28 July 2014

Coeur, a menswear brand with quality & social awareness at heart.

After graduating from London College of Fashion, Peter Jeun Ho Tsang launched Coeur menswear in 2012. Coeur can be characterised by immaculate attention to the quality and production of the fabrics, vibrant and colourful designs, and an awareness of the social environment the products are produced in.

Starting with the first thing first, the 100% silk, jacquard fabrics used in most of the Coeur items are produced by Vanners, renowned English silk weavers since 1740. For each new collection, Peter Jeun Ho Tsang, doesn't only concentrate on the design of the different items of clothing, but also takes part in development of exclusive new fabrics, deciding on textures, patterns, colours and methods of weaving. He is involved in the whole process of producing Coeur menswear. This attention to detail is evident in the fact that the Coeur symbol is discreetly incorporated into each product as a sign of quality and exclusivity.

There is also no doubting the social commitment made by the Coeur brand. Being an English brand, Peter Jeun Ho Tsang has made sure every part of the production of Coeur takes place in England, supporting English traditions and craftsmanship while making minimal negative impact on the environment. 

Looking at the finished products, I think it's obvious that Coeur has managed to come up with a product line which distinguishes itself from most other brands on the market. The vibrant colours, the intricate patterns and the jacquard silk fabrics makes Coeur recognisable as a brand for the ones who want to stand out from the crowd. There are elements of formal wear in the Coeur collections, yet there is something largely casual about these clothes. The best way I can think to describe Coeur menswear is as a brand taking casual to a new level, to a level were attention to quality, style and detail is paramount. A brand for the ones who dare to be different. Coeur describes themselves as a brand for the modern day dandy and that may be exactly what they are.    

Personally, I prefer the accessory lines of the Coeur brand. I would love to wear many of the ties, bow ties and pocket squares as I think they would be a positive addition to almost any outfit. With regard to the shirts and outerwear I may be slightly too conservatively inclined. That said, I am tempted by the red blouson in the bottom photo. I'm pretty sure that would be both stylish and comfortable, perfect for a stroll during slightly cool summer evenings. Have a look at the photos below and visit the Coeur website and see what you think.

If I could choose one Coeur product, this would have to be it. I love
the blue and gold, 100% silk, jacquard fabric. This bow tie will
add a touch of luxury to any outfit.
Photo: Taken from the Coeur website.
The colours, and the different patterns and textures in this
diagonally striped tie makes it stand out from the myriad of
other tie makers in a positive way.
Photo: Taken from the Coeur website.
One can nothing but admire the fabrics used in these pocket squares.
The quality and textures practically draws you in.
Photo: Taken from the Coeur facebook page.  
If you look carefully at this scarf you can see the discreetly
incorporated Coeur logo.
Photo: Taken from the Coeur website.
The Coeur version of the traditional trench coat with
vibrant silk detailing.
Photo: Taken from the Coeur press pack.
A shirt with the characteristic Coeur silk detailing on the collar,
pocket and sleeves.
Photo: Taken from the Coeur website.
A lightweight blouson with silk lining, perfect for the cool summer
Photo: Taken from the Coeur website.

Coeur plans to open their first retail store in the autumn 2014 which will be located in central London. We will have to watch out for news about its exact location and opening date, but for now I recommend you take a look at the Coeur website.

20 July 2014

The Nobuckle belt from Orciani

I just got my self a new belt and, I know, that's not necessarily a great reason to write a blog post. This belt is, however, rather different in design, and true craftsmanship has gone into its production which I think makes it worth presenting here. Orciani is an Italian brand, started 30 years ago by Claudio Orciani, specialising in making high quality leather products. They make jackets, bags, belts and more for both men and women. All products are made in Italy by expert craftspeople. They've created a video showing the production which was quite nice to watch. If you three and a half minutes to spare, why don't you have a look at it here.                   
One of Orcianis latest creations is their Nobuckle collection and it's from this collection my new belt comes. As the name of the collection suggests, these are belts with no buckle. The fastening mechanism is rather created through masterful manipulation of the leather to make an elegant belt with very clean lines.  

The very clean, elegant design of the Nobuckle belt.
Photo: AGL
The skillful manipulation of the leather has created the fastening
mechanism of the Nobuckle belt.
Photo: AGL
The belt fits most sizes as it can be adjusted at the back.
Photo: AGL
Although elegant and stylish, I think there is a touch of roughness in the design of this belt. Thus, I think it works particularly well with a pair of informal chinos. I do, however, also think it can work beautifully with a suit in the way that it will roughen up the look a bit, but without really being noticeable. One of those small things which can make a welcome change to a properly attired gentleman's outfit.   

The belt worn with a plain blue suit.
Photo: AGL
The belt worn with a pair navy chinos.
Photo: AGL

14 July 2014

Cornerstone, an appealing shaving solution

During the last couple of weeks I've had the opportunity to try out the shaving products from the recently established company Cornerstone. Cornerstone is something as rare as a subscription service for shaving products and I will tell you how it works in a little while because it's all quite conveniently set up. The subscription service is very flexible and on the customer's terms all the way and worth looking into. But first let's have a look at the Cornerstone products.

The box the Cornerstone products are delivered in.
Photo: AGL

The Cornerstone shaving solution consists of four products, a pre-shave face scrub, a shaving gel, a post shave balm and a razor. All products are developed and produced in the UK with the exception of the razor blades which are produced in Germany by a company with several generations of experience in the production of razor blades. Although this is not unique and is rather becoming a trend among new companies, I still think it's praiseworthy that Cornerstone has concentrated their product development and production close to home. 

Below you can see photos of the products with a brief description and below the photos you can read about my experience having used products for nearly two weeks.

Face scrub:
Cedarwood and volcanic sand to help prevent nicks, cuts and shaving
bumps. Contains fine grains to help release ingrowing hairs, unblock pores
and lift away dead skin cells.
Photo: AGL
Shave gel:
Ginger and eucalyptus to protect and rehydrate, blended with rich lather
to help reduce shaving irritation.
Photo: AGL

Post-shave balm:
 Mint and honey to cool, refresh and moisturise.
Photo: AGL
The razor:
A well designed, lightweight razor which produces an exceptional shave.
Photo: AGL
I have to admit that using the Cornerstone products provided a new experience for me in the sense that my shaving regime has never consisted of using three different products before. Until recently, I used a standard shaving foam and whatever razor I bought at my local store. For reasons I explained in this previous post I changed to more traditional ways of shaving using a safety razor, a good shaving cream, and an Alun bloc for post shave treatment. With this background I was quite looking forward to trying a shaving regime consisting of both a pre-shave face scrub and a post-shave balm. I have to say right away that I found this to be quite a treat. The face scrub with the grains of volcanic sand really prepares the skin for what's to come. It does not have a strong scent and basically does the job very well without any unnecessary extras. The shaving gel is possibly what I like best. This is basically because of it's consistence which is quite different from any other shaving cream or gel I've tried before. The ginger and eucalyptus gel is very thick and clings delightfully to the skin, encapsulating each hair i preparation for the razor. This gel hardly foams at all which I think is part of the reason why this is a very effective shaving gel. The gel is also without any addition of perfume and only has the understated scent of its ginger and eucalyptus content. The mint and honey post-shave balm is nicely refreshing end a lovely finish to a great shaving experience. The mint is definitely the dominating scent in this balm but it's refreshing without being overpowering. Whether it's the shaving gel or the quality of the razor blades I can't be sure (I suspect it's a bit of both), but this has produced the closest shave I've ever experienced, and to top it off my skin has never felt this soft. There has been no small cuts, nicks or shaving irritation when I've used the Cornerstone products, something which I usually experience.

You can probably find other products producing an equally good experience, but I challenge you to find products of this quality for the price the Cornerstone products are offered at. Exceptional value for your money!   

So, how does it work? As I mentioned in the beginning, these products are available by subscription only, but the subscription is so flexible that it should satisfy anyone's needs. Depending on how often you shave, you can have the products delivered at a rate which means you'll always have the products you need, but without the risk of ending up with the cupboard full of unused creams and gels. You can also choose the products you want. If, for some reason, you don't want the face scrub or the post-shave balm, you can easily leave it out of your subscription. I am, however, not sure why I would leave a product out as I think it's the whole package that makes this so good. All changes to your subscription are easily done within your account area on the Cornerstone website. You can also cancel your subscription there at anytime you like.

One last point I would like to make is that the Cornerstone solution also solves the main problem I had with normal razors you buy in the supermarkets. I found that I very often had to buy a new expensive razor handle when I needed new razor blades because the blades I had had gone out of production and the new blades never fitted the old handle. This will never be a problem with Cornerstone as they give you the razor handle for free and if they should happen to make changes to the blades or the handle, they will supply you with a new one.

All in all I really enjoyed the Cornerstone experience. The only thing they can't offer is the traditional feel and enjoyment a safety razor or a straight razor gives, but the pleasantness of the scrub, gel and balm makes up for that. So far, I've actually found this shaving solution to be quite a treat every time I've used it. The question for me is whether I enjoy old traditional ways the most or if I should let me be persuaded by a very appealing modern solution.

Have a look at the Cornerstone website and see for yourself!