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Lucy Siegle’s Design For Life: Ditch those Fleece Jackets

PUBLISHED: 11:32 30 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:32 30 January 2015

Lucy Siegle

Lucy Siegle

Matt Austin Images 2013

Starting this month television presenter, journalist and Devon resident LUCY SIEGLE launches her new column for Devon Life

Talking Shop…

When a retailer asks me if I want a loyalty card, I always smirk and reply (slightly cruelly): ‘No thanks, I’m not very loyal’. It’s a sign of the times. We shop around these days on and offline. In short, you can no longer read a person’s character by the stores they frequent and the brands they buy. However, you can tell everything about a person by the sort of shop they keep.

As the wife of a Devon shopkeeper, I’m proud of the work Mr Siegle sells in his shop/gallery. He is supplied by some of the best makers of craft and heritage pieces in the region. The stock contains thousands of hours of skill and labour. It’s the antithesis of the rubbish that’s designed and made for landfill that attends our every waking moment.

But would I be so proud if he sold bowls of novelty cereal? At the risk of being shop-ist: no I would not. This occurred to me recently when two young men with beards and flowery shirts (hipsters) opened a cereal café in the achingly trendy borough of Dalston in East London.

Their shop sells nothing but branded novelty packeted cereals from all over the world. For £2.50 a bowl, you choose your cereal and add your milk (mostly almond or soya in this part of town). Setting up any shop is actually hard – so hats off. But why did this one get such a drubbing from assorted commentators? Well, firstly although the area is subject to intense gentrification there remains a significant degree of poverty in Dalston and novelty, carefree enterprises like this one are always going to be in the firing line. Other peeople hated the idea that this indulges a ‘kidult’ whim of eating breakfast cereal from Japan of a morning. The subtext was: grow up, get a real job, get a real shop.

Actually, I think it’s because we still see bricks and mortar shops as central to our communities and we expect them to be worthy and upstanding. This is despite the fact that online shopping and hideous constructs like Black Friday drive bricks and mortar stores and independent retailers into oblivion. Conservatively, we want shops and shop keepers that we can be proud of.

In training…

In common with thousands of runners from the South West, I’m training for the London Marathon. It’s my second marathon and second time out in the Anthony Nolan vest. It doesn’t get any easier. If you see me puffing along during a training run, do not say: “Oooh, your face is really red!” or “We stopped the car because we thought you were having a medical emergency” (unless of course I AM having a medical emergency). Do say: “I thought for a minute you were Jo Pavey!” or “Mile 12?” How do you look so fresh?’ At this stage in training we runners need positive reinforcement only. The truth is of no use to us at all.

Feeling fleeced...

February is the month of international fashion weeks. These are held in the fashion hubs of London, New York, Paris and Milan twice a year, previewing the fashion looks and trends.

But I have a dream, I want us to create regional fashion hubs and fashion weeks where new generation designers from other places would get to show, develop collections and sell to the consumer.

In Devon we have some great up and coming style talent, not least from Plymouth College of Art and Design. As we think about fashion more sustainably we also need to look at hyper local fashion hubs.

But will the fashion pack come here? At the moment I see something that could well scare them away: a preponderance of fleece jackets, well above the national average. These are a bête noire. I understand the climate is variable and there are jobs to be done outside but too often I glimpse these practical garments in public and social settings.

That is simply unacceptable. They represent a sartorial cul de sac, shapeless style-free human-envelopes of doom. So many other styles of outerwear are available the mind boggles as to why these are still in circulation.

The classic wax jacket is experiencing a resurgence, there are beautiful well priced wool coats, faux fur delights and you can even wear blankets fashioned into a poncho this season. Turn your fleece into a durable lining for your dog bed. (And don’t even start me on Crocs).

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