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5 Menswear brands to look out for

One of the question I am frequently asked by my male friends is which brands I would recommend. And because my blog has a reactionary approach to current attitudes, and because I believe that end-consumers do shape or direct trends I put this post together.

We all know and love the likes of Philip Lim, Public School, COS, and Acne Studios but there are a few less known brands that are making enough of the right noise to deserve our attention. New blood is attempting to redefine our perception of menswear, moving away from the tired “regular jeans and crew neck mid-bicep t-shirt” model, towards a new mindset that prefers to experiment with shape, volume, and masculinity.

Andersson Bell SS 2017

But what is also interesting – watch this space- is their alternative route to market. Most of these brands choose to sell their collections only directly (via their reference retail and online shops) instead of selling via big department store chains and online conglomerates. They also understand that by collaborating with other cool brands, whose expertise is different to theirs, beefs up their offering. Collaborating and exclusively selling your product might sound a bit too dangerous for the fashion establishment, but it seems to be working for these new brands. Questions are born: are male consumers ready now to embrace the ‘lifestyle-model’ retail experience? Are they willing to search around for exclusive brands instead of finding a one-stop shopping experience like they used to?

But for now, let’s get back to the point and answer my friends’ question: I would recommend the below 5 menswear brands. They are definitely the ones to watch!

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South Korea and Japan: Childrenswear Print Inspiration

Recently I had the luck to visit South Korea and Japan. Lucky because both countries are amazing, and because with the way things are going, the area can become a no-go zone pretty quickly.

The culture, the food, the design, the fashion, all brilliant, I couldn’t possibly choose. It seems like everything they do is with love, extreme attention to detail, and with an aim to visually please consumers. In these two countries, I did not mind waiting a bit longer for my purchases to be wrapped in the most exquisite way. Definitely beats queuing for hours for your t-shirt to be rolled in a ball and shoved in a bag! I did not mind waiting a bit longer to be served beautiful food, always with a smile. Beats the “you are lucky to be served by me” attitude you get in many London restaurants.

Smiling and happiness is widespread, especially in South Korea. For a cynic westerner such as I, it initially comes across as something very odd. Surely, they cannot be this happy. Surely, it is the product of social oppression, right? Well, if you let go and give in, just like I did on day 3, it can be contagious. On day 4 different questions were forming in my mind: what is wrong with us in the West, or what is it that makes us so grumpy?

You know what else is everywhere in these two countries? Cute things! I must admit the latter took more than 3 days to get used to or accept. But, funnily enough, even cute things managed to find their way into my heart. For people who know me, this will sound bizarre. They will vouch that there is no way in hell that I would find cats with big eyes, and dogs with neckties acceptable. I still don’t. However, being surrounded by all this cuteness, I would frequently roll my eyes and give numerous judgmental sighs, which made me question my motives for such reaction. Are we too obsessed with being cool in the West? Are we too scared of being branded naff?

Cuteness has its own temple in both countries. Stationary shops are many and massive. They are filled with papers, stickers, envelopes, cards, erasers, pencil bags etc. All covered in cute design; sometimes brilliant, sometimes so wrong it feels right! Tell me that you don’t need a mouse pad with a print of a cat wrapped in sushi right now…

Below there are a few print ideas that caught my eye in stationary maze. Mainly they are prints that can inspire childrenswear and maybe teen-wear. Having said that, I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of them printed on hot midi dresses or oversized men’s t-shirts. Embrace the “naff”… Read more

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Twin Peaks: an inspiration

It haunted my childhood. I was in elementary school yet I would stay awake until 10pm, every Thursday, to watch the show together with my sister and my parents. I know it sounds strange that a child was allowed to watch David Lynch’s masterpiece, but I will forever thank my parents they did. Yes, it was terrifying, but it was also intriguing, dreamy, inspirational, formative.

Audrey Horne's portrait

You can imagine my excitement to hear that geniuses David Lynch and Mark Frost are creating a new chapter in the universe of Twin Peaks. In May, we will watch agent Dale Cooper returning literally to the scene of the crime, probably facing another mysterious murder case. I cannot wait to see what the creators have in mind for the much-loved characters, and to observe their mastering of scene setting, cinematography and costume-design.

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Do Ho Suh – Passages: an inspiration

I must admit, most of the days I have a love-hate relationship with London. But every now and then, little gems of experiences such as this one remind me why I am still here. Imagine queuing around the block in a residential area, waiting to see a world-renowned artist exhibit his latest work for free.

Tucked away behind a petrol station off City Road, and nestled between fancy new apartment developments, is the Victoria Miro gallery. Yes, it resembles a warehouse and has floor to ceiling windows, like most modern converted galleries do, but it also has a man-made lake at the back. I bet you did not expect that! What a great place to host Do Ho Suh’s new exhibition “Passage/s”.

Victoria Miro Gallery

The exhibition’s main attraction is a structure made of translucent fabric replicating the different places the artist has lived and worked in. He references his childhood home in South Korea, and his various flats and studios in places such as New York and London. As the notes of the exhibition explain: “Do Ho Suh has long ruminated on the idea of home as both a physical structure and a lived experience, the boundaries of identity and the connection between the individual and the group across global cultures”…“Suh’s structures give form to ideas about migration, transience and shifting identities”. Can’t think of a more relevant topic right now.

Do Ho Suh: Passage / s

Passing through the multi-coloured corridor of different rooms seamlessly put together, the visitor experiences Suh’s life in transit. A life that crossed cultural and geographical boundaries. As you walk through you wonder; am I invested too much in the destination and ignore the journey? Is it that bad to allow cultural and geographical exchange and movement? The people from all over the world who are queuing with me inside the fabric structure surely don’t appear to think so.

Do Ho Suh: Passage / s

His work is not only challenging your preconceptions and asking you to re-think the idea of your life’s journey. It also offers a colourful attack on the senses. The colours he chooses and the way he combines them are indeed inspirational.

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