Friday, 30 March 2012

How to Shop at H&M

As you may have worked out if you stop by here regularly I talk about H&M a LOT. I love H&M. Love, Love, Love H&M. I hold my hands up – my allegiance has been noted. I worked there for over 3years and I love the brand, the company and the clothes.
But it wasn’t always like that. Previously to working for them I HATED shopping in there. I owned 1 thing (a navy blue long sleeve top) from them. Purely because I didn’t understand how they laid their shops out and who their target customer was. But once I started working for them I was hooked. And I still am. I could spend hours in there.
More than half the women who have come to The Wardrobe Angel for a touch of my wardrobe magic hate shopping at H&M but once I have explained the different labels on offer there they are converted. Well, not to the same obsessive level I am but at least they have the confidence to shop there now.
So, let’s do this! H&M. Explained.
Women at H&M:
1.       Divided Black and Divided Red – the colour of the mannequins is bright, the prints are garish and the styling is a bit ‘out there’. Some shops lead in with this range (Leeds) but this depends on their target market. Targeting the teenagers among, the Divided Black range can be wonderfully weird, the Divided Red range is more casual with a proliferation of hoodies and denim.

2.       H&M – your basic range showcasing styles that are far from ‘safe’ but not exactly cutting edge. Used to be called ‘Hennes’. Most shops lead in with this range (Manchester).

3.       Modern Classic – great for suiting and classic styles of clothes.

4.       Trend – Only stocked in super awesome shops (Manchester). It has a tendency to move around on the shopfloor as it is a small department. Heavily trend lead, you can always get the latest on-trend items from this section. Last time I checked it has a beige label.

5.       LOGG – For all you comfort seekers out there this range contains the joggers and sweatpants.

6.       LOGG SPORT – a bit more hard-core, this range even has sports bras and items suitable for a spot of yoga.

7.       Shoes and accessories – Absolutely great for costume style jewellery. On-trend and chic as hell.
 Any questions? You know where to find me. Til next time...x

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Spring has sprung! It's time for Oracular Beauties...

These days I don’t know many people who have a career path – one career for their whole lives – except for my parents: my Dad has always been a lecturer in Maths, my Mum has always been a teacher. Our generation is different. Many of the people I went to university with are now on their second or even third career path: banker to teacher, solicitor to nurse, VM Manager to business owner (that’s me!) Lindsay of Lunettes London is another example,
“I studied English at uni then worked for Armani instore. I saw how the brand was honed through the stock purchased and thought buying was the right route for me.”
Buying is a notoriously hard professional nut to crack and with whole categories and brand successes lying on the line of a couple of ordered ranges, the stress is magnificent,
“I landed a buying job in London and managed to stay for two years. It got too much – the stress, the hours - so around the time my friend bought an opticians, I quit my job and started indulging my passion – eyewear.”
Lunettes London sell the kind of glasses you can spend all summer searching for on the high street and never finding. They are the kind of glasses you see a really cool girl wearing at a festival and in the blink of an eye she is gone before you can even begin to open your mouth to ask her where she picked her oracular beauties from. I found them on a shopping trip with a client in Manchester in Curiouser and Curiouser, picked up Lindsay’s business card and started stalking her straight away.
Initially conceived in the form of Frockstar, re-branding under ‘Lunettes London’ made the appeal unisex and Lindsay, self-confessed eyewear addict, has now been in business for two years. Her eyewear is retro vintage and the occasional cool designer pair which she has sourced herself or has been sourced by her friend who is an optician. Handy, that.
Lunettes London has grown from a stall 1 day per month on Portabello market to a fully-fledged business complete with an online boutique, several stockists in Manchester and London and an online presence not to be sniffed at. Lindsay is “obsessive” and her long term plan is to design and produce her own range of eyewear. Currently working at her friend’s opticians one day a week learning about lenses and glasses, I think her long term plan will come to fruition very soon indeed.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Skills That Pay the Bills, Jewellery Style...

I came across Stephanie Hamer’s contemporary jewellery at a networking lunch in February when I was sat across from a lady wearing an intricate yet solid statement necklace. Turns out it was Stephanie’s Mum, Patricia. The geometric shapes of the necklace had a real fluidity about them which fascinated me, so I badgered her for an interview. One Tuesday morning in late Feb I climbed the stairs to her studio flat and over a brew (are you seeing the pattern with all my interviewees? A brew is non-negotiable) she told me about her burgeoning jewellery business.
Originally an aficionado of Myspace (I checked, it does still exist!) Stephanie was using Fimo to create from a young age but began her career in earnest selling jewellery made of shrinking plastic to friends when she was 17 and contemplating Maths A-Level. She soon dropped that, choosing Computing, Graphic Design, 3D Design and Physics instead. Her academic history has taken her to Oldham, Sheffield and finally to Manchester on a two year FdA Jewellery & Applied Arts course at Manchester Metropolitan University,
 “It’s funny how you can take one road and it still leads you back to where you originally left off – the Computing and Graphic Design A-levels have really influenced my most recent work.”
Her most recent collection was born out of her final project at university for which she received a distinction. The necklace I saw at the networking event was an example of this work: laser cut jewellery which is striking, modern and fun.  With individual commissions aplenty and exhibits in art galleries you would be forgiven for thinking Stephanie is a very talented one-trick pony - not so. She has a quiet passion for her work that has manifest itself in not one but two businesses: she has her own eBay shop and has had since 2006, where she sells laser cut jewellery with more of a pop culture feel.
Her 6 years of online trading demonstrate her ability to move with the times and adapt accordingly. With Sunday Girl Accessories she not only has to be trend aware, but hyper aware of what her customers (mostly teenagers) want hanging off their necks: Harry Potter and One Direction symbols, dogs, bikes, their own names …the list goes on. Stephanie makes them in any colour requested and offers a fully customisable friendly service (I was a bit tempted to get a ‘Wardrobe Angel’ necklace. In green and black. Obvs.)
I think in this day and age it’s easy to believe everything we are told: there are no jobs for graduates, it’s getting harder and harder to earn a living, the economy is in tatters. All doom and gloom? Stephanie has realised her “skills that pay the bills” may not be everyone’s cup of tea but by diversifying her product range, marketing each accordingly and implementing a pricing strategy which compliments both ends of her market she is niching herself in a way that opens opportunities to her, rather than putting all her eggs in one necklace, so to speak.  So what does the future hold?
“I want to keep working for myself. My jewellery is always evolving, I am finding out new things all the time. I can see myself taking a more household route in the future – maybe into furniture and artwork.”
Not only is she generally awesome, makes a great brew and owns her own laser cutter, she has a hamburger phone. An actual hamburger phone. Old school cool. What’s not to love?
Here's her website if you want a gander: