Wedding Style

I’ve been a bit busy over on my Metro column of late, to the detriment of poor ElleTea. Sorry readers.

However, I did want to share one of my most recent pieces as it was a super fun collaboration with Alexis Cuddyre of OMG I’m Getting Married and the fashion label, Belle & Bunty.

A recent Metro column on wedding style

A recent Metro column on wedding style

You can read the full article over here but thought I’d post some fun little extra gifs  of me trying on many, many pretty dresses. It’s a hard life. Thank you Alexis for the clever editing of these!

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Introducing the Fashion Tech Tribes

Here’s a little collaboration between myself and the very talented Alexis Cuddyre of OMG Im Getting Married blog. We decided to take a satirical look at the way fashionistas are using social media. We hold our hands up and admit to a few of the behaviours ourselves…

The piece was recently published in the Silicon Roundabout newspaper Can’t Understand New Technology , edited by our friend and Miss Internet herself Camilla Grey. Since Can’t is currently a print only affair – it’s more exclusive and post-digital that way, geddit? – here are the tribes in all their digital glory. Watch this space for the second set of tribes, coming soon!

Which one are you??…

FashionTechTribes_LauraTan_AlexisCuddyre-2

 

Burberry, a lesson in customer service: Part 2

For those of you who read my previous post on Burberry, here comes part two in the case of the missing button.

Having published my post on Sunday afternoon,  I received another e-mail from Burberry on Monday morning. They’d picked up on my blog post (wow, they’re fast) and got in touch to try to “restore my faith”.  I was intrigued and agreed to have a chat.

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I have to say I was very impressed with how they dealt with me on the call. It wasn’t just that the lady I spoke to was incredibly friendly and apologetic  (as you’d expect), but it was also that she was open and honest about their internal processes and how she wanted to make sure they did better next time. She took the time to address some of the specific concerns I mentioned in my post, for example explaining to me how the social media team connects with the customer service team and so on.

I was left convinced that Burberry really is heading towards being a seamless back-end operation when it comes to joining the dots between customer service and marketing. This is the key first step for a brand to get right, to then deliver an equally seamless experience externally to customers. It’s all the more important when, like Burberry, you offer the option of customers being able to get in touch with your company via (very public) social media channels.

Even though, in my case, Burberry admitted they hadn’t followed the right course of action first time round (apparently, they shouldn’t have charged me for the button without a proper enquiry into any quality issues), the way they subsequently dealt with the problem struck a a good balance between attentiveness and humility.

In my day job as a brand strategist, we talk a lot about how ‘responsiveness’ is a defining quality of the most successful brands today and Burberry’s reaction to my expressed disappointment was a great example of this in action.

On my call with customer services, Burberry also talked to me about their ambition for customers to “have the same feeling in every channel” and this is a spot on strategy. It’s often the little things, the minute interactions – like replacing a missing button free of charge – that make the difference when it comes to how you feel about a brand, particularly one that promises luxury.

Best of all, my shiny new buttons arrived in the post this morning, in a lovely Burberry package and with a personal letter. Nice.

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Well done Burberry. You have now given me a new story to tell. And a lesson in how you can change consumer perception  of  brand with a little bit of love.

Burberry and the case of the £35 button: A lesson in customer service.

Just when the weather finally started getting warm enough to get out my beloved Burberry trench, a button fell off. Not the pulled-together look I was planning for the transition into Spring. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to find out that – being the digitally savvy sort of company that it is – Burberry has a specific Twitter feed for these sort of #firstworldproblems.

So I tweeted @burberryservice and they impressively replied (within an hour) to say they were ‘sorry to hear’ about my missing button, along with some suggestions for how I could get it fixed. So far, so good…

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Being a dutiful and trusting customer, I took @burberryservice’s advice and sent in a picture of my sad little buttonless trench to the twitter@burberry.com team. Again, not as quickly as the Twitter team, but still more swiftly than you could ever get through to your bank, Wendy from customer service e-mailed me with the following message…

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Now, on reading the first line, I was just as ‘delighted’ as Wendy to find out they had managed to track down a matching button to replace mine. It was only when I read the next paragraph stating the cost of said button that my delight turned into disbelief. £25 for a button plus £10 shipping??! Are they serious? That’s £35 in total – I could get a brand new trench from M&S for that price. And I’ve actually seen some nice ones this season. Via a very nicely shot Vogue promotion. Not that that’s the point. But still.

In a matter of minutes, I’d gone from feeling like a valued customer and, I’ll admit, part of an exclusive club of trench owners, to feeling like I was being ripped off and taken for a ride. Or worse still, that perhaps I didn’t deserve to be part of the  luxury world of Burberry because if I did, I should be the sort of person that doesn’t question spending £35 on a replacement button and probably hasn’t ever needed to sew on a button themselves in their entire life. There’s staff for that.

Maybe I was being naive but I sort of expected, that having spent so much on their trench coat, Burberry might have been generous enough to provide a replacement button free of charge, or at least for a nominal fee. After all, they themselves are the ones that sell these things on the basis of them being a ‘lifetime investment’, something to cherish forever etc.

Anyway, it so happens that ebay has a great selection of genuine Burberry buttons for sale at a more palatable price of £6.50 so that’s where I’ll be going.

But I can’t help feeling let down by this brand which is so applauded for it’s innovation and responsiveness online, yet simply didn’t deliver when it came down to making me feel special. I don’t want to be cynical but I wonder if the swift response on the (very public) customer service Twitter feed was purely another part of the slick Burberry PR machine. But when it came down to the private interaction with a customer, their ruthless, profit-driven side came out. It’s as if the responsibility for the customer experience moved away from being controlled by marketing (the Twitter bit) to the finance department (the £35 bit).

It’s a real case of showing the importance of the entire experience of the brand and customer journey. To me, it proves that those responsible for the ‘brand’ and customer experience need to be involved at all stages of customer interaction, not just the big, flashy ad campaigns.

It wouldn’t have costed Burberry much to send me that button, but you can’t put a price on how I’d have felt about the company if they’d done it differently. It would definitely have left me even more positively disposed towards a brand I already admire and have already bought into. And it would have given me a different story to tell.

 

Asian Inspired

I’m just back from a wonderful trip to South-East Asia, visiting my family for Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore and then heading to Vietnam for some relaxation and exploration.

Chinese New Year is an amazing time to experience Asia. It’s like a concentrated version of its already vibrant self, with brightly coloured decorations filling every street and an even more enthusiastic than usual focus on feasting.

I didn’t realise how much the Chinese influence would also be felt in Hoi An, the town where we stayed in Vietnam. There is a large ethnically Chinese population and so they fully embrace Chinese New Year too, adorning the whole town with paper lanterns for the entire Lunar New Year period. Even the tailors, where my mum and I got some dresses made, spoke my dad’s family dialect – very useful for bargaining power.

From a style perspective, I discovered a new bond with my grandmother over our appreciation of printed trousers. We can’t really communicate as she doesn’t speak English but we can point and smile at each other. There was a lot of pointing and gesturing over the fact that my Topshop printed trousers were almost identical to her traditional Chinese silk pyjamas.

My grandmother has her ‘look ‘down to a tee. She wears the same style of outfit (see below) every day, simply changing the fabric and pattern to suit the occasion. She carries it off with a grace and elegance that belies her 95 years of age. I’ve got a lot to learn from her. It’s the ultimate capsule wardrobe.

My Chinese grandmother with her on-trend printed trousers

My Chinese grandmother with her on-trend printed trousers

She doesn’t know it but my grandmother is so on-trend right now. It makes sense –  as the shift in world economic and cultural power heads East – that Asian style should be influencing the catwalks of the world’s fashion hubs. It doesn’t take a trained eye to see that the shows from the recent London, Paris and Milan fashion weeks were filled with Asian-inspired silhouettes, fabrics and prints.

Even the most French of the fashion houses, such as Balenciaga, are explicitly looking East. Their recent appointment of the Chinese American Alexander Wang is no coincidence. As the Guardian recently pointed out, ” Wang, who speaks Mandarin, has a high profile in China where his own-label already has a Beijing flagship. There seems little doubt this is part of his appeal to PPR.”

And indeed, Wang’s debut show for the label, had a much more structured, Asian feeling to the silhouette – a significant departure from the slouchy, New York style of his own label.

Balenciaga, A/W 2013 (image from Vogue.co.uk)

Balenciaga, A/W 2013 (image from Vogue.co.uk)

Other labels such as Kenzo also have designers of Asian descent at the helm (the amazing Carol Lim and Humberto Leon) and although they don’t take it too literally, there is no denying the influence of Asia on their collections. Their Paris show earlier this week had some pieces that wouldn’t go amiss in my grandmother’s wardrobe.  I love the polka dot blouse and skirt combination below that feels ever so subtly oriental but also very modern and fresh.

Kenzo A/W 2013 Paris fashion week (image from vogue.co.uk)

Kenzo A/W 2013 Paris fashion week (image from vogue.co.uk)

In addition to European labels experimenting with Asian influences, there’s also the home-grown Asian brands gaining global recognition. Singapore label Raoul got a hit of publicity when the Duchess of Cambridge chose one of their dresses for her Asia trip, but it’s been gathering a legitimate fashion fan base for a few years now.

I made a lunchtime dash to one of their stores in Singapore and picked up a lovely silk blouse. If I’d had more time, I would have tried on practically everything in store. The silk printed trousers below are so muted and lovely.

Raoul silk trousers and top

Raoul silk trousers and top

Being back in frosty London, it feels like there aren’t many opportunities to embrace all these lovely, light printed silks and bright colours. But Spring is just around the corner and I’m determined to get out of navy and black as soon as possible. Watch this space.

Menswear for all, London Collections trends

Last week’s London menswear collections had plenty to offer in terms of inspiration and not just for the boys. With many collections – from JW Anderson’s ruffly shorts to Katie Eary’s flower print jackets - blurring the boundaries between menswear and womenswear, it wasn’t difficult to spot some  themes with universal appeal.

1. Statement outerwear

Whether you’re more partial to an out-sized check or a bold flower print, the message across multiple collections was clear:  it is time to let your coat do the talking. It does make sense when you come to think of it, given that a coat is the first thing people see when they meet you and in these winter months, you probably wear it more often than any other item.

I’m not denying a patterned coat is a style leap. My current coat is so minimal and plain, it doesn’t even have visible buttons. And it also throws the whole scarf thing into disarray, as a statement scarf with a statement coat is probably a step too far. Even if you decide not to embrace the trend, you can still admire these outerwear beauties from afar.

E Tautz coat A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

E Tautz coat A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

 

Katie Eary flower prints A/W 13-14

Katie Eary flower prints A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

 

2. Loungewear as outerwear

Blurring the boundary between ‘private’ and ‘public’ clothes isn’t a new trend. Pyjama style blouses and trousers were all over the high street this winter and more disturbingly, the Onesie isn’t yet showing signs of dying out.

However, we’re talking another level when it comes to the loungewear on show last week. The Richard James shearling dressing gown/coat is  almost ridiculous in its extravagance but it is a beautiful thing and begs to be cuddled.  Any man wearing it instantly becomes more desirable or at least in danger of being accosted by girls wanting to snuggle up into it. Either way, both parties win.

Richard James shearling coat A/W 13-14

Richard James shearling coat A/W 13-14 (image from richardjames.co.uk)

A less Polar Bear-esque but equally luxurious version of this trend was seen at Alexander McQueen where the look was more of the “I’ve just nonchantly thrown this perfectly cut jacket over my exquisite silk dressing gown and I know I’m fabulous” vein.  A perfect balance of eccentricity and style.

Alexander McQueen LCM A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

3. Green

Not much to say other than green was everywhere, in all sort of shades, so you won’t be able to avoid it come next winter. It all looked lovely though, particularly at Rake and Richard James. On a side note, Rake wins the prize for the most handsome line up of models (see below for exhibit one). I admit this may have slightly influenced how much I liked the collection.

Rake A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

Rake A/W 13-14 (image from vogue.co.uk)

Richard James A/W 13-14 (image from richardjames.co.uk)

Richard James A/W 13-14 (image from richardjames.co.uk)

 

 

 

Maiyet

Let me introduce you to, Maiyet, brought to my attention by my dear friend Joe, who happens to be working with them on their digital strategy.

Maiyet happens to have all the qualities I’d look for in a modern luxury label: gorgeous, stand-out clothes but also a philosophy and purpose that goes beyond luxury.  Maiyet outlines their mission as “celebrating rare artisanal skills from unexpected places around the world” and introducing them to the fashion world, via their beautiful designs.  As far as I can tell, this isn’t a token effort to tick the ethical box – Maiyet has entered into a strategic partnership with Nest, a nonprofit dedicated to training and developing artisan businesses in the places that need it the most.

This label also does a good line in atmospheric campaign images, craftsmanship videos and a perfect selection of ethereally beautiful models. They know their brand and they know who their audience is (that would be me, but richer).

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Maiyet Autumn 2012

Anyway, once you see the clothes you’ll probably forget about the worthy back-story for a moment and instead focus your energies on how on earth you get your hands on one of these beauties. Right now, they aren’t widely available in the UK (only net-a-porter and Selfridges from what I can see) but this is set to change next year. Ultimately, it is this desirability that signals real success for Maiyet.

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Maiyet Spring collection