Thursday, 25 October 2012

seen to be seen to be seen

In New Girl episode 17 (if you haven’t watched it –watch it. ALL OF IT) Jess says of a deconstructed spring roll given to her by her new bloke “oh my god! This is so amazing I want to punch you!” That is exactly how I feel about seen. Not that I want to incite violence or anything but the whole concept makes you feel as though you have walked straight through the looking glass. Or that scene in the Truman show where he realises his whole life has been a lie and more exists beyond (this really shows how old I am!!!! #grandma) Forget everything you know about opticians. And read on...

I had to get glasses for driving when I was 17 and I am ashamed to admit it but I have never replaced them. They are ‘secretary’ slashed with ‘best my opticians had to offer at the time.’ Then I found out about seen. I took my glasses in to upgrade them to a cooler model and here is what I found out:

  • ·        The difference between an optician (a specialist in dispensing  glasses) and an optometrist (the person who is qualified to mess with your eyes);
  • ·        Eyes come in two basic shapes: rugby ball and football shaped;
  • ·        The retinal scan pic on the website belongs to Connor;
  • ·        They have the second best business cards out of anyone I know (I am very American Psycho about business cards).

I also think it the coolest (cannot stress this enough) the coolest place to get your glasses. They have a Director of Happiness, they make great tea (and we all know I can’t have a blog post without tea) and they are cool. Achingly so.

But seriously – tucked away in St. Ann’s arcade, seen opened 7 years ago. Fresh off the back of a re-fit, the space has the feel of a pop-up shop and could easily pass for a design museum installation. It’s stunning in its simplicity and uniformity of layout. And their customer service? I posted their video on my Facebook page and the following comment was swiftly added,

OMG the guys at Seen are AMAZING. I got a supercool new pair of specs and sunglasses from there and 2 other people from my firm are going too. Customer service is second to none and we could all learn a thing or two from them!”

When you read fashion blogs the predominant threads are clothes, shoes and bags: seen offers a whole new dimension to style in the form of face wear. They source their glasses from Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo and stock brands you literally won’t find anywhere else: Mykita, Orgreen, Paul Frank (of which I am the proud owner of a brand spanking new pair), Theo, Garrett Leight California Optical, Maui Jim, Tom Ford and the ubiquitous Rayban. Although they aren’t that ubiquitous when seen gets their stylish little paws on them as Tareq (seen head honcho) points out:

“Our best known sunglasses are Rayban - still unbelievably cool and even though you can buy pretty much anywhere, we get first dibs on limited and new editions.”

Go to seen and the lovely peeps will help you find the right pair of specs which reflect both your style and personality. I can’t get over how much I love my new glasses. 

And how kind the guys were when I shamefully put my 15 year old glasses on to show them what they were up against.

If you are thinking about the most awesome gift you can buy for the most awesome person in your life this Christmas then head to seen. Or if you or your other half don’t wear glasses at least head over to their Facebook page and give them the thumbs up. Please don’t punch them, though.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Toby Luper. Easy as 1,2,3

 There are three reasons you lose a tailor:
1.      They die
2.      You run out of money to employ said tailor
3.      The tailor messes up and you sack him

Toby Luper has been at the helm of Hemingway Tailors for over 6 years. No messing up there then. A self-confessed perfectionist, Toby has been in business for 40 years and the family business, Hemingway, invented the first Gortex raincoat in 1981. How’s that for fashion pedigree?
He hand crafts bespoke (this literally means the cloth is spoken for) suits for ladies and gents, has clients as far flung as Russia and Canada and has designed and registered tartans. 

The best thing I found about Toby (from a female perspective) is that he hand makes shirts. You heard me – he hand makes shirts. If you are of the slightly buxom build then buying a shirt off the peg from the Great British High Street will ultimately leave you feeling uncomfortable and exposed. The awful stretching of material across the chest, the slight flash of a bra beneath and the puckering of the cloth under the arms where the strain is evident all point to a sartorial choice poorly made. So you are left with two choices:  constantly pull the shirt down in the vain hope the gap will close leaving you free to get on with your job (doesn't work) or layering up (which certainly doesn't work in summer). You can almost hear the badly fitted shirt screaming as it is pulled taut “I wasn't made for this!!”

Well, it’s a good job Toby’s shirts are: made-to-measure perfection. It’s a bit off the wall but this is what the Alternative Christmas Gift Guide is all about! All shirts can be personalised with your own initials sewn onto the cuff, breast or bottom and prices start from just £165. And with each client’s personal style carefully reflected in the end product it is no small wonder that Toby proclaims,  I'm not just fitting their body, I'm fitting their mind.”

So back to 1, 2 ,3. Having met Toby, I think there is plenty of life in the well-seasoned tailor yet, taking care of option number 1. So as long as you have plenty of money to avoid option 2, I don’t think you’ll need to worry about number 3.