The Perfect Shirt | Top 5 Ways to Know if You’re Buying a Luxury Shirt

Today I’m going to give you 5 things that make the difference on a luxury dress shirt. I’ve been running Hawkins & Shepherd for around 6 years now and have acquired a lot of knowledge and experience in the shirt making industry. Here are some things that I look out for immediately when determining the quality of a shirt.

THE COLLAR

The collar on a man’s dress shirt needs to be high quality. The first thing I look for is edge stitching. What is edge stitching? This is a term given when the stitching runs to the edge of the seam It’s harder to do as a tailor because there is less room for error so therefore it takes longer. It’s a technique that takes greater skill.

Most shirts will have quarter edge stitching.

Another thing to look out for on the collar is whether the collar is non-fused. There will be a lining in a collar that is sometimes fused to the fabric on one if not both sides. It’s a cheaper and quicker way to manufacture shirts. Sadly that adhesive used to fuse the collar can perish and react with the fabric over time and washes. You may have recognised a bubbling effect on your collars if you’re buying entry level shirts. To test whether you are buying a quality dress shirt you should be able to pull the fabric away from the lining on both sides. 

Lastly don’t forget about the removable collar stays. Entry level shirts will have them fused in which can be problematic when ironing. Plus ironing over plastic is not desirable and over time will leave nasty indentations on the collar.

STITCHING

Let’s talking about stitching on a dress shirt. Stitching is the most expensive part when it comes to manufacturing. Especially if the shirt is composed using single needle side seam stitching. (Try saying that after one too many Heinekens). A cheaper method of manufacturing is to use the double needle. But single needle leaves a beautiful finish.  

THE SPLIT YOKE  

The all-important split yoke. I’m talking about the block of fabric situated on the back of the shirt that sits over the shoulders. A split yolk means that 2 pieces of fabric lay over the shoulders. It fits better on the shoulders and there is more flow if you have a split yolk. If there is a pattern shirt then it’s more of a design aspect as to whether you chose to have a split yoke.

Personally I like a non-split yoke when its striped or checked. Watch for a split yoke on a lower quality shirt, quite often the patterns will not match up. 

FRONT PLACKET 

I love it clean no stitching. These might come down to personal preferences but there are certain features that will distinguish a luxury dress shirt.

The front placket should without question have mother of pearl buttons mother of pearl buttons, tightly sewn to the placket.

 Every buttonhole should be sewn vertically, apart from the bottom one. This needs to be sewn horizontally which will allow freedom of movement. The bottom button hole will often be the one that sees the most action and needs to flex with the body.  

Talking of movement, look at the gusset of the shirt. A well-constructed shirt will have the triangle area to allow for more movement. It also cleans the hem to a nice finish.

 Some shirts are over engineered with different fabric on the front. I personally don’t see this as a luxury choice. Just extra fuss and a distraction.

The fabric entry level for a luxury shirt will be a  cotton twin 100's. The higher you go up in the yarn count the finer is going to be and more often the softer. Lower yarn count like 40’s, 60’s will be a thicker fabric and not conducive for a dress shirt.

SLEEVES

It’s crucial that the shoulders line up pattern wise with the arms. Again there should be no fused linings in the cuff. I also look for a smaller button on the sleeve placket. I love double button cuff personally, but that it not deemed a feature of luxury, more tradition. If I have a sharp cut in the collar I would also look the same in the cuff, rounded cuffs and collar. 

ICIW Gym wear | Be the Best Dressed in the Gym

Today I'm going to talk to you about ICIW, an athleisure brand out of Stockholm that have sent on a few garments for me to wear to my KOBOX sessions. 

I'm always keen to champion the brands that share the same belief system as I. That have a similar narrative that often includes starting from nothing, taking a leap of faith. 

When I read the backstory of founder Gustaf Ollas and learned how he too switched paths from full time employment and pursued his vision of creating training clothes that he would like to wear. 

Gustaf worked as Personal Trainer and sold dietary training courses online, but knew very little about the textile industry when he began his journey with ICIW in 2012. 

I think at everyone at some point in their lives have ideas on setting up their own tee shirt company right? They get fixated on a theme or slogan, order up about 1000 and then have to deal with boxes of unsold tee shirts clogging up their garage 2 years down the line. 

For anyone that has had any modicum of success in starting up their own brand they'll know the process for producing new garments generally takes between 6-12 months, from idea to prototype and finally to finished product. If you're interested 

It's a tricky business especially as trends and fashion waves move quicker than seasons in today’s current retail climate. ICIW offer high quality training clothes at a competitive price. Most products are manufactured in limited edition to make the customer feel unique.

SOCIAL MEDIA PHENONMENON 

Again, for budding entrepreneurs, take time to familiarise yourself with the ICIW website. It's clean, easy to use, strong imagery and they empower influencers and leverage their social media accounts in very creative ways. 

For example the Hashtag #icaniwill has been used more than 1,600,000 times in writing.

Today, ICIW are a team of seven. A close knit community that provide awesome training apparel and generate positivity and health through the medium of fashion.



Bremont Watches | A Brief History of the Brand

I was fortunate enough to be invited to Henley Regatta last week on behalf of Bremont watches. You can catch that article on the Henley Regatta dress code over on my blog here

The day was truly educational. My first time at the Regatta it's one of those landmark events that makes you feel unashamedly and quintessentially British. 

Bremont is not only a proud sponsor of the Henley Regatta, but also operates a  Parts Manufacturing Facility in a separate location just outside Henley-on-Thames where it is manufacturing case and movement components.

So it's a great homegrown brand. A brand borne out of hardship and tragedy, when the founders and brothers Giles and Nick English suffered a tragic loss. In 1995 their father Euan died and Nick broke over 30 bones following an air-show training incident that Nick had with his father, Euan English.

(I'm going to include the story from the press release here as I can't word it better and it's such a romantic genesis, that I feel it has to be told). 

"The following year after the plane crash, Nick and Giles were back in the air, flying across France in a 60-year-old plane. Bad weather forced them to make an emergency landing in a pea field in the Champagne region.

As fate would have it, the field was owned by an old farmer, who not only reminded the brothers of their own father, but was also a former WWII pilot and just as passionate about aircraft as Nick and Giles.

His farmhouse, where the brothers stayed for a couple of nights, also housed a wonderful selection of restored wall clocks and he wore a particularly special wristwatch, the one given to him by his father. His name, Antoine Bremont, was chosen to grace this range of British watches with his passions in life mirroring closely those of the brothers and their late father.

The brothers were determined to make a watch that would last more than a lifetime. To that end, it had to be made from the best available materials using the most tried and tested techniques.

Indeed, this led to the company’s maxim “Tested Beyond Endurance”; all Bremont timepieces would be tested above and beyond the demands placed upon conventional wristwatches."

It's great to see a British brand invest so much into the local economy, providing jobs and reviving the some would herald, the lost art of British watchmaking. 

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 Passionate about reinvigorating Britain’s horological past, Bremont is wholly dedicated to developing mechanical watch manufacturing expertise in the UK and plans are underway for the opening of a new headquarters bringing together the current manufacturing and assembly under one roof. The 35,000 sq ft building will be a bespoke design built into the Oxfordshire countryside.

Bremont has flagship boutiques in London, New York, Hong Kong and Melbourne with plans for further expansion.

Please take the time to find out more about Bremont and visit their website here

 

 

The Oblique Life: The Ultimate London Community

Today I'm very pleased to announce the news that Hawkins & Shepherd are now on the Oblique Life platform. People that have subscribed to the Oblique Life membership can now enjoy 15% off Hawkins & Shepherd shirts. Let me tell you about the Oblique Life and why you should sign up. 

The Oblique Life is a lifestyle brand that receives access to an array of high-quality experiences, unique editorial content, and benefits from hand-selected partners. 

The Oblique Life was originally created around a shared vision of helping Londoners meet, connect and engage like they used to, before the days of dating apps and social media. 

London can feel quite all-encompassing sometimes. I can't remember the quote, maybe it was Pepys, but London was once referred to as being something and nothing to everyone at the same time. Meaning, London is your oyster. But it can be all encompassing too. Overwhelming. Disconnected. 

If your family is not in London you can feel like they're on the other side of the world. That's the London bubble effect. 

Life moves faster here. It's 6am starts. It's moving between the raindrops and rush hour on the tube. It's breakneck on foot and gridlock on all roads. 

Whether it’s an exclusive discount or a queue jump, complimentary tickets or special access, they have a commitment to customer service that mirrors the merits of my own brand. Personalisation. 

They have a concierge and lifestyle management service, which helps members save time on researching, planning, and booking, thus enabling them to spend more time doing the things they love. 

Like watching Love Island. Wait, what happened? I meant going to the National Gallery, and stuff. 

Members of The Oblique Life can access their Make It Happen (concierge) service 24/7 via the live chat built into The Oblique Life mobile app.

They organise over 150 experiences a year across all areas of lifestyle; Food & Drink, Music, Culture, Fashion, Travel, Health & Technology. 

How is Hawkins & Shepherd involved with The Oblique Life? 

Yes let me get to that now. Plenty of information is available over on the Oblique Life site about the experiences but here are some of the other benefits you can receive through the Oblique Life platform. 

As a member you'll be offered exclusive discounts with over 70 carefully selected partner brands. 

These include: Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour | 20% off drinks every day. Goat Chelsea | 20% off total bill every day. Little Yellow Door | 15% off total bill every day. Anami London | 20% off all treatments and packages. Elliot Rhodes | 15% off products in store. Appleyard Flowers | 20% off all bouquet deliveries. Laundrapp | 10% off Laundrapp services. 

The Oblique Life Digital Magazine is also an online lifestyle publication. (I'm sure you guys are already aware).

From in-depth editorials and curated guides to videos and podcasts, it's quite something that these guys are doing over there and I'm excited and honoured to be invited into the community.

They accept membership applications throughout the year. If you would like to apply, please visit the following URL to submit your online application: www.theobliquelife.com/apply

The Jo Malone London Gent | Introducing John Boyega

Jo Malone London has extended the family to proudly welcome and announce the appointment of London born movie star, John Boyega, as an ambassador for the brand. 

You might know John Boyega from the Alexa adverts, more than likely from the Star Wars franchise. However, I first clocked eyes on him when he starred in Attack the Block which was set on a Brixton estate in South London. 

It was quite a divisive film that I so happened to love. As an aside you should listen to film critic Mark Kermode get dismantled by the movies director Joe Cornish when he delivers an indifferent verdict. That doesn't happen every day of the week.

What I love about John Boyega is how down-to-earth he comes across. Growing up in Peckham, to Nigerian British parents his story celebrates the diversity and vibrant culture of this city, he still proudly calls home.

In a recent Q&A with Jo Malone London John refers to fame as something of a non-event. Almost an anti-climax.

JML: What is something you didn't expect about being famous? 

JB: One thing I didn't expect about being famous is the fact that some things don't change. Sometimes you have to wait in the queue like everyone else and that's fine. I mean, I guess I got told so many things about being famous I thought that everything was going to change from me. But I still go shopping late at night in my PJ's. Nothing's really changed. 

His latest role see’s Boyega navigate new territory, celebrating Britishness, storytelling and fragrance as he takes on a new kind of spotlight as the first Jo Malone London Gent. 

I know what you're all thinking, hey Carl, weren't you crowned the first Jo Malone London Gent? You're absolutely right, I'm sure it's just a typo in the press release, no need to get the lawyers involved.

About the collaboration John says: “I love the creativity and storytelling element of Jo Malone London. It’s something I resonate with,  it’s how I work best. With discussion, collaboration and down to earth honesty.”

This is very exciting news, John Boyega has my pure unadulterated benediction (not that he needed it) and I can't wait to see him put his personal stamp on the brand. 

I guess this also heightens my chances of being an extra in the next Star Wars movie. Even if it's just by 00.1%, as they say, never give up the daydream. 

 You can shop the Men's Fragrance at one of many of the Jo Malone London stores, or through their website

I've written extensively about Jo Malone London and their products in other posts, as a brand ambassador I'm always first to the press releases and monthly updates. Make sure you follow me on the social pages where I deliver all the latest updates as I get them. 

 

Simple Solution for Dandruff & Flaky Scalp | T/Gel by NEUTROGENA®

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Today I'm going to talk about T/Gel by NEUTROGENA®, Simple Solution for Dandruff & Flaky Scalp. 

As an ambassador for NEUTROGENA® I'm very keen to bring some of their grooming products to the forefront and explain the benefits. 

I'm lucky enough to never have suffered dandruff, but I've suffered a dry scalp from time to time.

T/Gel by NEUTROGENA® combats the dryness and relieves itchiness. 

I've done some research this morning and have learnt several new things. People can feel massively insecure about having dandruff. It plagues people’s confidence and even if treated, they're constantly living with the worry of it returning. 

One reviewer spoke of her trouble with psoriasis and dermatitis. Not only did she apply the T/Gel by NEUTROGENA to her scalp like an ordinary shampoo, but to other areas of her skin that were dry and flaky. 

To do this you shake the bottle and rub a small amount into the areas affected This sinks into your skin like a lotion. 

For hard to reach places, sensitive areas, apply some to a cue tip or ear bud and lather in. Leave overnight if possible and continue the treatment for a month for optimum results. 

My personal review on T/Gel by NEUTROGENA®

The shampoo lathers up really well in your hair. Always a plus for me. They say to use twice a week if you're having problems with a dry scalp. 

I personally only need to really hydrate my scalp say once a week. The smell is quite medicinal and people have mentioned that it's too potent. I found it lingers for a few hours in the morning but I quite like the smell. Tea-tree oil mainly. 

Remember it's a therapeutic shampoo, which includes anti-fungal properties that can help manage dandruff. If it has a medicinal smell then there is a greater chance that it's doing its job. 

Rinse away after shampooing and give your scalp a chance to breath before applying any other products. 

At the time of writing the T/Gel by NEUTROGENA® has over 60 reviews on Amazon at a rating of 4.2/5. 

SHOP THE RANGE OF T/GEL PRODUCTS

Men's Dress Code at Henley Regatta | What to wear for Henley Regatta

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What makes Henley Regatta one of the best events in the Summer calendar? This year I was kindly invited to enjoy the frivolities of the festival on behalf of Bremont watches. 

It was my first year at the Henley Royal Regatta. Of course I had first gotten the rowing bug watching the likes of Steve Redgrave and Alex Gregory bring the Olympic Gold home for Great Britain. 

My long distance readers might also be familiar with the scene from The Social Network depicting the oddly brilliant Winklevoss race sequence, filmed here in Henley. 

I finally got to experience my first ever Henley Regatta. Cautious to meet the right dress criteria, I opted for my white Debenhams chino trousers with my stone peak-lapelled linen blend Reiss jacket and a Hawkins & Shepherd formal shirt

You'll find many navy and deckchair striped blazers at the event. Of course if you’re affiliated with a rowing club or rowing school, you’ll be able to wear your school/club blazer and tie.

I adhered to these trends by wearing a burgundy, grey chevron tie, with a pin stripe shirt. The burgundy really off-set the white colours and we were really fortunate with the weather.

The linen jacket was light enough to circulate the heat and of course my Bremont watch finished the all British look. (OK aside from my Tom Ford sunglasses, nearly all-British).  

It's worth noting one of the event sponsors Jeremy Hackett of Hackett London has a word on the dress code on the Henley Regatta site. If you're not attending the Stewards Enclosure there is no dress code, although one is encouraged to enter the spirit of the event with rowing apparel and striped attire

Elsewhere I was in esteemed company with the likes of David Evans from Grey Fox Blog. He looked an absolute picture in the paddock as they say, wearing a striped shirt from Budd Shirtmaker’s, a Navy New and Lingwood jacket and a straw panama from Laird Hatters. 

Influencer and model Alistair Guy plumbed for a blue pinstripe shirt from Eton Shirts. 





 

 

Production Ready Aston Martin Rapide E Arrives in London

Aston Martin’s first electric model – Rapide E, has now arrived in Park Lane, London. First unveiled in Shanghai back in April 2019, the Rapide E is a pivotal model for the luxury marque. 

Production is limited to 155 examples and is another game-changer, propelling Aston Martin into the all-electric realm.

Question for you readers, where does your eye go to first on a car like this? Mine are instantly drawn to the striking honeycomb front grille. It's confident, and in keeping with the prominent blue strip, feels quite 'dragster'. 

When you walk alongside the Rapide E you'll notice the wheels have a retro matted black and silver finish, interspersed with hollowed miniature coffin silhouettes. Sure, say what you see Carl. I like them, like a Darth Vadar mask. 

The Rapide E is the first car to be built at Aston Martin’s state-of-the-art St Athan production facility and has been developed in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE).
 
A re-designed underfloor streamlines airflow from the front splitter and the removal of the exhaust system (alongside other features) results in an 8% aerodynamic improvement over the previous internal combustion model. 

For the full specifications and intricacies of the Rapide E I recommend you visit the website.

 “Unveiling the Rapide E will be a huge moment for Aston Martin. As our first all-electric production car, it is a truly historic step. One that signals Aston Martin is prepared for the huge challenge of an environmentally responsible and sustainable future.

As a car company we cannot afford to passively allow that future to come to us; we have to actively chase it. Only by doing this can we learn and prepare, but also preserve those things we love as drivers and car enthusiasts.

That’s why it was so important to me that in embracing EV technology we should not let go of those unique qualities that define an Aston Martin. I believe Rapide E embodies that desire and paves the way for a hugely exciting future.” - Dr Andy Palmer, President and Group CEO, Aston Martin Lagonda

It's an incredible evolutionary leap what Aston Martin are doing. This time the future has a face of elegance. Unlike most of the boxy-tank like cars we saw in all futurism movies in the early 90's. (Timecop anyone?) 

Rapide E is available to order now, with prices available on application.

A Look Into the Future with Aston Martin Lagonda Vision Concept

Last week I paid a visit to the Aston Martin showroom on Park Lane, London to inspect the Lagonda 'Vision Concept' and the Rapide E.

I was truly in the presence of greatness. For a full list of the capabilities of the Aston Martin I am leaving a link at the bottom. This article is going to be a short synopsis of the design features, plus my impressions. 

Initially unveiled in Geneva, Switzerland back in March 2018 the Aston Martin Lagonda Vision Concept was precedented as becoming the first emission-free luxury vehicle.

The space afforded inside the vehicle by the disposing of traditional architecture, is extraordinary. The subtraction of frontal areas and Parthenon grilles elongates the car interiors exponentially, offering the illusion of length. I felt like Prometheus lounging back, almost enveloped entirely in the woollen cosseted bucket seats. 

English craftsman David Snowdon was called upon to create the fabrics, a mixture of silk carpets and hand woven wool upholstery, with patterns and finishing’s cut to spec by Savile Row tailors Henry Poole. (Notice the regal military epaulettes that ornate the shoulders on the driver seat). 

Lagonda aims to be the world’s first zero emission luxury brand. In the Lagonda Vision Concept, the batteries occupy the floor of the car. Everything above that line belongs to the driver or passengers. 

How low can you go? 

You'll also notice how low the car is due to this feature. Far lower than traditional limousines. Its radical design means there is room inside for four adults, each of two metres height or more, to stretch out in luxurious comfort.

The car doors have incredible apertures. The doors are rear hinged and the roof sections open outwards much like a DeLorean. This offers an unprecedented ease of access. Occupants can therefore literally stand up inside and walk out of the car, or step straight into it.

And it drives itself

The Lagonda Vision Concept also anticipates a world with a high level of autonomy. The steering wheel can not only move from left to right hand drive according to need, in autonomous mode it can also retract entirely allowing front seat passengers to rotate through 180 degrees to engage in face to face conversation with those in the back.

Imagine hosting a meeting in this level of luxury whilst the car drives you to the office. The landscape is changing rapidly for autonomous cars and Lagonda are looking to pull away.

How much? 

I wasn't given a price however I was told that people are putting down deposits on this car, even though production is not planned to start until 2021.

For more information visit The Official Lagonda website at https://lagonda.com.

 

 

Gillette Subscription Service: One to consider?

Today I'm going to be highlighting the Gillette Subscription Service. The idea of subscription packages is designed to be mutually beneficial for both consumer and customer. 

I run my own shirt subscription service for shirt enthusiasts whom enjoy a rotation of quality shirts. So you could say I'm well drilled. 

Of many of the subscription services out there, this to me is the one that makes the most sense. Men who have an established ritualistic grooming regime will always require quality razors. 

Step 1

With Gillette you have the options of 3 quality blades. Whether it’s the Mach3, our five-bladed Fusion5 or Proglide with Flexball technology, they have the right razor for you. 

Step 2

After you select your blade, choose how often you want to receive your refill blades.

I have a short beard but do like to wet shave certain areas like I've mentioned on previous posts. So as I have regular, yet modest use for a razor, my refill subscription would be lower than most.

Gillette base the frequency of blade refill deliveries on how often you shave in a week. Every refill pack we send has 4 blades from your chosen razor that you can attach to your razor handle so you never run out of blades. 

After you sign up

After you place your order, you will receive a starter kit including the razor of your choosing, a shave prep, travel case and one replacement blade. 

After 15 days Gillette dispatch your first blade refill pack and they will keep sending them out at your chosen frequency.

Can I cancel anytime? 

This is actually the best bit. So many times we get roped into yearlong subscriptions. Phone contracts, Gym, SKY TV etc. I think some of these companies act immorally. 

Why do I need to be tied to a Gym for a year? Imagine starting every relationship like that. Your first Tinder date. The girl seems nice but then after five minutes she whips out a contract that means you'll be buying her drinks for the next year.' 

I digress. 

The Gillette Subscription is one to consider. There are others out there of course but I approve of the concept and the products. 

*This paid sponsored post was created in collaboration with Gillette UK and The Hut Group. All views are of my own.

 

My Morning Regime with American Crew

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Today I'm going to walk you through my morning regime with American Crew. I will be posting a YouTube video to this article that will also help. I've been using American Crew products for over two years now. Many things have come and gone in my grooming rituals, but American Crew has been one of the few mainstays. 

Before jumping into the shower I apply the Clay Exfoliator. Get a coffee whilst it dries and read some news, social posts etc.

I then hit the showers, switch the dial to cold and put my body into shock for 30 seconds. It's like having ten cans of red bull. 

After I switch the dial back to a more realistic temperature I apply the following:

  • Daily Moisturising Shampoo

  • Daily Conditioner

  • Rinse off the clay exfoliating Cleanser

The Daily Moisturising Shampoo is suitable for all hair types, it offers volume and has a nice subtle fragrance. The conditioner stimulates the scalp and gives it a healthy look. 

NOTE - I won't lie, if I'm pressed for time I'll just use the clay exfoliator as a facial wash and scrub evenly under the hot water for a few minutes. 

Beard:

You're probably thinking, 'Jeez-Louise Carl, doesn't this eat into your day?' You'd be right. But I don't actually mind the maintenance. I take pride in my appearance and I enjoy the process of looking good.

Much like you need to enjoy the process of cooking to appreciate the meal. Wait did someone say Deliveroo? Only messin'. 

For my beard I wash my face with warm water, then apply the ultra-gliding shave oil. It's important to get the oil into the beard. You don't need to apply more than a drop or two. But get it right in there. Oils of eucalyptus and clove are antibacterial and counter nicks, razor bumps and ingrown hairs for a clean shave.

Then after I do any trimming or maintenance, I apply the serum which softens the beard.

Skin Care:

As Scaramanga would say 'this is the part I really like'. My face is like a puppy waiting for the return of his master. It can't wait to be hydrated and recharged. 

Don't forget to apply the hydrating cream over your face AND neckline. Your neck needs some loving too. 

Lastly the eyes, the windows to your soul, why not give those windows a little gloss. The eye hydrating gel It diminishes the puffiness and I feel like I can look myself in the mirror and brave the world and all its beauty. 

Hair Styling:

And for the headline act, (pun intended) we have the forming cream for the hair. I have medium yet, quite curly hair so this forming cream is perfect. It provides hold, excellent pliability, and a natural shine. 

Check out my YouTube video for a full demonstration and make sure you hit subscribe. 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own. As I alluded to earlier I've been a long-time user of American Crew and am proud to be an ambassador for them in the UK. 

 

Austin Reed: Progressive Made to Measure Service Goes Door to Door

Austin Reed have unveiled their personal tailoring service, bringing the Made to Measure experience to your home, office, private members club etc. 

I think it's a fantastic move, progressive yet equally clandestine and traditional. Talk to any of the big tailors or shirt makers around today and they'll regale stories of how they would go meet their clients at their place of work or in their hotel etc. 

The legendary Doug Hayward would often meet his clients at The Dorchester and not only measure them, but watch them walk around the room. Study their posture and how they carry themselves. 

Austin Reed are recognising that it's a different world where our attention and time are strained. Not everyone gets lunch hours to nip off to their tailors to get measured. And how good is any experience when it feels frenzied? 

How does it work? 

Together (you and the Austin Reed consultant) will peruse their exclusive selection of luxury fabrics, linings and trims to visualise your bespoke suit.

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Following your first consultation Austin Reed will contact you to arrange a fitting. Final adjustments and any fine-tuning will be completed in a matter of days, with your finished design presented in a versatile Austin Reed travel cover.

Pricing starts from £500, with a made to measure 2-piece suit totalling to approximately £1000. 

My experience was relatively frictionless. I scheduled a consultation and thoroughly enjoyed the process. There is something undeniably empowering about being fitted for a suit on your own terms. I felt like Roger Moore. 

I think we've all been put in situations where we've been persuaded into ill decisions/purchases, perhaps due alien environments. In the sanctuary of my own home I felt much more confident about the process.

CONSULTATION

The Clothier came to my house, I offered him a cup of coffee and some biscuits (not the shortbread) whilst he walked me through the fabric and design options. We discussed football, fashion and of course dogs, whilst I was measured for the suit. Then we had to discuss the style options, such a single vent, turn-up trousers, side-adjusters and what colour buttons - to name a few.

PRODUCTION

After the initial consultation and measuring, the fitting is arranged. Any tweaking or adjustments can also be done through the Austin Reed Made to Measure service which ensures the desired result. 

 

 

Jocks&Nerds Revival: Can Print Magazines go Advertisement-Free?

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Jocks & Nerds returns after a 2-year hiatus. Founder and Editor, Marcus Agerman Ross spoke to one of my contributors Pete Brooker about why he has revived the brand and got his take on the current climate for the print industry. 

Why did we take two years out and what have you learnt in your two year sabbatical?

I was forced to close it down because the business didn’t work anymore. When I realised I had to shut it down I realised I was exhausted, physically and emotionally - aside from the financial pain of it all. I always says there’s only one thing harder than running a business and that’s running a business that’s failing. It’s a horrible place to be.

I started working over 20 years ago and, for better or for worse, I saw what I did as journalism and that journalism was something independent - an important view on the world.

That has all been stripped away before our eyes - I don’t think anyone really understood how it happened or how quickly. (When I started Jocks&Nerds Instagram didn’t even exist and smartphones where a totally new thing!!)

I found myself in a tough situation. Middle-aged with professional experience in only one industry - one that essentially no longer exists. The skills people want today are brand new and I find them really boring.

(I was actually looking at the site of a fairly creative company recently - not for work but for something else - I clicked on their jobs board and all the jobs were things like UX developer, coder, etc!!) I genuinely think it’s very hard to be a creative professional right now. There used to be outlets for creativity that might not have paid so well as the commercial work but all of those avenues are being torn down by the new technology.

I looked for work in places where I thought my skill sets and experience would be really valued but I got nowhere. I also looked at working in totally new sectors but nothing was really coming together.

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In that time, I decided to start a Jocks&Nerds radio show on Soho Radio so that we could keep the name alive and some connection with our audience. I think radio/podcasts are about the only place where you can be journalistic and independent right now. There’s no money in it but there’s essentially no cost either so you can reach people fairly easily and say what you want. It doesn’t tick every box for what I want to say as an editor but it is very useful.

Over that period I kept meeting readers and fans of the mag who told me how much they missed and that there was nothing else out there. I realised that although the advertising had gone, the readership still remained and I started to think how I might be able to put something back together. That was really the start of it.

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The word is there will be no advertising this time around in Jocks & Nerds, how do you expect to finance the publication?

I’m incredibly lucky that I have managed to build an incredible team of contributors around Jocks&Nerds who believe passionately in what we are trying to do and that we stand up for something important that no one else is doing right now. They give up their own time, money and energy to help make it happen.

Now I’m printing the magazine digitally which means I don’t have to print more copies than I can sell. The downside of this the unit cost is really high hence the higher cover price but it is the only way to get it out.

In reality I’ll lose money doing it but I can’t see any other way right now. I value complete control and the ability to do something of value over advertising. Besides, advertisers ultimately destroyed what we were doing in the first place so it’s much better not to have them.

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Were you tempted to completely rebrand?

We already have a recognisable name and we’ve built a sizeable, loyal audience over the best part of a decade so it makes sense to continue as Jocks & Nerds. But we have redesigned the magazine and made a new logo.

This is partly down to the fact that the content is slightly different now and we want people to regard it more as a book or periodical than a magazine - it’s designed to be archival and of value on the bookshelf.

I was lucky that the art director who worked with me at the very beginning, Phil Buckingham, was keen to get involved again. He knows the ethos behind the magazine inside out and knows how to work with me so that was really helpful in this process.

What part of the physical print format did you miss most whilst you were away?

I’ve said this many times recently but I think it’s a really important point. Magazines are in many ways completely anachronistic today whilst also being vitally important. There are issues about them being hugely expensive to produce, difficult to distribute, slow, bad for the environment, etc.

Equally, they are important because no new media format is able to do what magazines do. By that I mean if you think of audio (music, radio, etc) and visual (TV and film) the end user experience isn’t really altered. If anything some things are better. Digital radio is crystal clear and podcasts can be listened to on the go.

But magazines which are edited around a theme, idea or view on the world, that use design as an integral part of the editorial voice, that combine imagery and text in a considered way, that have scale and impact - nothing else exists that can do that - so they are important if those things are valued and I mean that from an editor/journalist point of view.

As I said at the top, the business model is broken so I hope there can be a new way forward with printing costs, distribution, etc and a break-up of the tech oligopolies somewhere down the line. Independent voices like ours are being crushed and I think it will set a dangerous precedent for media going forward.

More of this interview can be found on Pete’s site, Human Research.

 

You can find all available stockists for Jocks&Nerds through their website.

Tom Ford Lavender Extreme Fragrance Review

Today I'm going to lend you my thoughts on the Tom Ford Lavender Extreme which was released in May 2019. 

This private blend is in the higher tiered pricing bracket, £220 for a 50ml. A little on the steep side but is it worth it? The bottle is presented in silver throughout and oozes luxury.

OPENING

The opening notes are fresh, of course it's undeniably Lavender, but it's a fragrance that lets other things in. I found some bergamot creeping in, but not the bitter or medicinal kind. 

Before the tonka bean and the creamy texture hit me on the dry-down, I was preoccupied with some similarities between this and Taste of Heaven By Kilian. The Tom Ford Lavender Extreme is more of a subtle Lavender. Although I would say the two could saddle nicely together. 

The Lavender Extreme has a better smoothness than say the Fucking Fabulous scent, but lacks the creaminess of a Lost Cherry. 

I should say that although the Lavender lets the other notes have their time in the sun, nothing over powers it. Nothing dare usurp the headline act. 

It's a scent that really follows you for the first couple of hours. The silage I'd say is around 3 feet and I'd be wearing this on business casual occasions.

It doesn't quite have that event smell. I wouldn't want to wear this during Goodwood or any Black Tie (unless layered with another Tom Ford Private Blend fragrance, Tuscan Leather or Tobacco Vanille might work nicely). But I picture this as a signature scent, upmarket meetings, grey suit and possible first date scent. 

It's a very controlled scent. 

COMPLIMENTS 

I've been wearing this for a week now. My trip to Ascot got me some interesting compliments from the guys, although some remarked that it didn't project as much as you'd hope a fragrance from Tom Ford would. 

Which is why I'd have this as business casual. Layer it for events. I'd like to make a statement and have some allure for the bigger dates in my calendar. 

The women (or I should say, woman) absolutely adored this. Not overpowering, not over glowing. Just very luxurious and seasonal. This is a summer fragrance that’s fresh, confident and classy. 

What to Wear to the Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Festival of Speed is a monolithic garden party for petrol heads drawing some of the biggest cars and stars from around the world. 

The event runs from 4th-7th July and 4 day passes being from 159 GBP. If anyone is going please drop me a line, I'm in discussion with a couple of brands and will hopefully be making an appearance. 

In preparation I'm already looking at potential outfits. (What's the cub scout motto?) Here are some suggestions and outfits on what I think you can be wearing to the Festival of Speed. 

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TWEED | DANDY not DAPPER

I'll certainly be donning some tweed, although not the thick tweed you might see in Cheltenham Races. I'm hoping it will be too hot for that typical thick Donegal tweed. 

The difference between the Goodwood Revival and the Festival of Speed is the dress sense is more modern. The baggy Oxford trousers and the thick herringbone tweed look beautiful at the Revival. It is essentially reviving classic looks with heavier fabrics and a fuller cut. 

The Festival of Speed takes that classic look and slots it neatly in a contemporary style. (Yes classic with a modern twist). The cut will be slimmer. The dandyism will still be prevalent but with less windowpane and more cleaner patterns such as herringbone or twill.

See below the difference of a gentleman with a more vintage take for the revival versus the cleaner look of David Gandy photographed for the Festival of Speed on the right. 

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If the weather is really hot (here's hoping) then you might want to have a seersucker suit on standby. 

I'll be no doubt wearing the country shirt from my own collection Hawkins & Shepherd. These button down check shirts will ameliorate the suit from just a conventional look. Styled with a cravat which is celebrated, this will denote to the onlooker that you've put some thought into your outfit. 

It is one of those events worth dressing up for. Without slipping into cosplay, which can be a tricky wire to tread. 

Introducing Sniph: Explore the Scents

Today I'm going to introduce you to a new fragrance company out of Sweden called SNIPH. I flew out to their Headquarters in Stockholm for a couple of days and was introduced officially to the brand.

SO WHAT IS SNIPH? 

In a nutshell it is a monthly fragrance discovery service. They cater for men’s, women’s and unisex perfumes so this is truly something for everyone.

The idea is quite simple. The expert perfumers at SNIPH have already sampled hundreds of artisanal scents from the best boutique perfume studios around the world and keep searching globally to find new niche and exclusive fragrances for you. They then select the ones they think you’ll like best and sort them out in their 6 distinctive collections.

Gradually your selection gets more refined as SNIPH comes accustomed to the scents that you prefer.

Finding a new perfume can be tedious. Sniph is a discovery service for perfume that enables you to try new perfumes. Every month they deliver carefully selected perfumes from exclusive brands in a smart and chic 8ml bottle. With 6 distinctive collections to choose from, you’ll receive a new fragrance that is perfectly tailored to you every month, directly to your door. With no commitments and always free shipping. Basically, they are here to make it simple and fun for you to explore new scents, for you to fall in love with and for any mood or occasion. Perfect for finding your new signature scent, or building a scent wardrobe.

They don't do high-street brands, instead they celebrate uniqueness and are welcoming you into the hidden world of scents to let you enjoy carefully selected perfumes from exclusive brands. Sniph partners with amazing perfume houses worldwide. This means the scents in your subscription may be available in the UK or exclusively available through Sniph.

BUT I LIKE MY OWN FRAGRANCE, WHY WOULD SNIPH WORK FOR ME? 

Firstly, it's always good to mix and match your fragrances. I'm a loyal lover and brand ambassador for Jo Malone London for example, but my shelf is not exclusive to their scents.

By experimenting with different fragrances from SNIPH this enables you to 'explore the world of scents' (to coin their campaign slogan).

You also might like to have some of the heavy lifting taken away from you when it comes to shopping for fragrances. Let someone else with experience select a fragrance for you.

Another thing, that I learned during these days with Sniph in Sweden, is the power of scent. Scent has the power to stir emotions, awaken memories, set moods and captivate the imagination.

Think about it, would you want to smell the same at an important meeting and at a date?

 With this being said a scent wardrobe, where you choose your scent after mood and occasion, is the new way of looking at scent. And to be honest there is a full world out there of amazing scents that would be a shame to miss out on. 

ANY OTHER BENEFITS FOR USING SNIPH? 

Sure, they come in very handy travel vials together with a neat and smart case. Less than 100ml which is also convenient for the bathroom. I know it sounds like woe is me sometimes, but I don't always have the space for all the fragrances on my nightstand or bathroom shelf. (Remember this is London, no walk-in wardrobes here).

They are also really hear to share their love for scent with the world and invite people in to their world. To educate people about the world of scents is one of their missions which means that you will never just receive a random scent with learning about it as well. 

HOW WAS THE TRIP CARL? 

Thanks for asking guys, it was short and sweet but a very interesting and relaxing affair. You may have seen from my stories I enjoyed some yoga sessions at the Djursholm Country Club.

It was a perfect induction into sensory awakening. How often do we close our eyes and listen to what it is we're smelling. 

So much focus is on the visual. Instagram is a proven benefactor of that. Imagine an APP that delivered a scent to your phone. (Jesus that's a great idea, Zuckerberg lets schedule a meeting).

After that we made a flower crown and had some drinks. You know, standard Swedish customs. 

In Sweden they have a Midsummer tradition where you place 7 different flowers under your pillow. You then dream of your one true love.

SNIPH had a neat twist on this tradition and left 7 different fragrances for us to spray on our pillow. I dreamt of ice cream!

I'd like to thank SNIPH for inviting me to Sweden and introducing me to their brand. I had a real sense of community and kinship with the founders and staff. I'll be writing more about SNIPH and the fragrances I receive in later posts.

SNIPH offer subscriptions for 14 GBP a month with free delivery. I am very pleased to be a SNIPH ambassador and all thoughts here are my own. 

DISCOUNT CODE: Use my personalised discount code below which will give you 25% OFF.

HAWKINS25

Is it Too Late to become an Instagram Star?

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Are you thinking now is the time to make a big push on your Instagram account? It's getting a lot of traction but now we need to monetise the traffic?

I think a lot of people have that leap of faith moment, but are unsure on whether they've missed the influencer boat. 

Is it too late to enter a saturated market with only a modicum of the following that some of the big boys have?

You might want to first ask yourself the following questions such as Why do you want to become an Influencer? 

  1. Is it to get freebies?

  2. Is it because your current job sucks and you need a way out that doesn't involve study or rebranding?

  3. Did you just catch your own reflection and think you're too good looking to be working as a cashier or flipping burgers?

Ok so you whatever the reason, let me just emphasise that I know very few influencers, even the big ones, that have given up the day jobs to leverage their social media accounts. Especially a lot of friends I have in the industry will often utilise other content related skills. Videography, podcasting, ghost writing etc. 

My short answer is, NOPE, never too late.

I like this article from Nicolas Cole who posed a similar question in INC magazine. Basically none of the monoliths in the tech industry today knew their terrain when they first started out. 

Even AMAZON started solely selling books. Facebook was exclusive to University students. Let's just say when you started your page you might have been posting pictures of your chicken dinner, now you want to focus on fashion or beauty products. 

Who cares, what you want to post about. So long as it's a genuine interest of yours. 

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Here are 3 chunky facts for you to take away:

1 billion people use Instagram every month

I recommend you check out this article on Hootsuite that gives you the skinny on some Instagram facts for 2019. 500 million people use Instagram every day. That's a huge global resource and if you're telling me that your genre is saturated then perhaps you need to find the niche within a niche. 

OR just think logistically, that you have the potential to reach 500 million people. No matter if there's a bunch of you all focusing on the same thing, no one is doing it the way you're doing it. 

Instagram Posts That Include a Location Receive 79% More Engagement

Check out some more statistics about Instagram in an article on Influencer Marketing Hub. What does this tell you? That some people still don't know how to truly leverage their audience potential.

Imagine if you somehow did shed tonnes more research than the person who is competing for your campaign, on how to capitalise on a theme or product, then all of a sudden it's not such a saturated market after all. You can climb the ladder and get a bigger market share. 

Photos With Faces Get 38% More Likes

I pulled this one from Omnicore. So imagine what people are engaging with? People. The personal touch. The human element. No matter what your face looks like statistics show that it’s what people are more interested in engaging with. 

I hope this has helped. I hope you find what you're looking for on Instagram. Remember it is work, although not real work

The Best Wildlife Instagrammers to Follow

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Awhile back I did an article on The Best French Bulldogs to follow on Instagram. Sure I was just killing time between flights, but it actually got a great response. It's prompted me to do another one in a similar vein, this time the best Wildlife Photographers on Instagram.

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WILDLIFEPHOTO.NATURE

Wow. Simply wow. Just makes you thankful that you're an apex predator right? Can you imagine sharing the same postcode as some of these guys? Your head would be on a constant swivel, wondering if today's the day you're going to be eaten alive.

Also I heard the lions always start with the wedding vegetables because it’s like a delicacy for them. What a way to go eh?

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WWF International 

A very important account to follow if you want to support the protection of wildlife. I used to sponsor a Tiger back in the day through the WWF. His name was Rocky. It was actually quite rewarding. Rocky would send me letters letting me know how my five pound a month is helping him sustain a better life in the wilderness. Although I suspect he just spent it on fags and booze. Who can blame him.

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KEVIN MITCHELL PHOTO 

From Kevin's bio. 'Landscape, wildlife and travel photography. Prints available through my website.' Kevin centres heavily on the birds. As we all do I suppose. A lot of owls in his photos.

Do you ever wonder why we consider owls to be wise? They really flatter to deceive owls don't they? They look clever, but really, have you ever seen an owl on Countdown? Ever seen an owl in a lab coat working on a vaccine to prevent the common cold?

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Varun Aditya

From his bio. 'Natgeo Nature Photographer of the year 2016 (1st prize)' His photos are truly spectacular. What's more amazing is that someone else must have beaten him to the NatGeo pic of the year 2017/18. I wonder if I send in my pictures of Charlie chewing on the recycling I'd be in with a shot of winning that thing.

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Florian Schulz Visuals

From his bio 'Florian Schulz. Photographer | Filmmaker | Speaker Contributor to National Geographic. Passionate about protecting earth’s wilderness areas and its wildlife.'

There's something fascinating about bears right? I mean more so than any other animal. I love the fact that in all the survival guides that tell you to puff your chest out and make yourself big if confronted by a bear. Whatever you do don't run.

Does anyone believe that a Kodiak Bear weighing in at half a tonne in pure muscle is going to think twice about running scared just because mini-me is flexing his 38" chest? I'll run for the hills if it’s all the same.

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Laurent Ballesta

From his bio 'Laurent Ballesta - Leader of GOMBESSA Expeditions - Underwater Photographer - Marine biologist.'

Does anyone have an unhealthy fear of the ocean because they saw the movie Jaws way to young? Makes sense thought right? The land is our domain, the sea is theirs. Think of it this way. If you saw a Japanese Spider Crab at the bottom of your local swimming pool, you'd have the lifeguard remove it before you went anywhere near it.

Same but different in my eyes.

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Beverly Joubert

From her bio. 'Award-winning photographer & filmmaker. @dereckjoubert & I produce African wildlife conservation documentaries. More images at Natgeocreative.com'.

What's your favourite nature film? Mine has got to be Bigfoot & the Hendersons. Only messin'. Although that was a great film from what I remember. Did you know that the guy who played Bigfoot also played Predator? Anyway what was I on about. OK top of my head, best three wildlife movies:

  1. Turner & Hooch

  2. Planet of the Apes  (any of the Andy Serkis ones).

  3. The Incredible Journey

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Wildlife

Do you know what I completely forgot about that Grizzly documentary. About the dude that took his wife to Bear land and got eaten. Apparently the woman tried to stop the bear from eating him and gotten too.

Now THAT is the kind of woman I'm after. A woman that will jump on the back of a Grizzly Bear and stop it from eating me.

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Tommas On Photo

From his bio. 'Wildlife Photographer. Tom Mason. Wildlife Photojournalist. YouTuber. Nikon Europe Optics Ambassador.'

Guys I'm running out of steam with the wildlife captions here. Forgive me, I'm just gaging to get a top ten listicle together. Does it really matter what I write? Nothing is going to trump to Elephant Seal head-butting each other right?

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Mp Wildlife

And that's a wrap folks. I hope you've enjoyed this one. I think after this I'm going to book some tickets and get over to South Africa for a Safari.

My Thoughts on 3 Month Achievable Body Goals

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Is anyone else feeling the footy void? Luckily we have the women’s World Cup to carry us over for a few weeks but then what happens after that?

Maybe instead of looking around for discounts on your Sky Sports subscription, it's time for some physical action.

What can we do before the start of the next season? What kind of body goals are achievable before the start of the Premier League's 2019/20 season on Saturday 10 August 2019. How do we achieve them?

Try for 3 months

Cut out bread. Cut out sweets. Get off your phone and take control.

Plank Challenges: 

You've heard of the 30 day plank challenge? Well why not stretch that out. The plank challenge encourages routine, discipline and is one of the best exercises for developing your core. Grab a matt, do it first thing while the kettle is boiling, add more time incrementally for better results.

Regain Your Fitness Plan:

Take a look at other plans that are specifically designed to help you shed weight. Regain Your Fitness’s online fitness programs for women and men boast that past clients have lost 7 – 10 kg in the first 30 days. I'm not affiliated but I've done some HIIT training before and I can tell you it's gruelling, but worth it.

Start KOBOX

I am a brand ambassador for KOBOX and I can tell you that the classes are fantastic. The instructors are like family and it's a very sociable way of working out. If you stick to weekly classes you will not only increase your overall stamina but will be well on your way to learning a new skill.

Personal Trainer 

As a rule of thumb, the average amount a personal trainer in the UK will charge is around £30 an hour. Though if you're London based that can rise quite steeply.

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Set aside a budget. Develop a plan with a personal trainer and explain the body goals you would like to achieve. Have pictures of naked dudes at the ready to help your trainer. Only kidding. Don't be weird.

Remember the Diet

So how much weight can you realistically lose in 3 months? You can possibly lose as much as 30 pounds according to this article by Live Strong.  But so much centres around your ability to maintain discipline around your diet. A low-calorie, highly nutritious eating plan combined with increased physical activity brings about weight loss.

Gadgets that will help you lose weight

Lemon squeezers, blenders (not juicers) veggie steamer and salad tossers. You can find a bunch more on the Everyday Health site. I'd say out of all the gadgets, the best one is the alarm clock. Get up early, don't dodge the best part of the day when no one is around.

Best Apps to help you lose Weight

Check out all the fat-busting apps in this article by Gotta be Mobile. Personally I'm always keeping an eye on the step count and know some friends have eulogised over Tabatas which is themed around more HIIT routines. (High Intensity Interval Training).

If you so happen to find yourself in a Novotel hotel like I was last week, check out the CALM app they have which helps facilitate sleep, positivity and meditation. All crucial ingredients if you're serious about achieving your body goals.

Document your 3 month work out

Be honest with yourself. Set yourself some very open goals with your online audience and pictures of yourself naked. Only kidding, come on, liven up!

But take personal pictures of yourself in the mirror. It's not easy to see gradual improvement but you will come a long way within 3 months and before you know it your body transformation will be there for everyone to see.

6 of the Best: Fashion YouTubers I’m watching Religiously Right Now

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Today I'm going to give you all a little insight into some of the fashion YouTubers that I've been watching recently. I've not updated my own Vlog in a while as I've been playing a bit of catch up since I've got back from Australasia. 

Of course you're going to know about the heavy hitters for example the Ali Gordon's of the world. I'm going to broaden the landscape and talk more about the up & comers you should be checking out. 

BOND SUITS 

I've enjoyed listening to this one. My friend Pete Brooker and Matt Spaiser from The Suits of James Bond have started a dedicated YouTube channel, a flanker of their podcast From Tailors With Love. It's got humour, it's educational and the chemistry between them is fantastic. 

Check out the episode where Pete goes to Hoi An, Vietnam to in pursuit of getting his own Roger Moore Safari Jacket made. 

THE BOND EXPERIENCE

Sticking with the James Bond theme for now is David Zaritsky from The Bond Experience. David is considered the tip of the spear when it comes to getting the scoop on all the latest James Bond attire.

Even the brands Daniel Craig has been seen wearing on set in leaked press shots have been identified and reviewed on David's YouTube channel. 


THE ULTIMATE FASHION HISTORY 

Away from the realms of James Bond, is the Ultimate Fashion History by Amanda Hallay. The videos are very informative and excellently put together in PowerPoint animated slides with Amanda's playful and charming narration. 


CARL THOMPSON 

Ok shameless plug, but at just under 10k subscribers I'm still the underdog amongst the big boys. I'll be publishing Vlogs on my latest Jewellery range soon as well as more videos about promoting mental health awareness, my take on all the latest Summer trends and lots more. 

You can also find really helpful videos on the fundamentals, like how to tie a bow tie, how to iron a shirt etc. 


BASE LONDON 

A quick shout out to Base London as they really put a lot into the production of their videos. I was lucky to be invited and do a shoot for them for a feature entitled, What to Wear on a First Date. You can catch that below. 


SARTORIAL PHIL 

This guy's number one asset is consistency. Consistently good videos every week pushing content on luxury unboxing, reviews, hauls, styling tips and more focusing on menswear, tailoring, perfume, watches and jewellery.