The last time I spoke about illustrator Julie Verhoven, it was slightly tainted by a very honest interview that I conducted with her at the David David Gallery where she casted a reality check on the world of fashion illustration – that it is competitive, tough and often undervalued.  A few months on and all seems cheery with the great Verhoeven.  She has just done a brilliant wall collage for the new Melissa pop-up store in London, she's created some illustrated make-up bags for M.A.C. as an exclusive for Nordstrom and now she'll be gracing clothing once again as she has created some exclusive illustrations for the Australian label Something Else.  Creative director and founder of Something Else Natalie Wood has instilled a bit of a tradition of collaboration and inclusivity into her label and in the past she has worked with artists such as Ken Done and George Barnes on prints that feature in collections.  Verhoeven is an illustrious coup though for Something Else and one that sparks desire for even more of her signature illustrations in a fashion context.  This capsule collection that is from Something Else's Outlaw spring 2012 (that's southern hemisphere spring), comprises of a printed shirt, a silk tunic, a satin dress and a matching kimono and trouser set.  Silk does seem to be the best foundation for printing Verhoeven's illustrations and they look especially great when you get a bit atmospheric wind blowing through them.  I'm just enjoying having the pleasure of having wearable Verhoeven in my possession as a complete and utter fan girl of her work.     




(Worn with Uniqlo poloneck, Karen Walker cap and Nike trainers)




(Worn with Miu Miu cape, Alex & Eli trousers, Miu Miu shoes and House of Holland cap)



The collaborative spirit of this collection doesn't end there.  The non Verhoeven-part of the collection follows a narrative that Something Else have commissioned for this Outlaw collection.  They've asked one of my favourite fashion writers Indigo Clarke to contribute a short story that tells the tale of a girl on the road in the desert that may well be dressed up in these pieces of shaggy wools, cactus-print skirts and soft denim shirts, backed to the mystical wonders of peyote.     

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>> Basso & Brooke are one of London's early digital print pioneers and in recent years they've really explored the possibilities of possible print placement – a Sky HD box, a wine bottle, a pair of Havaianas and even a tent, which I recently had the pleasure of sleeping in at Port Eliot.  They've now mined their print history to produce fifty limited edition printed caps and I defy you not to find at least one that you'll take a shining to.  My Karen Walker American Girl cap and my Ostwald Helgason x Noel Stewart cork cap have been firmly planted on my head for the majority of this summer.  I'm normally a straight-laced up, uptight cap wearer, keeping it firmly to the front but it must be some sort of near-thirty crisis that's causing me to swivel it to the side, and even *gasp* swing it to the back Bart Simpson-style.  I'm waiting for jeers of "You're too old to be wearing your cap backwards!" from gangs of eight year olds on Holloway Road whilst they pelt me with day-old chipshop chips.          


It's set in stone.  Seoul in South Korea is my new frontier and I'll get there to soon enough.  For now though something rather unexpected hailing from Seoul has landed on my doorstep and pretty much every bit of it is photoworthy.  I am one of those annoying people that loves snapping away at every bit of possibly interesting minutiae but in this instance, the Korean brand Low Classic has given me enough ammunition to defend myself when it comes to photo overload.  Be prepared to immerse yourself into all things Low.  Low Classic was created in 2009 by Lee Myeong Sin, Hwang Hyun Ji and Park Jin Sun, all coming from the powerful trio of backgrounds as fashion buyers, editors and designers.  It is no wonder therefore that everything about Low Classic from its website design to its lookbooks to its accessories to its presentation and branding is immaculately conceived.  

We haven't even got to the clothes yet which are at first glance minimal but upon closer inspection reveal details that when paired up with the pricing (more about that later) are quite simply astounding.  The A/W 12-3 collection that I'm wearing below along with the lookbook images pick up on sports and cars – typically boyish pursuits to use as themes for their prints and their motifs.  You can read the various nods to Acne, Celine and Phillip Lim which makes for an easy aesthetic to fall for even if you aren't a hardcore minimalist.  A zip here, a cut-out there, smatterings of interesting texture contrasts and in this collection in particular, cars on the highway come zooming in at places to prevent accusations of being plain or without interest.       

The biggest surprise in this Low scenario?  Low is in fact a high street brand, selling prices that are slightly less than Topshop-prices.  Its branding and presentation may suggest something more lofty but run the prices from the online store through a currency converted and you'll be surprised (you can only see the prices if you labororiously register as a member – I had to come up with a fake Korean address and telephone number to do this so just take my word for it).  COS of course is the closest store I have to compare Low to in terms of approach and aesthetic and it's possible the trio were inspired by the H&M-owned minimal and democratic chain.  Still items such as the Low Classic Pocket Bag where potentially you could have your sunnies, your wallet and your credit card on the exterior of your bag, show an attention to design that gives you a lot of bang for your buck at the princely sum of ¬£138.  A navy leather zip-up skirt with a front chiffon panel which looks like you'd wear over and over again at ¬£50 seems ludicrously low.  Even the pieces that I wore here felt weighty and sturdy in their construction, especially the car highway box-pleat tunic that hangs just right.  I knew Korea could turn out clothes that somehow balance quantity with quality, having seen some of the stuff they import to Hong Kong but Low seems to have cracked a magic formula where price, design and quality can come together in harmonious synergy. 

The disappointing conclusion to all of this is that Low Classic's online site is currently only available for shipping within Korea buuuuuuut, I'm told that they will be attempting to launch an international e-commerce site soon next year.  I'd add another year on top of that just to manage optimistic expectations.  Still, Low is surely a benchmark glimpse at what is possible when a good idea is well executed within the ever-competitive category of lower-priced fashion.    



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The Low Classic Pocket Bag – A Margiela-esque signature accessory which has already had friends asking if I can pick a few of them up for them in Korea.  Yes, you wouldn't ACTUALLY put your phone, your credit cards and your valuables on the outside of your bag in a bustling city but a pen, a notepad and business card or two creates quite a visual impact.  Plus, it's also the perfect size for toting around my MacBook Air.





Locle Bands – Remember those snappy bracelets that you smack to curve in an instant around your wrist?  Low Classic have produced these word bracelets for its second range Locle.   



See what I mean with the printed materials of Low?  These fruit-fronted notepads, writing sets and postcards don't really serve any real purpose other than to statisfy the whims of Low's designers, who obviously have a love for nice typography, graphics design and paper-based goods.   




Their current spring and summer lookbooks for both Low Classic and Locle will you a further taste of what Low are all about and this is all the stuff that's currently on sale (but not to us outside-of-Korea folks) on their e-commerce site.  



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>> When I talked about the rise and fall and rise again of logo-mania, I forgot to mention my own slightly reckless and ever-so-obsessive fetish with the logos that hailed from Japan.  Hysteric Glamour and Super Lovers were a duo of brands that crept into the wardrobe of my later teen years, due to shops like Pippa Brook's legendary Shop in Soho, which was one of the few stockists of Hysteric Glamour (there was also a Hysteric Glamour store in London which opened back in 1991) as well as the now-defunct but ever-famed Super Lovers store in Covent Garden.  

Particularly with Super Lovers, it was pretty easy to walk in, get a gift for a friend and know what you had played your gifting trump card – there is no way that your friend wasn't going to be mighty impressed when she sees that famous Superman diamond and heart logo even if the shirt/skirt/sweater was ill-fitting, which it often was due to the Japanese sizing.  Hysteric Glamour was a little bit more of a mystery.  I'm thinking the UK didn't get all the cool stuff that they did in Japan (it was law that between the ages of 14 and 17, I thought EVERYTHING was cooler in Japan).  I certainly never saw anything like this 80s Hysteric Glamour baseball jacket, which I have just bought from the lovely gals at Vagabond NYC (one of my fave online spots for off-kilter designer vintage pieces).  Then again I do believe I may have caught on to Hysteric Glamour in the latter, vaguely "naff" stages of the brand's timeline, a far cry from founder Nobu Kitamura's original vision of hyper-cartoonish and exaggerated 1960s/70s American popular culture.  Still back then, nothing Japanese could be bad in my eyes.  I remember laughing at the boys who queued around the block for Bathing Ape tees in Soho but I look back and can honestly chuckle at my equally blinkered self.  

Particularly when you go on to Hysteric Glamour's website at present and you're thinking you've stumbled upon a Japanese version of Ed Hardy.  Searching for specimens of Hysteric Glamour that are similar in vibe and attitude to this early HG varsity jacket proves to be fruitless.  Therefore, I'm ever grateful to the folks at Vagabond (who are redoing their website) for a) reminding me of a time when I was indeed a fool for the logo, albeit one that felt cultish and individual to me and b) having the eye to recognise that Hysteric Glamour did contribute something significant to Japanese street style culture at one point, even if its later offerings fell short of its original agenda.         







(Worn with Michael Angel dress, KTZ sweater, Corgi x A Minute Silence socks, Underground creepers)