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Genderless clothing brands are a good thing. 

Because they encourage people to share what they wear.

And because they (should) do away with any silly stereotyping.

Here are some to take a look at.

https://eckhauslatta.com 

Based in New York, quirky, quite nice and slightly bonkers.

https://t-o-o-g-o-o-d.com/clothing

Minimalist, cool and – again – a bit mad.

www.bethnals.com

Decent denim-obsessed basics.

Not terribly adventurous but yes – interesting and affordable.

https://vertigga.com

Another American brand.

Youthful.

The (odd) Wilde Boots are interesting.

Genderless.

I personally see genderless clothing as simple, common sense idea.

Not a political stance and neither for or against any particular group or persuasion.

Just something that, if done well so that it encourages us all to buy less and buy better, makes sense.

The examples here are early entrants to the category.

The category itself is young.

I suspect some enter it as it feels newsy.

The best will do it because of how it can effect our world positively.

They are the ones that will last.

Wear It. Share It.

We live in a world where over 70% of all clothing made is either burnt or buried within 3 years.

Things need to change.

And genderless clothing could be one small part of that change.

Wear it… then share it.

This is a story that explores why all 50-quids are not the same.

And why, most of the time, the most important things in business cost nothing at all.

Weekend Break.

I’m in Percy Cottage in Northumberland.

It’s right next door to The Percy Arms Pub.

When we arrived at the cottage, there was a hand written card from the owner, who we know.

She’s called Sand and the note included her personal mobile number.

We’re here for 3 nights.

Nice little place.

Matfen Hall.

Three months ago we were at Matfen Hall.

For the same number of nights.

3.

‘Nice, big place.

The Percy Arms.

Last night we went to the pub next door to our cottage, to The Percy Arms.

It’s small.

Friendly.

Busy.

Warm and cozy.

It had kids games too.

These games (and this is important) were clean.

And new.

And complete.

If you’re a parent of a small child you’ll be used to going to places that say they’re for kids, but they’re not really.

The toys are shitty and filthy and broken.

It’s not like that at The Percy Arms.

And when the young girl behind the bar serves you, she looks you in the eye, widens her own eyes, smiles broadly and calls you, ‘my darling’.

All good.

Matfen Hall (again).

When I arrived at Matfen Hall 3 months ago, it had been booked for me by the General Manager, who I know.

When I arrived, they didn’t know who I was at reception.

There was no note.

My friend was not there and there was no message from him.

The room was good!

But nothing special.

£50

OK so that’s the background to my story.

My ‘not all 50-quids are the same’ story.

£50 at Matfen Hall.

We spent £50 at Matfen Hall on the first night.

We spent it with a young girl behind the counter of the empty conservatory.

She was white shirted, pleasant enough and she called me sir.

She wasn’t looking me in the eye when she called me sir.

And, somehow, I’d rather she didn’t call me that, actually.

It was not natural for her.

And it was not natural for me.

We had two veggie burgers and a couple of drinks each.

I remember the floor was plasticky because Colin the dog kept clicking-and-clacking and skidding on it.

The service was plastic too.

And so was the burger.

But this is the important bit…

As each part of my ‘spend’ took place, I was doing a mental sum.

Inside, I was saying…

Fucking hell; £25 for this.

Then another round.

Fucking hell; £35 for this.

Then another round.

Fucking hell; £50 for this.

I resented spending £50.

I resented the whole experience.

£50 at The Percy Arms. 

We went in.

Drank.

Ate.

And 3 hours of indulgence, couldn’t-care-lessness and laughing later  – we’d spent £50.

It could have been £70.

£80.

More.

I wouldn’t have known.

And I wouldn’t have cared.

Big versus little.

If you’re a little business, you need to work out what you can learn from big ones.

And what to ignore.

Because littleness can be so charming and lovely.

Don’t lose that.

All of this is particularly important in markets where experience is important.

And – and this is the truth – I actually cannot think of ANY market where experience is not important.

Summary. 

Percy Cottage and The Percy Arms in Chatton are superb.

Human, honest, homely and wholesome.

Matfen Hall has fallen into the very same trap as so may of these larger venues where the venue itself is considered to be the jewel in their crown.

They think that the building is the most important thing in their offering.

It so, so isn’t.

All the building presents is an opportunity.

I want you to know my name.

To look me in the eye.

To make me feel that I am the most important guest you have ever had.

Relate to me, treat me like a flesh and blood  and – most important of all – think about the lasting memory you are going to leave me with.

Because that is what I am going to tell other people.

If it is part of Matfen Hall’s strategy that I tell others I was made to feel anonymous and unimportant, and that Matfen Hall deliver an experience so sterile that my brain drifts to how much margin they are making on my £50 – they are bang on.

If not, there is work to do.

Website.

The first sentence you see at the Matfen Hall website is:

NOT JUST ANOTHER STATELY HOME.

As well as that being a silly thing for any marketing company to advise as a headline (because it doesn’t mean anything) it is particularly inappropriate for Matfen Hall.

Because the exact thing they say they are not – they are.

Triggers is a book written by a friend of mine, Pete Zulu.

For the avoidance of doubt, here are three reasons that ARE NOT reasons for why I am reviewing it:

  1. Because Pete is my friend. I am reviewing it because I like it and I think you will too.
  2. Because Pete asked me too. He didn’t.
  3. Because I was gifted it. I bought it. In fact, I bought four copies. 1 for me. 3 for friends. It’s £15.

Triggers.

This is the book that any of us could have written.

In the same way that we could have all done a Picasso or a Hockney or a Pollock sketch or painting.

That Jackson Pollock Pillock.

Have you seen his stuff?

It’s like the floor of my shed.

Well if the floor of your shed is worth £75 million then yes, I suppose it is.

Eyes and Brains.

Triggers is a book for the eyes and the brain in equal measure.

Because the story (for the brain) is punctuated with 88 photographs (for the eyes) that Pete has taken.

The photographs are all lovely.

And some are here: https://www.instagram.com/petezulu3/

Simplicity.

The idea for the book is simple.

Pete chops his life into 8 segments, each segment attached to an aftershave, the smell of which trigger memories.

It’s neat and relatable.

And you’ll read the whole thing in about an hour if you just devour the words and sentences.

And you’ll read the whole thing in about a month if you too remember Aramis, Kouros, Denim and Brut – because you will read it more than once and some of the time you are reading it it will be out loud, to other people.

Because you’ll want them to remember what you remember too.

Writing Style.

Triggers is the book you could have written because of its writing style.

But it is also the book you could not have written because of its writing style.

Debbie Owen, TV Scriptwriter commented:

It’s odd to read something that follows so few writing rules and makes me genuinely not care.

I don’t know you Pete, but from reading this I really like you because you let me in.

When you read this book it’s like you are listening to Pete chat to you.

Pete is the best writer that doesn’t really write that I have ever read.

I want one.

It’s £15.

And I don’t know how you get one.

But as one of the things that Pete and Sarah do these days is run The Black Horse in East Bolden I do know that you can get one there if you pop in there.

The food is superb so even if there are no books left, if you’re hungry, you’ve still scored.

Or if you want me to help you get one, email michael@50odd.co.uk.

I’ll speak to Peter.