the Wheat and the Chaff

Category: Style

The End

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Source: Matt Baron, Cargo Collective

Time to say goodbye.

This blog has formed part of an important personal journey for me over the last couple of years. I’ve treated The Wheat and the Chaff as a repository for interesting stuff from culture to collect and share amongst a handful of friends – the only people I ever expected to read it other than myself. For years that has been pretty much been the case. This week changed that and made me personally aware for the first time just how quickly things can escalate and spread nowadays.

A post from last year, credited to, but reproduced without permission from another site and author, suddenly generated a shit load of buzz and attention. The buzz and attention was completely warranted – it’s a brilliantly written labour of love on an emotive subject that has struck a chord with many. The recipient of it was not. Interestingly, despite the article being posted nearly a year ago, its sudden second-life illustrates that ‘stock & flow‘ aren’t necessarily exclusive in the internet age.

The author was credited upfront and the site was linked at the end of the piece, but this completely failed to recognise the way that people consume information in the age of the internet. As a result, my blog was credited with the piece rather than the original site. I don’t know how it was discovered on my blog with zero visibility rather than on the original site which has a far bigger readership, but it wouldn’t have happened had I directed people to the original source upfront. For that I’m sorry.

My blog has always been a hobby. But for many others, the content they create on their sites is their livelihood, and it’s unfair when that is potentially impinged upon through the thoughtless behaviour of others.

The content on this blog could only be described as ‘eclectic’, from plenty of bolshy strategic thinking and ad land oddities, to Houston Rap, random tumblrs and British Suburban decay, and for that I’m proud. It’s always been about the stuff that I want to read, which has meant I’ve sometimes played fast and loose with copy and pasting. And I forgot along the way that I’m not just collecting a scrapbook for an audience of one.

So for me, this hobby has run its course.

Cheers

(check out the rest of Matt Barron’s portfolio here)

(and go here, it’s great)

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The Wired World in 2014: speed summary

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Digital Intelligence Today have produced a handy speed summary of Wired magazine’s latest need-to-know tech trends for 2014: The Wired World in 2014.

The 20 most common men’s style mistakes

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1. Believing that tight clothes will suck everything in

If you’re a man over a certain age, the likelihood is that you’ve got a few wobbly bits starting to appear in unwanted places. The way to tackle this is not to treat your new shirt in the same way that women treat Spanx – you’ll end up looking like an un-pricked Richmond sausage. Rather, invest in properly tailored pieces that will make the best of your assets.

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2. Buying shoes designed for elves, not humans

An epidemic, this. Cheap shoes with plastic soles and pointy toes that turn up at the end do not look stylish. They don’t even look marginally acceptable. So awful are these shoes that even their ubiquity hasn’t diluted their utter ridiculousness. One, they won’t last longer than a few weeks before the soles burn through (keep a nostril out for the smell of burning rubber, if you don’t feel the crunch of tarmac on your feet first). Two, they make their wearers look like medieval peasants. Or elves. Three, no one will respect you if you wear these shoes. Not even other people that wear them. No one.

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3. Mistaking pleather for leather

Pleather is a cheap substitute for leather, most commonly made from polyurethane. Unless you’re allergic to the real thing or are a vegan, you should not be wearing pleather. The most common things to be made from this fabric are knock-off man bags and the shoes from point two. Aside from anything else, they’re extremely flammable, which should put you off, if being a style pariah doesn’t.

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4. Allowing your trousers to puddle over your laces

There are many ways to make a statement with your clothes. Wearing a nice patterned shirt with a smartly cut blue suit is one. Donning a chestnut brown monk strap with a pair of slim bottle green trousers, another. Allowing your un-hemmed, loosely flowing suit trousers to puddle over the tops over your shoes like molten rubber, on the other hand, is not one. Your trousers (whatever the style) should only ever touch the tops of your shoes, and there should be no bunching of fabric. At all.

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5. Confusing the wearing of an ill-fitting suit with “power dressing”

If the pads of your jacket hang over the brink of your shoulders and the body has the shape of a muumuu, don’t fool yourself into thinking you look like Patrick Bateman. On the contrary, you look like Rosanne Barr. Get a tailor, or a better suit.

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6. Ignoring the importance of quality fabrics

Cheap materials can be spotted a mile off. Avoid synthetics at all cost, as they’ll bring a sheen to the surface of the fabric over time, or anything uncomfortable against the skin – because you just won’t want to wear it.

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7. Transition lenses

We’re sorry to say it, we know they’re expensive, but they make you look like Fritzl.

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8. Wearing black shirts

Black cotton mix shirts, as a rule, must never be worn, primarily because they discolour incredibly quickly around the collar and cuffs. Equally, don’t be fooled into thinking you look like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever: you’re more likely to be accused of nicking Wayne Rooney’s “pulling shirt”.

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9. Not paying attention to accessories

Steve McQueen had his Persols, Keith Richards has his scarves and Bryan Ferry has his bow tie. Clever accessorising is key to the success of any outfit. A beautiful suit is all well and good, but wear it with the wrong shoes, tie or pocket square and you’ll ruin it irreparably.

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10. Thinking that no one will ever see your underwear

Just because your pants (on the whole) remain hidden under your clothes, does not give you free reign to don the saggy boxer shorts you got in your stocking back in 1992. Two rules. One, always assume that you’re going to get lucky (even if you definitely won’t). Two, treat your underwear as you would the rest of your wardrobe – you wouldn’t wear a worn out, discoloured, slightly smelly shirt into the office now would you?

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11. Mistaking a piece of string for a tie

We truly miss the days of oversized Windsor knot ties. The reign of skinny, flappy, pointless bits of neck string which look more like Scout toggles than anything an adult should be wearing are well and truly over. Want to look like a pre-pubescent Pete Doherty? No? Then throw yours in the bin. Now.

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12. The deep V

Because A, you’re not a member of The Wanted, and B, no one wants to see the gaping expanse of your newly waxed chest.

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13. Ostentatiously branded t-shirts

Unless you’re under 13 years of age….and even then.

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14. Neon

Unless you’re Louie Spence…and even then.

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15. Wearing anything designed for an actual sporting activity in public

Functional trainers (Nike and East London hipsters might have to agree to disagree on this at the moment), nylon tracksuit bottoms, indecently tight lycra t-shirts in lurid colours – unacceptable attire unless you’re on a bike, in the gym or carrying a white stick.

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16. Doing up too many buttons

There are three simple rules when it comes to fastening up your suit. Two buttons? Only ever do up the top one. Three buttons? Get a new suit. Four buttons? Give Barry Gibb his jacket back.

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17. Not doing up enough buttons

Remember what we said about the gaping expanse of your newly waxed chest?

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18. Anything shiny (other than patent shoes)

Black patent lace-ups with a tux? Fine. A bit of shiny metal hardwear on your loafers? Absolutely. Even the slightest hint of a sheen anywhere else (especially on your suit)? Criminal.

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19. Frayed jeans

The most heinous of all style crimes, this. Wearing overly long, flappy jeans which have hems that get caught under your heels will not only make you look like Avril Lavigne circa 2002, but wearing these jeans will also result in the hems becoming frayed and giant patches of empty space where denim should be. Slovenly, ugly and downright delinquent.

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20. The bootcut

That’s all.

(via Esquire)

 

Russell Brand: Good Pundit, Bad Thinker?

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Much has been said and written about Russell Brand’s erudite and pretty irresistible virtuoso performance on Newsnight a couple of weeks ago, most of it overwhelmingly positive. But have normally sensible people been so blinded by his charm and charisma that they’re unable to distinguish some pretty poor political reasoning behind his posturing? The Atlantic‘s Parker Brown reckons so.

London risks losing its identity and soul

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As the rich buy up property and ordinary people are forced out, The Observer ask experts and London residents what can be done to save our city.

Can data help predict the fashion future?

Julia Fowler, co-founder of Editd, a data-driven fashion forecasting company based in East London

Julia Fowler, co-founder of Editd, a data-driven fashion forecasting company based in East London

This is an Interesting article in the NY TImes on whether data can really help predict the next big fashion trends. Personally, I’m unsure that data or sophisticated algorithms could predict the emergence of a trend as ridiculous as this

The fashion industry always wants to know about the next big thing, so Julia Fowler thinks it should take a closer look at the world’s financial markets.

Just as old-style traders have been all but replaced by analysts crunching vast amounts of data, Ms. Fowler said she believed that understanding fashion trends should be less about intuition and more about real or near-real time information.

Trained as a designer, Ms. Fowler established the fashion forecasting business Editd in 2009 with Geoff Watts, a programmer with a background in financial modeling. “Industries like the financial sector have used big data for many years,” she said. “The logical step for us was to apply a scientific approach to the apparel industry.”

Editd has 22 employees at its office in the Silicon Roundabout, an area of East London now known as a hub for tech innovation. Each work day Editd’s software gathers online information for a huge variety of garments and accessories and amasses 300,000 comments from social media ranging from what’s on store racks to indications about how long the passion for leopard print will last.

The information is transformed into data, compiled and repackaged into analyses that illustrate competitors’ product assortments, pricing, consumer mood and emerging trends for clients that include Asos, Gap and Target. (Editd’s fees begin at $2,500 a month for a small retailer in a single market, but rise sharply for larger clients who want more complex services.)

For example, one customer wanted to know about biker jackets, the kind of fitted, waist-length outerwear that brings to mind James Dean, or Marlon Brando in “The Wild One.”

A report detailing sales at British and U.S. premium retailers over a three-month period shows Selfridges stocked the greatest variety (41 kinds), while McQ, Alexander McQueen’s secondary line, was the most popular brand. It also indicates that just 3.1 percent of the jackets were marked down from their original price, and it took an average of just 28 days for a style to sell out — indications that the style has staying power.

As recently as 20 years ago, forecasting came in the form of hefty books issued twice a year that detailed trendy colors, prints and silhouettes. When things moved online in the late 1990s, the books were replaced by sites like WGSN (Worth Global Style Network) and Stylesight.

These subscription-based sites still dominate the sector today, offering vast quantities of information assembled by teams of forecasters: from how car shapes, architecture and nanotechnology will influence fashion in 2020 to the most popular width for stripes on next season’s Breton top.

Not surprisingly, some traditional forecasters are suspicious of a data-driven approach.

“Right now data is the buzzword,” said Isham Sardouk, chief creative officer at Stylesight in New York and once a design director at Victoria’s Secret. “But for me, data is not everything. It’s just a portion of the information that’s out there. I think that intuition is underrated, and when people think of a trend forecaster they imagine a crazy guy in a room experiencing visions of salmon pink. But it’s a group decision. I have a team of 200 industry experts feeding information from all around the world.”

Looking at things as a calculated risk is part of the job, said Sarah Rutson, fashion director of Lane Crawford, which is expanding beyond its Hong Kong and Beijing stores to open in Shanghai in September. “A lot of the time it is about genuine gut instinct,” she said. “Maybe a trend didn’t work before, but this time you know it is right for now. There might not be data to tell you what to do, but you just instinctively know it will be strong and it’s absolutely worth the perceived risk to get behind it.”

Fashion is a multi-billion-dollar global industry that, at its heart, is based on creative egoists. Could that fundamental respect for the spark of genius be behind the reservations about analytics?

Topshop’s head of design, Emma Farrow, does not think so. “We’re a business so of course we look at data,” she said, “we look at the weather, we look at what’s selling, and we try out trends in select stores. But the danger is when data becomes prescriptive, because that fails to acknowledge what influences trends.

“It is no longer about buying a garment,” she continued, “it’s about buying into an aesthetic that could be linked to music or a celebrity or the Punk exhibition at the Met. I think that’s what the modern customer gets excited by.”

Fashion’s broadening geography and the growing number of seasons also have increased the variables. While the Big Four fashion weeks are starting points for trends, their influence is far from absolute, and certainly not global.

Ms. Rutson of Lane Crawford said trends and celebrities in South Korea and Japan have a huge impact on Chinese consumers at Lane Crawford. And while “lace and leopard print sell regardless of global fashion trends, tartans, brocades and thick boiled wools are a problem because the Asian customer is sensitive to these fabrics” — even if they are all over the European catwalks.

In a world where two collections a year have evolved into eight or 10, and where retailers can get products from concept to store in as little as three weeks, Ms. Fowler said sales planning must come down to comprehensive analysis and timing.

Pressure from clients actually is leading some traditional forecasters to make changes.

Catriona Macnab, WGSN’s chief creative officer, said her company was beginning to invest in a more analytical approach, as clients increasingly say they want data to back up intuition.

This year WGSN analyzed every outfit from the autumn 2013 catwalk shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris to produce a numerical index for trends on colors, patterns and products.

It found, for example, that there were 73 percent more outfits with camouflage prints in those shows than there had been in the autumn 2012 shows, and 43 percent fewer outfits using sheer fabrics than there had been the year before. The result, WGSN says, gives fashion houses the data to back up decisions for last-minute tweaks in their own autumn 2013 collections to match the runway trends.

Ms. Macnab said client response to the initial effort had been so positive that WGSN will expand the analysis program after the spring/summer 2014 shows in September. (Neither WGSN nor Stylesight would disclose their subscription prices, though they are known to use sliding fees based on a client’s size and service expectations.)

Still, Sandra Halliday, WGSN’s editor in chief, echoed the warnings. “You have to be careful with data,” she said. “It can’t be the end of the story because the way tastes develop is too nuanced. If you rely too heavily on a route, as we’ve seen the financial industry do, dangerous things can happen.”

And, she added, fashion thrives on the unexpected.

“In the late ’90s everyone was talking about the death of denim and how it had become the domain of middle-aged men,” she said. “Then Tom Ford brought out this collection of embellished denim for Gucci’s spring 1999 show. The numbers didn’t add up but it instantly changed the mood and impacted trends for seasons. It’s that element of fashion that is tricky to quantify.”

Paula Reed, fashion director at Harvey Nichols, agreed. “I still think that a magpie instinct and a sixth sense are still the best tools in the unending quest for the next thing,” she said.

Noting that Diana Vreeland had once declared that great fashion was still about giving people what they didn’t know they wanted, Ms. Reed added, “And I’m not sure I’d want to find an algorithm for that.”

We Were All Watching Yo! MTV Raps

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Launching in the late ’80s when hip-hop was still a relatively underground phenomenon, Yo! MTV Raps quickly became one of the most important disseminators of the nascent scene, broadcasting the latest music and styles to fans across America and the rest of the world.

Now streetwear label Stüssy has produced a two-part documentary about the TV show to mark the launch of its collection of Yo! MTV Raps clothing. Titled We Were All Watching, the film features contributions from Questlove, Rakim, Alchemist and DJ Premier among other talking heads from the industry, who discuss the success of the show and how it brought hip-hop to a global audience.

Questlove in particular has deep affection for the show. “Yo! MTV Raps was a religion,” he says, explaining that as a kid without cable TV, he would get his friends to tape the show for him. “Saturday nights was MTV day for most of America, but for me, [it was] Monday afternoon after school with the tape in hand.”

Watch both parts of We Were All Watching below:

(via FACT)

Wet Look ’93

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Daniel Evans and Brendan Baker produced the photo series Wet Look 93, a superb nostalgic look back at a bygone era for a previous issue of LAW magazine which I was delighted to stumble across the other day. Looking at these pics transported me back to a child growing up in a mid ’90s world of curtains, Crazy Mosch, Kappa, Britpop and Beckham, all channelled through the medium of wet look hair gel – that thick, electric blue substance that was always oddly cold to the touch.

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www.daniel-evans.info
www.brendan-baker.com

Weekender

It’s the return of the weekender. Back once again.

Watch this: Sundance London

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Sundance London kicks off today with American indie films (including divorce comedy A.C.O.D., above) music and talks. You can buy single tickets, or a ‘Superscreen Pass’ for access to all 14 films showing on the Sky Superscreen.

25-28 April; times and prices vary; O2, Peninsula Square, SE10

Do this: David Bowie Friday Late, V&A

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Tonight, the V&A hosts a free, unticketed David Bowie celebration. Part of Bowie Weekender (27-28 April), Jonathan Barnbrook – who designed three Bowie album covers – will be in discussion with Paul Morley.

Friday,V&A, Cromwell Road, SW7

Drink here: The London Coffee Festival

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The London Coffee Festival is back again this weekend, with events taking place in special zones within Truman Brewery named after London areas. The UK’s largest coffee and artisan food event is a celebration of London’s vibrant coffee culture featuring gourmet coffee, speciality tea, artisan food, demonstrations from world-class baristas, live music and a comprehensive ‘lab’ seminar programme that will educate even the keenest of coffee lovers. Visitors can learn about the various ways to make and brew coffee at home, taste signature drinks and graze their way through the Artisan and Street Food Markets.

Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, E2

Eat here: Monikers

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From Time Out: “Monikers is a restaurant and also a seat of learning, in a way. It’s in the shell of a former primary school, and so an education theme is drilled home through the decor.

There’s a periodic table on the wall, and a huge revolving blackboard; water is served in laboratory beakers. There’s also a very cool mezzanine decked out like the upstairs of an old London bus, complete with vinyl seats.

The food offering is A-grade: no spotted dick with lumpy custard here. It comes on small plates; diners are encouraged to freestyle their way through the menu and share dishes which range from a deceptively simple grilled leeks, parmesan and truffle oil to a salad of dived scallop, cured ham, kohlrabi and apple; a delicate balance of flavours that wouldn’t feel out of place at somewhere like Pollen Street Social.

The drinks menu is excellent too – and you’re not required to order any food. There are a few London beers (Meantime, Camden, Kernel) and a list of grown-up cocktails. Going back to school never seemed so appealing.”

16 Hoxton Square, N1

Rapha’s Spring/Summer Lookbook

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Rapha seems to have an intuitive grasp of how to make cycling look its very best, as evidenced yet again in their Spring/Summer Lookbook, featuring a tonne of gorgeous photographs, sweeping vistas and beautiful cycling gear.

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