ASOS – Access All Areas

I remember when they were one of few e-tailers, under the guise of As Seen On Screen, selling wares “inspired” by celebrities. You could buy Kylie’s famous white lycra all-in-one, a J-Lo inspired deep plunge dress, the list rolled on. ASOS has come a long way from those humbler beginnings. A dominate force in the British e-shop market, ASOS now boasts independent designer collaborations, alongside well established designer names and high street products. They update at a rate of knots, so I was interested to see their set-up when invited to their recent “Access All Areas” blogger event.

The night, for me, was a story of people and not of clothes. A select group of bloggers was assembled, champagne was added and the ASOS girls mingled. The ASOS employees, many of whom have Twitter, uphold and represent the brand perfectly. What I liked about actually meeting them was that their loyalty seemed utterly genuine. This didn’t seem to be a contrived marketing machine, albeit a very slick one. Finally meeting the people that email me little stories, send out press content and @ me via Tweet Deck was a joy. They were as sincere as I expected them to be (or they are the best actors I have ever met…get them to Hollywood I say!!)

Bringing together bloggers is a flawless way to generate happiness. There must be a collective noun for bloggers by now? Well, whatever we are, when we come together a hive of creativity and chaos seems to emerge. It was great to catch up with my faves; Disney Roller Girl, Mademoiselle Robot (pictured centre with the The Very Simon G,) Isabelle O.C., Kiki’s Delivery Service (2nd from right) and Catherine Kallon of Red Carpet Fashion Awards (far right) A highlight of the evening was chatting with the lovely Joe and Katie from What Katie Wore. We moaned about the extreme heat while I hid in the corner in my pvu (bad choice) jacket, ate every canapé that passed and stroked Butters the Pomeranian!

There was no catwalking for me (not my thing,) plus my pvu (a.k.a. pleather) jacket had brought me out in a sweat…or was that the champagne? Stephanie and Susie of ASOS were delightful; I hope to chat to all the other ladies properly on my next visit. My biggest surprise was the gift bag as I left. I didn’t get a chance to glance inside til my return train journey finally commenced. I was so delighted I emailed Susie immediately. In an inconspicuous little envelope hidden under lots of other little treats, was a gift card to spend at ASOS…my only dilemma now is what to buy! In a way a voucher is harder to shop with than “real” money as I feel I should get something worthwhile, different, that I wouldn’t normally choose to spend my money on. Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed!

Other brands take note! ASOS dazzled the bloggers and in many cases did more than just keep us “on side,” they converted us to the ASOS way (all before offering us free stuff!)

P.S. The clothes! OOops….The selection on offer was pretty special some amazing rope shorts, high-waisted hareems; as and when I spot them online, I’ll try to point them out.

Holly Fulton

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Sometimes, it takes a more mainstream nudge to remind me of the stellar qualities of a great designer. Holly Fulton was an accessories designer at Lanvin in a previous existence and now is a designer in her own right, under her eponymous label. ASOS have championed Holly’s designs, now harnessed into an original collection exclusive to their website. The Fashion Industry is now teeming with new names and labels to watch and sometimes the saturation of the market means a unique talent slips off my radar. Her philosophy resonates with a multi-textured direction in fashion, “I love the idea of luxury, which, to me, is having all these cracked-out materials—crystals, plastic, metal, intense color—on simple shapes.” See Holly’s ASOS collection here and view her collections (pictured above) on her website.

Garance Doré

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Garance = an illustrator extraordinaire and an accidental, unassuming part of the bloggersphere’s most powerful “it” couple. Garance inspires me to blog better. This post isn’t really about the person but the work, specifically Garance’s collaboration with Gap 1969; a celebration of 40 years of the denim giant. I waited patiently for her t-shirts to appear on Colette’s e-shop this weekend and snapped up one immediately, despite it possibly not being my size. I then paused after my impetuous click/purchase – had I been drawn into the hype or was I genuinely enamoured with Garance’s work. I thought of the other designer collaborations that have caused such frenetic hype. The most obvious and recent has to be that of Christopher Kane for Topshop. There were some fantastic pieces but one dominated, the crocodile dress and t-shirt (Street Peeper’s montage, although humorous, made me CRINGE!) The concept is admirable, affordable designer fashion but when it becomes so ubiquitous, doesn’t it lose that unique element that makes it stylish? Kate Moss’ Topshop collections can’t go unmentioned; they photograph well but lack a sense of quality or originality in person. One of the collabs I remember the most was Viktor & Rolf‘s for H&M. I scoured eBay for one of their heart pocket trenches, only to suddenly realise, as I contemplated handing over £200 that the only feature I lusted after was the heart-shaped appliqué. So back to my original question, have I been blinded by my fanaticism for Garance into buying one of her t-shirts? The conclusion I have reached is a definite NO. How can I answer so defiantly? I just realised I have NEVER bought any design collaboration pieces before, not one and I must return to my original point; this is not about the person, it’s about the work. Je vais essayer d’écrire mon blog plus en français – si Garance peut le faire (même avec l’aide d’un traducteur) je peux le faire aussi.

Christopher Kane

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I felt slightly winded on seeing Christopher Kane’s new collection through the minimal display feature of Net-a-Porter. Maybe it’s because I have a frozen shoulder or perhaps it’s their overwhelming beauty (combined with an equally immense price-tag!) They dazzled on the catwalk but their singular beauty is more emphatic when framed by the stark white of Net-a-Porter. They are transformed into pieces of art as opposed to mere items of clothing (although as I cut around the scalloped detail dress, far right, it did start to shape itself like a Darlek!) So on days like this, I do wish that my bank account was an ocean and £3,000 a tiny drop within it…but as that’s not the case, I can look and drool and wish my architectural sewing skills existed! See all Christopher’s masterpieces on Net-a-Porter.

Lot 78

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I have succumbed to the delights of Twitter and its associated vocabulary! (Follow my ramblings here) I “tweeted” about the lack of allure real fur has for me. I was vintage rummaging last week and the amount of furs startled me; each one felt silky like my cat but obviously cold and very un-alive. It was all a little disconcerting and it made me question my thoughts on all animal bi-products. Why was I so repulsed by fur when the feel of leather has no effect on me? I find myself daydreaming about Lot 78′s leather jackets. Browns is also loving Lot 78 and they’re focusing on the brand this month, with some very effective photography. So now I’m left to muse – leather vs. fur…is there really a difference?

Orla Kiely

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Vintage is a buzzword of modern fashion. To describe an outfit as, “vintage” holds a kudos, a certain air of cool and uniqueness. What does this word actually mean? One definition is Second-Hand (although that doesn’t sound remotely appealing compared to vintage.) Another is Well Worn/Used, which vintage often is. The only word that comes close to the cool that the word “vintage” evokes is Antique, as that sounds expensive as well as original! I am an unlucky hunter of all that is vintage. My grandmother has a wardrobe full of amazing clothing but she is almost a foot shorter than me, plus she adores and covets her clothes, still ironing and airing items that are decades old and unworn. A wardrobe raid by me is something I don’t feel she would welcome, although I am still plucking up the courage to ask. Searching through vintage shops, I often find fab pieces but they don’t fit – unique + original, often = one size. My favourite online vintage stores often have items that really excite me…but then I scroll down to see the off-limits phrase, “sold out.” So vintage look seems my only option. Orla Kiely has produced a range that is exactly that, slightly out of my price range but definitely “modern vintage” in look. The 60′s inspired collection features some amazing key pieces – chunky knits, amazing platform heels and authentic prints. Some items are currently on sale, so they may slip on to my affordability radar! We’ve all got friends with ridiculously cool wardrobes that when you ask, “Where did you get that from?” the reply, “Oh, a little vintage shop in…” comes back. Search out some fake vintage pieces…maybe Orla Kiely could save you.

American Apparel

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It’s a well known fact that American Apparel do good basics. What tends to wow me the most about the U.S. uber-brand is their Ways to Wear It feature. So many of their items are multi-purpose/unisex and the way in which they’re displayed and showcased makes them seem more of an essential buy than they probably actually are! Two that have hit my purchase radar of late are the Le Sac dress and the Unisex Circular Scarf. Their multipurpose usage is so well explained, however I’m sure I’ll struggle with some of the possible incarnations! As far as marketing tools go, American Apparel have plenty at their disposal; see their website for their full arsenal.

Closet Space

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Urban Outfitters markets its clothing impeccably. In the vein of American Apparel, it’s staff are now aiding the marketing machine. Closet Space allows a glimpse into the wardrobes of its designers and buying team. You can then click through to the Urban Outfitters store and buy any of the stocked items; you too can attempt to be as cool as the UO staff. I was exposed to the inane sense of cool that many shop staff seem to possess while we were in Paris on our trek. American Apparel in the capital, seem to only employ the über cool staff with the best hair, insane tattoos and unique sense of style. This can work two ways – intimidate you massively, as you realise the AA clothes do not and will never look like that on you….or offer you an achievable style option; the former seemed to affect me! So, can employees offer style solutions? It seems they can and boost their company’s profits too; just be careful you don’t suffer from low-cool-esteem as I did!

California Select Vintage goes eBay

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Regular readers will know I have been waiting in eager anticipation and finally American Apparel’s vintage side-line has now gone live on eBay. Check it out now…before these classic pieces are snapped up.

Shop Cur¿ous, are you¿

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Miss. Suzy Style Bubble tipped me off to Shop Curious and today they finally launched their e-store. So, who are they? Creator Susan Muncey tells us, “ShopCurious is for lovers and collectors of naturally beautiful things. It’s the online shopping equivalent of ‘slow food’: A backlash against the must-have consumer frenzy of the branded goods crazed brigade.” The store itself is an eclectic piece of genius, full of unusual trinkets and nicknacks; from vintage to contemporary, clothing and furnishings. My favourite items have to be these resin bug bracelets – vintage bangles from the 60′s, housing formerly real bugs (slightly inhumane…possibly, gorgeous…most definitely.) Get curious and peruse the site.

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