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Brogue traders

Why Prada bought back Church's

Last December, Prada Group bought back the 55 per cent stake in Church’s it had sold to private equity firm Equinox just three years earlier. This was a wise move – Church’s turnover then was up by almost 10 per cent on the year before.

Patrizio Bertelli, Prada Group’s chief executive, says that now the company is in total control, it will update but not transform the brand. “One must be very careful when interfering with a brand’s identity, since there is a high risk of distorting its nature,” he says.

Prada has allowed a range of ties and leather goods to creep in over the past few seasons, a modest step to boost the brand’s catchment. The Water Line is in fact a model dug out from Church’s 1920s archives, and revised. Bertelli says that the younger generation is “more interested in classical styles than one may expect.” Within three years, Prada hopes almost to double Church’s stores to 37 directly run outlets, with a greater presence in Asia.

The buying back and the revamp of Church’s indicates how Bertelli is hoping to complete the Prada Group’s presence in the high-end footwear market. With rumours that Prada Group will be floated either next year or 2009, it could be that Bertelli is simply ensuring the firm will be in top form when the shares become available.

A pre-roadshow warning: keep the manufacturing in the UK or at very least Italy. Clark’s don’t feel the same now they’re made in Vietnam.

Stock up

Swedish capital's PUB conversion

The Stockholm department store PUB is just starting a revamp that will take 18 months to complete. Each floor will have a different identity represented by a “super blogger” who will voice their opinion and pass on news about fashion and culture, both instore and online. High fashion and local Swedish talent will all get a look-in at what will be a new bastion of style on the Drottninggatans.

Comme friendly

CDG's guerilla store in Beirut

The Lebanese army may be fighting an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the northern city of Tripoli, but that hasn’t stopped a local jeweller and his Moroccan partner opening the first Middle Eastern Comme des Garçons “guerilla” store.

The Beirut shop carries the various CDG collections as well as a selection of regional designers. Located in a traditional Lebanese house, the outlet will remain open for one year, as is the case for all Comme guerilla shops. What makes this one different? The giant Kalashnikov-shaped mirror hanging from the ceiling. A reminder of harsh local realities.

What a gem

Asprey's gets a little shirty

Given its 225-year history, jeweller Asprey’s relaunched ready-to-wear collections for men and women might have looked tired and uninventive. Thankfully, creative director Hakan Rosenius, poached from Paul Smith after 23 years, knows how modern clothes should look and can avoid English sentimentalism. His shirts for women are injected with masculine elements – stripes, white collars, cuffs and a crisp cut – which make them promisingly urban and up-to-date. The shirts inherit Asprey’s tradition of quality materials, and will work day or night, matched with a chic grey suit or something a little dressier.

Close-knit family

Essential for those chilly nights

Bamford & Sons makes the sort of clothes that we like to find hanging in our wardrobes, and its autumn/winter collection is full of pieces that we plan to be sporting when the cold nights set in. This knitted cardigan in dark grey will keep us snug on Sunday mornings as we settle down with our weekend supply of newspapers or venture out for a quick tour of the market.

Dane gold

Olympic sportswear by Hummel

Denmark reveals mixed fortunes in the world of sport. At the Athens Olympics in 2004, however, its national team (and the supporting royal family) put on quite a show with their apparel, courtesy of the Danish brand Hummel. Its first pure fashion line raises the bar with sportswear, creating sophisticated, engineered tracksuits, as well as the odd flash of knitwear. For its hoodie, Hummel merges the comfort of leisurewear with the detail of something far grander.

Pink panthers

Richard James socks it to you

A true gentleman can be identified by the details of his dress, and a quick flash of these candy-coloured Richard James cashmere socks under a good navy suit is sure to wow. The range is being produced for the designer by Britain’s superlative men’s hosiery manufacturer Pantherella.







  • The Continental Shift