clothing for physical activity. That is, until now.

In recent years, streetwear has come to the fore, at both fashion week and on social media. No street style review or instagram feed is complete without a pair of trainers or an oversized hoodie. This, once exclusive and elusive, bubble of style has exploded into a legitimate clothing option among the most elite in the luxury industry; even the most exclusive and prestigious of restaurants accept customers bearing what was once considered ‘inappropriate informal wear’ (provided it all hails from a high-end brand). Every blogger, editor or model now views a pair of designer trainers, a duffle bag, or even a skateboard, as an essential wardrobe item.

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Of course, where the luxury industry beelines for, investors naturally follow, like a dog to scent. Those who would commonly play for safe bets in LVMH, and Kering are becoming increasingly more appreciative of more niche areas of the luxury market. The “hype” sector, one among these niches, is certainly being taken more seriously. Supreme recently revealed that the Carlyle Group, a major private equity firm, had invested in them. To be among oil and energy companies in the fund’s investment portfolio is indeed promising for the brand, despite a nigling feeling that it is somewhat out of place among its counterparts. The faith Carlyle has in Supreme is signified by its valuation, at a whopping $1 billion USD, and a rumoured 50% stake.

So, why such a bold exhibition of trust in an anti-establishment and all together controversial brand?

Streetwear, with its standard-bending enigmatic approach and high price tags, is becoming increasingly popular among the younger population, especially in Asia. This may, in fact, be down to the fact that most under 35’s continue to live at home, the overwhelming density of living in major cities, overpopulation, and as a result, sky-high house prices. With an increasing disposable income, most of the wealthy and young seek status symbols, which come in the shape of luxury fashion and sensationalism, given the immediacy with which a trend can emerge on social platforms. Enter, highly (yet seemingly reasonable) priced Streetwear with a strong and identifiable brand.

But, why not just opt for the go-to, high fashion brands, with a deep heritage and reputation in the industry? The answer lies in the fact that Streetwear maintains both a loud and proud brand, simultaneously to providing originality, imagination and gutsy humour. Designers such as Thom Browne, for example, a pioneer by any standards of the tailored streetwear genre, now have successful stores on an incredibly international basis.

Perhaps, this is what Supreme is aiming for. Having become accustomed to the market and figures, they are no doubt setting their sights on a presence in large consumer economies, such as China. In order to penetrate this particular area of fashion, however, you need the funds to prevent the bombardment of counterfeits you undoubtedly face. Quashing counterfeits has no doubt been a top priority for Supreme (and other Streetwear brands), who ensure, while at this scale, they provide at a very minimal level, having shut down stores within hours of the LV collaboration drop, due to the number of fakes already being passed around. This, no doubt being an expensive branding technique, would need the increased funds to maintain on an internationally expanded level.

Some might argue, however, that the fun for Supreme might not last. The brand is already facing backlash from its core customer interest, who believe that the house has become a “sell-out”. Skaters and brand reps are already speaking out about their dissatisfaction with the latest moves made by what was once their favourite brand. Supreme, like brands such as Abercrombie and Fitch and Jack Wills, is at high risk of losing their edge and their cool to what many might consider to be greed.

Iz x

I love clothes and culture, do you?

Not going to lie, I’m a bit of a fashion freak. I live and breathe clothes. On another, honest, note, I never ever buy a piece of clothing for the trend. It’s just not me. If something speaks to me (and I can afford it..) that piece will ultimately make its way into my wardrobe. Not only this but I love the mechanics of the industry, the gritty numbers behind the glitz and glamour, so there will probably be a bit of that too, you never know. I also like to document my movements, so although you guys, my (current) social void and general public, may not appreciate my commentary and blabberings, it’s also useful for me to document my journey this year and my ever-evolving style.

Sending all that love to all of you out there,

Iz x