Category: Choices

Write out x

If approaching September means anything it means stocking up on stationary. Which underlines the enigma…why do we need to buy it every September? There’s the normal losses down the back of the sofa, chewed by the children, eaten by the dog.  But the real reason is usually simply the lack of quality and that stationary belongs to the class of products blighted by the modern disease of built in obsolescence.  They just want you to buy it again.  So why not think outside the pencil box?

Tools to Liveby is a dreamy online shop that has done the hardwork upfront, sourcing beautiful stationary products from around the world that have stood the test of time.

The emphasis is on quality and the joy is in the detail, from products like these – brass pencil protectors from Germany.

To memorable packaging.

(All pics Tools to Liveby)

It puts the quality back into quantity.

Laters, Kate x

The Cold Zone x

The pictures were a little bigger on Pintrest, but that’s not to say the idea isn’t.  This electricity banning underground concept fridge by Studio Floris Schoonderbeek has been added to the dream board for a self-sustaining shack by the sea.  Would lighting be solar..or a candle in a lantern? Nice problems to have.

 

Laters, Kate x

Labour of Love x

Looking back to last year, I think my kids have both grown a foot, if not 5.  It means a new summer wardrobe has become a necessity rather than a want, and whilst one of life’s delights is shopping for children’s clothes, it becomes a nightmare once they develop tastes of their own.  You like one thing..they like something else…that is inevitably for someone older..or tackier..

We’re trying a new approach this year.  I’ve set up a Pinterest board where we can select our choices and hopefully come up with the crossover clothes we both like.

So far it’s working..we’ve agreed on all of these. Which has slightly blown my mind.

And I’ve allowed a few exceptions to creep in. Normally this swimsuit would not make the cut..But I know Bella will make it work and she loves it. But I didn’t think she’d go for slides…

Or culotte shorts. How wrong was I? (All pics Pinterest)

My girl is growing up. Little sigh.

Laters, Kate x

It started with a kiss..

Someone very close has proposed to his girlfriend, and she has accepted! And it’s this wonderful, happy, heart warming, life affirming event that his inspired this post.

I was thinking of engagement rings – the token of love with a significance way beyond it’s size.

And I was contemplating how even the word ‘size’ has been hijacked so we now confuse size with love. And pay the price.

How beautiful instead, for a ring to tell a story – a piece of sea glass from a memorable holiday, a stone from a Grandmother’s ring, something from a sister, a mother to communally create and forge in love a unique, individual circle of trust and beauty.

(All pics Pinterest)

 

Because the most precious things are naturally priceless.

Laters, Kate x

I swear, My Swear..

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The price of these babies will no doubt induce an apocalypse of weepiness and hair tearing…and also make them ‘highly desirable’ such is the strange world we live in because the basic price starts at £300 – plus postage. And then this goes skyward depending on how much customisation you fancy.  Yep – these walking mortgages from My Swear are labelled the first ever customisable trainers…and are sure to be a wallet slapping cosmos flying hit.6fbff209ddea6f7c96bdc6ce763c589a

Where the joy comes in is even if you can’t buy, you can play: The power of the internet/websites are so good now, you can literally watch and plan every step  – colour – not just all over, but for each section, type of leather, soles, toes, eyelets, laces – it’s a long list of decisions meaning you can end up with a totally unique object.

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Ta-daaah!

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(All pics from My Swear)

Expect to see them strutting their stuff at the AW17 fashion shows.

You’ve been warned.

Laters, Kate x

Taste Wars x

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First day back to school after the two week half term holiday and bizarrely it’s Halloween…an oxymoronic combination which will probably leave the rest of the week in tatters with the children trying to recover juggling routine and school.  But hey, at least we gained an hour this week… it’ll be put to good use carving pumpkins and slapping on the grease paint later.  Sigh. But leaving blood dripping knives and the prospect of tired kids aside, I need to actually write a post so I’m going with something that struck a nerve whilst we were away in Hastings.

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We stayed in a little wooden lodge that was very pleasant….but didn’t look like anything in these pictures.  Which has become a bit of a bug bear – in England, when you go away to a resort setting, chances are you are either paying a fortune for a properly imagined rustic aesthetic (casing point: Soho Farmhouse) or you’re having your tastes dictated to by a narrow number of bulk buying, short sighted, cheap loving, tight fisted suits that think modern always means good.

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But the rub is rustic isn’t about expense.  It’s roots lie in making the best use of the materials available in the best way possible, given the space available.

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It’s about finding elements that are both practical and will stand the test of time, yet still look good: Re-using, re-thinking, re-energising.

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It’s not generic canvas’s from Ikea but vintage pictures from a charity shop.  Not ready made velour curtains but re-imagined blankets and kantha quilts.  Not  shiny carpets but wooden floors and battered rugs.

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Does taste cost more? Sometimes…but mostly it just takes a bit more thought.

And how often is it that those thought out things cast the longest shadows?

Laters, Kate x

It’s Started..

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Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat.  Except it isn’t..but the insidious creep is appearing on my peripheral vision like the ink from a frightened octopus.  I bought my first stocking fillers today…and faced head on the yearly mental anguish of the inner childs excitement for presents versus materialistic waste and the accumulation of useless stuff.  I still haven’t got a solution to square the circle – how to appear less Ebenezer, more Mathew Cuthbert?  Except possibly to buy less, buy better, buy clever.  With this in mind I found myself on this site – Life of Jay – which, though I didn’t realise it at the time, caters primarily for men which they don’t presume to be all sports mad. It genuinely has some interesting stuff..(though does it work if it’s still classed as ‘stuff?’ Sigh)a9e614fc97f4369d248d9a9fe0a7cb30 151684dfc88066f07bdd76147885af75

But who can say no to good stylish storage?2971590bd4592dbc6bf68d5ae9ba6efa 661c81ba4c29902d30360e452463ea63

Or a retro notebook for the jottings of the block buster you know they want to write.58ba4e53ebebe5e2c9e598bb31778ba4 But then I see a silly tin toy rabbit and want to pop it in my basket. Why??af42345a77900a88c2b15e28cd66a16b
They have these which are clever – a retro tin..8d41d761792aab5ca906accdbb0ede27 Containing the bits you think you need.  Except I’d pay more if the interior wasn’t made of plastic..

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This appeals: A reusable teabag robot. Who doesn’t need that on a cold morning?

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And I love their lab style storage jars.

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(All pictures Life of Jay)

Then side tracked by a cunningly designed pizza cutter…

And I’m failing and falling already..

Laters, Kate x

The True Cost of Fashion x

October-1947--Women-at-wo-001This was written a while ago – but I think still has some relevance today..

 

Working at the rock face of fashion I have realised that very few people actually know how the modern clothing business truly works, particularly in terms of cost..and therefore profit.

Researching a visual to explain things quickly I came across the website of Everlane, who produced the following pictures..

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The aim behind the pictures was to illustrate how consumers are ‘ripped off’ along the chain of events that leads to a designer purchase.  But is it entirely accurate?

From make to wholesaler = 224% margin

From Wholesaler to retailer = 333% margin.

Which are big margins – but the diagram doesn’t explain them – the margins do represent a percentage of the profit but it’s only a percentage not the full whack.  The margins are also required to cover other costs:

Further shipping,  more transport, import duties, administration, design time, development, currency exchange, banking fees, marketing, loss leaders, pattern cutters, equipment, fittings, pattern changes, warehousing and storage, rent, utilities, IT costs, even labels, zips, threads and buttons..and probably much more.

At the second tier, for the retailer there could be a brick and mortar shop to pay for, employees and all the associated costs, advertisng, their own loss leaders etc etc…

The pictures do prove that nothing in fashion is simple.

It is possible to cut these costs.  If you’re mass market and contract out to a third world country I’ve heard you can get a t-shirt made for 2p.  In fact clothes have never been cheaper and are now fully accessible to all. Which has to be a good thing..But at what cost? 1,100 people died in the Bangladeshi factory disaster…is it ethical? Is it exploitation? Where does the line get drawn?

There are other alternatives abroad – better factories, better conditions where many of the ‘luxury’ fashion labels get their product made.  And yes, with their financial clout and established infra-structure maybe they can make those sort of profits..but even then think how much money goes into marketing to support their brands?  And think about the problems that can go wrong – the delays, the accidents, the unexpected that all has to be factored in.  And all the time all that money being spent on manufacture is money draining out of the UK economy.

So where does this leave a British based start-up fashion label like us?

We can’t buy our materials in bulk so there is no reduction in cost for us there.

We can’t make our stock in bulk so there is no reduction here either.

Our ‘factory’ is an ‘atelier’ – a room of skilled – masterful – sewers based in London who make everything by hand.  Not at a cost not per garment, but per hour.  Look at a sewing machine, look at an expensive piece of silk and look at the finished product – the tiny stitches, the French seams.  It’s not a fast job.  Each hour is £25.00 plus VAT.  But that is the cost of a craftsperson at the top of their profession..

We have no choice, we have to start at the designer end, the hard end – so why bother?

We still believe that there is an element of magic in fashion.  We believe we can make a profit by cutting out the wholesaler and selling direct – only time will tell.  And we believe that at some point consumers acknowledge they are buying more than the tangible item itself..we believe that value can take on a new meaning, that design can be desirable, treasured and trusted…our atelier is so good they do work for Victoria Beckham.  We have drive, we have passion and we have a designer in Anna who has an acknowledged pedigree having worked with the greats such as Karl Lagerfeld and Valentino..she knows this industry and she was born to design.

The truth is that the Everlane illustration was too simplistic – the bottom-line is that in the retail world not all products are created equally.  And some are definitely created with more love and care than others.  Only sales will confirm whether that is worth the price.

Laters, Kate x

RE x

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If I was a shop I’d be RE: A magical place where global unloved items hit emotional science and are transformed into objects of desire…like these laundry baskets and washing up bowls made from recycled plastic in Senegal.

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Pure fireworks for the kitchen.9bf988b84f9a80a33ae68c2634084dba

How delicious? These baskets are made by the Mixtec people of Mexican mashing traditional palm weaving with unwanted plastic.

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And there are recycled tin cans from Peru, all given new life. A plant pot – or a pen pot? The choice is yours.

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You head to the site for storage ideas..and end up being amazed by cunning delights like these lights…designed to hold a tea-light and convert any bottle into a table lamp…genius.

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Or these candlesticks holders..spiked to stand in flower pots..or hammered into a log.

Thank God they’re not based in London.  Now where’s the credit card…

Laters, Kate x