Clothing Services

Opening my trunk from The Chapar

Ok here we go…. My trunk from The Chapar has arrived!


And once it’s open…


The envelope stuck on the top of the box contains the notes from my stylist Hannah, the manifest and price list plus some notes on some of the products. For example there’s a bit of detail about a belt, some shirts and so on. All very useful. The sort of facts I would like to be told whilst trying things on. For example there’s some great insight on the founder of Meryn (who produce hand-made leather belts — completely new to me. This is what The Chapar is all about!)

I had a look down the price list:


I’m sure you will agree nothing is crazy. Yes the blazer/jackets are quite steep (£340/£375 is moving swiftly toward tailor rates) but that’s to be expected.

I am approaching it all with an open mind.


I did have a bit of a moment as I pulled back the orange (on-brand) tissue paper and saw all the smart clothes. And what looks like a casual tie! Is this for me?

Well. At least I’m not in a shop with folk staring.

Hannah wrote, “Please try everything,” (underlined!) in her introductory letter. I shall definitely do so.

My biggest challenge now is finding the time to actually do the trying-on.

I do like how they’ve tied bundles of clothes together with string. And I like the scarf. That’s a wicked idea as I was *just* thinking about buying one from the nearest shop given the weather’s got rather chilly. Smart thinking Hannah.

I am feeling rather excited. Let’s see how things go when I can get time to properly try everything.

Meanwhile if you’d like to try it out, head over to The Chapar and let me know how you get on.


Where are my shirts? I ordered them on Saturday!

I ordered 10 shirts from Hawes & Curtis, the shirtmakers, on Saturday afternoon. They were off-the-peg ones — and what’s more, they were in stock. I know this, because the stupid Hawes & Curtis website made me click through reams of pages like a performing dog, searching for 16.5″ x 36″ shirts that were actually in stock.


Or better yet, stop messing around with your own clearly sub-standard back-end order processing system and just get Amazon to do it?

Here’s my problem: I ordered the shirts on Saturday, right? I expected them to arrive on Tuesday morning.

I gave Hawes & Curtis the benefit of the doubt — no, actually, I thought there’d be no-way they’d be able to get the shirts to me on Monday morning. That would entail them running an operation on Sunday night and, you know, being good at logistics. Like Amazon.

Instead I assumed the shirts would arrive on Tuesday. That’s bearable. But really, in 2012, if Amazon can get almost anything to me next day guaranteed by 10am, why can’t you?

There’s really no excuse.

If you can’t figure out a way to deliver the shirts to me this way, Hawes & Curtis, then seriously — dump your existing processes — and get Amazon to handle it all for you.

I spent £110 on shirts — a good deal, if you ask me — and then I saw the silly £9.95 (or thereabouts) postage fee.

I did my very best fake smile when I saw that.

Thanks for nothing, I thought to myself.

Then I remembered there was a special offer displayed on the frontage of the website. Use the coupon code ‘postage’ and your postage fee is reduced to £4.95. Woop. I thought I might as well do that, given the fact it would save me five pounds and produce no other benefit. I’d rather have paid £9.95 to have had the shirts ON MONDAY.

It’s not especially important to me. I wasn’t depending on Hawes & Curtis for the delivery, because I know I can’t.

Online shops like these are really no better than an eBay equivalent. You HOPE they got the order on time. You HOPE they, you know, could be bothered to get out of bed and process it. You HOPE they actually made it to the post office on time before the last post and you HOPE you might even get the product by the end of the week. If you’re lucky.

I really do wonder how long the market will tolerate the likes of these services simply limping along, delivering middle of the road ‘whatever’ service?

Let’s be clear: I haven’t been wronged by Hawes & Curtis. My expectations have been entirely met — I expected this. If anything, I think I’m surprised by how dependent I have become on Amazon.

I now actively shop according to the Amazon Prime listings (I’m a “Prime” customer — which means delivery is ‘free’ and in most cases, next day — or just a wee bit extra to have it guaranteed by 10am etc). I will favour one supplier above another if Amazon fulfils the order. That is, if Amazon has the product sitting in their own warehouse ready to ship to me. Because I know that Amazon doesn’t screw it up. They’ve got the flow. They’re shipping millions of products a week. The Post Office knows them very, very well. So do the courier firms they work with. The whole thing is a beautifully oiled machine as far as I’m concerned.

Unfortunately Amazon is making everyone else look really, really bad — for me, anyway.

Forget the dumbing down and the disappearing High Street thread we’re all being fed by the mainstream media. What about the disappearing e-commerce world? 😉 I don’t intend ever bothering with Hawes & Curtis online ordering again. It was almost a novel shopping and check-out experience — it was, in a funny way, quite nice to be exposed to the ridiculous next-next-give-us-your-life-story process.

Why do you need my address? Why do you need my sodding CCV2 card number? Why do you need me to make a username and password? Amazon already have all of this. I can order in ONE CLICK! Come on!

So dear, dear me. The seamless Amazon experience has made me wholly intolerant to any other service that doesn’t either exactly equal the basic Amazon service (e.g. dispatched next day — and I mean NEXT DAY) or involves a chap getting on a bike and hand delivering the product.

I wonder how many Hawes & Curtis customers would pay to have someone bike the shirts to them for a fixed fee of, I dunno, £45? I’d have done it. I just want it done, you see. I don’t want to have to THINK about stuff that isn’t important.

Waiting for my shirts to arrive is an exception that — I’m sorry to admit — niggles at me. It’s the inefficiency of it all that seriously irks me.

Consider this: I placed the order on Saturday afternoon at about 1.30pm. The payment was immediately verified and charged to my card. And then nothing happened, right?

I am willing to bet that NOTHING happened at the Hawes & Curtis end until Monday morning. At some point on Monday morning, somebody will have checked the orders — or whatever — and realised they’d got a request from me. They’ll have messed around checking email and staring at the wall and resetting their desktop screensavers until midday. Then they’ll have picked the shirts and packed them. Then they’ll have either left my package alone or they’ll have dumped it into the postal system that evening, probably at last post, right?

I know I’m making huge, huge assumptions and probably causing a few folk at Hawes & Curtis to seriously question my sanity at this point, but run with me. If my package didn’t arrive TODAY — Tuesday — that means they clearly didn’t ship it yesterday. OR it means they’re sending it via second class post. Which means… well that’s anyone’s guess. Or they’re sending it via some cheapo manner. Or it didn’t make the post on Monday.

Whatever. The point is, if *I* had been fulfilling the order from my home — personally — I’d have got it to the Post Office for 10am on Monday so they could have to my customer on Tuesday morning.

It’s worth pointing out again, for the sake of the team at H&K — I’m a fan. That’s why I bought the shirts in the first place. I own about 20 other H&K shirts (most of which I lost by forgetting my dry cleaning on the train last week, hence the bulk purchase — but that’s another story).

I write this post to highlight the changing nature of the consumer. I’m not a typical consumer. I’m far too geeky for that. But the rest of society will catch up at some point in the next few years — and when they do, they’ll have absolutely no tolerance for anything that doesn’t deliver precisely like Amazon.


Pointy work shoes: The abomination fit only for the junior account executive

I’ve long held the view that proper work shoes — those that go nicely with a smart suit — do not turn up off the floor at the front, nor should they be pointy.

If they’re pointy then your feet will only fit into the main forward section, leaving the rest of the front to turn upwards. It looks shocking.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t see somebody wearing these kind of shoes.

There’s nothing wrong with doing so. It just doesn’t strike me as professional. Using the traditional footwear of Court Jesters and Santa’s elves is not professional.

It really does wind me up to see them.

I’m guilty of this though. I hate to admit it. A while ago my wife made me buy some utterly shit £300 pair of “smart shoes” (to wear at the weekends). I ended up with this shocker of a pair that she thought looked cool. Me? Well I felt like a fraud, even at weekends. And I was slipping all over the place in them. I was wound up even more given the fact these shoes were piss-poor quality. Made for a tenner and branded at £300. They started to come apart after a few months.

I shouldn’t argue. I hadn’t been organised enough to go to Trickers and sort out some better casual ones so I ended up in Selfridges browsing these abominations.

Casual footwear is, I suppose, ok, when it comes to Court Jester pointy-turn-up-at-the-front shoes. But in a business context? It’s the equivalent of arriving at a meeting in a £75,000 sooped-up 1987 Ford Fiesta: Certainly expensive but fundamentally at the bottom of the rung in quality terms.

My preferred choice for footwear is Trickers — but I’ve had reasonable experiences with stuff from Churchs (is it Churches? Church’s?).

Where do you get your shoes from? And please, dear reader, tell me you don’t own a pair of pointy-lift-off-the-front shoes?

[Photo from]

Children Highly Recommended

Buy your child a Christmas Pudding hat from The CobWeb Company — their mother will love you forever

The Christmas Pudding Hat from The CobWeb Company

We got the Christmas Pudding Hat (made by The CobWeb Company) as a gift last year, if memory serves. We’ve been deploying it every time there’s been a cold spell this year and as Christmas approaches, it’s certainly making Archie look on trend (that’s him in the photo above).

The most important feature of this particular hat is the reaction it generates. Believe me, it’s shocking. Women melt. I do mean melt. I think it’s the fact that most people see a wooly hat first and then they see that it’s actually a Christmas Pudding. And you’ve ideally got a smiling (or at least, content) child underneath it to add to the effect. At minimum you’ll get a smile from passers by. At maximum, you’ll have folk stop in their tracks, point and exclaim “AWWWWWWWH” whilst pointing. Highly recommended.

Now, the second feature is — well, it’s a hat. It’s warm. From my rather masculine, utilitarian viewpoint, it does the job properly. It looks well made, it’s been through quite a lot with Archie in terms of having buggys squeezing it into the mud and so on. It’s still going strong. It costs just £15.95 (or £18.95 for the larger toddler version). Or, consider going the whole hog and getting the ‘set’ which includes the hat and the body suit at a highly reasonable £24.95. If you’re thinking about a little bit more luxury, think about the Cashmere version.

The CobWeb Company don’t stop at Christmas Pudding hats though. They’ve got a whole seasonal range for you to browse. My wife’s eyes were lighting up at this even before she saw the little baby in the tea cup on the frontpage. (Do, seriously, click through to the frontpage and prepare to be awwwed, especially with image 3 and 4.) My favourite other seasonal hat? Definitely the Banana one. You can’t go wrong with the stripy range either.

I think I’m right in asserting that if you’re the dad who happened to buy this for his child, then the mothers in your community will think you’re spectacular. And your partner should be suitable impressed as a result.

Here’s a photo of the Christmas Pudding had sans child:

I’ve put this one into the Highly Recommended category. It’s the first product I’ve assigned to that and it’s a testament to my experience with the hat. Looking at him wearing it makes me smile.

Thanks to Su and the team at The CobWeb Company for the imaginative concepts. I’m going to give some thought as to what we should be buying for our friends and family. We’ve a few babies due next year.

One final point, I think it’s rather difficult to underscore for all the male readers just how good a Cob Web hat is for a baby present. I wish I’d known. So if you’re ever stuck needing something for a friend’s baby and you haven’t outsourced that to “control” (i.e. partner/girlfriend), you can’t go wrong with one of The CobWeb Company hats.

[Update: If you’d like to find out more about founder Su Cowell and the background to the company, check out this link.]