Saturday, 12 March 2011

BBC London radio show 12th March

Rightio! The collection of goods we have this week are many and varied. 

First: the Affordable Art Fair is in town until tomorrow.

 Affordable, in this case, means under £4000. My cut off point is probably somewhere under £100, maybe under £50, but crashing on, it's a fun excursion if you're on the hunt for something to do this weekend. In Battersea Park, with 120 art galleries, tickets cost £10. If you're not in the market to buy, it's a great place to stroll around - one big art exhibition. There's a creche if that interests you (you can only leave your child in there for an hour at a time, mind), and a whirl of activities (today the workshop is all about recycling old jewellery, buttons, bottle tops and beads into art; Sunday has a similar theme) including printmaking and children's art packs.


If clothes are more your bag, the Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair is in town on Sunday 13th - that's tomorrow. It seems like this happened about a month ago, too, so if you missed it first time around, here's your chance. At the Old Finsbury Town Hall (yes, I remember, I talked about one of these the last time I was on air), you'll find clothes, jewellery, textiles, hats, all the usual, from 1890s to the 1980s.There'll be an alterations booth, which is handy, as well as a vintage salon if you want a throwback makeover...

Cashmere sure is nice, but it's not cheap. N.Peal is one of the best, which is why it's good to know that their sample and winter clearance sale is STILL ON (ends Sunday, 11am - 5pm). Granted, it's been going for a few days, so you are bound to be following the pillage of hard core fans, but it is definitely worth checking out. You'll find it at 37-40 Burlington Arcade, Mayfair W1J 0QD, and they promise that their lovely stuff will be reduced by at least 25%, some over 70%.


Didn't get to mention this one, but here's another tip I got from the blog of Caroline Kamp: until 21st March, there's an exhibition called Joy of Living on at Somerset House. Max Fraser (author of the London Design Guide; we interviewed him on the show a few years ago) has managed to get 100 designers to create a piece of art that will be sold to raise money for Maggie's, the organization that runs cancer caring centres. Each designer started off with a single sheet of graph paper and went from are a couple:

The designers include the stellar names of Terence Conran, Tom Dixon, Rob Ryan and Tomoko Azumi - but all the pieces of art are on show anonymously. They're all for sale, and they all cost £250. Now that's a piece of art worth buying. The designers will be revealed online after the exhibition closes. Exiting!


Then, another interesting discovery - Veja trainers. You might have seen them in Selfridges, Topshop, Offspring, or the Design Museum shop. ie they're very stylish. Chic. As you can see from the picture below, just one of many styles they offer.

They're around £49 - £79, and look good. What makes them stand out from all the other trainers cluttering up our wardrobes is how they're made: they're proof that it is actually possible to have a trainer that is ecologically and ethically made. Who knew? 

They don't market themselves primarily like this because, rightly  I suppose, they don't want to be known purely for this - a lot of people get put off if they think they're just buying something for GREEN or ETHICAL reasons, rather than fashionable ones (this is the bald truth, don't you agree?). But with the aesthetic credentials firmly under their belt, I think it's important to underline just how well thought through the processes behind the making of these shoes are:

The cotton used is organic. It's produced in one of the poorest areas of Brazil (the north east). 200 families live on the organic growing - they can also grow food crops among the cotton, which means they can subsist, thereby keeping their independence (it's called agro-ecology, if you want to look into it further - very revolutionary). Veja were doing this six years ago, before cotton became Fair Trade certified - and they set a price above market value (twice the market price, actually), in place for 4 years.

The rubber is wild rubber, and comes from the Amazon: there's a big problem with deforestation there of course - more profit to be gained from cutting down trees for farmland etc - so Veja work with a cooperative of rubber tappers (Seringueiros), again setting price above market value, to encourage them to keep the trees.

Since 2006, the leather Veja use has been ecologically tanned. In other words, chrome-free, so no chemicals rushing in to rivers and polluting the landscape and drinking water.

The trainers are assembled in a factory in Brazil that has a workers' rights programme in place.

The trainers are stored and delivered from a centre in France, in partnership with a social association that helps people get back into work.

They don't pay celebrities to wear their trainers.

And they look good. Beat that.


A newish shop opened just off Marylebone High Street called Trunk Clothiers

Their aim, they say, is to "become one of the top destinations in Europe for sharply cut blazers, elegant knitwear, crisp shirts, smart footwear and luggage that never lets you down." Phew! They're on 8 Chiltern Street, W1.

Beautifully done, as you can imagine. The founder, Mats Klingberg, has handpicked what he considers to be the best brands, and puts his sense of style and taste down to his Swedish heritage. Sigh!


Sample sales!


 Dresses and accessories at up to 70% off.
17 March (8am to 7pm) and 18 March (9am to 7pm). 20th Century Theatre, 291 Westbourne Grove, W11 2QA.

 Fashion Confidential(sign up to be eligible)

Private sample sale with up to 70% off THIS SEASON and NEXT SEASON’S collections from Valentino, See by Chloe, Current Elliott, Tara Jarmon, Rock & Republic, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Manoush etc...
24 March (10am to 7pm) and 25 March (10am to 5pm);
M&L Harris, 10 - 11 Greenland Place, London, NW1 0AP.

Margaret Howell

Men, women and homewear collections at up to 60% off.
31 March and 1 April (9am to 6pm); 
The Music Room, 26 South Molton Lane, W1K 5LF.

Jenny Packham

Bridal sample sale for dresses, jewellery, shoes and accessories up to 70% off. 
6 April (11am to 7pm) and 7 April (10am to 5pm)
Jenny Packham Store, 3A Carlos Place, Mount Street, London, W1.