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Coves

The raw sounds of dreamy shoe-gaze band Coves take over Battersea power station

Battersea’s iconic power station is going through a bit of an identity crisis. Once a coal-powered station sitting comfortably on the south bank of the River Thames, later this year it’s going to be turned into a luxury hotel.

Until then, the huge, four-chimneyed building – pock-marked with shattered window panes, the inside raw and exposed – houses a sleek, shiny glass structure, where tonight Superdry are celebrating their 10th anniversary. Contrast doesn’t even come close.

That contrast resonates with Coves, who perform their dreamy, shoe-gazey indie in lieu of a DJ tonight, as toned catwalk models sweep across the stage. “If I had to describe the night I suppose I’d say… well, Super is a bit obvious,” says singer Beck Wood. “Energetic is good. There’s a lot of energy tonight. We’ve been here for a few hours and I haven’t got bored once. There’s loads going on. “It’s like organized chaos,” says instrumentalist John Ridgard thoughtfully.

Fashion and music aren’t total strangers, nor are Coves to the idea of fashion and style; Beck studied fashion at university, even having her work featured at London Graduate Fashion Week – but grew tired of the industry and dropped out to pursue music photography instead.

“Then me and John were out drinking and we decided to be in a band,” she says. “It was one of the best decisions we made.”

“It’s a continuing theme; we haven’t recorded any of the songs on the album without at least a bottle of wine. We’ve kept the drunk theme going,” John says proudly.

Coves’ signature sound – a kind of lethargic-chic that turns savage and sweet in tight turns – should feel out of place in the glassy castle within Battersea’s ruins, but taking to the stage in the brand’s latest premium collaboration with contemporary British tailor, Timothy Everest’s moddish, tailored jackets and brogue-boots gives the band a kind of sophistication that takes them beyond their two years together.

In much the same vein music and fashion sit comfy, so does music to Battersea; the station has been featured (and popularized) by The Beatles, Pink Floyd and, er, Take That, who rowed past it in their video for The Flood.

“I was reading up on it the other day,” John said. “Battersea Power Station has one of the best Wikipedia pages ever. The first thing I said when we got here was ‘Did you know this is the biggest red brick building in Europe?’ and [Beck] said ‘No, it’s the biggest brick building in Europe. Full. Stop.”

Superdry founder James Holder calls the band ‘raw and exciting’ earlier in the evening. “They’re a rare talent, they’re doing a great job representing British music at the moment and we’re thrilled to have them with us tonight.”

And for Coves, the venue has stood out as one of the most iconic venues they’ve taken their music. But where will they go from here.

“Maybe the top of the shard,” Becky says wistfully.

“Or failing that, we could play some tunes on the District Line,” John says, before the band button up their blazers and take to the stage.

TELEGRAPH-suit

It shouldn’t just be the bride that gets jaws dropping on the big day. The groom, best man and ushers should look sharp too. If you want something different for your morning suits, follow our guide.

Choosing the right formalwear for your wedding is no small task, but thankfully you can get something smart and sophisticated in London without burning through your budget or resorting to the high street.

If you’re looking for something traditional, try Neal & Palmer in Piccadilly Arcade (between Piccadilly Circus and Green Park tubes). Whether you’re going for made-to-measure suits or just want off-the-rail pieces, they take a lot of care producing their garments, using hand embroidered fabrics and it’s good value for money too.

Buckleigh Of London is known as ‘Chelsea’s hidden secret’. The family run business offer bespoke tailoring, including formalwear for children and a great selection of brogues and patent shoes to finish your outfit. 3-piece suit hire starts at £90.

Moss Bros might be a firm staple of many high-streets, but rest assured their extensive range of tailoring at Moss Bespoke means you’re able to get something that’s more individual. Whether you want a classic black tailcoat, something with a bit more character (like the square-tailed frock coat) or an extravagant Ascot-inspired jacket, they’ve got you covered. Better still, their lighter-weight jackets will be perfect if you have a summer wedding planned.

This article originally appeared in The Telegraph on May 19th.

Does Carlisle really need a Jack Wills? As someone who doesn’t live in my home city anymore, nor wears JW clothing, I’m okay with being told to stick my schnozz elsewhere, but hearing the news made me think about just what kind of strategy is actually being used here.

A history lesson. Jack Wills started in Devon about 13 years ago and now has just under 50 stores in the UK. Often paired with Abercrombie or Hollister for their portrayal of a young, middle-class lifestyle, it’s price point often makes it favourable among university students – it’s a step up from Topman, Gap et al in terms of pricing.

It’s also known for its campaigns; hot models and toned blokes who have taken the time to go to the gym 8 days a week but find the idea of buttoning up a shirt cumbersome. Boat shoes that are so expensive it seems flippant to bother tying the shoelaces. And the girls? The girls  are just as tanned and picture-perfect, wearing tweed shorts because anything is immediately classy if it’s tweed. And your top can be as low cut as you like if it’s cashmere.

 
Two models who don’t know Jack

And a history lesson on Carlisle, while we’re here. We got our Starbucks in 2008. Finally got a Nandos in 2011. I told a stranger on a night bus that I lived in Carlisle once (you can take the boy out the north, etc) and she, perhaps confusing the Great Border City with the island on Lost, seemed to think it sporadically changed location, bordered with Scotland, Wales and Newcastle. No. We’re 6 miles from the Scottish Border, North-West to be precise, maybe 60 miles from Newcastle. Say it with me now. En-ger-lund.

But as well as our new-found love of chicken and sweet, barely-caffienated drinks (OH: ‘What’s a mermaid got to do wid coffee?’) we have shops. Not many shops, though, because GAP was closed in 2006. The H&M is women only. There aren’t any trainer shops. Independent retailer Hoopers (a House of Fraser type outfit selling Levis, Pringle, Barbour etc) shut down two months ago due to poor sales. So, the crux. Does Carlisle even want a Jack Wills?

Naturally someone has identified a market; kids with money. Because though JW has been aimed at the university types, who like clothes detailing rowing, rugby and polo without the wearer having to give a hoot about rowing, rugby or polo, there’s been a definite shift in the age of their customers. They’re getting younger. Kids wearing Jack Wills are popping their stiff collars before they’re even in 6th form, and as long as they’re stuck in the school’s crappy social hierarchy, they’re going to be incredibly sporadic and incredibly loyal to the right brand. Which is just brilliant for Jack Wills.

 Jack Wills: Unashamedly Expensive British

But I’d argue that given Carlsle is so starved of retail space that the worst thing you could do is offer consumers something at such a radical end of the spectrum. At least Ralph Lauren, and Fred Perry (both on sale in Carlisle’s House of Fraser) appeal to broad demographics; I bought my first RL polo shirt at 16, and when I worked at an outlet in Gretna (Google it) you had men and women from 16-60 buying work shirts, jeans, polo shirts or swim shorts without the sense that anyone was being compromised in terms of how they looked.

Is the same true of Jack Wills? No. They want you to buy into it at a young age, and once you reach a certain age (like with Hollister and Abercrombie) you begin to look a bit sad. Even ironic. Thankfully, the company has an older, upmarket brand, Aubin & Wills, aimed at the twenty-something tired of suckling on Jack’s teet. It’s stocked in Selfridges, sold on Mr Porter, and the almost-out-of-grasp price point makes more sense when it appeals to older, less spontaneous customers. People don’t splurge on Aubin & Wills, they buy what they know they want.

Spot the grown up: Aubin & Wills’ clothing

Give Carlisle a male H&M, or a Zara, even bring GAP back, because while any new shops is excellent news (the high street is bare thin, like) something like Jack Wills feels like a pretty poor choice. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if it were being balanced out by cheaper alternatives. Can we have both?

Probably not.