House of Fraser | The Story More Watchable Than Any Reality TV Show

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Philip Day, the owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, has been named as one of the potential investors in talks about a rescue deal with House of Fraser according to an article by Drapers. The latest from Sky News reported that Day, whose retail empire includes Peacocks and Jane Norman, is one of a few potential investors referred to by HoF in a statement on Wednesday disclosing it was in talks with unnamed backers.

It was a bitter blow for HoF when Chinese backers, C Banner's withdrew from their investment. The deal was said to be in the execution phase when C Banner pulled the rug out, partly due to their own shares plummeting in recent months. 

A spokeswoman for HoF said: “In light of C Banner’s announcement (and as per House of Fraser’s previous statement to the Luxembourg Exchange) House of Fraser is in discussions with alternative investors and is exploring options to obtain the required investment on the same timetable.

HoF were already in talks to shut down 31 of their 59 stores and this withdrawal looked to be the final straw. However, HoF aren't done yet. 

 

What are House of Fraser's hopes of survival? 

Day is thought to be among other potential investors including turnaround specialist Alteri Investors and Mike Ashley of Sports Direct. 

Ashley already has a slice of the HoF pie and could possibly look to amalgamate HoF with his other sinking ship Debenhams. He will inevitably take a hit with the dilution of two stores, but it could be the last hope for the two of them to salvage anything. 

According to an article in The Guardian, the closures will result in about 6,000 job losses from the 17,000-strong workforce and the company has warned the only alternative is to go into administration.

“Whilst closing stores is a very difficult decision, especially given the length of relationship House of Fraser has with all its locations, there should be no doubt that it is absolutely necessary if we are to continue to trade and be competitive,” said chairman Frank Slevin. 

I've personally been a massive fan of House of Fraser and their own brands including Howick and Linea for such a long time and would be devastated if this giant of the UK high street goes. If you've been out of touch on their men's clothing, click on the below image for a couple of outfits I've styled with items exclusively from House of Fraser.

Is Debenhams Pulling a Fast One Blaming the Weather?

Debenhams announced some devastating figures this week, attributing the 85% fall in bottom line pre-tax profits the fall to the final trading days of the period when bad weather forced the business to temporarily close around 100 stores.

This came as a hammer blow to investors and employees as 'only' a 50% fall was forecast was predicted

The retailer cited a “disappointing Christmas season” behind the fall in underlying earnings in the UK, which were down 39.3 per cent for the half year, according to an article in the Retail Gazette

Carol Spencer who developed the personal shopping experience for Debenhams in the 90's told Wake Up to Money podcast when asked if the artic winds were to blame.

"I don't believe it (the beast from the east) would have an effect. A short term effect yes, but they were in trouble way before then. People want an emotional connection that you can't get online. Toys R Us have suffered. That massive warehouse effect of shopping is not want people want. That’s what a website is, a massive warehouse." 

Carol has a point. We need to radically rethink the whole monolith department store model. People are needing an emotional attachment to everything now, we're even given virtual carte blanche to travel on planes with our dogs because we're such fragile snowflakes. 

Though Debenhams are showing some signs of reimagining their bricks and mortar model. They may have been slow out of the blocks converting their catalogue to an online shopping experience, but they have made some small steps in consolidation of surplus floor space, their latest opening in Wolverhampton is much more compact and streamlined offering a more intimate customer experience. 

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But who is getting right? After all not every e-tailor is getting right neither as we highlighted in the demise of a A Suit That Fits. I asked E-Commerce manager for a multitude of companies and Editor of Maketh the Man, Anton Welcome about the future of retail and what brand is getting it right. 

"In my opinion it's John Lewis from a department store point of view their values resonate through everything they do. Their website generates a lot of revenue they are growing a lot faster than competitors with a lot less store footage. They have 50 stores on their portfolio but they have an online business that will cater to their demand and it's a brand that will deliver products to stores that customers can get to. Best of both worlds, lovely balance." 

And the future of retail? 

"Look, speed is everything. Let's just say if Amazon had stores we'd be in trouble. They are a ruthless, scary evil. A necessary evil, but very scary how powerful they've become. It's always been survival of the fittest, you're not going to stop Amazon anytime soon. The whole beauty of competition is that you have to do it yourself and do it better than them."

In other news

Away from Debenhams shirt seller Charles Tyrwhitt has announced losses of £5.9 million on revenues of circa £200 million as an IT blunder saw the company hemorrhage £7.3 million. And most recently House of Fraser is expected to announce a CVA (company voluntary agreement) to avoid falling into administration. 

 

A Men's Spring Wardrobe Refresh: 1 Smart & 1 Casual Look

It feels a bit odd talking about what to wear for spring and how to transition from a winter wardrobe to a spring one when it’s the 19th of March and there is still snow settled on the ground in London. If I looked out of my window this morning, I would have thought that it was bang smack in the middle of winter. Yet if you go by the astronomical seasonal calendar then spring actually starts tomorrow on the 20th March 2018 and if you follow the meteorological seasons than it already started on the 1st March!

In truth, this is exactly when you need to think about making strides away from chunky knitwear and big coats and investing in transitional pieces of clothing such as thin knits and lightweight jackets.

I’ve been online shopping at House of Fraser to produce two Men’s Style Edits for you for inspiration on how to look the part this spring. The first style is a smart casual look, which is perfect for wearing in the office Monday - Friday or for those of us who are self employed freelancers because it is warm, comfortable and stylish. The second look is casual. It’s what I would wear at weekends, meeting friends, heading to the pub, museum, art gallery or whatever you get up to in your spare time.

 

THE SMART CASUAL

This look was actually quite easy to piece together as the first item of clothing to jump out from the screen was this Linea Thames Merino Funnel Neck Jumper. It's a deep navy colour which is rumoured to be the colour of choice this spring for menswear. Although if this is not your preference, they also have the option to buy it in a charcoal colour which you could use as a substitute in this outfit and would still look great. This knit is made from soft, thin merino wool so it's breathable and therefore will keep you warm in cool days yet cool in warmer days or after drinking a coffee on a power walk through London to catch your morning tube! The zip goes from the neck area to your sternum (the breast plate bone), this gives you the ability to layer another coloured t-shirt underneath and unzip the knitwear displaying the colour contract in layers. Sticking to a navy theme I've chosen to add the Linea Hnedrick Half Lined Blazer, which is currently on sale from £125 to £65, so you'll have to snap this item up quick. I'm wearing a medium which would fit someone with a 39"/40" chest. I love the pale blue button hole which is perfectly tailored accentuating the impeccably crafted peak lapel. It's a blazer that just keeps on giving. No that is not a pocket square, it is the inner lining of the blazer pocket which you can pull up emulating a pocket square or tuck it in depending if it suits the complete outfit you are wearing. The lower half has been kept quite simple with a pair of Linea Battersea Cotton Stretch Trousers in black retailing at £39 and are also available in navy, charcoal and blue. Everyone knows footwear is the first thing people notice, so I've taken a bit more time picking out a pair of Chelsea boots, which are my boot of choice this spring. This pair from Dune have a beautiful herringbone fabric design for the elastic part of the boot which make them stand out from the huge choice that you have at House of Fraser. 

THE CASUAL

Sticking to a budget, I wanted to make small changes to the first smart-casual look and create something totally different for your weekend attire. I've achieved this by keeping the entire bottom section of the above outfit the same and just concentrated on styling my top half and accessorising slightly different with a weekend bag and sunglasses. The champion piece for this outfit is the Howick Gill Long Sleeve Jersey Polo (was £28 now £14) 50% off which mean you can now buy 2 for 1 from their colour selection of burgundy, navy and green. I did wear this jersey done up to the top button with nothing underneath and it looked good but I prefer it layered on top of a simple white pima cotton crew neck t-shirt as in the images below.

Photo Credit Omnistyle

*This is a sponsored post and was created in collaboration with House of Fraser.

 

Men's Outfit of the Week | SS17 Style Edit

When I'm heading off to the pub on a Sunday afternoon for a roast dinner, I like to go cool, comfortable and casual whilst still looking stylish. You never know who you are going to meet and first impressions are extremely important. Lightweight jackets are the focus for this outfit of the week as they are essential when dressing for spring. 

I love lightweight jackets that you can roll the sleeves up and this suede trucker jacket by Linea of House of Fraser is perfect. Navy is simple to style and almost any colour combination will work well paired together. What I've done in this outfit is layer a simple plain grey t-shirt, black jeans, black/khaki trainers and finally a black strap Timex watch.

It's simple, casual yet stylish...if you like it, you can shop the look below.

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Photography by Ella H

Men's Spring Outfit of the Day

The majority of my blog content discusses men's fashion and gives you an idea of how to style different colours together and possibly give you some inspiration of what to buy for your wardrobe. I try my best to wear outfits that suit my personality and my personal style, sometimes I totally nail it and sometimes I get it wrong...but thats my personality - always trying to push boundaries, trying to improve. 

I think the major reason why guys out there love my style and content is because I'm normal, I'm vulnerable yet very resilient. Recently over the last couple of weeks I had a couple of 'haters' who have been in the fashion industry for a long time making defamatory comments about my blog. I've kind of brushed off their comments because this is a love of mine, I do it because I enjoy it...otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here in a Saturday (of a Bank Holiday weekend) editing photos, writing a blog post just because I want to share this outfit with you on the off chance it might give you some outfit inspiration. 

These comments have made me a stronger person and given me the incentive to increase the level of my content even more. But it also made me think about why I started blogging in the first place. There was a variety of different reasons. The main one was to help raise the profile of my shirt making business Hawkins & Shepherd, which I have built from the ground up, single-handed with my own savings. Marketing budget is tight and couldn't afford to spend money to advertise in major UK publications or spend a fortune on google adwords, so blogging and social media gives small businesses like mine a chance to engage with your audience for a lower cost than traditional advertising. Another major reason was that there was a HUGE gap in the marketplace for a 30 something men's fashion blogger. When I did my research, I found a few established male bloggers, although their style was very 'fashion' and extremely unobtainable, the sort of outfits you'll see at London Fashion Week but not in real life. The tone of voice was very much journalistic and the style was straight from the catwalk...very little was out there for an everyday type of guy. Then I took inspiration from the female bloggers who were nailing it and miles ahead of the guys, great content, obtainable style, editorial photography and the main thing was that you felt that you were part of their life. The men's side of blogging was still very cold and had poor visual content. Since then, over the last few years there has been a number of exceptional men's lifestyle bloggers out there producing amazing editorial styling and photography. Content is key and that will ultimately be the success of men's bloggers.

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Photography by Ella H

My Spring Style by House of Fraser

I may have my heating on indoors right now as I type this but thats the unpredictable nature of our spring weather for you. What is predictable is that we are all looking forward to warmer days (and nights), a summer holiday, planning a wardrobe refresh and what to wear for this season we are in and the one coming up. In fact I've actually tried to write this opening to this blog for about 25 minutes now and just keep procrastinating by clicking on the tab next to this one 'summer holiday breaks' or playing a game where I spin my mini-globe which is on my work desk and randomly point to my next holiday destination. My last spin landed bang smack on Hong Kong (bit far for a mini-break)...okay one more spin and I'll carry on with this blog, it was Abidjan in Ivory Coast (weirdly I've already been there!) so we'll play again later on.

It's kind of a sad scenario for me not to have had a holiday for about 9 months now, as in the past I was the sort of person that would be out of the UK almost every other week either working or on holiday. Before I worked in fashion, I used to work for an Oil company for 13 years, working in almost every major city around the world as well as a ton of small, unique places in the middle of nowhere. Working abroad for so much in my twenties was incredible and gave me a massive insight into different culture, fashion, architecture, language and life. Some of which must have moulded me into how I am today and the lifestyle choices that I have made. 

Back to the globe. Okay this could work, I just picked Greece and Boston, USA...tempting.

My life right now is fashion and I love it, it is an industry of incredibly creative and gifted individuals and those at House of Fraser are an inspiration. We all know who House of Fraser are don't we? Exactly. It's because at some point in our lives, we have shopped either in one of their many UK stores or online. It's a department store that stocks it's own brands such as Linea as well as many other well respected menswear brands. It makes the store a one-stop, convenient shopping experience which is exactly what I wanted when putting together a spring outfit for this blog post. 

When putting together this outfit, I was thinking about clothes that would span spring and summer, at home or abroad. So I stuck to basic colour palettes, touching on the importance of fabrics. For example the trousers are linen, a light breathable fabric and these trousers could be worn simply with a shirt, t-shirt or even layered with a jumper, cardigan or lightweight jacket. I've paired these with a plain oxford white shirt, a wardrobe staple. The cotton oxford weave in shirts irons fantastically and is durable, so you'll get plenty of wear out of it. Roll the sleeves on warmer days to expose the contrast patterns of the cuffs. Knowing that I would photograph this outfit on the streets of London rather than Marbella, I had to layer with a jacket. As the rest of the outfit was very pastel and light in colours, I needed something that could be a bit of a statement piece and I found this suede trucker jacket again from House of Fraser. It is not padded, so layers well for SS17 and the soft suede give the jacket a luxurious feel when wearing it.

If you like it, shop it, just click on the images below:

 

SHOP THE LOOK

Photography by Ella H

*Monetary compensation was provided by House of Fraser for the creation of this post.

THE 2016 TELEVISION BAFTAS WITH HOUSE OF FRASER

When you get invited to the Television BAFTAS the first thing you do is say YES, before someone else nabs your spot. Then you think about what to wear. Now I can appreciate that being a guy, getting dressed for a black tie event isn't exactly complicated, I mean the dress code gives it away a little...for girls it can be a tad more difficult. However saying that, us gents still have a few things to consider when dressing for the BAFTA awards. Dinner jacket or suit, buy or hire, which tailor should I wear, a white shirt but what collar type, is a pocket square too much, what about socks, black or coloured and then we have many bow-tie choices.

As House of Fraser were the main sponsors of the event this year and my invite came from them, I decided to head out for a shopping trip to their Oxford Street branch to search for my favourite dinner jacket from a designer that House of Fraser already stock. That designer was Chester Barrie, for me their suits had character, the tailored lines & curves had personality and the lapel shape had definition and assertiveness. For me their designs really stood out from the many other suit choices House of Fraser offer.

So I headed over to meet with Christopher Modoo, Chester Barrie's Master Tailor to try and persuade them to loan me one of their dinner suit jackets for the event, which they did - its good business because after wearing it for this one event, I'm going to buy it off of them, it was that good! I've even got my Christmas Party 2016 season dinner suit jacket sorted, as they have this amazing navy version coming out for AW16 around September time.

 

SHOP MY #BAFTASTYLE LOOK BELOW

On the hottest day of the year in London, when everyone else was out on various London parks and commons drinking cider, prosecco and warm beer I was making my very own The Hoftail exclusive BAFTA inspired cocktail - I mean its not every Sunday you get to go to the BAFTAS! I only had time for one though, then I was on my way to the Mondrian Hotel, where I was meeting all the other bloggers who have been asked to attend & cover the event. It was amazing to meet them all but a shame that I didn't get to talk to everyone at length however join me and follow all the #BAFTATV team by clicking on the images below.

This was my first red carpet experience, so I had no clue what to expect, although for a good few minutes I thought I was actually famous! I mean I know that the press, media and interviewers were not all going to be calling out my name...Carl, Carl, Carl...over here please amongst a sea of flashing camera lights. And interviewers desperate to know who and what I'm wearing. Instead there were people on the side saying "Mummy, who are they? Are we supposed to know them?" - for me I just wanted to enjoy the experience and take it all in before being ushered along. 

Here are my Top 5 Best Dressed Men at the Television BAFTA 2016:

After my short whirlwind of fame on the red carpet, it was back to normality standing in line for the bar to grab a few bottles of prosecco before finding our seats as the main event started. From Eastenders to The Great British Bake Off, from Poldark to This is England '90 - this night was about celebrating British TV in all its diversity.

For me what was apparent was the immense talent that the British TV industry has. We really are world leaders in many TV genres such as comedy and factual documentaries. I've noted down many new programmes that I have to watch such as 'My Son The Jihadi' and 'The Truth About Ebola' - the short clips of both captivated me. Throughout the night Graham Norton mocked the reality tv sector, a little joke here and there was mostly aimed at the reality stars, although it was this category that got the most comments and laughs when replying the clips of the nominees. First Dates picked up the award in the Best Reality & Constructed Factual sector and well deserved I might add. Its a programme that should be proud of what they have done, they work hard on actually matching their dates on interests to try and make real love connections rather than just great tv. Strictly come Dancing won their first BAFTA. Peter Kay won two gongs for his part in Car Share, a scripted programme of two people in a car, yep that's right...two people in a car! Whereas the two main awards for leading actress and actor went to Suranne Jones, Doctor Foster and Mark Rylance, Wolf Hall - whilst Lenny Henry picked up the last gong of the night with his special award. You can view a complete list of the winners via the BBC here.

I would finally like to thank the amazing Beth and Martha from Mediaworks who looked after us throughout the whole event x