BACK in the day, when designer fashion in the North East was summed up by Geordie Jeans, three young pioneers saved the region from style oblivion with the launch of a little designer store called Van Mildert in Durham city.
The rest, as they say, is history, and now one of the multi-award-winning Van Mildert’s three original founders (the only one remaining in the massively successful VM brand), is again breaking new ground with a new designer brand for Durham city called Woven.
Newly opened at The Gates Shopping Centre on Framwellgate Bridge, Woven – the brainchild of Chris Hayes – is home to achingly hip labels like Fake London, Pretty Green by Liam Gallagher, Dunhill and Lyle & Scott, plus sharp tailoring and made-to-measure suits from the Anglo-Italian house Stefano Lucchesi.
And while Stefano Lucchesi tailors will be in-store every six weeks to measure up the region’s smartest men, the casual ranges from Hackett, Gant and Joules at the store will keep the weekends covered too.
“Durham city hasn’t had this type of store on its doorstep before,” says Chris. “Our pitch is to provide properly tailored clothing and some of the best designer labels at affordable prices.
“It will be the ideal place for those who wish to go the extra mile with their wardrobe, make their mark and dress the part.”
In addition to the likes of Hugo Boss and Aquascutum, Woven also offers collections by leading design houses including Scabal – the world-renowned Brussels-based tailoring label and supplier of fabrics for suits worn in the last two James Bond films – Savile Row’s classic shirts and other leading men’s labels including Armani.
“It’s also fantastic being able to offer Stefano Lucchesi bespoke suits here,” said Chris. “There really is nothing like a hand-made, hand- measured suit and Stefano Lucchesi uses the finest natural English fabrics, cut by hand and made in England using traditional Savile Row methods by some of the most skilled and experienced tailors in the country.
“They are incredible value at £595, and we’re proud to have Stefano Lucchesi tailors here in-store every six weeks.”
Woven is also one of the only stockists outside London of the recently relaunched Fake London – a favourite of Liam Gallagher, Robbie Williams and Madonna – and will also feature lifestyle goods, aftershave, cufflinks, shoes, ties, watches and home wares.
Chris has also been working with renowned designer names to offer limited-edition designs and items exclusive to Woven outside London. He’s sourcing designs from as far afield as Scandinavia and New York, with suppliers including John Varvatos – a favourite of Hollywood star Tom Cruise – and Dr Denim.
“We will have an eclectic mix of labels to suit all tastes and budgets,” added Chris. “Affordable fashion shouldn’t be out of reach for anyone; least of all our customers.
“We will be stocking designer jeans in premium denim for under £50, and T-shirts, polos and tops with great motifs and slogans.
“At the executive end, we have made-to-measure tailoring and designer off-the-peg suits, and we also offer special occasion suit hire.”
Chris’s career in fashion began in 1989 when, as a student, he took up a Saturday job at Psyche in Middlesbrough. He launched the first Van Mildert store in Elvet Bridge in Durham in 1995 with two partners and enjoyed huge success, going on to found further stores in York, Darlington, Sunderland and the Metrocentre, plus a highly successful online store.
Van Mildert won three coveted awards in the fashion industry Oscars, the Drapers Awards, last year. Chris is the only one of the three original founders of Van Mildert who remains in the business, and he now runs its online store and suit hire business.
“Van Mildert was the first to bring Prada, Gucci, Fendi and many more designer names to the region, and Woven will also break new ground now,” says Chris. “Durham is small and lacks really good retail space, and I hope that Woven and some of the other new independent retailers which have recently opened at The Gates will bring more retailers to this side of town, where I believe there is real potential for growth.”
The Gates Shopping Centre manager Inge Johnson said: “Woven will be a leading designer boutique in the North East and will be a key player in our drive to attract first- class fashion retailers to Durham city.
“Chris’s reputation as a pioneer in the fashion industry precedes him with the established and highly- popular Van Mildert brand, and we look forward to seeing him achieve the same success with Woven.”
Woven, The Gates, Framwellgate Bridge, Durham, DH1 4SJ, www.thegatesshoppingcentre.com, 0191 386 9363
20% off for every reader at Woven
WOVEN designer menswear and lifestyle store at The Gates, Durham city is offering Journal readers 20% off any item until Monday, May 24, 2010. All you have to do to claim your discount is take this newspaper or this page with you into the store at The Gates, Framwelgate Bridge, Durham city.
WIN Dunhill designer shades worth £229
THE Journal is giving you the chance to win one of two pairs of Dunhill sunglasses courtesy of Woven, The Gates, Framwellgate Bridge, Durham City.
Dunhill are the shades of choice for stylish men the world over and our winners can choose the style they want up to a value of £229 at Woven.
FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN, Text JLWIN7 followed by a space, then your correct answer, name, house number and postcode to 84080 or call the competition line on 0901 229 2351. Please take care when dialling.
Q: What date is Midsummer’s Day?
Calls cost 25p from a BT landline, other networks may vary. Text entry costs 25p plus your standard network charge. Lines close at midnight on Sunday, May 16, 2010. The first two correct entries drawn at random on Monday, May 17, 2010, will receive the prize as offered. Winners will be contacted within 48 hours of draw and winners details will be updated monthly at www.journallive.co.uk/winners Usual Trinity Mirror promotion rules apply, available at www.journallive.co.uk/legal Competition open to residents within the circulation area of The Journal. A full postcode list and footprint of the circulation can be found at www.journallive.co.uk/legal or is available from Freepost NEA1676, Promotions, Groat Market, Newcastle, NE1 1BR.