Bernstock Speirs à Trois

There's apparently another (maybe last) chance to get tropical in London as the temperature builds up to another (sort of) mini heat wave for the bank holiday weekend and and so Bernstock Speirs have timed their series of Totally Tropical visors well.  No, they've got nothing to do with Lilt, a distinctly un-tropical drink but instead a limited number of visors have been adorned with raffia and silk flowers and for the next two weeks, three different ones will be released on the website every day.  I stopped by the store on Brick Lane to get in on the tropical action and also to put money where my mouth was by finally buying my own Bernstock Speirs classics such as the veiled beanie and the bunny cap.  I had to walk into the store looking sheepishly at the floor because both the lovely Paul Bernstock and Thelma Speirs were there, as I had to explain to them why it is despite my ongoing support of the label, I haven't got it physically on my head.  I'll put it down to ongoing unwillingness to buy online and thinking "Oh, I'll just pop into the store" when the fact is I don't really have time these days to "pop" into anything.

My Bernstock Speirs inner chakra is now fully awoken and rebalanced.  The veritable trio is made up of a tropical visor, which I'm totally going to sway around in this weekend, dancing to Blondie's The Tide is High and Jamie xx's Far Nearer.  Then there's the long awaited bunny cap, which if you go in-store is available in more colourways than it is on the website, and also now comes with spangled gold ears at the V&A museum, in celebration of the Club to Catwalk exhibition.  My natural affinity with the bunny cap is such that when I put them on, a "Perk Up" bulb lights up in my brain.  My faces spasms into contorted expressions and my fingers zing up into peace signs.  Actually, who am I kidding?  That's just my default modus operandi in posing for pictures.  Seriously though, happy things can only occur when the bunny cap is on.  If you don't at least twitch your mouth into a ghost of a smile at the sight of them then your soul is withered.



IMG_0684Worn with PushButton shirt, J. Crew liberty print sequinned skirt




IMG_0709Worn with Lou Dalton baseball shirt, Alexander Wang jeans

Sadly I have to end the post on a less happy note.  As I was picking out my veiled beanie colour (they come in bright shades of blue, pink and orange for this season) Paul and Thelma were telling me that Aldo have ripped off their veiled beanie and are flogging it for ¬£15 shops.  They have fought off design copycats before in court and were successful as they are more than confident that their veiled beanie, which they first introduced in 2005, is their proven original design.  Even the more visible veiled beanies that Stephen Jones created for the Jil Sander' S/S 12 show, that spawned a thousand knock-offs and DIY versions, were really ensuing successors to Bernstock Speirs' design (although Jones used a hip hop gangsta beanie shape as opposed to the pom pom beanie).  Sure, you can say it's just a veil on a pom pom hat but it's likely that Aldo were more than inspired by Bernstock Speirs' design.  There may not be a lot that Bernstock Speirs can do on legal grounds given Aldo are a Canadian company and they'd be fighting a retail giant.  Better to drum up some noise and get Aldo to remove it from sale (it's not online yet but it will probably be dropping in soon given it's already been featured on product pages in mags).   If ASOS and Topshop can remove products through a mini Twitter storm then hopefully Aldo can do the same.  I have nothing against their product in general but in this particular instance, I know which version I prefer.  ¬£15 for a (probably) acrylic pom pom made in god knows where, with the knowledge that I'm wearing a nicked design of a brand, which I've vocally supported.  ¬£85-¬£110 for a soft Shetland yarn or Johnstons of Elgin cashmere knitted pom pom hat, finished in Paul and Thelma's lovely atelier in London, and knowing where the source of that design came from.  If you're going to quibble about price difference, then I say go down the DIY route and stop Aldo from pocketing money from someone else's design – knowing Thelma and Paul, I doubt they would begrudge you for that make-do spirit.  

**EDIT** Hurrah!  Make enough of a noise and someone will heed your words!  After a small and vaguely indulgent Twitter outburst, Aldo contacted both myself and Paul and Thelma to promise that their veiled beanie copy would be withdrawn from sale.  They reiterated the point that they themselves support independent designers (J.W. Anderson, Preen, Julian Louie and Mark Fast to name a few) and that copying designers goes against what they are doing in that respect.  It's as I suspected.  Big company.  Many employees.  Many many products.  Things get signed off and processed quickly without the knowledge of everyone in the higher creative tiers of Aldo knowing.  Good on Aldo for responding quickly and avoiding unecessary and perhaps what would have been a fruitless legal tussle for Bernstock Speirs.       



IMG_0749Worn with vintage embroidered jacket and vintage dragon top, Hudson leather skinny jeans


15 Replies to “Bernstock Speirs √† Trois”

  1. It super blows that Aldo is ripping off their design. On a brighter note, though, I love their designs, I think everyone should wear more hats. Be a hatter, not a hater!

  2. Shame the big retailers haven’t gotten the message yet. It’s so disheartening to see things like this happening. Also, put me down for an orange one. I want the real deal!

  3. Hi Susie, I’m very late to this post but I had a few points and questions.

    Firstly, so happy to read that Aldo didn’t go ahead with selling the ripoff beanie hat. I suspect this post might have had something to do with that, it’s so great that you raise awareness of these points. I don’t follow runway very much but I get all the info from your blog.

    My second point comes with questions. Basically, I saw this Bernstock Speirs veiled hat on Liberty this morning and I love it. I’m not sure how good it will look on. Anyway, when I saw it I instantly thought of the jil sander beanie and assumed that it was an “inspired” version of that. when I googled to find out, I was directed to your post. I see now that Bernstock came up with the idea in 2005 which meant it was the other way round. Although the Sander beanie is a different style, it is definitely a more inspired version as opposed to the Aldo (which i haven’t even seen but assuming) which was probably more of a copy, why is it that attempts at trying to stop Sander from using the Bernstock design not made…or were they? I just think that the Jil Sander hats were still making money from a design that was clearly inspired by the Bernstock ones. I can appreciate that inspiration is constantly bouncing around from designer to designer but I feel that the idea of a veiled beanie is very unique and that perhaps the Sander beanie shouldn’t have happened. I reckon when most people see a veiled beanie today, Jil Sanders name is the one that will pop into mind.

    I rambled on a bit, I hope I’ve made sense. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. Thank you.

    1. Hi Lola,

      Interesting question but my guess is that the Jil Sander beanies created by Stephen Jones were not commercially available (at least not in huge quantities). It’s very different from say what Aldo were doing which was ripping off a design verbatim (notice there are no pom poms on the Jil Sander version) and then selling them in huge quantities for profit. The Aldo copy was definitely stroke for stroke, a straightforward copy of Bernstock Speirs’ design.
      Obviously there’s a tacit understanding between Jones and Bernstock Speirs that the former is creating hats for a show as opposed to ripping off designs for commercial gain. People will probably think of Jil Sander when they think veiled beanie but that’s very different from a company making real money out of an idea.

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