About eight years ago while on a Press trip to Manchester I found myself sat next to the subject of today’s Textual Conversation. As the dinner progressed and the vino flowed myself and James Shaw started to discuss his new business idea and I proceeded to tell him he was mad for leaving his job and thinking about starting up a new clothing brand while we were in such a bad economic climate. I can categorically state I was 110% wrong, in fact I could not have been any wronger. This little brand, that in my tiny little mind was destined to fail has, to put it mildly, come on in leaps and bounds since it was founded in 2006, in fact Albam, to give this Great British clothing brand its correct title, was recently voted ‘Best for Men’s Fashion’ at The Telegraph’s Best Small Shops in Britain awards. Albam was built on a foundation of, “to make an honest product that is well made and that uses great fabrics”. This ethos has served the brand well and has earned itself the accolade of being THE most copied, sorry inspiring, brands of recent menswear history, from multi national designer houses to humble little high Street retailers, have used Albam as their inspiration in some way, shape or form for pieces or entire collections over recent seasons, whether they’d admit it or not.

The customer of Albam is equally diverse from Actors, Creatives, club kids, trendies or regular guys all loving a bit of what the label calls ‘Basics’ or what I would call foundation pieces. They, in my opinion, produce great, easy garments that lift whatever you’re wearing and make you feel good about yourself and what you’re wearing.  As an independent clothing company, Albam are always looking for new ways to tap into their customers lifestyle, bringing them more of what they love: honest, beautifully-designed and well made products, whether that be the artisan services of barber extrordinaire Matt Raine aka Mr Natty or collaborating with mid century modern furniture website antikmodern.

Anyway, enough of me going on with oneself, lets hear from the man himself the co-founder of Albam, James Shaw;

What’s your favourite piece of clothing ?

I have three at the moment! A Western Mountaineering Down vest. Albam seamless T Shirts and a pair of Spellbound Jeans. My daily basics.

Who is your style icon ?

Cliché, but there is Steve McQueen (the actor) Simple American sportswear, great staples and just worn with his own edge. Not sure I would have liked to know him in person but he looked great. Royal Robbins (climber) looked pretty awesome when he climbed El Capitan back in the day and then nowadays I am not so sure. I like the idea that you wear the clothes rather than the other way round. Clothes should always be well made and great fitting, but I want to see the person and not the clothes first. 

Can you tie a bow tie ? If yes, who taught you ?

I can after a few goes, my dad showed me many years ago and I just never have the opportunity to wear one regularly. They are fun but for me, speed is pretty important in the morning!

What piece of style advise do you live by ?

Keep it simple.

In your words, describe the collection ?

Albam AW12 has 3 points of view, which are relevant to the brand. We realized that we want different things daily and a single look/silhouette wasn’t particularly us as we live doing many and varied things. So we took this and created 3 spirits, all interchangeable but taking into consideration the basics of a wardrobe, great shirts, denim, T shirts, sweatshirts, work blazers and some technical outerwear and then looked to our sportier and more relaxed “white” label to bring in elements of sportswear whilst our “black” label brings to life some more fluid silhouettes, softer minimalism, maybe a Modern Crafted English silhouette. Honest, confident, a nod to the technical and a purity of thought.

Have you ever bought a piece of clothing and regretted it ? If so what & why ?

I bought a great Armani work jacket once, it was on sale for £50 and thought I must have it. I got it back home when I was living in Manchester and then sent it back. Twelve years later I regret sending it back, it would have been perfect for this winter!

In terms of regretting a piece because it wasn’t right, I have banished these to my Room 101!

What do you have to do after this conversation ?

Go for a run to wind down! I have cleared my inbox and my head is spinning!

What would you like to be doing after this conversation ?

Going for a run anyway, it keeps me in check with my headspace and creates a fluid energy that keeps my mind ticking.

What piece of clothing should everyman have in his wardrobe ?

Great jeans, for me at the moment anyway. Various stages of wear, Japanese denim, maybe some Albam in there for good measure!

What inspires you ?

Movement and the idea that we have to keep on moving on.

If you could have invented anything what would it be ?

Time, we all live by it, so that would have been fun!

Albam’s store on Bleak Street, London

 

Albamclothing.com

 

 

 

As you are no doubt well aware, Christmas is now only a matter of weeks away and if you’re as bad at buying presents as I, then your attention will inevitably already have turned to what to buy for friends and family this festive period.

Well, fear not, there isn’t a man alive who wouldn’t love to be on the receiving end of a luxury Swiss timepiece and if you a] have deep pockets and b] feel incredibly generous this Christmas, then why not consider one of the fantastic luxury watches that will be wowing  your eyes in a matter of seconds…

….there are some truly epic luxury watchmakers out there (I’m looking at you Rolex, Baume et Mercier and Cartier) so narrowing your choice of watch purchase down to 5 this Christmas is no mean feat – unless, of course, your budget is more paltry (it’s spelt C…A…S…I…O when you Google it).

Luxury watches are the ultimate statement symbol and undoubtedly a question of personal taste so it might be a good idea to indulge in a spot of Christmas fishing before shelling out thousands of pounds on a luxury watch that will traumatise the recipient (and you’ll discover on eBay by Boxing Day).

It’ll be Christmas if we waste any more time, so let’s get started! Take a look at the 5 luxury Swiss watches below and you’re sure to find something that ticks all of the right boxes:

88 Rue Du Rhone 42mm Chrono Watch – Price £500 Approx. One of the newest luxury watchmakers on the market. Given the luxurious nature of this Swiss timepiece, its price-tag is nothing short of miraculous. This newcomer has an interesting backstory regarding the origins of their name – 88 is the only number missing from the Rue du Rhone street in Geneva and it was left clear to reveal a view of the Rhone River meeting Lake Geneva.

 

Chopard Classis Racing Watch – Price £4,300 Approx.  Chopard are one of Switzerland’s finest watchmakers and they are particularly famed for the quality of their sport timepieces. This Classic Racing watch is a limited edition piece which has been inspired by the dashboard instruments of classic racing cars and boasts a GMT function that allows the wearer to view the time in a separate destination without altering their current set time – making it a perfect choice for the frequent traveller.

 

Breitling Transocean Watch – Price £8,500 Approx. From their Transocean series of watches, this exemplary timepiece has many an impressive feature to make it including a 70 hour power reserve, glare-proof, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass case and a chronograph display which shows each of the world’s 24 timezones simultaneously.

 

Limited Edition TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 Space X – Price £4,500 Approx. The TAG Heuer Carrera 1887 Space X watch is a limited edition piece which has been released to celebrate the achievement of having the first Swiss watch in space when one of their stop-watches was strapped to the wrist of astronaut John Glenn during the 1962 mission into space on the rocket, “Friendship 7”

 

Longines Master Watch – Price £1,900 Approx. This immensely stylish and understated timepiece is perfect for any Don Draper wannabe as it’s right out of a bygone era of luxury watch design and wouldn’t look out of place strapped to the wrist of a 1960’s Manhattan ad executive. Longines are one of the oldest Swiss watchmakers on the market and their reputation is built upon high quality timepieces such as the Master watch, which has a silver ‘barleycorn’ pattern dial, self-winding chronograph automatic movement and luxurious brown alligator leather strap.

 

 

So, there you have it, if it’s a luxury watch which you intent on purchasing this Christmas (and if you’re like me, you’ll probably wrestle with the idea of keeping the watch for yourself (do it) because nobody really wants to part with such awesomeness) then one of the stunning watches above is likely to be as good a place as any to start.

All images have been used with permission of The Watch Gallery, where you can find a superb selection of Rolex, Breitling, TAG Heuer and Cartier watches for men and women.

If you haven’t seen the latest James Bond Movie, SKYFALL, (GO AND SEE IT ) the above image will mean rather little to you.  During a scene in the said Bond film, British actress Naomie Harris gives 007, played by Daniel Craig, a close shave using a cut throat razor, whispering in his ear “sometimes the old ways are the best” as she performs the shave.

The Shaving Shack, the online retailer of premium shaving products, has attributed SKYFALL & 007’s antics for a whopping 405% increase in sales of cut throat razors claiming this intimate shaving scene is the reason for the dramatic sales surge over the last two weeks.

The online retailer has also seen a 123% increase in web traffic since the film was released. Traffic from Internet searches for “cut throat razor” and “straight razor” have soared by a staggering 735% over the last week, the firm added.

Nick Gibbens, Brand Director of The Shaving Shack, believes Bond’s legendary style and iconic status have inspired men to try out a new method of wet shaving.

“Bond fans have an emotional attachment to 007, they love his Aston Martin cars, Omega watches and dinner suits. So it comes as no surprise that they have jumped on his love for cut throat razors. These luxury, old-school razors range in price from around £60 up to £300 so it’s fair to say that Bond fans are spending big to ensure they look as clean cut as 007.”

But Bond fans that can’t splash out up to £300 on a razor are instead opting for a cut-price shavette – a close relative to the cut throat razor with the difference being that the blades can be changed. Sales of shavettes on The Shaving Shack website have risen by 509% since the release of Skyfall, with bumper sales of the budget Bluebeards Revenge Shavette (see image).

The Shaving Shack says it’s delighted to see an increasing number of men ditching the multi-bladed cartridge razor in favour of a straight but they are also keen to point out the increased complexity of a cut throat shave.

“Shaving with a cut throat razor is certainly one of life’s pleasures as it will give you the closest possible shave. But it does take time to master the technique and you’ll certainly need a steady hand and plenty of practice. “We strongly advise that all men take the time to read up on the correct technique.”said Mr Gibbens. Otherwise, be prepared to see sales of toilet paper increase and fellas commuting into work with bloodied scraps of loo roll stuck to their faces !

shaving-shack.com

 

Once upon a time if you wanted to produce your own individual range of clothing, you had to acquire premises, buy stock to fill the shop, entice people to come into the aforementioned store etc, essentially it was a VERY long and sometimes rather complicated and not always lucrative process. Then along came that nifty little invention from Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his boys in white coats (see its not just all about clothes here its educational) the information superhighway ! And Bob’s your uncle ! it’s made the complete process a whole lot easier to do.

We already have household names like Asos, Boohoo and of course the cybertastic likes of Amazon that have never ever had a brick and mortar store and creeping up behind them there are brilliant websites like togsandclogs, Coggles, Oki-ni and Youngthread, but another one to add to that ever growing list is artprintmarket.co.uk. Art print market was borne out of the frustration of a couple of friends who wanted to sell their own digital designs on art print and T-shirts, but after numerous attempts over the years to create one offs, the general consensus was that the individual prints were very expensive & poor quality and the custom Ts were poor quality and ill style fit.

The guys have started a cooperative offering a collection of products by new designers or people trying their hand at designs round their ‘proper’ job. The design comes in, they can format it correctly and then put it up for sale, handling the sale and delivery, hey presto with an ever growing number of choices and designers coming on board. There is co-operative marketing and the more designers selling their wares results in more traffic for people to browse the site, so the more the merrier! Plus, and I know this is going to send a cold shiver down your spine but, for the guy who has everything there are some amazing gift ideas for that fast approaching, most wonderful time of the year!

 

To say Marc Hare, aka Mr Hare, shoe designer, is a busy man and his time is truly not his own is a real understatement. This man must have more stamps in his passport then Judith Chamers, google her if your under 35. If he isn’t traveling the global, he’s proudly looking after his new shop on Stafford Street, just off Dover Street, London, like a new Father(see below), or he’s attending high brow events whether that be at 10 Downing St. to mark the Power List’s 20 most influential Black Britons or  the British Fashion Council as he,  “is quietly becoming one of the most important names in British menswear,” as the Guardian recently put it.

The genesis of Mr Hare is an interesting one, Marc had always been a little obsessed with footwear growing up on the mean streets of Croyden, for his eighteenth birthday he’d saved up and he was off to Bond Street to buy his dream shoes, Gucci Loafers. He noticed that when he worn these shoes peoples attitude toward him changed and they spoke to him with respect.  Then after holding down a number of unfulfilling jobs in Marketing and Retail and losing one of those aforementioned jobs, breaking his leg and going through a divorce, remember bad things always happen in threes. He was sat in a Spanish restaurant, funnily enough in Spain, when he caught sight of the woven shoes worn by the señor at the next table, although the shoes weren’t prefect he did think with a few little tweaks they could be and with the help of Bally’s retired shoe genius, Siliano Salvadori, Mr Hare was born.

Now Mr Hare boasts such names as Javier Bardem, Ronnie Wood, Robert Downey Jnr, Tenie Tempah and Amir Khan as fan and customers and rumours of a venture into Ladies footwear abound. His recent collaboration with TOPMAN, literally sold out in minutes, where even Marc couldn’t get his hands on the highly desirable High Tops he created. But he still managed to find the time to answer the questions of Clothes make the man.

 

If you could have invented anything what would it be ?

A better work/pay/holiday/ tax system where people work less get paid more, are applauded for travelling and learning more about other cultures and where banks/governments had to actually pay for their own fuck ups or actually pay us interest when we lend them money.

 If you had one day to live what would be your biggest regret ?

It would be all the time I had lost answering interviews.

 What would be the one piece of clothing you would rescue from your home in the event of a fire ?

I would welcome the opportunity to re invent my wardrobe on the insurance money. I am too pretty and too smart to run into a burning house to rescue apparel.

 What inspires you ?

Curiosity.

 If you could only wear one brand/Designer for the rest of your life who would it be ? Why ?

Bauhaus. Because they were trying to just make the world better and the mix of modernism and traditional craft just created great products by default. I bet their sneakers would have been ill.

 Who is your style icon ? Why ?

Margin Gaye, because he was just so talented no one was even paying attention to his clothes.

 Tell us something no one else knows ?

I haven’t had a shave in 23 years.

 What piece of style advise do you live by ?

Wear WTF you like and eventually you will figure out what works.

 What do you have to do after this conversation ?

I have to go to sleep in a Bologna hotel room then get up early and fly to London for a concierges soirée.

 What would you like to be doing after this conversation ?

Going to sleep in my own bed and getting up early to fly to somewhere hot and tropical for a concierges soirée.

 What track would always get you on the dance floor ?

Hypnotise – B.I.G. 

Who could resist? “If deh head right, biggie deh e’ry night !!”

 

mrhare.co.uk