Je t’aime, Jane
So last week I wrote about Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon. Some might think that writing about Jane Birkin, their mother, this week seems a bit uninspired. To those people I happily reply: Have you seen this woman?! Jane Birkin, English born actress, living in Paris since the sixties, first proper It-girl whose style embodies a laid-back bohemia that just feels so French. Funnily enough, Elisa, chief wanderer, has done it exactly the other way round: born in France, living in London now. If that isn’t reason enough to take a closer look, Jane’s signature look, that sexy Parisian tomboy style, is still totally up to date. She is the free-spirited 60s original boho chick whose style has influenced generation after generation.
Feminine, yet not too girlie, combining little dresses with androgynous flats. She loved white lace, crochet or broderie anglaise.
Our version of the white lace dress:
Shift dresses make your legs look endless. Jane knows it.
To add impact, combine your shift dress, shorts or miniskirt with knitted over the knee socks. Never looks overdone and stretches your legs into unknown heights.
Get them online:
As a Brit girl in Paris Jane has a weakness for breton stripes. Makes every outfit look appropriate and fresh.
Style inspiration: Jane’s daughters
Say the name Birkin and most of us will have an image in mind of iconic Jane, actress, singer, muse, namesake of the famous Birkin bag, and, yes, mother of 3 daughters, two of which are proper It Girls themselves: Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon. Not to mention awesome actresses, talented singers, muses and models.
London-born Jane grew up as the swinging 60s were taking over but soon moved to Paris where she met Serge Gainsbourg, another French icon, and they had a daughter together, Charlotte Gainsbourg, born 1971. Serge and Jane divorced in 1980 and she began dating French film director Jacques Doillon - daughter Lou was born in 1982.
Serge and Jane
So Charlotte and Lou. They keep popping up, in magazines, blogs… Not in a starlet-It-girl way. Rather, they are the type of girls who aren’t in the headlines but who make you look at twice. They’re interesting. I look at them and want to know more about them. I’m normally not the person to adore celebrity styles. But those two I find somehow… inspiring.
I recently watched The Science of Sleep again, a beautiful surrealistic comedy with Charlotte starring in it (never watched Antichrist which is probably the exact opposite. No, not for me). The next day a friend of mine recommended Lou’s album ‘Places’ to me so on my sunday morning train ride, whilst listening to it, I started skipping through pictures of the two and was amazed by their effortless cool style. Both somewhat tomboyish, yet feminine, they seem to perfectly embody the Parisian arty, bobo aesthetics.
Lou has her trademark spunkiness while Charlotte is more classy and classic, in a way you can probably only be when growing up in in the arty French Birkin-Gainsbourg-Doillon-clan.
Our pop-up store: the story
by Elisa, Chief Wandered and Wandering Minds Founder
The blog has been a bit abandoned lately (and that’s quite the understatement), but I have a pretty damn good excuse. We opened our first ever pop-up store a little less than a month ago, and running an e-store AND a brick-and-mortar store at the same time is not easy.
Let me tell you how it all happened. A few months ago I attended a networking event for entrepreneurs at my old university (Oxford). This was my first networking event, and let’s be honest I’m pretty sh*t at it. And yet, on that day I met one of the founders of We Are Pop-Up, a start-up specialising in linking small businesses with pop-up spaces. He encouraged me to take part in a competition that they organised with Boxpark, the pop-up mall based in the heart of hip Shoreditch in East London.
So a couple of days later, co-founder James and I were pitching to Boxpark management, and well, we ended up winning 6 weeks free rent at Boxpark.
We opened our store on 11th April, after a couple of sleepless nights spent bringing all the stock and merchandising the space nicely. We had a party that night, where friends, online fans and strangers mingled and had a jolly good time.
How has it been going so far? Surprisingly and remarkably well. We’ve been able to get direct feedback on our products and get a grasp of the wide variety of customers Wandering Minds can cater to: from 20-something hipsters to the coolest German grandmother who must have been in her late 70s. It has been so cool to see how so many different people could fall in love with our products.
Come visit, we’re there until May 22nd.
Style obsession: Midori in Norwegian Wood
By Elisa, Wandering Minds founder and Chief Wanderer
I’m not sure how to start this post, but basically over the last few days I’ve been obsessing about a Japanese film (We’re creating a dedicated Tokyo page on our store where you will be able to shop cool stuff from there, so I needed inspiration) I saw a couple of years ago. This film made a deep and lasting impression on me, and I’ve just to tell you guys about it and see if anyone else shares my obsession.
I’m talking about the film Norwegian Wood, based on an equally awesome novel with the same title, which basically tells the story of a love triangle - or a square, or even a pentagon at times - in 1960s Tokyo.
Now let’s establish a couple of facts: 1. I’m obsessed with Tokyo 2. I’m obsessed with the 1960s, and let’s add a third one, 3. I’m obsessed with visually stunning films.
Norwegian Wood ticks all the above boxes. The whole film is dreamily beautiful, but what I want to talk about is a character that has become a major style inspiration for me: the devious, unattainable (except when she wants to), too-cool-for-school Midori, whose style, haircut, clothes and attitude I want. You could safely say I want to be her.
First, she has the most amazing sharp, slightly asymmetric bob, which is usually not my thing (I’m a long hair kind of girl), but her haircut is a DREAM, and she often wears a wonderfully simple hair pin on the side of her parting.
Second, the clothes. She manages to look slightly conservative and devastatingly sexy, the best combination ever as far as I’m concerned. She wears cool little pleated skirts, combined with short-sleeve knits in preppy stripes or geometric patterns, or bright and structured mini shift dresses, finished off by coats with an androgynous feel.
Guys, just download the sh*t out of this film. It’s worth it.
Why we love Korean labels: Margarin Fingers
By Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
You may have noticed that our little online store is full of Korean brands, from small indie-labels and one-man/woman operation to up-and-coming brands already very popular with the cool crowds of Seoul and Tokyo.
Our latest collaboration with a Korean label, Margarin Fingers
Why do we love Korean labels so much at Wandering Minds? It certainly isn’t the easy option. Dealing with Korean brands often involves a lot of communication problems, which can often be solved only by actually going there (which is great fun and we do often, but still not the most convenient thing when your office is in London). And there’s also the problem of sizing, with most brands only catering for a standard UK size 8, XS/S frame, which is not exactly inclusive nor representative of the reality of what girls look like in the West.
But our enthusiasm for Korean fashion brands remains undeterred by these difficulties, and here’s why: when we go to Korea to check out clothes and find new designers, we always, always get excited by what we see; I can’t say the same of European trade shows, which, let’s be honest, are quite a bore (and I’m off to Pure London trade show tomorrow, oh joy!)
Korean designers always seem to create things you didn’t even know you wanted. Effortless silhouettes with the coolest little details. Take our most recent designer collaboration, Margarin Fingers. When I saw their collection of simple separates embroidered with, wait for it, icebergs, I started laughing. But immediately afterwards I felt that I had always wanted to own a light grey sweater with icebergs on it, as well as, amongst other things, an asymmetric manga-school-girl pleated skorts. I just didn’t know I did.
How Wandering Minds is doing: Founder’s interview
By Elisa Eymery, Chief Wanderer at Wandering Minds
Our friend of many years, Lucie Goulet, writes the brilliant blog Fashion Abecedaire, which features her thoughts and opinions on the fashion industry, articles about her favourite films and TV series, and the odd bitching session about something that annoyed her. She interviewed me as part of her blogger’s adventure feature. I’ve copied her blog post, because, well, I’m saying really interesting things in it, so you’d better read it.
I met Elisa Eymery on my fifth day of living in the UK. I was looking for the infirmary at the French lycée and she happened to know where it was. She was wearing a Nile blue top with jeans and a tonal scarf instead of a belt, which I thought very cool. Nine years on, we’ve been to the same university, lived in the same student halls, hosted a radio show and been on holidays to Cairo together.
Last year, Elisa, freshly returned from a six-months trip to Asia, launched a project she’d been talking about since her student days:Wandering Minds, an online young fashion store stocking emerging, unknown brands sourced during her travels*.
The store has a buddy blog, No Experience, which features the behind-the-scenes of a fashion start-up as well as Elisa’s buying trips. I asked her about the importance of blogging to support an emerging fashion business, on the role of content marketing in generating sales and on her successful partnerships with bloggers.
Why did you decide to title the blog No Experience?
We wanted the name of the blog to reflect another aspect of our identify as a fashion start-up. Our store name, Wandering Minds, reflects the fact that we’re all about travelling and exploring the world to find cool, eclectic pieces.
No Experience emphasises the ‘young start-up’ aspect of our business, which we are quite proud of, although it also comes with challenges. We have no (or at least very little) experience in the fashion industry, or any industry for that matter, as the average age of our team is 25, but that’s not a bad thing. It pushes us to think logically and creatively, and to rely heavily on our instincts as young fashion consumers.
Why was it important for you to have a blog alongside your online store?
In business terms, it is unthinkable for online fashion stores not to have a blog. It allows us to express our personality as a retailer and it inspires trust amongst our potential customers. Trust remains a major issue for unknown brands/stores online, so having a well-developed, up-to-date blog definitely helps establishing confidence.
The blog is split into five sections, Behind-the-scenes being my personal favourite. How do you decide what to post and how do you make sure it stays true to the Wandering Minds ethos?
Behind-the-scenes is also my favourite section, but it is the most difficult to write. We always wanted to talk about the behind-the-scenes of running a fashion start-up, because it is fascinating and not many people write about it. But we’re also trying to portray ourselves as an established company, as we don’t want people to think we don’t know what we’re doing. Everything we do, from photoshoots to our fulfillment process, is on a very low budget. It’s the only way for us to survive as a company, and most people don’t even seem to notice; we get emails from people who seem to think we are a multinational sometimes!
So we’re in a bit of a dilemma at the moment regarding the tone of the blog: do we take a risk and emphasise the ‘home-made’ aspect of Wandering Minds, or do we try and emphasise other aspects unrelated to the start-up life, such as our fashion viewpoint, our sources of inspiration…
You sell an extended selection of products in the store but only feature a few on the blog - how do you choose them?
I used to always add links to our products in our blog posts, but I don’t feel obliged to any more. I try to write about things I really want to write about, so that the tone of the blog doesn’t feel forced or overly commercial. There are other places to do hard selling, and I don’t feel our blog is the right place for that.
That being said, if I write about my style inspiration, whether it’s a style icon or a really cool movie, I sometimes include links and photos of our products that would really work if our reader would want to emulate that style, and for that reason the products that I feature are often my favourite ones.
Have you noticed a link between the products you feature and how well something sells?
No I haven’t. However, I find that people who have first read the blog, and then visited the store, are a lot more committed to browsing the store, as well as finding more about our company and our concept. Our blog visitors spend quite a bit of time on the ‘about us’ page on our store. The blog definitely has been a great way to create a positive bias towards who we are as a company.
Why did you decide to blog on Tumblr?
We really weren’t sure which platform to use at first, but Tumblr seemed the easiest one to customise nicely, as well as having a social element with the dashboard and people being able to follow you very easily.
However we’re increasingly thinking about switching or also having a Wordpress blog, because it also seems like a great platform for people to stumble upon content they might like.
Quite a few bloggers have worn your clothes recently. What role are bloggers playing in the expansion of a recently launched startup like yours?
Bloggers have a huge direct impact on our sales performance. Whatever a blogger wears, their fans will buy! They can become quite angry when a particular item of clothing worn by their favourite blogger sells out, which is quite funny. Blogger collaborations are crucial to the survival of our business, and is also one of the cheapest and most effective way to promote our store.
For prospective customers who hadn’t heard about us through bloggers, it gives us additional credibility since a lot of people visit our press page, where we record the blog posts where we are featured.
How do you see No Experience evolve in 2013?
We need to find the right balance between sharing our start-up experience with our followers and keeping enough distance to be taken seriously.
We also need to write a lot more often, and I’d like to link our newly created Instagram account to our blog, to give a new dimension to the Wandering Minds behind-the-scenes narration.
Another big step for the blog will be the launch of our ‘shop by city’ feature on the store, where shoppers will be able to shop designers from a wide range of cool fashion cities. This new dimension will be accompanied by the creation of city-specific content by local bloggers, which should make for some very interesting and unique points of view to be shared on the blog.
* Full disclosure: I have been involved with the Wandering Minds adventure, in a moral support and at times advisory capacity.
New year style resolution: sticking to one’s guns
By Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer.
January 1st means only one thing for me: new year’s resolutions. I am aware of the recent re-emergence of the ‘New Year’s resolutions are unhealthy’ school of thought, with the whole thing about continually improving while being accepting of oneself being very trendy.
To heck with that, I’m a huge sucker for NY resolutions, in fact I LOVE them, and that’s that. This year, one of my resolution pertains to my own personal style.
I have decided to try and stick to my guns. The last couple of years have been very much about experimenting with different styles, from LA casual to Kate Moss grunge chic, and it has been fun - well, actually, I’m lying, it hasn’t. In fact it’s been very frustrating trying to emulate styles that didn’t come naturally to me.
So, I’ve decided to stick to what I really like. Things that suit my body but most importantly my personality, aesthetics and all-time aspiration. I love preppy things. I love navy blue. I love short, pleated skirts. I love boring - but perfectly cut - wool jumpers. I love a piece of black velvet ribbon around a high, bouncy ponytail. I love knee-high socks, and simple ballet flats. I love effortless loose buns and long, wavy hair.
My style icons are preppy queens, from Ali Mc Graw in Love Story, Katharine Ross in The Graduate, Jane Birkin, Kirsten Dunst and yes, Alexa Chung, to name but a few.
But I also love prints, colours, and cool textures, whether it be smooth leather or chunky wool, and fortunately these work really well with a preppy, neat but nonetheless sexy silhouette. So, for me, 2013 will all be about accepting and expressing one’s true style, this sort-of-coherent image that you find yourself attracted to times and times again.
Famous Fan: Jen from the Native Fox
By Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
I almost chocked with joy when I saw Jennifer, from San Diego-based blog the Native Fox, wearing our light grey fitted cable jumper. Why? Firstly, because I have a huge crush on the girl, I won’t go into too much details about why that is, but I’ll give you a hint: LEGS.
Secondly, although I generally admire her style and have serious cases of wardrobe-jealousy when browsing her blog, I have a personal preference for her more casual outfits, because she always manages to add carefully chosen touches of glamour, thereby ending up looking a bit preppy but most importantly totally rad.
So when she wore our perfectly preppy jumper, and combined it with shooort denim cut-offs, Isabelle Marant ankle boots and the coolest little satchel bag, I was in style heaven.
Sunday night inspiration - Happy fashion
by Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
As an entrepreneur, sunday doesn’t mean rest day. I still check our facebook page activity every 5 minutes, our analytics every 2 minutes, and my email every 30 seconds. However on Sundays, I let myself be drawn towards the things that naturally interest me. I investigate. I loose myself in random searches and find things that inspire me.
Fashion and style inspiration obviously has a big part in my sundays. But again, I try not to think about it in business terms, but purely on a aesthetics, natural affinity basis. Today, I found myself attracted to ‘happy fashion’. Outfits that look comfortable, but have an obvious joyful dimension to them. Whether it’s a print, a colour, a texture, or a combination of the previous, I look at things that scream ‘I’m really quite happy to be alive and clothes are part of the fun’.
The Christmas edit - No boring gifts allowed
By Elisa, Chief Wanderer and Wandering Minds founder
Yes, gifts can be stressful. Yes, there’s always going to be a risky element to choosing a gift for someone else. But that doesn’t mean we have to play it safe. In fact, playing it safe is against the spirit of gift-giving, so forget it. We’ve picked the perfect gift items from our store, and shed a few £/$/€ off the price to make Christmas slightly less painful for your wallet.
At Wandering Minds we’re all about daring gifts that are full of personality. Things that the people you’re giving the gift to may not have chosen themselves - one is always so conservative with oneself - but will end up loving to bits.
Accessories are slightly easier, as there won’t be fit problems, and they’re also a bit decadent as no-one really needs accessories, which give them added charm. We’ve picked great pieces from Parisian label ‘Sur les toits de Paris’ with an opulent and joyous feel to them - think beautiful rough cut gems in deep hues and chunky chains.
A good sweater is also always universally loved. But don’t pick a boring black thing. Choose something a little different that will surprise the gift recipient. We’ve selected our loose-fit pleated sweater by Korean indie label Grace Raiment, the colour is classic but the pleats and oversized fit make it very interesting indeed; and our coral degrade knitted jumper by Australian designer brand Stylestalker, a colourful and luxurious piece that will shake up any winter wardrobe.
Last option, a bag. Whether it’s a minimalist tote bag or a neon-yellow or peacock print clutch, it has to stand out with its quality and unique design. Don’t just buy a boring longchamp one (and I love Longchamp, by the way).
Check out the entire Christmas selection!
Navy blue obsession
By Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
I have an unhealthy obsession with navy blue: sweaters, jumpers, little skirts and coats, you name it – my wardrobe is full of navy blue, and to a lesser extent, my online store is too.
I don’t know what it is about this classic hue that enthralls me so. Perhaps it has something to do with its timeless prepiness – think Ali Mcgraw in the 1970s, nonchalently walking the grounds of Yale in Love Story, dressed in a navy peacoat, cord jumper, pleated skirt, knitted scarf and knee-high socks.
It is also the boyish, androgynous, relaxed, I’m-not-trying-to-look-hot-but-I-just-do thing about navy, best epitomizes by Alexa Chung, who shows up at red carpet events with the perfect navy blue jumper and still manages to provoke total style jealousy from us all. I know the obsession over Alexa’s style is no longer cool – totally overdone, isn’t it – but shoot me now, I can’t help it.
It is therefore not much of a surprise that Wandering Minds has quite a bit of navy blue, but, in my defence, they are PERFECT navy blue pieces. Our preppy navy blue crewneck jumper has the right amount of structure of looseness, and could rival with Alexa’s best one.
Our navy blue pleated sweater from Seoul-based designer Grace Raiment is a bit more wild and quirky, with its slightly oversized fit, cool pleats and short-ish length.
Our navy blue skater dress, with its clean white collar, is one of our best sellers, probably because it has this sexy school girl thing going on, as well as a great heavy fabric that twirls.
And finally, our latest arrival, the bipolar navy cashmere coat, with its preppy front and totally unique back, which represents the great double personality aspect of navy blue: it may look a bit classic at first, but it has this wild and totally seductive side that’s just plain hot.
Insider’s wanderings: Tonya, Resident Muse
By Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
Looking at our track record at hiring models, we seem to have a thing for super intelligent, educated models at Wandering Minds. Who can blame us? Tonya is no exception. This Russian beauty went to the French Lycee in London, where she met the Wandering Minds crew, which was back then not much more than a collection of random spotty teenagers.
Tonya wears our little grey jumper, in Barbican (East London).
Fast forward, a few years later, after a degree in Biology at the University of Edinburgh, Tonya came back to London for her Masters, and it just so happened that she looked like a sex goddess. Hence our decision to have her star in our first fashion film, alongside Olivia (read her interview) and myself. The slight problem with Tonya is that she’s so sexy that she takes attention away from the clothes. Oh well. We still thought that it would be interesting to ask her a few questions and try and understand how to be hot like her.
Tonya wears our navy pleated sweater when shooting our fashion film
Famous fan: Leeloo - Style lesson
By Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
Wandering Minds is starting to make regular appearances on fashion blogs around the world, and nothing makes us happier than when our favourite bloggers put their own twist on pieces that we see everyday and that we somehow got used to style in one specific way.
Leeloo is one of the bloggers that always surprise us when she wears our clothes. Although she’s from Paris, the playfulness of her styling almost has a british feel to it, with the vibrant colours, quirky prints and whimsical accessorising.
Leeloo has worn two of ours jumpers: our cloud print jumper, which obviously completely sold out in a matter of hours (but there’s a couple left in another colour), and just a few days ago our preppy wool jumper with its dark blue collar (almost sold out too).
If there are two style lessons you can learn from this fabulous girl, it’s these:
- Don’t just put on a jumper: roll the sleeves up artfully, tuck it in nonchalantly into your shorts - whatever you do, work on it.
- Stack those accessories: I know this is a pretty well-known style tip, but seriously, it’s worth taking an extra 3 minute in your daily routine to just pile on whatever bracelets you can grab in your jewellery drawer. You can’t fail to look cool.
Aussie style round-up (and our flash sale!)
By Elisa, Wandering Minds Founder and Chief Wanderer
A stepping stone has been reached in our quest to get the coolest of our favourite style cities around the globe: we are now collaborating with up-and-coming Aussie label Stylestalker, which is arguably one of the best labels Australia has to offer (and we’re doing a launch sale this week only to celebrate!).
And that’s quite a statement, given Australia’s rise to style heaven over the last decade. To me, Aussie style is like the love child of LA fashion and british style, combining the relaxed-bohemian feel of the West Coast and the bold prints and colours so characteristic of British quirkiness.
While a lot of aussie labels are a bit pricey, the incredible fit and detailing, the unique prints and shapes, and the aura of understated sexiness totally make up for it. Australian fashion is about joy, fun, relaxed edginess (and sex).
Here is my round-up of my favourite australian labels of the moment - I’m talking wear-everyday, up-and-coming, affordable, not-everyone-knows-about-them kind of labels:
Stylestalker: This was THE australian label we wanted to stock, and well, we did it! Stylestalker has it all, really. Think cool degrade of bright colours, smart tie-dye effects, and little dresses with cut-out details and open backs. We picked the best pieces of the season in our tightly edited Stylestalker capsule collection (and they’re on sale this week!)
Our model Victorija wears the tie-dye border cut-out dress
Finders Keepers: This is a label that we want to stock in the future. It is more structured and slightly more grown-up than stylestalker, but still so much fun, with some truly outstanding separates that you will wear for years to come.
Minkpink: Ok so this one is pretty well-known, but still worth including in this list, because talking about cool australian clothes that you want to wear everyday needs to include Minkpink. With its colourful florals and psychedelic prints, it’d be easy to think that Minkpink is a teenage-only brand, but a carefully chosen selection of their vibrant pieces would brighten up any boring wardrobe.