July 31, 2009

Nomads, Mongolian Hats & Wooyoungmi

Job instability, modern transportation, globalization, restlessness, adventure—these are only a few causes of geographic mobility, making the contemporary man increasingly more willing to uproot and replant multiple times throughout life as a type of modern-day nomad.

Moreover, runways and catwalks around the world have been reflecting this trend in what I like to call “nomadic-inspired menswear.” Elegant in look and romantic in thought, however, these styles are not just based in fiction: there exist 30-40 million nomads throughout the world today.

Probably the country with the most prevalent nomadic history is Mongolia, whose culture has been influenced by nomadic ways since prehistoric times! Even the clothing, such as the Mongolian hat, has evolved out of conditions and activities that have shaped nomadic life over the centuries.

Considered to be tokens of luck and signs of respect, the Mongolian hat exceeds one hundred in styles. Designed to protect against the wind and cold of the steppe, Mongolian hats indicate social status through their ornaments and embroideries. Some are fashioned with 32 stitches, which symbolize the 32 Mongolian tribes.

In her 2009 a/w collection, Wooyoungmi appeals to contemporary nomads as she draws inspiration from the nomadic heritage of Mongolia, featuring her take on the various styles of the Mongolian hat.

Born 1959 in Seoul, Korea, Wooyoungmi is a graduate of fashion from Seoul University and manages two of her own menswear labels—Solid Homme and Wooyoungmi—which she launched in 1988 and 2002, respectively.

Drawing inspiration also from architecture, Wooyoungmi strives successfully for clean cuts in her menswear designs.

Photo 2009 a/w Paris Collection Copyright Wooyoungmi.
Slideshow 2009 a/wParis Collection Copyright

July 30, 2009

“I Still Have Butterflies” by Hyun Yeu

Originally from Soeul, Korea, Hyun Yeu studied Business Management at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, where he lived for seven years before going on to obtain an additional BA in Fashion Design at Gerrit Reitveld Academy in the Netherlands.

Now based in Rotterdam, Hyun presented his first menswear collection at the Amsterdam International Fashion Week, which was held last week, July 22-26.

Entitled “I Still Have Butterflies,” the 2010 s/s collection conveys the fluttering sensations that we all felt when we first fell in love!

Hyun makes use of soft fabrics and “happy” colors to capture the romantic feelings when falling in love.

Following a 2010 nature motif, his source of inspiration in mastering the fragile textures is the sheer, almost transparent wings of a butterfly!

Do you have butterflies? I still have butterflies...by Hyun Yeu.

Photo Hyun Yeu Copyright Peter Stigter.
Slide show Hyun Yeu 2010 s/s collection “I Still Have Butterflies” Copyright Peter Stigter.

July 29, 2009

Predicting Trends in Amsterdam with NōN by KIM

Founded in 2007 by no nonsense Dutch designer Kim Bakker, NōN by KIM demonstrated at last week’s Amsterdam International Fashion Week how spring/summer 2010 collections are taking men back to nature.

Entitled Inventorum Natura, the NōN by KIM collection journeys the fashion-forward man deep into the world of flesh-eating plants with pod-shaped bodies that lure insects to a catalytic death.

Commonly known as Venus Flytraps, these small rosettes capture their prey through a reaction triggered by touching the tiny hairs that line the inner concave lobes. The trapped insect is then digested through chemical reaction.

Although inspired by nature themes, Kim deviates from the expected norm by excluding any overt prints or patterns from nature.

Where Kim does adhere to the trends of 2010, however, can be seen in a grey palette with whites and rich pastels; laboratory-like coats; wide, flowing, low-cut necks; high-water pants; elongated silhouettes with long shirts and belted waists; mesh and leggings; voluminous flowing materials; nomadic hoods; and an androgynous flair.

Photo NōN by KIM 2010 s/s collection Copyright Peter Stigter.
Slideshow NōN by KIM 2010 s/s collection Copyright Peter Stigter.

July 28, 2009

SS10 at Amsterdam International Fashion Week

Unquestionably, there exists only one Venice in this world: the Queen of the Adriatic, the City of Bridges, la Serenissima—the most Serene.

But all around the globe, enchanting cities of water can be found like Bruges in Flemish Belgium—the “Venice of the North”—and Zhouzhuang of China, otherwise known as the “Venice of the East.”

Undoubtedly no one can forget Amsterdam, also nicknamed the “Venice of the North,” which started as a fishing village in the 12th century and has flowed into a city with 90 islands, 100 kilometers of canals, 1500 bridges, and 1 million inhabitants. "

I lived in the Netherlands for exactly one year when I was training to coordinate the European network for a multinational corporation. I used to love travelling to the “Venice of the North” just to walk along the canals.

Home to prominent menswear labels like G-Star, Amsterdam has been rising to international notoriety for its own citywide fashion week.

Kicked off in 2004, the Amsterdam International Fashion Week takes place in the Westergasfabriek, a gas factory built in 1883 that was closed in the Sixties upon the discovery of natural gas and, since, has been converted into a cultural park.

In conjunction with the event and collaborating with local museums, galleries and shops, Fashion Week Downtown organizes a series of parties, lectures, public catwalks, and expositions for the public.

From July 22-26 this year, several menswear labels exhibited at the Amsterdam International Fashion Week, including Replay, Ontfront, Cold Method, Hyun Yeu, and NōN by KIM.

Stay tuned for more coverage on these labels.

Photo top left Copyright by Massimo Catarinella at Wikipedia.
Photo bottom right 2010 s/s collection Copyright Peter Stigter.

July 27, 2009

“Tonight is the Knight” with Ontrfont

On the last day of Amsterdam International Fashion Week (July 22-26), designer Liza Koifman and creative director Tomas Overtoom of Ontfront heralded the advent of their 2010 spring/summer collection with “Tonight is the Knight.”

Gracefully mounted on a decorated destrier—the Medieval ‘great horse’—a consort of elegant sorts sounded the trumpet and led the armored cavalry into chic battle array.

Knight upon knight clad in shining armor proceeded to clank down the runway, plundering the hearts of besieged onlookers and pillaging the applause that resounded in the pavilion.

The tournament climaxed in a flanking arrangement of stylistic fashion as the final knight, donning hand gauntlets and shoulder pauldrons, removed the cumbersome helm from his head and bowed in chivalrous valor.

“Tonight is the Knight” is designed to catapult the bold sophistication of the valiant medieval knight into comfortable gallantry for the modern-day street cavalier.

Like the black and white chess knights adorning the collection, “Tonight is the Knight” will harness you with the graceful attire to lay siege to any imposing bulwark in your life.

Photo 2010 s/s collection “Tonight is the Knight” Copyright Peter Stigter.
Slideshow 2010 s/s collection “Tonight is the Knight” Copyright Peter Stigter

July 26, 2009

The Cultural Heritage of Petar Petrov

When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, the Iron Curtain was drawn back and what came to light were numerous ethnic groups that had been displaced throughout the Soviet Union and the Soviet Bloc for centuries.

Not only were East and West Germans reunited but also Germans that had been separated from their homeland for centuries were allowed to repatriate, ranging from the descendants of German WWII prisoners of war who had been sentenced to forced labor in the USSR to the Germans who settled Romania from the 12th century onward.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my distributors who used to live in the German enclave of Brasov, Romania, have since resettled in Germany. Germans, however, were not the only displaced people to return home.

In the early nineties when I was living and working in Sofia, Bulgaria, I met at a large convention a delegation of individuals that called themselves besarabski bǎlgari—a Bulgarian minority inhabiting the Bessarabia region of Ukraine.

Although the first Bulgarians had settled the area in the 6th century, it was not until the Russian-Turkish Wars of the 18th century that many Bulgarians migrated to Bessarabia and formed entire villages. The descendants of these people have since lived under the successive governments of Tsarist Russia, Romania, the Soviet Union, and now Ukraine.

The fall of the Berlin Wall, however, has proved to be a two-edged sword. In addition to the variegated migrations homeward, the event has also set into motion new Diasporas of Eastern Europeans and, in particular, Bulgarians.

In recent years, for example, many Bulgarians have moved to the metropolises of Ukraine, such as Odessa—and not only! Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Bulgarian Diaspora has multiplied exponentially, the population decreasing from 9 million in 1989 to 7.6 million this year!

The positive side is that, throughout the centuries, Bulgaria has bestowed on the world many talented artists, musicians, sportsmen, scientists, and designers, one of whom is Petar Petrov.

Born 1977 in the Ukraine and educated in Fashion at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Petar Petrov is a fast-rising star in the international menswear scene.

Intrigued by cultural differences and cultural force, Petar launched his label in 2002, focusing on contrasts that mix casual sportswear with elegant tailoring.

Everyone should be appreciative of their own cultural heritage, and Bulgaria has much to be grateful about, like Petar Petrov.

Photo 2009 a/w collection Copyright Catwalking 'One Time Only' Publication.
Slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright Catwalking 'One Time Only' Publication.

Photo middle left by MaksKhomenko, Akerman castle in Bessarabia, Ukraine, Copyleft at Wikipedia.

July 25, 2009

Kent Denim, Designed with Love

Last week I received an email from Kent Denim, which was promoting the 2009 summer collection, featuring nautical flag-inspired graphic tops; jean Bermuda shorts; and new jean styles, washes, and colors.

Intrigued and curious about the designer behind this relatively new label, I immediately clicked “reply” and typed out a few general questions. What followed was an email from designer and founder of Kent Denim, Noah Landis, who wrote with unparalleled passion about his work.

Native of San Francisco where he attended the Academy of Art University, Noah has always loved jeans! This deep-seated love soon led Noah to start making custom denim for clients, and from scratch!

No label, no name—just a young man passionate about pattern making, sewing, dyeing, and washing superb-fitting jeans with fine subtle details!

Employed by one of those large chains specializing in jeans, Noah felt that his creative spirit was being stifled by the monotony and routine of everyday chores. So, in the fall of 2008, his love for jeans led Noah to embark on a new venture: Kent Denim.

Passion found new boldness, which helped Noah look at his fears straight on and set out to find reputable sources for premium materials and first rate manufacturing. “As a designer,” writes Noah, “quality plays the biggest part for and in menswear; especially the quality of material is by far the most important.”

Rather than sacrifice quality, Noah would prefer to sell less in volume; hence, all products are produced in the USA, providing designer value at reasonable prices. Jeans retailing at $160, Noah comments:

“Even that is pretty low for designer jeans; however, there is nothing more deceiving than paying a lot of money for clothing and finding the out on the tag that it is made in China. Especially in today’s market, the consumer knows better than to pay for overpriced mass produced ‘common luxury’.”

The goal of Kent Denim—again in Noah’s own words—is “to stay authentic and create garments that men don’t just wear but look forward to wearing.”

Good luck to you, Noah, in your first trade show next month!

Photo top left 2009 s/s collection Copyright Kenet Denim.
Slideshow 2009 s/s collection Copyright Kenet Denim.

July 24, 2009

Saudi Fashion by a Sexy Arabian Model

In my previous article, I had the privilege to post an exclusive interview with Fadi, otherwise known as Arabian Fella and Fadi Cherry.

Born in 1978 of a Lebanese father and Saudi mother, Fadi spent the first 18 years of his life in Lebanon until he moved to Saudi Arabia where he has lived and worked as a model and creative director in an advertising firm ever since.

Last year, Fadi ventured to London where he enrolled in the University of the Arts to obtain a Master's Degree in Fashion Design.

In this article, I wanted to learn firsthand from an Arabian model about the fashion scene in Saudi Arabia. Fadi was more than happy to share his knowledge and experience.

I have not been to Saudi yet… What can you tell me about Arabian men?
Great people, simply…

What do Saudi men wear today?
Depends on each house and how conservative it is. But mostly the new generation is into casual clothes. Still the traditional “thob” is a must in special events and occasions.

So, which brands are popular among the new generation?
The same brands that are popular for other youth in Europe, and everywhere. Sometimes, I guess, a new collection is released in the Gulf and for Arabs before Europe, and the reason is obviously that Arabs are good buyers.

How would you describe the sense of style by Saudi men?
Sometimes I wish there were programs on TV to teach guys what to wear and etiquette. Most of our TV programs are about politics and social problems. Few young guys take fashion as it is but rather drop it on them without taking into consideration what suites them and what doesn’t…or how to cut their hair based on their face shape and bones. Nonetheless, there is a huge percentage of high fashion people who are well dressed and very charismatic.

As an Arabian—the Arabian Fella—what is your philosophy behind dress?
I believe the way you dress and behave is a first impression to get an idea of what a person is.

Do you know of any Saudi menswear designers?
No sorry, I am not familiar with that. I never practiced modeling in Saudi, I was so busy with my job as a creative director in an advertising firm. I used to practice modeling when I traveled to Europe or the Middle East. Though, I am sure there are great designers there.

Thank you, Fadi, and the best of luck to you!

Photos Copyright Arabian Fella.

FADI—a Sexy Arabian Model Going Designer

Dark, handsome, virile—the kind of guy everybody wants to take home to mamma… So meet Fadi, a striking Arabian model going designer!

For weeks, I had been searching for models and designers of menswear in the Middle East when, all of a sudden, I stumbled upon Fadi’s profile on MySpace called Arabian Fella. Captivated not only by his photogenic looks but also his life journey, I decided to request an interview with him.

To my pleasant surprise, Fadi agreed!
Fadi, it is a immense pleasure to meet you… Tell me, where you are from?

I was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1978 of a Lebanese father and a mother with Saudi origins. At that time it was the war between Lebanon and Israel. And the funny thing is that my mother couldn’t go to the hospital to deliver, so she gave birth to me at home.

So, is Lebanon where you grew up?
I grew up the first 18 years in Lebanon and was educated at a Catholic school there. Lebanon used to be the best country for education in the whole Middle East. After that, my mother convinced me to move for a better business life to Saudi where my uncles live, and I lived there the rest of my life.

Do you live in Saudi Arabia now?
I moved last year to London to achieve my Master's Degree in Design and to pursue my PhD in the future.

How did you start modeling?
I began modeling by chance. I was off to do a passport photo for my school at the age of 17 for my official final exams and I met one of the agents there who suggested beginning modeling and, since then, the story began.

What is the modeling industry like in the Middle East?
At that time in the Middle East, modeling was still a taboo...not so many models around, you can count us on 1 hand, in a way.

And in Lebanon?
Lebanon was the first country in the Middle East that has professional good-looking Arabian models.

So, how did you feel about that first job?
The start was a joke, just an excitement in a way. But afterwards, it began to be more and more serious till it became my profession for a while. But I was always convincing myself that modeling is my hobby.

What did your first jobs entail?
The first big job I had was when I was selected “exclusive” for Iceberg in the Middle East, for a year, which was in 2000. I was young and very happy and proud about myself. After that I did Replay, Guess, and other well-known brands.

Was it easy to establish a name for yourself?
…I always felt that, what makes a model famous, especially a male model, are not catwalks but print ads and commercials. Not all the people are fans of fashion shows. But everyone watches a TV commercial by chance between TV series or passes by a print ad while walking in the street. And I guess this is what made me known lately, in a way, after my Head and Shoulders ad, which was sponsored for the World Cup 2002, besides other TVC ads in the Middle East and Gulf.

What about recent jobs?
The last great job I did was MED underwear in 2007, which took a lot of success and exposed me to the European market. So far I didn’t find myself in any new brief. I am waiting for the right one.

So, what is next?
My next job is in the USA; I cannot talk about it yet, since nothing is serious. We are still discussing it; but it is a new underwear campaign for a well-known brand.

Now you are in London… How do you find the modeling scene there?
Unfortunately, London is not my market. They prefer here skinny and blond guys. The United States and Italy work better for me, as I’ve been told by the agencies in London. But I cannot move countries based on my modeling career. Modeling was and will always be only my hobby. Especially now in my age, I am considered more as a “role” model. Most of the models are in their early 20s.

How do you view yourself?
I always say my profession is “Designer/Creative Consultant.” But unfortunately people always and only link me to modeling.

Will you continue to model for long?
I have no clue when I will really stop this business for good; I am focusing now on my business as designer, which affords for me a great future and position as a businessman.

You mentioned that you are in London for design studies…
Yeah, I moved to London to achieve my Master’s in Design; I did my studies in one of the best universities in the world, the University of the Arts London. Many famous people have been graduated from this university like John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and other designers and artists.

What are your aspirations after graduation?
My plan is to open my own design studio, dealing with corporate identities, print media, design furniture, interior, and everything that has to deal with color, shape and space.

How would you describe your sense of style?
I like the mix between classic and modern. I don’t like simplicity, neither the abstract...

Sophistication is beautiful if it is done in the right way. And that applies to interiors, clothes, and everything I have to deal with in life.

To view a complete portfolio of Fadi, please visit his profile.

Photos Copyright Arabian Fella.

July 23, 2009

Bauhaus “Summer of Love”

Based in Melbourne, Bauhaus is a true Australian lifestyle brand that combines contemporary style with personal individuality.

The label was launched by fashion house Rock in 2005 to cater to young men and women between the ages of 16 and 25.

The 2010 s/s collection looks back in time to the 1967 summer of love—the zenith of hippy-dom, free-spirited music, peace and love, the rejection of social conventions, and that legendary summer of fashion.

The collection spins a new aesthetic on the hippies with casual styles of slouchy Bermudas, retro tees, folk-inspired shirts, and faded jeans.

So if you are looking for some ole’ fashioned lovin’, try the Aussie street style “Summer of Love” by Bauhaus!

Slideshow Bauhaus 2010 s/s collection “Summer of Love” Copyright Bauhaus.

Crowded Elevator—Crowded and Going Up!

Like going up and down the floors of a high-rising department store, Carl Thompson just could not find anything that suited his tastes. He felt like the market was crammed with a lot of cheap t-shirts from outsourcing factories that had a bunch of decals ironed on.

So in June 2007, Carl set out to design what he was looking for: a line of high-quality street wear with some fantastic designs.

Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Crowded Elevator is a new brand of funky, eclectic clothing geared for generations X and Y.

Entitled “Walking on a Dream,” Carl’s 2010 s/s collection invites X-ers and Y-ers to walk in the footsteps of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, the Native Americans, and the Australian Aborigines—societies of both the past and present that dared to dream.

Reviving a mild hippie theme of the Sixties and Seventies, psychedelic and neo-punk aesthetics are blended into simple, casual silhouettes of what Carl calls “dreamy designs.”

Youthful, vibrant, and full-of-energy, this elevator—as crowded as it may seem—is definitely going up!

Photo Crowded Elevator 2010 s/s collection “Walking on a Dream” Copyright Coco PR.
Slideshow Crowded Elevator 2009 a/w collection “Electric Universe” Copyright
Coco PR.

Doosh: Carefree as a Kiwi

Designer Theresa Brady had always expressed a profound love for fashion, a love that she began to extend to urban wear lovers in 2003 when she met up with Steve Ingram, former owner of the Kiwi label, Doosh.

Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Theresa now owns and designs for the 14-year-old company. Building on the original designs of Doosh, she has acquired an audience of urban music lovers between the ages of 18 and 30.

The 2010 s/s collection, entitled “Folklore,” personifies the relaxed, carefree, and casual attitude of the Kiwi lifestyle.

Feeling uptight? Try Doosh to be free as a Kiwi!

Slideshow Doosh 2010 s/s collection “Folklore” Copyright Coco PR.

July 22, 2009

If You’re Gonna Be a Bum, Be an aussieBum

Originally a manufacture of only swimwear, aussieBum has extended its selection of menswear to underwear, sportswear, surfwear, loungewear, leisurewear, and accessories—over 150 styles of Aussie fashion.

The company has been on the cutting edge in developing Essence underwear, which releases vitamins from the fibers of the garment right into the skin.

Wonderjock—the male “enhancing” underwear—stirred up some surf in the media world, in 2006 with the result of 50,000 sales in the first 7 days!

For those of you who prefer to surf in cold waters, aussieBum has conveniently built the same technology into swimwear with an advanced version that is promoted under the name Boosterjock.

Based in a suburb of Sydney called Leichhardt, aussieBum was launched in 2001 by designer Sean Ashby out of a nostalgic yearning for the swimwear with which he once grew up.

aussieBum—100% made in Australia. If you are going to be a bum, why not be an Aussie Bum?!

Photo 2009 s/s collection Copyright aussieBum.
Slideshow 2009 s/s collection Copyright

July 21, 2009

5preview: Menswear from a Multicultural, Swedish Perspective

Born approximately a year and a half ago, 5preview is already selling in nearly a dozen countries. So, what's the secret?

This week, I had the privilege to ask 5preview designer, Emeli Martensson, this very question and more!

In this exclusive interview with Men’s Fashion by Francesco, emerging designer Emeli discusses her road to success, her source of inspirations, and the tastes of Swedish men.

I understand that you are well traveled, Emeli… Where are you from originally?
I was born in a small village in the south-Swedish countryside in 1979; I left that village as soon as I could and then moved to Spain at 18, Italy one year later.

What attracted you to Italy?
In Florence, I studied industrial design, then I moved on to Milan to study fashion design. I moved back to Stockholm, Sweden to study marketing, advertisement, and graphic design. Then I got a job as graphic designer/print designer for the Rome-based brand Killah (Sixty-group), where I worked for more than 4 years.

Tell me a bit about your family…
My father is an architect and D-I-Y-guru in Scandinavia, my mom is a textile designer.

Did you inherit the love of travelling from them?
They always traveled a lot with me since I was a kid, and they always brought me to art exhibitions and museums all over Europe. Since I was 4 years old, my father brought me every year to Salone del Mobile in Milan.

Where are you currently living?
I live in NYC at the moment. I wanted to leave Europe (and my full-time creativity-sucking job) and I couldn't come up with a better idea than NYC.

Why is that?
There are so many things going on here all the time; the time is never enough. So much stimulation, so much "new" culture and architecture. (Europe is beautiful and unique; but, in a way, we're all brought up with American culture and it's really easy to adapt here.) So much iron instead of wood (Sweden), or stone (Italy).

When did you know that you wanted to design?
In a way I always did it, from the first shirt I printed in kindergarten with a sailing boat and my name EMELI below it. (I stayed every summer on an island close to Norway.) Then as a teenager, I printed all band T-shirts that weren't available in the small record store of my small town.

How would you sum up your new label?
5preview is a unisex brand. Nowadays, my boyfriend steals my boyfriend-cut-jeans that, then, would become girlfriends-jeans, if you know what I mean.

What was your real "start"?
When 5preview did a collaboration (and then another one because everything was sold out in a weekend) with the Swedish brand Weekday (the ones that makes the Cheap Monday jeans, now bought by H&M), we became well known up there too and everybody wanted those shirts (it was a limited edition).

I'm very curious about the men’s fashion scene in Sweden...
Swedish men and designers have a lot of taste and are really aware of what they put on. They read fashion magazines and a lot of Swedish guys have fashion blogs where they write about what to wear and why.

How would you describe their style?
The style is always really simple and clean (Acne, 5th Avenue Shoe Repair, Filippa K, Weekday, etc.)

What role do you and your label play in this scene?
The role we play is that we keep the designs simple but eye catching to match the Scandinavian minimal style.

So, what inspires your designs?
I'm working on the new collection now and I find inspiration observing people here in NY: all kind of people from the hipsters down in Williamsburg to the gangsters here in Bed-Stuy, or the rich girls in the gallery openings in Soho, or the college-students you don't see here but going out of town...

Where do you find these themes?
I do a lot of research online watching fashion blogs (Cobrasnake, Facehunter, Sartorialist), forums as the Fashionspot and trend sites as WGSN. I'm curious and go to a lot of art shows, concerts; I watch the street art, which is always changing here in NY, drawings in public bathrooms, street fairs, and markets (a lot of creative people around here to inspire). That's about it.

How would you describe your particular “style”?
Simple, high quality, black and white (now with the new collection also a grey scale), eye-catching, bold “dirty” handmade prints. It depends on your styling what style it becomes.

Do you have a defined target audience?
Our target is huge: fashionistas and party people, teenage girls and boys, ironic rich people and rich-wannabe-poor people, gays and heteros, young and old, girls and boys... It's strange, isn't it? Those shirts create desire!

Photo 2009 s/s collection Copyright 5preview.

July 20, 2009

Knights in Armor by Asger Juel Larsen

Asger Juel Larsen was born in Espergærde, Denmark—the little town in which famous writer Hans Christian Andersen was once a pupil.

As long as he can remember, Asger has nurtured a deep interest in how men and women dress, which is bursting on to the international scene.

This summer, the young student designer graduated with a BA in Menswear from the University of the Arts at the London College of Fashion, where his final year collection was awarded ”best in the class.”

Reflecting a heavy masculinity—in both look and weight—Asger reports that the collection is actually a mirror of himself.

Asger drew his inspiration from extensive research on knights and their armament of the medieval period as he experimented with developing nontraditional materials and morphing opposites; namely, voluminous and the slim shapes combined into one silhouette.

The centerpiece of Asger’s collection is the reproduction of the chain mail, which consists of small rings forming a mesh that he fashioned into what was called a habergeon—a shirt of mail—and a coif, or hood of mail.

Not only does Asger exhibit himself as a talented and skillful designer but also an avid history buff!

Now at age 27, Asger is heading to Milan in September as one of the 26 finalists for the highly coveted Mittelmoda Fashion Award.

Good luck to you, Asger!

Photos and slideshow Copyright Asger Juel Larsen.

July 18, 2009

Xinjiang, the Uighurs & Turkic Fashion

The Xinjiang Autonomous Region has been the focus of inter-national news coverage since the beginning of July, drawing much attention to China’s largest minority—the Uyghurs. My contact with the major ethnic group of the Xinjiang province is scant but romantic.

Throughout the 1980’s, I lived in one of the most remote regions of China in which the average inhabitant had never seen a foreigner in person. The only individuals with Western features ever witnessed were the street vendors of tăo gār—‘raisins’—from the Xinjiang province.

Funny the fact, I was often confused with the vendors, most likely since I spoke the local dialect and, yet, had no Han features! The logical conclusion was, “he must be from Xinjiang!” But even when I purchased a handful of those scrumptious raisins, the vendors from Xinjiang would shake my hand and, with a sparkle in their eye, utter through a warm welcoming grin: Ässalamu läykum!

That was my contact with the Uighurs—short and, just like their raisins, very sweet!

Uighurs are a Turkic people who live throughout the countries of Central Asia, mostly in Kazakhstan, the Kirghiz Republic, the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China (pronounced sheen geeang).

The name Uighur, spelled many different ways, means ‘alliance’ and points to the Turkic tribes that united thousands of years ago in the Altai Mountains where modern-day Russia, China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia converge.

With a long and glorious history of empires, kingdoms, and golden ages, Uighurs in Xinjiang now number nearly 9 million people.

Xinjiang, which means ‘new frontier’ in Mandarin, became part of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. The capital, Ürümchi, is located near the Silk Road—no wonder they were one of the first peoples to employ silkworm breeding.

Uighurs are Muslim, having embraced Islam about 934 AD. Their language is Turkic and uses the Arabic script.

Uighurs have a rich and ancient culture that exalts the family, food, dance, and music, which has spun off into new mixes of traditional Uighur melodies and contemporary genres. Definitely check out Abdulla Abdurehim, the father of modern Uighur pop.

Although the Uighur men with whom I had contact dressed in Western clothing, traditional Uighur menswear abounds in brilliant colors and embroidered patterns, which are evidenced by the doppa—their beautiful square caps.

Lavish gowns with loose sleeves and slanted collars are tied with a sash at the waist, usually sported with an upright collar-embroidered pullover underneath and pants that tuck into leather boots.

Take a walk down the ancient silk road of Uighur menswear as you listen to the melodic voices of Xinjiang. Be sure to turn off the playlist below, first!

Photo top right by EnricX of flickr, Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0at Wikipedia.
Photo middle left by Colegota, Copyright Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0at
Photo bottom right 8th-century prince by Tilivay, Copyright GNU Free Documentation License at Wikipedia.

July 17, 2009

AVVA: European Fashion with a Turkish Soul

Recently I was invited to contribute to the first and only Egyptian men’s magazine. Based in Cairo, Egypt, the magaizine is called Uomo Moda, which means ‘Man’s Fashion’ in Italian. The editors requested that I write an article on AVVA, a Turkish company, which I had visited several times in Istanbul while buying for my showroom in Italy:

“Situated in the upscale fashion district of Osmanbey, the Dido Group has come to personify the city’s historical development and rich sartorial heritage. Formed in 1983, the Dido Group took its first step as a manufacturer of women’s wear, going on to launch its menswear label at the turn of the millennium.

Blending forward-looking sophistication with comfort, AVVA has emerged as one of the predominant brands in Turkey, forging a reputable name in nearly 100 countries. Geared towards the contemporary urban man living in a fast-paced world, AVVA offers a wide assortment of luxurious menswear for every hour of the day!

Now, you can begin your week of intense meetings in a sleek silhouette as AVVA suits you up in elegant business attire that exalts the minutest details of Italian couture.

Or just sit back in your office for the rest of the day in a preppy English schoolboy jacket and business causal shirt that have been attentively tailored to the contours of your manly physique.

Grab a late afternoon coffee with colleagues after work fitted in a chic French polo with low-cut, slim-leg jeans that balance a touch of class with the right dose of sex appeal.

Finally, impress your friends or that special “someone” dressed in a lustrous Festival-of-Cannes tuxedo accented with a beautiful lucent bowtie.

The next time you set out to choose a new look, why not choose it from AVVA’s total look?!
Like the city in which it was born, AVVA is a crossroads of East and West, combining European trends with a Turkish soul!

AVVA—a true man’s Turkish delight!”

By Francesco Di Maio for Uomo Moda

Photo 2009 s/s collection Copyright AVVA.
Slideshow 2009 s/s collection Copyright AVVA.

Turkish Men's Fashion: A Glance in History

Recently I was asked to contribute to the first and only men’s magazine in Egypt, Uomo Moda, which in Italian ‘Man’s Fashion’. The editors requested that I write an article on a Turkish company that I had visited several times in Istanbul. As an introduction, I laid out the following brief history of menswear in Turkey.

“Turkey boasts a long and rich history of textile production and menswear that dates back many centuries. The men’s fashion industry in Turkey climbed to new heights during the Ottoman period when swank administrators and wealthy members of society shrouded themselves in opulence, sporting fine silks, fur linings, and exquisite embroideries.

Turkey’s sartorial heritage has not gone unnoticed around the world but rather has resounded on the shores of many nations. Recently, the low-crotch Turkish pants called salvars have appeared on the catwalks of some of the most prestigious fashion weeks in Europe. Even Issey Miyake drew inspiration from the striped Ottoman-styled pants and national flower for the 2010 Spring/Summer collection entitled “Very, Very Mosaic.”

Previously the capital city of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul is heir to all the luxuriant traditions of sumptuous menswear and refined textile production. Straddling two continents, Europe and Asia, Istanbul is also a crossroads where Eastern and Western styles converge and mingle on a daily basis.

The modern apparel industry, however, was not born until the industrial boom of the 60’s and 70’s, when countless little shops mushroomed throughout the city. Strong work ethics, inexpensive labor, keen business sense, and a local cotton industry have all contributed to the explosive growth of a vibrant manufacturing industry.

But due to both internal and external factors, Istanbul could not afford to settle with mere textile production. Technical advances within the country and intensifying competition from abroad have thrust the Turkish apparel industry to new heights, giving birth to higher quality fabrics and a thriving ready-to-wear industry.

Within the last decade, Turkish labels have been springing up everywhere. Some claim that close to one-third of all manufacturers in Istanbul have ventured into value-added brand names, which can be seen in showrooms all throughout the city’s three fashion districts: Merter, Laleli, and Osmanbey.”

By Francesco Di Maio for Uomo Moda

Photo top right Copyright Uomo Moda.
Photo middle left, Francesco at breakfast, Istanbul, Copyright Men's Fashion by Francesco.
Photo bottom right, vendors in Istanbul, Copyright Men's Fashion by Francesco.

Tired of Those Baggy Ole' Shorts? Try Orlebar Brown!

Summer is in full swing for most of you and, for some of you, it’s time for some pool and beach fun at your favorite resort! But why show up in shorts that are three times your size?!

Launched in March 2007 by Adam Brown, a former photographer of ten years in London, Orlebar Brown offers four categories of swim shorts that come in five sizes and sixteen colors with lots of patterns! For the dog lovers, you will love the names!

Setter is the “shorter” swim short, a reinvented icon from the styles of the 1950’s. Bulldog is the classic beach short, making the perfect “bridge” between longer and shorter lengths.

Dane is a tailored version of the long surfing shorts;while Beagle is a mid-length surf short, which makes for fabulous swimming.

Stay tuned over the next few years, because Orlebar Brown will be expanding into a complete line of summer wear with shirts, bags, hats, beach towels, shoes, sunglasses, and skincare.

Now, you can log on to Orlebar Brown's interactive e-store for online shopping. Be your own designer by clicking on your preferred styles, while playing with an assortment of colors and patterns.

Slideshow 2009 s/s collection Copyright Orlebar Brown.

A&V Mirrors Baltic Elegance in the Individual Man

Lithuania—a fascinating country snuggled between Latvia, Poland, Belarus, the Baltic Sea, and a Russian enclave called the Kaliningrad Oblast. One of the three Baltic States, Lithuania is a member of the European Union.

Settling the area in the 10th century and emerging as a kingdom in the 13th, the Lithuanians lost their presence on the political map in the 18th century, going on to a very bumpy road of occupations, thereafter.

After intense struggles and massive deportations, Lithuania was eventually absorbed into the Soviet Union in 1944; but the Lithuanian spirit proved unconquerable as the nation rose to independence in 1990.

Now, three million Lithuanians live within their homeland; while one million make up the Diaspora, such as American actor Charles Bronson, who is of Lithuanian descent.

The language, Lithuanian, is one of two Baltic languages, which, unique like the nation, is dissimilar to Slavic, Romance, or Germanic languages.

The capital and largest city of Lithuania is Vilnius, a northern European metropolis that is rich in Baroque architecture with an admixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Vilnius is also home to two independent designers, Alex Pogrebnojus and Vida Simanaviciute, who were born in 1968 and 1961, respectively.

Alex studied theater directing at the Vilnius Conservatoire, while Vida studied design at the Kaunas Art School.

In addition to designing costumes for theatrical performances, in 1993 the duo launched their own label, A&V.

The line comprises a collection for men who want to be individuals and, in the words of Alex and Vida, “see themselves behind a mirror—loving, appreciating the unique pallet of feelings and sensations, which is worth to be reflected on the visible side of the mirror and the eyes of the surrounding people.”

Slideshow 2009 a/w collection at système D, Copyright A&V.
Photo by Matasg, Copyleft at

Parcrust, Parkour Traceurs & Parkas

Boiling adrenalin, sweaty palms, and bursts of oohs and aahs were just some of the reactions to the latest campaign by Crust, the Italian parka label that hosted Parcrust, an acrobatic event with Parisian traceurs at the last Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy.

Also in attendance of the event was David Belle of France, who has been credited as the modern-day founder of parkour—the art of movement performed by traceurs, a type of fast-moving stuntman who is trained to surpass any obstacle.

The discipline actually finds its roots in the French military and firefighting techniques. Now it is appearing in French films like this year’s District B13 Ultimatum and—yes!—advertising campaigns by Crust!

Born for the metropolis king and queen, Crust is one of four brands at Cinelli Studio, a company with over 40 years experience in natural goose down clothing, which is based in Buggiano, Pistoia, not too far from Florence.

So, check out the film, which was shot in Paris, and definitely check out the new collections on the website!

Photo 2009 a/w collection from Fashion Times, Copyright Crust.
Film posted by Michbold at YouTube.

July 16, 2009

Michael Pattison, Trix & Dandy: Going Gangster for the Recession!

Originating from Hawk’s Bay on the North Island of New Zealand, Michael Pattison was faced with two inner choices in life: play rugby or till the soil. So, he chose fashion! And, then, went on to study in the Design Course at Massey University.

Now based in Auckland, Michael designs with a thematic approach to fashion, honing in on his fine tailoring skills, attention to detail, and choice of fabrics.

He named his 2010 s/s collection Bella Mafia—‘beautiful mafia’which draws inspiration from the women of Cosa Nostra between the Thirties and Fifties.

In response to the current economic situation, Michael has recently released a new diffusion label called Trix & Dandy—a contemporary Bonnie and Clyde-inspired collection.

“I wanted to capture the feel of a cardsharp and his gangster moll working the speakeasies of the Thirties,” says Pattison.

The target group of this affordable line is the young man, or woman, between the ages of 16 and 30.

“If you love dressing glam and hitting the big bad city for a night of hustling and gun play,” asserts Pattison, “those dressed in Trix & Dandy will help you pull off any caper in style.” You know he’s joking'about the guns, right?!

Photo Trix & Dandy 2010 s/s collection Copyright Michael Pattison Design.
Slideshow Trix & Dandy 2010 s/s collection Copyright
Michael Pattison Design.

Elusiv—All but Eludes the Best in Kiwi Rugby!

Currently located in Mt Maunganui, Tauranga, on New Zealand’s northernmost bay, Elusiv was formed in January 2005 on the southern end of the south island in Dunedin. (I’m jealous too—just look at the beauty!)

Designer Nicola Reilly grew up making her own clothes as she “fixed up” hand-me-downs; thus, it was always her ambition to create her own business. One day, when the local rugby team in Dunedin expressed their need for team jackets, Nicola and several others converted the garage into a workshop and created 35 of them!

Being born in such a context of Kiwi virility, Elusiv is a decisive, strong, and assuredly masculine line of menswear that exudes inner confidence. At the same time, Elusiv dares to be different, teaching Kiwi men “how to break the rules and experience a very European way of dressing.”

“New Zealand men need to lighten up their palettes,” says Reilly, “but we are easing them into it!”

And sure enough! Elusiv has not eluded the attention of the Highlanders Super 14 rugby team, international rugby great Josh Kronfeld, rock star J.D. Fortune of INXS, or actor Benjamin Mitchell.

Recently, Elusiv has even introduced “littleman,” so that the little guys can follow in their dad’s footsteps.

Slideshow 2010 s/s summer collection Copyright Elusiv.
Photo top center Mt. Maunganui by Allan Lee, Copyleft at

Kiwi Men, Kiwi Fashion

Contrary to what many may think, Kiwis obtained their nickname from a flightless bird called the kiwi, and not the kiwifruit, otherwise known as the Chinese gooseberry. The word kiwi is of Māori origin, and the bird—unique to New Zealand—is regarded as very special by them.

Towards the end of the 18th century, the flightless kiwi appeared on military badges and, during WWI, on regimental signs. Somewhere about this time, the term was applied to New Zealand soldiers and, then, to all New Zealanders.

Traditionally, New Zealand has been an agricultural-based economy. Although sharply decreased in recent years, the ratio of sheep to New Zealanders is still 9:1. Hence, wool production abounds, making New Zealand the largest producer of crossbred wool, as well as sheep jokes, otherwise known as “ewe-phemisms.”

In my first article on Kiwi fashion, New Zealand: the Men & their Style, Miranda Likeman of COCO PR introduced us to the Kiwi male and his taste of styles. Today she continues to share her expert knowledge about the men’s fashion scene in New Zealand.

What would you say, Miranda, are the major influences on New Zealand menswear?
It would be accurate to say most influence is drawn from overseas when it comes to putting together an outfit for the modern New Zealand male, because we are still developing our claim on the international fashion scene, and as a result of the new technology culture, our consumers tend to look beyond our shores more frequently for inspiration and in search of that special piece that sets him apart from the pack.

What do you mean by “new technology culture?”
As a nation that has emerged relying heavily on its agricultural heritage – the farmer and rural roots from our history still have influence on our casual style. Wool always has been and will no doubt continue to be, along with other natural fibres, a backbone of the Kiwi male’s wardrobe.

What about the influence of pop culture?
The music scene is huge in New Zealand and has an enormous impact on the fashion here. Musicians are often innovators in terms of fashion and are looked up to by the modern male for inspiration on personal style and dress sense. Television presenters are also role models for the more mainstream market and frequently strike a chord with the Kiwi Male in terms of the likability factor.

You mentioned males wanting to be “set apart from the pack...”
On that note, there is a constant dichotomy within the New Zealand male to strike a balance between fitting in with the rest of us and remaining an individual. We like to be noticed but not draw an inordinate amount of attention.

For example?
A simple jeans and tee-shirt outfit may appeal deceptively simple, but on closer inspection will express cultural values and norms constituting a male wardrobe staple, while actually communicating a sense of individuality and carefully constructed style.

Would you call Kiwis and Aussies the same?
In many ways we can be likened to the Australian male. Like close cousins who grew up together, we too developed and blossomed with regards to our respective fashion scenes over the same period of time and retain a close relationship when it comes to what we wear.

What sets them apart?
Of course the like of the Melbourne male has been and will forever indeed remain the ultimate pioneer in terms of male style. He has spawned many a trend and appears yards ahead of the pack. Fair game, too, for in New Zealand; we prefer to remain more low-key and develop our own tangent from the main stream (though still of course only a tangent from the mainstream fashion, not a complete diversion). Also the menswear style in Australia has many more roots in surf culture, whereas in New Zealand it has a far more streety/military style.

To what extent do European styles play a role?
Not so much, the New Zealand male tends to perceive European fashion as at the far end of the metrosexual scale, while they tend to remain at the more conservative end.

...and the US?
If you mean in terms of music (particularly hip-hop) influenced fashion, then yes—in particular the Polynesian male population have affinity with those styles; but not as far as other styles are concerned.

What impact have Asian styles made an impact?
A few brands from Asia (specifically Japan and Singapore) have been introduced into the New Zealand market in recent times and had arguable success. It appeals to a small segment here and specialist stores may stock such brands. We have a high Asian population here that is really the primary target market for Asian designers and styles. Many find them overpriced and tend to opt for the more special pieces, such as a coat or pair of designer jeans over, say, a tee-shirt.

How about in relation to quality?
It can definitely be said we appreciate quality here and are more than willing to pay for it, but there is a benchmark beyond which no qualifying excuse will encourage us to remove the plastic from our wallets.

Photo top right Copyright Elusiv.
Photo center left, kiwi by Kahuroa, Public Domain at Wikipedia.
Photo bottom right by Fneep, Public Domain at Wikipedia.