A Day in the life of Tara…

6 01 2010

Sometimes I do sit back and think how random my life is, and yesterday was no exception as I got to meet a hero of mine… the Barclays Premiership Trophy.

A Birmingham businessman won the chance to have the trophy for the day, so he teamed up with Harvey Nichols to raise money for St Basils by displaying it in the designer store’s menswear department for the day.

I went to have a gander at the trophy and it was as beautiful as I though. If only I’d taken a bag big enough to swipe it…





The Trend of the Jack-in-the-Box Shop

18 11 2009


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The term ‘pop-up shop’ seems to have been thrown around quite a lot recently; with fashion designers, artists and well-known brands opening temporary shops across the country. The trend for these fashionable units is a result of both the recession and throw-away fashion; what better way to stay on top of the style game than to close shops after just six months and move on to ‘the next big thing’?!

Last year London became thoroughly ‘pop-tastic’, with shops, restaurants and art galleries taking over the city’s coolest areas. There was a massive rise in portable restaurants, like the Reindeer Restaurant and Flash, and also art galleries like the Proud Gallery, which started merely as a marquee over a car park. Even retail expert Mary Portas opened a hyper pop-up, open for just one hour and selling vintage clothes, and again this year she teamed up with Grazia to open a charity shop in Westfield.

The trend has continued to grow with On|Off, Doc Martens, and heritage brand Baracuta joining the list of pop-ups. Even London Fashion Week fuelled a host of pop-ups across the Capital.

But it’s not just London benefitting from these shops, this year the trend has come to Birmingham.

Back in September, Councillor Martin Mullaney headed up the Style in the City fringe, Pop Up in the City. Using an empty unit on Corporation Street, he worked with a 14 local designers to open a market-place for shoppers during the three-day fashion and beauty festival.

Now that Christmas is here, Harvey Nichols has re-opened their Christmas pop-up gift shop on Level 3 of The Mailbox, selling the best Christmas gifts and to-die-for hampers. They are also holding a Festive Fete for shoppers on 30 November.

Jewellery festival Brilliantly Birmingham has also jumped on board the pop-up train. Teaming up with Pavilions, the temporary boutique will be open from 5-24 December and will showcase a number of designers, giving shoppers the opportunity to buy original hand-crafted jewellery and commission bespoke pieces.

But the latest and one of the most exciting of the pop-ups to arrive in the city comes courtesy of Punch Records and the Sauce Gallery. Pioneering typographer, sleeve designer and artist Swifty will be setting up shop at the Sauce Gallery in Custard Factory from Saturday 12 December 2009-10 January 2010. From originals and one-off prints, to T-shirts, skateboards and stickers, Swifty fans will have plenty to choose from. Partly inspired by Peter Blake’s ‘Toy Shop’, it will also feature Swifty’s Newsagents installation and be home to the A-Z of Swifty Show. For more info, go to www.punch-records.co.uk.

So, it looks like the pop-up trend is going strong, and I have to say that I’ll champion it all the way. An article by The Times summed pop-ups up perfectly, calling them “The epitome of our high-speed, short-attention-span culture.”

Not only do pop-ups keep the cool crowd entertained but they also gives artists and young designers a platform to showcase their work. They also makes the most of empty and under-used units. A win-win all round, I’d say!





Christmastime, mistletoe and wine… oh and shopping!

18 11 2009


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Before you all start, yes I know I have just got back from New York but I’m not talking those holidays; I’m talking about Christmas.

This week, I have been feeling particularly festive having just got back from The Big Apple, where the ice rinks and Christmas trees are set and ready for the festive season and Macy’s infamous windows are lining 34th Street. Even better, when I arrived home from the airport, I turned on the TV and saw the Coca Cola advert, which to me always means the official start to Christmas.

Further fuelling my Christmas Spirit, the German Market is back in Birmingham and bigger than ever. Tonight I had my first trip to said market, and one of my lovely Twitter friends (@danofftheradio) told me about the Hot Chocolate with Jagermeister. Now, two of my favourite things in the world are chocolate and Jager so to put them together was always going to be a winner with me, but it really was a taste sensation!  Luckily, the German Market always encourages Birmingham’s social crowd to meet, at every available opportunity, for some Bratwurst and Gluhwein so I’ll be partaking in plenty of alcoholic chocolate!

Apart from the amazing market, one of the other brilliant things about Christmas is of course, shopping. Not that I need much encouraging – I like to use working on Style Birmingham as an excuse to shop as much as possible (research!) – but nothing beats shopping for presents! We are all too aware that this will be a difficult year with the dreaded recession, but I think that retailers are really pulling out the stops to make sure we all keep spending; after all, that’s the only way to keep the economy going.

Birmingham’s retailers are no exception and have some exciting things happening over the festive season… make sure you check them out!

Shopping Events

Debenhams is offering 25% off across all departments in their Christmas Spectacular Sale! From Wednesday 18th November – Saturday 21st November, you can stock up on presents and bag yourself some goodies too. There is also 10% off beauty and cosmetics.

On Thursday 19th November, House of Fraser is holding a ‘Prepare to Party Fragrance event’ on the ground floor. Join them in-store for top tips on looking great this Christmas; during the day Mugler will be holding fragrance workshops and from 5pm, DIOR’s visiting make-up artist will be showing everyone the hottest party looks. To RSVP, email Birmingham@hof.co.uk.

I’ve also heard on the grapevine, there’s a special two-day discount event the following Thursday and Friday.

Brilliantly Birmingham Pop-Up Shop

Opening on 5 December until Christmas Eve, Pavilions will host a special jewellery pop-up shop. The temporary boutique will give you the chance to buy original hand-crafted jewellery, meet local designers and commission bespoke pieces. There will be pieces for men and women, and for all budgets.

Festive Families

Christmas is all about the family and Pallasades is certainly spreading the Christmas Spirit. As well as hosting Birmingham’s biggest grotto, the shopping centre has also teamed up with a number of top local attractions including Sea Life Centre, Cadbury World, Thinktank, Black Country Museum and Dudley Zoo. By spending just £10 at any or a combination of stores at the centre and showing the receipt/s, shoppers can get a special discount book.

Taste Sensations

As well as the aforementioned German treats, retailers are also looking to tantalise your tastebuds. Bullring have a Ferrero Rocher Christmas Tree (yes, heaven) and Harvey Nichols has opened their pop-up gift shop in The Mailbox, which includes a range of seasonal treats. Harvey Nics will be holding a Festive Fete on 30 November in the store, where you can enjoy the finest food and wine, create bespoke hampers and get your gift-buying sorted. Tickets are complimentary and limited spaces for the Fancy Nancy session will be offered on a first come first served basis. For more information and to book your tickets contact the Harvey Nichols Foodmarket on 0121 616 6000.

He’s Behind You…

And don’t forget about Selfridges, who will be bringing Panto to the high street. During December there will be some very special panto-related treats, so make sure you’re around to enjoy them.

I have plenty more to tell you about Style Birmingham’s plans for Christmas, but I’ll leave them for another time. For now, go and enjoy some Bratwurst and get shopping!