29 May 2017

Travel | Visiting the Workshop of Monobi in Florence, Italy


 Beste Spa Workshop, Cantagallo, Italy


In 2017 we use Instagram in so many ways; travel inspiration, seek out styling ideas, push our photography skills, keep on track of our fitness progress, connect with like-minded people across the world, grow a client list...the list is endless. I often use Instagram as a way of discovering new brands, and to be inspired by a creative outlook it brings a world of ideas into our fingertips.

I first came across the Italian menswear brand Monobi last year, when Jordan was invited to take over their Instagram account while he was attending the menswear trade show, Pitti. The name "Monobi" intrigued me, as did the brand's approach to technical fabric and design. Information on these guys was confined to their website and my few passing conversations with Jordan this only added more to the mystery. 

After a few months of following the brand on Instagram I was met with a message in my inbox, inviting me visit their workshop for a day, to learn more about the brand's influences and meet the people behind the name "Monobi".





A language barrier can be funny thing. It usually goes one of three way; you try your best but end up frustrated, you understand perfectly, or you find it really tricky but somehow, some way, you don't need words to understand the message. My visit to the Beste Spa workshop in Cantagallo was a perfect example of how words can be broken down, and understood perfectly through an experience.

The Besta Spa workshop plays an integral role to Monobi's success; with the design, development, product testing, production and distribution all coming from inside the complex. A complex like no other, too. The 30ft high glass shell is intertwined with dark wooden beams overhead, internal walls made from pale concrete fill in the gaps, and foliage-filled walkways - which look like a perfect match for Haarkon's Instagram feed - all make for quite a special experience. And yes, I am still talking about a factory here!

22 May 2017

Hey Gents Magazine



 
In early 2016, in a bid to find an online publication that spoke to me as young man with an interest in great design, I stumbled across Hey Gents.

With a focus on design and style, the Sydney based men's lifestyle website explores products and experiences that aim to enhance the life of the modern man. Under the tutelage of Editor Nick Vodicka, a man who shares my love of a minimal aesthetic, Hey Gents quickly became my go-to source of menswear, grooming, interiors and design inspiration.

So, when Hey Gents announced recently that they were releasing a print magazine I wasted no time in ordering my copy.

Issue 1 features everything from home styling tips courtesy of 'Hunting For George', a guide to indoor plants, tips on men's skincare essentials, a look at modern architecture in the Maldives, an interview with Sydney based menswear label Venroy and plenty more. Printed on uncoated paper from sustainably managed forests, the 72 page publication is perfect bound and printed in their home city of Sydney.

In his Beats One show this week, Apple Music’s Zane Lowe claimed that "when it comes to 'lifestyle' nowhere does it better than Australia". I may not always agree with Zane's choice of music but from what I've seen of Hey Gents so far, I see no reason to doubt him.

Hey Gents Issue 1 is available to order online now - pick up your copy here.

You can find Shaun at - Manimalist Blog | Twitter | Instagram 

16 May 2017

Embracing Your Community



 Wearing - Spring Summer Collection c/o Ted Baker | Glasses by Bailey Nelson


Photography by Garcon Jon + Jordan Bunker

We have discussed the importance of creating your own community in previous posts, and for anyone who works in a freelance role I can't stress this point enough. The traditional 9-5 working day carries on evolving, as Generation Y + Z continue to create their own paths working in professions that even the more savvy of us couldn't have predicted. Things move fast. So fast. But yet, the Slow Living movement is something many of us are leaning towards. I guess it's ironic that "slow living" has been giving a lot of exposure on a platform that you can scroll through quicker than the British Summer.

"What's my point? Get on with it!"...Last week, myself + a bunch of guys a mixture of bloggers + Instagramers were invited down to Ted Baker's Covent Garden store, to each style a look from the brand's SS17 collection. When I arrived in store I was pleased to see that Ted Baker had corralled a top group of people to take part several of them I already class as being a part of my small community.

Each of us, including Oliver Hooson, John Jarrett, Fredrik Risvik, Ashley Morrison, gave our own individual spin on the latest collection. With Garcon Jon on the camera we were in safe hands. Navy, khaki and grey, with a little bit of pattern, was my go-to giving a subtle nod to my love of Americana and workwear.

For me, the experience of working with a group of people who you respect, enjoy showing support for and feel at ease discussing everyday issues over a beer, is just as important as any given project. I try to embrace + grow my own individual community as much as I can - because without it, my everyday life as a self-employed freelancer would be a very lonely place.

This post is in partnership with Ted Baker. Thank you for taking the time to support the brands + businesses that make this blog happen.

5 May 2017

A Conversation with Ashlyn Chesney of MR PORTER's Style Council

town hall hotel bethnal green review
Town Hall Hotel, Bethnal Green, London
lamp room inside town hall hotel bethnal green london
dining at town hall hotel bethnal green london resturant

It's fair to say there has been a slight shift in my priorities this year. Buying our first house has brought on a whole heap of new responsibilities, and when you add a wedding to the mix (yep, 8 week to go, flipping heck!) as well as starting up a new agency, Three Letters, with Nik I have somewhat neglected my regular two-blog-post-per-week goal. 

One of my weekly visits to our capital city was to spend an afternoon with Ashlyn Chesney, the main driving forces behind MR PORTER's Style Council. If you haven't heard of the Style Council, simply put, it's a regularly updated travel, food + drinks guide, as recommended by some of the coolest + most well-connected chaps on the planet. 

I met up with Ashlyn at the beautiful Town Hall Hotel, in Bethnal Green, to find out how she came to be in the role of Style Council Director, where her enthusiasm for design + interiors comes from, how she decides which locations to recommend + a little bit more about the MR PORTER's Style Council.

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Mat - Tell us a little bit about how someone from Maine, USA - a state known for its fishing trade and shipyards - comes to work in fashion, travel and lifestyle?

Ashlyn Chesney - I’ve always chosen to express myself through fashion and was encouraged by family and friends to do more with it; however, growing up I actually wanted to be an archaeologist – I wanted to travel and explore and learn about the origin of things yet to be discovered. I also loved creating moments for people and wanted to understand more about what motivates us as a society, the hows and whys of when we can come together and the turning points at which we are motivated to do better/create better/be better…It led me to study business and psychology and eventually move to NYC where I managed fashion events and later worked in the hospitality business.

And where does MR PORTER come in, how did the role as Director at The Style Council come to be? Did the role just seem like a perfect fit for you?

In 2015 I decided I needed a change. I was working non-stop, based in NYC but on schedule with London, NY and LA; I hadn’t taken a holiday in several years and my role had become my biggest fear: a desk job. I decided to move on, visit my mom for the first time since I’d started, and then embark on 8 months of travels that brought me to Paris, London, Italy, Argentina and Uruguay. 

I was introduced to Jeremy [Langmead], MR PORTER’s Brand & Content Director, while I was in London, at Mark’s Club. After learning about what I’d done for work and what I was looking for, he told me he might have a perfect role…he wasn’t lying. As Style Council Director, I’ve been able to take the best parts of what I’ve done over the years and I get to do what I’ve always dreamt: travel the world, work with incredible people to experience new places and help others to connect with the world around them.  
 
matthew pike wears green folk clothing jacket, grey dickies chinos and beige converse, mr porter style council
Folk Shell Jacket | Beams Plus Long Sleeve T-Shirt | Dickies Trousers | Converse 70s | Persol Sunglasses | Instrmnt 
Watch. All linked items c/o MR PORTER.
the lobby of town hall hotel bethnal green london
architecture of town hall hotel bethnal green london, origami
 Origami-inspired interior is a really unusual contrast against the original Edwardian building
executive suite event space at town hall hotel bethnal green london

2 May 2017

Printed Pages Magazine Issue 13 by It's Nice That

 

Print is definitely not dead in our household. Over the past few months I've become increasingly obsessed with free magazines, in particularly the ones which brands + stores are producing in-house. I'm constantly impressed with peoples' passion towards creating these mostly-free publications - which can usually be found sitting quietly on till counters or slipped into your bag when you purchases something. 

But, free publications aside, there are a small handful of magazines that I look forward to parting money with, when that release date rolls around. At the top of my wishlist you're likely to find Printed Pages by design + visual communications aficionados It's Nice That.

The beauty of Printed Pages, other than the super cool content + inspiring designs, is their pre-order incentive. If you're lucky enough to get ahead of the game you'll receive your mag a couple of weeks early, along with a whole bunch of free stuff. Issue 13's pre-order includes a Litho poster by illustrator Tim Lahan, a screen print by illustrator James Jarvis, five postcards featuring the issue's best imagery and a set of stickers by illustrator Kate Prior's International Women’s Day commission - as well as you're shiny new magazine.

Not too shabby for £10. Issue 13 of Printed Pages is available here

22 Apr 2017

City Guide | Discovering Independent Manchester, with Topman


 Topman Printed Shirt | Topman Straight Fit Trousers | Converse 70s Sneakers | Fair Ends Cap

Having only just bought our first proper house, in a pretty small town that is tucked neatly away on the North West coast of England, you'd think that I'd be spending all of my given time working from home. But if I look back at the past five months I can only pinpoint two of weeks where I haven't been travelling - I guess it's just the way I like it. For me, that's the freelance lifestyle that I crave.

My latest trip was to the city of Manchester - I place pretty well indeed. Back when I was trying to break into the fashion industry I worked several internships + marketing jobs, clocking up a good five years in around the Northern Quarter. Topman reached out to myself + Jordan to see if we'd be up for helping them produce a guide to the city, to coincide nicely with the reopening of their Topman Trafford Centre store.

We hit a few of our regular favourite spots, as well as taking a couple of new recommendations from Manchester-native + photographer, Jake Millers. It wouldn't be a proper city guide without a decent dose of coffee, art, design + culture, and the added bonus of one of the city's most beautiful hotels:



Foundation Coffee House
Sevendale House, Lever Street,

We can’t create a Manchester city guide without Foundation Coffee House. An expansive unit – something few and far between in the capital – Foundation is perfect for both work and a quick coffee pit stop. With spaces to suit each and every coffee drinker, make sure you swing by to sample their beans.

Grindsmith Coffee Pod 
Victoria Bridge St, Salford, Manchester, M3 5AS

Located in one of the city centre’s busiest streets you’ll find this curious little concept coffee shop. The Grindsmith Coffee Pod is not only a unique use of space which creates an intimate atmosphere, it also comes in with a great selection of speciality coffees, and feels like a nice break from the madness of the high street.


1847
58 Mosley St, Manchester, M2 3LQ

Food is always on the agenda when you’re up for visiting a new city, and the best ones usually come recommended by friends. Our photographer, Jake Miller’s gets the props for urging us to try 1847 for lunch. Just across from the Manchester Art Gallery you’ll find this inviting, modern vegetarian restaurant. The menu is jam-packed with tasty dishes, - we’d definitely recommend trying the Battered Halloumi.

Manchester Art Gallery
Mosley Street, Manchester, M2 3JL

Manchester is blessed with a strong creative community and close links to the design and art industry. There’s no better way to soak a big portion of this in than a visit to the Manchester Art Gallery, located 5 minutes from Piccadilly Gardens. The gallery’s traditional paintings, ceramics and design pieces are mixed with a constant rotation of contemporary art, photography and design innovations.




Piccadilly Records 
53 Oldham St, Manchester, M1 1JR

Somewhat of an institution in Manchester, Piccadilly Records is the best spot for those of you looking to pick up the latest vinyl releases. Head in there when you’ve got some time to kill; chat to the staff, ask for recommendations and uncover those records that will soon become your favourite new albums.

Fred Aldous
37 Lever Street, Manchester, M1 1LW

Now be prepared to step into a two-tier store packed with plenty of stationary, interiors and design gifts to tie you over for a lifetime. For those that just want to capture their Manchester trip in the photo booths or geek out over paper with the Fred Aldous gang, then this is the place for you.

 Jordan wears Topman Skinny Jeans | I'm wearing Topman Original Fit Jeans | Sneakers by Harrys of London
The craziness that was the Topman Trafford Centre store launch. Photography by Jake Millers

Principal Hotel + The Refuge
Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA

You'd be hard-pushed to find a hotel + restaurant in Manchester more beautiful that the Principal Hotel + The Refuge, just opposite Oxford Road train station. The bedrooms have some of the tallest ceilings going, with each room (all slightly different) fully equipped to give you a solid night's sleep. The Refuge is the hotel's bar + restaurant - we can't recommend this place enough. Come for the incredible interiors, but stay for the food and drink. Order a few small plates and share with your friends.

You can see more from our City Guide to Manchester on Topman's blog here.

This blog post is has been co-created by myelf, Jordan Bunker + Jake Millers for Topman.

18 Apr 2017

Revisiting Ones to Watch | Longside



We first featured Longside back in 2015 - when they had a slightly longer name and a product range which, if we recall correctly, consisted of just one belt.

Since then we've watched Longside grow as a brand and develop their products - now, featuring a range of belts, card, and key holders - while still maintaining that personal touch that comes with an independent, owner run brand. As well as the name change, Longside have also update their website and - as all good brands should - are developing a consistently good looking Instagram account.

Visit Longside's new site, and also let us know if there's any brands out there you think we should feature in our One to Watch series.

You can find Nik at - Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter