{ Xe Linn Yeap // FSH 1100 }

Centre for Fashion Interprise

 

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Stockists: Bluebird, Wolf & Badger, Harrods etc.

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Spring/Summer 2013 Cuban Crab Catchers

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Stockists from all over the world, such as: 6000AD in UK, Cielo in California, Banner in Italy and others in Hong Kong, Dublin, Paris and Antwerp.

 

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Out with the Old; In with the New

So my assignment this week is to research and write about well-known designers: an old-timer (John Galliano) and a newcomer (Michael van der Ham) in the “notorious” fashion industry.

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John Galliano basically disappeared from the face of earth when the “I love Hitler.. People like you would be dead today.” scandal. However, recently appeared along side Oscar de la Renta for a collaboration. The Galliano flair can be seen across Oscar de la Renta’s Spring Summer 2013 collection.

john-galliano

Graduated from Central Saint Martin in 1988 with a first class honours degree in Fashion Design escalated Galliano’s career becoming the head designer of French fashion companies Givenchy (July 1995 to October 1996), Christian Dior (October 1996 to March 2011), and his own label John Galliano. I would describe his style as combinations theatrical drama and haute couture; gothic yet elegant.

By the time my foundation Final Major Project assignment started, I was asked during an interview for Westminter University, who I think should replace Galliano’s position in Christian Dior. Without a second thought, I said he was pretty much irreplaceable, but I am more of a fan of the John Galliano label than Dior. Little did I know, he was eventually replaced in his own label. Cathy Horyn, fashion critic of The Times, reported that the company have been discussing the designer and his possible return:

“One individual said there had been casual discussions among LVMH executives about the feasibility of Mr. Galliano returning to his own label. Would the media and the public accept his return? This individual said he thought so. Another executive with whom I spoke had the same view. He cited the appeal of Mr. Galliano’s ultrafeminine fashion and added that in recent years the designer had lost touch with that sensibility (and indeed reality). ‘It became a kind of Lady Gaga show, and he’s more talented than this,’ the executive said.”

The scandal was an unfortunate event for a lot of people, and had the greatest impact on John Galliano himself. My very first and deep impression of Galliano’s work was his Spring Summer Ready-to-wear 2006 collection (images below) . He celebrates diversity of all kinds of people. I believe an artist is as honest as his/her work and even any sane person wouldn’t have said those awful things if one isn’t deeply provoked and offended in the first place. In addition to that, he was highly intoxicated when the incident took place. If a normal, non-public person would have said those things, they wouldn’t have got into that much trouble like America’s most hated family for example.

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JohnGallianoSS2006-2

Nonetheless, it is undeniable that Galliano did have a drinking and possibly a drug problem. Then again, stardom had destroyed so many others. So, I am glad he is taking actions to get better and am looking forward to see more of Galliano in the future.

(hopefully temporarily) Out with the old;

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Michael van der Ham, a Dutch womenswear designer graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2009. He studied illustration and drawing in a small independent fashion school in Dutch before deciding to follow his true passion in fashion. He then came to London at the age of 21 to work with Sophia Kokosalaki and Alexander McQueen. In an interview, van der Ham stated that he had an interview with Louise Wilson for MA at Saint Martins the day before he started at Sophia Kokosalaki, and started the course six months later.

Michael Van der Ham_Grazia

According to Michael van der Ham, “I like to mismatch different references in each item of clothing. My autumn/winter 2009 collection is a juxtaposition of elements from different decades in fashion. I made each dress like a 3D collage of clashing colours, textures, weights of fabric and cut.” (images below)

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Van der Ham mismatches not only different types of fabric, but also different types and cuts of garments, creating some kind of high fashion Frankenstein. In an interview on hintmag.com, the interviewer said “I think that the initial reaction to your collection was, What the…? But then we totally got it.” Apparently, that was also his and Louise Wilson’s reaction when it comes to his design. According to van der Ham, Louise thought his designs did not make sense but when it is put on a model, the idea became clear.

Initially, I thought the idea of “getting it” was rather pretentious. However, I took the time to closely examine each garment in all collections, there is something charming about his designs that I cannot put my mind to explain. Perhaps it is the idea of contrasting textures (which I personally am obsess with), or the cohesiveness that was created out of the chaos of different shapes, prints, materials and colours.

“People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it’s simply necessary to love.” – Claude Monet

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{Spring/Summer 2011}

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{Spring/ Summer 2013}

In comparison to his earlier collections, SS 13 is more wearable than SS 11, is this some kind of growth or a business decision? Then again, even Salvador Dali needs income to survive. I think out of all collections, SS 11 is, in my opinion, the best he has done yet. Although I do not think all average sized woman can pull off van der Ham’s creations. For example the womenswear designs for the opening of 2012 London Olympics.

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I understand the dancers need to be mobile and comfortable, but all the stripes and sequins only amplified the curves on these woman, but not in a flattering way. However, I assume he must have done the best he can to incorporate his ideas and style with the budget given.

I hope perhaps van der Ham’s next collection might look a little more “Michael van der Ham back in 2011”, if you know what I mean.

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In with the new.

Personality and Mood Boards

Mood boards help identifying ideas and direction at the very start of a project. We were asked to create 2 to 3 mood boards that contain the things we like. We were paired up to exchange observations and analyse each other’s mood/interest boards. My partner was Jo! The conclusion of this exercise was that mood boards inform not only ideas but also style and personality. These are our analysis.

These are Joseph’s boards.

jo#1 jo#2

Joseph’s theme revolves around mythical fantasies. Most of the images are rather gothic verging a violent nature. Although rather aggressive and edgy, glamorous hints can be seen throughout these 2 boards. The images and layout are dense, dark and sinister in a way.

In contrast, my boards are quite minimal and pastel. I love layering different textures of organic and artificial elements. These are the descriptions regarding my boards: artistic, bizarre, playful, colourful, fantasy, spiritual, surreal, earthy, pastels, mysterious, delicate, pattern.

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moodboard_texture

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I am always intrigued by different senses since young, probably from my keen sense of observation, smell and touch. I do not know when the habit started, but I take great curiosity in the textures of objects, the way they look, the way the smell and sometimes how they taste. I can relate myself to Amélie from the film Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001). The way she dips her fingers into grains and counting the amount of people having orgasm from her roof (not to this extend, of course).

 

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ギャル!

Ganguro girl

Hipsters dominate the mainstream. as much as the culture was meant to promote originality they themselves have now become the ‘mainstream’ look. Originality is no longer ‘original’. However when it first started, like many subcultures, it was created as a way for youngsters to fit in, in societies where they felt they have no place. They generally use fashion and music to show their shared mindset and beliefs.

Youngsters in Japan are no exception to this ideology. Although it is a rather segregated country in terms of adapting itself to the outside world, language barrier being the main reason… Because of that, Japan, in my opinion, has the most original and creative youngsters. Instead of adapting the western ways, they create their own ideas. Their range of subcultures including; Harajuku, otaku, cosplayers etc., though the other parts of the world seems to be catching up on these subcultures due to the influences of the massive entertainment industry, such as Gwen Stefani with Harajuku girls in her music and fashion (though received critics for fetishizing Asian women and reinforces white privilege) gave them plenty of attention but I wouldn’t say understanding and of course the Comic Con in the U.S. causes the increasing number of cosplayers amongst comic and game lovers.

Japanese, as a whole, is famous for their conformity and self control, best example is the Japanese school girls and their sailor uniforms. In the mid 90’s a group of girls decided to rebel against the traditional and thus Gyaru was born. In the olden days, the Geisha was the ideal of traditional beauty: expressionless face, porcelain complexion and always ready to conform to men. The first known woman to ‘snap’ from the pressure was Abe Sada(below: Sada after her arrest), a geisha who erotically asphyxiated her lover, Kichiza Ishida and then cutting off his penis and testicles and carried them around with her in her handbag on May 18, 1936.

Abe Sada

The Gyaru girls’ reaction was no where near in comparison to Sada’s. Gyaru (ギャル) a Japanese pronunciation of the English word “gal”. According to a survey uncovered by sociologist Namba Koji in 1989, young women defined gals as “those who don’t care if their guy is from money or a good family; they go for trendy looks, clothing, behavior, and are cheerful.” In other words, gals were party girls. With the Baywatch hype going around the world in the early 90’s, a group of Japanese school girls started “blacking up” and bleaching their hair blonde to copy the California girls. Thereafter starts the ever changing evolution of Gyaru!

Early 90’s: Kogal / Kogyaru (コギャル)

The start of the Gyaru subculture. Girls started going to the tanning saloon daily to maintain the Californian glow. The girls maintained their school uniforms paired with loose socks and loafers. There is no exact date or even year when the gyaru first appeared on the streets of Shibuya. The term “kogyaru” — “ko” being either for “small” (小) or “child” (子) — is said to have started as jargon among bouncers to designate the high school girls who tried to sneak into clubs and look like their older peers. These “little gals” formed the core of the first modern Gyaru movement, and even when the “ko” was dropped in later years, the term “gyaru” came to represent their descendants.

kogal

Late 90’s: Ganguro (ガングロ)

Tan was taken further by a group of Kogyaru creating the Ganguro (ガングロ). Ganguro literally means “black-face”, although it has nothing to do with the Blackface of early 1900’s culture in America. They too mimick the make up of a character created by comedian Toshiro Shimazaki called Adamo-chan. Hence, the white make up was developed.

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Not only did they wear white lips, significant amount of white eye make up is applied with false eyelashes, plastic facial gems under their eyes, and lots of pearl powder on their cheeks. Their hair colour varied from blonde to orange or silver grey known as “high bleached”. At this stage of transformation, the Japanese schoolgirl uniforms were replaced with resort wear and summer accessories like hibiscus leis and mardi gras beads.

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Some said Ganguro is a form of revenge against traditional Japanese society due to resentment of neglect, isolation, and constraint of Japanese society. Gyaru, at that time, came to be associated with kids gone off the rails, namely drop-outs and runaways. That was the main reason why they were not featured in any mainstream magazines at that era because they represented a part of the social problems in the Japanese society and was disdained by most. Because they were rejected by all, Egg magazine was created in 1995 for these girls to call home. They were their own celebrities and models. The magazine even included sex tips such as different sex position whilst in a kimono.

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Ganguro or Gyaru in general is not just a group of people with the same interest of fashion but also created a social phenomenon at this era, called the Para Para. Para Para is a synchronised group dance which is rather similar to the traditional Bon Odori dance. Instead of dancing in pairs, people get together and dance side by side, both consist of mostly arm movements and very little lower body movement is involved, mostly only stepping in place. Para Para is strongly associated with Eurobeat music, but unlike most club dancing and rave dancing there are specific synchronized movements for each song much like line dancing.

The Millennium: Yamanba (ヤマンバ) and Manba (マンバ)

Gyaru was known as the naughty girl, irresponsible and “easy”. It was claimed that the Gyarus have a lot of boyfriends, in other words, they were all sluts. To change that “easy girl” image, Yamanba was born. The term “yamanba” was derived from Yama-uba, this old woman in Japanese folklore that has long crusty white hair, since the Japanese girls emulating them resemble her.

Yama-Uba

Back then there were 2 types of Gyaru, Yamanba (ヤマンバ) and Manba (マンバ). Manba girls have white makeup above the eye and below and look like pandas. The Yamanba only have white makeup above their eyes. They all love Disney characters and anything to do with Hawaii. When it comes to fashion, they wear a lot of cute animal suit/onesies or bathrobe. Their make up was purposely made resembling a panda, using black eyeliner to create droopy eyes effect. Also, their hair trend changed from resort style to almost African. This style of dressing is sometimes called “Tough Gyaru”. The intention of changing the public’s perceptions about them had failed, although in recent days the public seemed to be more accepting.

Manba Yamanba

Current (2005 and above)

It is said that nowadays the Gyaru community have toned down their loud appearance. They now have more luminescent make up, wearing more glittery accessories and the hair though still multi coloured is now more voluminous. They are now widely accepted as a fashion forward style and promoted in main stream fashion magazines and TV. Seeing the rejections the Gyarus had endured, this seem to be a big step forward revolutionizing the subculture as a whole. Although I find it slightly off track from where they’ve started..

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There are plenty of Gyaru subgroups since it first started, one of them is the Hime Gyaru, translated as Princess Gal. They wear lots of laces, floral prints and pearls. To be honest, this is not my favourite kind. In my opinion, although the theme is still under “I wear whatever I feel is cute, not what the boys think”, the group lacks the aggression that I enjoy seeing in their fashion.

hime gyaru

Before I die in disappointment, I found a group called the Black Diamond. Ganguro is making a come back as Kuro Gyaru (black skin gal)! In an interview, it was said that they now have 120 members from Hokkaido to Okinawa and more than 50 members are from 20 different countries. Needless to say, their mission is to “conquer the world”. Since it is hard to obtain Gyaru merchandise out of Japan, they’ve started selling some goods via their facebook page.

As for fashion, they wear mostly faux fur, animal prints, denim shorts/skirts and big multi-coloured hair (some even with feathers in them). There is less traces of the white make up, but still keeping the essence of the original Gyaru.

black diamond

From then to now, Gyaru subculture is ever changing and ever expending. Who knows what these girls will create next. Some may argue that Gyaru is a feminist subculture as they started off to rebel against the traditional expectations of men towards women. However, was that really their conscious intension? Or are they just girls who want to have fun? Either way, they’ve created an empire of subculture that has not only made a home for many girls and some boys too, but also revolusionised Japan’s fashion. Since they are slowly creeping in the rest of the world, perhaps someday their wish to take over the world might just come true.

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I was very interested at the in and out of Gyaru style and found Tia Weaver via YouTube. She is a Manba Gyaru from the U.S. and is one of the founders of a Manba facebook page and YouTube channel. She and her colleagues spread information about Gyaru also holding contests to give away free Gyaru related gifts. Intrigued by her look, I just had to interview her.

Luckily for me, she agreed on answering my interview questions. So, here’s the interview!

When and how did your interest in Gal started? What lead to your interest?

I first found out about gal around late 2005 when I came across a picture of the old school ganguro on the internet. I remember not liking the style at all at first and I just pushed it to the side and forgot about it! It wasn’t until the following year when I randomly thought to actually research the style and when I did I completely fell in love with it. I was already interested in Japanese street fashion but gyaru was something totally different from any style I could even imagine to see in the U.S. where I live and I found that to be really refreshing. They gyaru in Japanese magazines had an attitude and style that was completely different from that of the person i was at the time and I thought they were really cool. I wanted to be just like them.

What does it mean to you? Is it just a look or a lifestyle as well? Why?

Gal for me is a lifestyle. I think it’s important to be flashy in every aspect of your life, not just with the clothes and makeup you wear. The style was built on being crazy, sexy, and wild and I think that every gal should honor that in some way. I’m not a very confident person myself, but I find that gyaru helps me to be bit by bit.

Why Manba not Ganguro or Yamanba or Kogal..?

Ganguro, Yamanba, and Kogal are all very old terms and those styles are outdated. At one point there was a differential between Yamanba and Manba but nowadays both terms are labeled as the latter. I prefer Manba mostly as a summer style most of the other sub styles because it’s way more flamboyant and out there. I think it’s fun to look crazy sometimes and it’s really cute!

Can you describe your look? Make up, clothing etc etc.?

Tanning is definitely an essential for this style. The darker the better! When doing Manba I like to wear a lot of bright colors and things that can be seen as beach or resort wear or sometimes just hoodies and shorts if they have a nice print to them. Cheetah and leopard prints are a must for me personally and anything else that’s flashy looking. For makeup I use white cream makeup, tons of black eyeliner, tan colored foundation, and false eyelashes for both my upper and lower lash lines. I try to give the illusion that my eyes are bigger than they actually are by wearing colored contacts or big circle lens. I also am guilty of using a bright orange eye shadow as a blush.

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What is the key accessories or your must have for the look? What’s your favourite?

I think the key point of my style is my hair color. You can have perfect makeup and clothing but if you have a dull hair color it just looks off. I usually keep mine silver or blonde. My favorite accessory at the moment is my Stitch© headband from Tokyo Disney. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be used to protect your hair during baths, but most manbas where them everywhere because they have a huge bow on them and you can get one with your favorite Disney character on it.

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Inspired, the next thing to do is have a Gyaru inspired photo shoot! The shoot goes by the theme of Purikura (プリクラ), basically is the Japanese photo sticker booth. In a summary, Purikura booths let you take digital pictures with your friends which you can then decorate with the touch-screen and stylus. You can add frames, stamps, sparkles (in some machines these print as real glitter) and you can write and draw freehand with a variety of pen colours and styles. Such activity is popular among Japanese school children and young adults, mainly girls, young women and young couples, the Gyarus are no exceptions. I thought what can be more suitable for this shoot?! So here goes!

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Photographer/Stylist/Make Up Artist/Editor: Me
Model: Olivia Williams

To be hands-on on every detail of the shoot gave me a perspective on how much fun the Gyarus have while getting ready. I wouldn’t say I completely understand them, but at least I get a taste of the fun they have with style from this shoot.

Subculture Presentation

Sophie, Olivia and I grouped together to look into the subculture:

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Firstly, how do we, the outsiders, identify a Goth? What are the stereotypical look of a Goth? Black/ dark hair, black clothes, Corsets?

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Dark eye make up, fair skin, dark lips, crosses accessories, has an obsession with death?

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Black eye brows, eye liner, fancy/ weird contact lenses, again, fair skin, piercings all over black lips?

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What about the stereotypes of their personality? They are always depressed. Mostly homicidal. They worship Satan. They only dress in black. They are very angry and violent. They are all vampires. Lastly, they practice witchcraft.

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is it TRUE?

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Before we continue judging, we should look into the origin the Goth subculture. It started in the late 1970’s/ early 1980’s in the United Kingdom, England to be exact. It was the offshoot of the Post-Punk movement.

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Dated in 1979, when Bauhaus (a post-punk band) released their song “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”

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The song startled fans by its mysterious and eerie sound. Although it was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek, it was taken seriously by fans and eventually bud into the gothic subculture.

Beside Bauhaus, The Damned was also one of the first generation that produced gothic music.

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In their album, The Black Album, the song “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” was said to promote Satanism, according to some people. Note the lyrics “…The priests hang on hooks. The radios on ice. The telly’s been banned. The army’s in power. The devil commands..” The word “devil”, in this case, was symbolising the people who are in power, that are controlling our every movement and thoughts. There were no Satanic message what-so-ever in this song though dark.

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Next of the pioneer is Siouxsie and the Banshees.

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Every culture needs and idol. As for Siouxsie, her make up, fashion etc revoutionised the gothic culture on how people dress.

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What about the term “gothic”? Where does it come from? And how it was used to identify this kind? One thing for sure, the British press sure made it stick.

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So, we look at the definition of “goth”. It was the German tribe who invaded late Roman empire who was regarded as “barbaric and uncultured”. Also, goth was the literature style from the late 18th/early 19th century that covered the fascination with death and the supernatural.

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According to some speculations, the earliest use of the term “goth” was most likely have been by Martin Hannett, the producer of the band Joy Division. With this, the pioneers had revolutionised music and eventually branched out into many genres.

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First is Gothic Rock. This is the earliest type of Goth music. As mentioned earlier, Joy Division was one the pioneers. (The image below is printed on countless amount of t-shirts though many still do not know that this is Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album cover.) The main instruments used for this genre are mostly the basics like guitar, bass, drums, drum machine and synthesizer.

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Next is Goth Folk. In my opinion, it is quite hard to tell it’s gothic. Goth Folk emerged from post-industrial music circles. It’s usual themes are local traditions and indigenous beliefs that are portrayed heavily through the lyrics. The instruments used are the same as Folk music, harmonica, flute, guitar, sitar, violin etc etc. Below is Patrick Wolf.

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Heavy Goth is most popular in our generation with bands like Evanescence. These bands are mostly linked to metal like AC/DC and Marilyn Manson.

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Dreampop or Goth Pop, on the other hand, is cute yet creepy (Sophie’s favourite). We assume it should be popular in Japan seeing that it is so closely related the Lolita Goths (will touch on that later int he post), but that is just an assumption. Below is Kerli and her music video for her song “Walking on Air”.

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And there’s Steampunk. It is the least popular genre in Goth music. There isn’t a solid distinctive characteristics of this kind of music. According to and extract from last.fm Steampunk is described as “a group of bored Goths who decided to change their clothes and write songs about airships”. Ouch.

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Then there’s JGoth, which in my opinion, the coolest and most different genre of Goth music yet. Originated from Japan, with it’s distinctive make up and their super glamorous attire, they stand out from all Goths. Most famous JGoth band, Dir en Grey, definitely my favourite.

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Of course with the types of music genres, there will be types of people listening to them. So let’s get the stereotypes straight.

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Below are a few types of Goths we picked out.

Romantic/Victorian Goths dresses like the Victorians but in black. They wear lots of outfits with a corseted waist, even on men.

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Example of the type of music they listen to.

 

Cyber Goths and Industrial Goths are quite similar to each other. The difference is that Cyber Goths tend to wear a lot of Neon coloured clothing.

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Music they listen to:

 

Gothic Lolita, famous in Japan. They wear doll-like dresses with lots of frills, ribbons and laces, mostly in dark shades like purple, blue, red and of course, black.

 

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Music they listen to:

 

Punk Goths are basically Goths with punk fashion as you can see in the picture below.

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As for Fetish Goths, they wear a lot of latex and choker. They are close related to the BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism) community.

 

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Mamalias vs Aves

{mamalias: wolf and badger/ aves: bluebird}

We are outsiders. Comparing beyond the commercial values of Topshop and UrbanOutfitters, we question where we belong in these markets. We’ve hopped from store to store, studying their interior, their branding and their targeted markets. Nonetheless, with lack of understanding and personal involvement, how do we distinguish our descriptions or opinions from the ones existing online? So here goes my best shot.

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Wolf & Badger was highly recommended by my group mates Alice and Sophie whom had fell in love with the place, on the other hand, Bluebird was a strong contender in our discussion. We finally agreed on revisiting both before making a choice. As anticipated, both sites are rather unique compared to the others.

The similarity between these two stores are the constant changing of contents and themes. Wolf & Badger and Bluebird both feature new upcoming designers. For Wolf & Badger, the focus is on independent fashion designers. The featured designers vary according to its weekly theme, this week is wool week featuring designers like Mark Fast. On the other hand, Bluebird stocks luxury, contemporary and urban designs, catering to the demands from the middle to upper class. There were lots of interesting designers and brands available, such as ba&sh and Maison Kitsuné. However, I think the products that really stood out were the vintage furnitures in store. Though Wolf and Badger too had featured an amazing homeware designer, Melanie Porter that week. Also, the very thing I find most peculiar in Bluebird was the swimwear collection by We Are Handsome that was still available during winter. Are they for people to stock up for the next summer? Wouldn’t the designs be out of trend by the time summer comes?

So what is the target market for these stores? According to the staff from Wolf and Badger it is “for people around the area… exactly the same as Dover Street Market.” Likewise, Bluebird also caters to its local well-off fashionistas. The interesting thing is that how come such similar concept stores have such different interiors? Wolf & Badger in spite of a small space has loose displaying layout. Bluebird, on the other hand, has a big space with a much compact layout. Wolf & Badger’s boutique’s design is very posh, with dark walls and dim lighting that felt intimidating. The stocks are so loosely stacked; it felt like even one slight wrinkle can be seen from a far. In contrast, Bluebird’s interior is rather young, urban and definitely approachable for a student like me. The books were stacked together for display, homeware were arranged very close to one another; the same goes to the clothes and cosmetics.

I find Bluebird very similar to UrbanOutfitter’s warehouse concept; an all-in one store selling from luxury designer wear to cosmetics to home furniture. Then I realize, I was wrong about the targeted audience. Like its available stocks, the market dynamic is also all-in-one. Not only does it contains luxurious items, the urban collection available in store is affordable for the middle class whereas the books and music collection are easily accessible to us students.

Perhaps that was the reason why I prefer Bluebird over Wolf & Badger – because I am included. The same way as the swimwear collection caters to the costumers who might need something for their winter vacation to some tropical place, I feel covered. Therefore, if I were asked to recommend a store to my fellow piers, it would be Bluebird anytime of the year, even several times a year just to see the changes.

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Aves won in this one, at least for me.

Scavenger Hunt for Shopaholics.

There is a tradition that I wish to start on the dinner table: the peak and fall of the day. Tonight we had roast honey chicken with mash potatoes and cabbage. For me, the fall of my day was getting my seat stolen on the tube by 4 very aggressive Spanish tourists and the peak was coming home to my homey flat with friendly flat mates.

Similarly throughout the trip of stores hunting, I can easily pick out the overall peak and fall of each stores.

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I suppose the assignment wasn’t given based on the labels and value of the clothes. I found that the products sold are pretty much on repetition, mostly on brands that no normal student or even normal working class people can afford like Acne, rag & bone, COMME des GARÇONS, Diane von Furstenberg and so on. However, the environment and vibe of each shops varies from one another.

From the list of stores to visit, I have put them under 5 categories: high-end department stores, affordable fashion, label/pop-up stores, second-handed treasure and online stores.

First stop, high-end department stores.

Liberty, Regent Street W1.

The elegant exterior and interior of this building are the factors that made the store stood out from the rest of the concrete jungle along Regent Street. I personally love this store because of the friendly surrounding of christmas lights and lovely staff.

Fall: Broke a christmas mushroom decoration.
Peak: The flowers surrounding the entrance.

Selfriges, Oxford Street W1.

From it’s posh decor to the compactness of the department layout, the pioneer department store is now a big tourist attraction. With it’s strategic location and the variety of stocks, its customers vary from all ages and all styles. The best part of Selfridges is that it not only supply for the well-heeled crowd, it also contains affordable fashion for the mass crowd.

Fall: Over-priced bikinis.
Peak: Shoes! Shoes! Shoes!

Dover Street Market, Dover Street W1.

High-end 6 floor concept store that is famous for stocking COMME des GARÇONS pieces. The concept design of the store’s layout is definitely minimalistic, thus creating an intimidating and posh outlook. Staff are not friendly, if it weren’t because they have so much great fashion pieces in the store, I would not pay a second visit.

Fall: Scary security guards and unfriendly staff.
Peak: Hussien Chalayan’s collection!

Browns and Browns Focus, South Molton Street W1.

Technically, Browns Focus is the younger version of Browns, featuring young talented designers. The dim lighting of the stores gives them a younger and edgier vibe. It is less intimidating to visit, but at the same time, the lighting didn’t do the clothes much justice as visitors cannot adore the workmanship of each piece fully.

Fall: Dim lighting.
Peak: Discovering talented upcoming designers.

Matches, Ledbury Rd W11.

Despite the mirrors and cold exterior, the interior is rather cozy. With wooden floor, white walls with a pop of lime green furniture/accessories, the store feels like a modern home. The windows of the 2 Matches stood opposite each other are very different due to their different themes. The first one (left) I went in are filled with party wear and casual wear that appeals to the younger crowds whereas the second one (right) is filled with couture pieces and feels more mature.

Fall: Feeling super underdressed.
Peak: Very lovely staff.

Start, Rivington Street/Charlotte Road E1.

Like the designer labels they stock i.e. Vivienne Westwood, Rick Owen, Acne, Preen and so on, the stores interiors are very edgy. Dark interior with tungsten light, feels like an expensive version of All Saints, but more polished. The interesting thing that I found when visiting was that they have 3 chains nearby, almost opposite each other, with different themes and collection: womenswear, menswear and the other featuring Start’s collaboration with a designer brand (this week Woolrich).

Fall: Got lost on the way there.
Peak: Found it!

The Shop at Bluebird, 350 Kings Road SW3.

I would compare Bluebird to Liberty because they both have the interior that screams friendly. Similarly, they both have quite a collection of designers and products, even furnitures! However, I have to say Bluebird has a more elaborate collection in that category. It’s Art Deco exterior is very eye catching too. The best part? The retail space is out for hire, large enough to cater exhibitions and performance art.

Fall: Repetition of clothing collections.
Peak: Every piece of furniture in this shop.

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Affordable Fashion.

Topshop, Oxford Street WC1.

Pretty much the most popular brand in retail market right now. From London to Malaysia, I’ve seen so many version of Topshop stores. This is definitely my favourite out of all I’ve shopped in. Firstly, it is very organized. Accessories on the ground floor, womenswear in the basement and partly on the first floor, menswear on the first floor, and it has a humongous petite section (which I need). It is very convenient to find sizes as everything is hung on the rack. Topshop is definitely for people who have booked all day for shopping. There are just too many selections to see under an hour. Although if you are looking for a specific item or style, it is easy to find your way around the store. Don’t forget about Topshop Edited located at the lower ground floor that often features collaborations of Topshop with designers, and sold at reasonable and affordable pricing.

Fall: Too many temptations.
Peak: Too many temptations.

Urban Outfitters, Kensington High Street W8.

A total hipsters store, from the Kurt Kobain mural to lomography cameras and all the hip clothing options. The overall store has a rugged and raw theme. The window is decorated with multi-colored torn paper effect giving the store a young vibe even before stepping in. I personally like the raw concrete pillars they have in the store. I think it suits the theme and present the brand very well. As for the layout of products, similarly to Topshop, they have all the sizes on the the rack. However Urban Outfitters’ product arrangements are less compact and more organized.

Fall: Lomography negative and positive films are too pricey.
Peak: Very helpful staff.

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Label/ Pop-up Stores

Acne, Dover Street W1.

The contrast between the front of the interior of the store is very obvious. The overall store, like their collection, is very edgy. The exterior is decorated with black metal bars and black and white tiles whereas the interior slick and minimalistic with a touch of black furnitures. It is sort of saying ‘this store is edgy but we ain’t cheap’.

Fall: Can’t afford anything in the store…
Peak: …except Acne Paper.

Louis Vuitton Kusama Pop-up Store, Selfridges, Oxford Street W1.

This is not your ordinary pop-up store. Like Marc Jacobs’s muse, Yayoi Kusama, the store is equally eccentric. White polka dots with red background is the signature pattern of the collection. Honestly, this is my favourite pop-up store in Selfridges even anywhere so far! The interior is amazing. It was as though I have walked into a japanese ‘Alice in the Wonderland’ set or an eccentric Cinderella pumpkin carriage.

Fall: Failed to take any pictures of the interior.
Peak: Little Kusama Dolls.

Chanel Pop-up Store, Covent Garden

Imagine a normal cosmetic store but with only Chanel products in a 2 storeys tiny shop lot. If you’re a Chanel cosmetic fanatic, this is definitely the place to go.

Fall: It’s a normal cosmetic store.
Peak: It’s in Covent Garden Market.

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My favourite, Second-handed Treasure

Oxfam Boutique, Westbourne Grove W11.

Although this Oxfam is filled with designer goods, it smelled like common charity shops. However, that is not the issue here. It is the treasure that matters. I found a pair of Chloé slingback wedge clogs that only cost £60, although was slightly worn but I still think it was a pretty good find. This is definitely the store for people who love designer goods but wouldn’t/couldn’t splurge on those items. Plus, what is better than fashion with a cause?

Fall: Had to pass on the beautiful clogs.
Peak: Amazing second-handed designer goods.

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Online Store

oki-ni.com

There are researches carried out to determine the shopping pattern of men and women shoppers. We are definitely different from one another. Women love to look at everything while men usually shop specifically according to their needs. This online shop is very organised and clean, I think this appeals to men’s nature. The models stood so straight and emotionless like a mannequin, in my opinion is genius. It is so boring that I like it. They presented the clothing the right way. Since it is worn on a model with no fancy poses, the viewers can realistically estimate how the clothing will drape on them.

Fall: I’m not a man.
Peak: Love the layout and idea.

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Throughout the whole trip, the fall was walking through Hoxton Street then realizing the Hoxton Boutique does not exist whereas the peak of my find is the Oxfam Boutique.