Tuesday, 6 December 2011

El Ganso in Lx: Making Old School Cool

Dear Letter Lovers,
Last week Francisco Steinwall and I made our way to the new El Ganso store, located on Rua Nova do Almada right in the centre of Lisbon, Chiado, for the brand's first open night.

As some of you will already know, the Spanish brand El Ganso had already penetrated the Portuguese market, selling a large number of its' merchandise in its smaller concept store in Rua da Rosa. But now the time has come to think big and expand the premises

El Ganso collection that was once available in Bairro Alto, Lisboa

El Ganso : First Impressions

El Ganso has been open for about a month now, but the first time I came into contact with the new store was in fact last Tuesday. To be completely honest, I was not too familiar with the brand and its overall concept either. So here are my outsider and general first impressions.

When we walked in the immediate idea that popped into my head was, "This is not for me, this is for my Mother".

From a window display, the items had a "You're cordially invited to the opening of the Hunting Season at Lady Whatever's Estate BYORH (Bring Your Own Riffles and Hounds) feel.

It all appeared to have a very Gentleman's Club Ra-Ra vibe. 

Note to readers: a "Ra-Ra" is classified by the The Urban Dictionary as:

"The type of upper class english youth who talks with an affected accent, knows people who know people who know prince harry (and call him 'hazza'), who calls his mother 'mummy' even at the age of 23 and wears polo shirts and rugby shirts with the collars popped. So called because of the fact that when a ra ra laughs it sounds like they're shouting 'ra ra ra' to each other. Usually nice enough, if a bit pretentious."

The moral of the story is that one should never ever rely on one's first impressions. Details make a huge difference and only by unfolding the clothes as well as the overall design concept behind the El Ganso brand did I come to a very different conclusion:

"Young Fogey Is In and Ever-so-Chic"

The Concept

In 2004,  brothers Álvaro and Clemente Cebrian founded the El Ganso Label. The dream was to design and sell elegant pieces at reasonable prices. During the past 7 years, the brand has profitably expanded throughout Spain with the opening of 28 stores

2011 brings with it the key test: International expansion in Santiago, Chile, Paris and Lisbon that brings with it the "discovery of new cultures and horizons".

"We actually started off with tennis shoes" or zapatillas as the Spaniards would say confides Clemente

The El Ganso label does not limit itself to just clothing. "We've tried to make it a lifestyle brand": everything from the furniture to the wallpaper and to the music is chosen by the Cebrian brothers. "This is a family brand, so we try to keep things authentic."

Note to readers: (Francisco S, the music expert informed me that soundtrack included Iggy Pop, The Shins, Jimmy Hendrix, Grace Jones and Duran Duran.) 

The store is very neatly decorated with old movie posters and vintage leather furniture. It brings about feelings of a common room from an English boarding school. But one with cool and trendy students. They're fond and proud of their heritage, but mix and match the traditional tweed look with flare. 

Emblems that define the El Ganso brand?

  • "Jacket Americanas with Patches"
Clemente considers them the purest symbol of the El Ganso look.  
According to Margarida Rocha de Oliveira, the brand's local Press Rep, "a classic El Ganso blazer can be easily recognized by its clean cut and a silk lining in a strong block colour." 

  • The Tight Fits
El Ganso has successfully managed to make the fogey look cool, trendy and urban. How? Well for one thing, the cuts are much tighter, exposing the male form more thoroughly.

The Tight Cut is highly symbolic of the Spanish Style. According to Clemente the Spaniards like "tighter trousers and three quarter length jackets." It's sexy

  • The Velvets
The velvet is absolutely exquisite and incredibly inviting. Especially the navy blue pieces lined with red silk. Pay attention to the details such as the collar linings and the buttons. 

Note to readers: check out the popped collars, very ra-ra!

This military short jacket as seen below is fantastic. 

I fell for this dark blue velvet military number (as most of the other bloggers did) 

  • "Canadianas" 
Francisco kindly agreed to model what we Portuguese call Canadianas, or duffle coats and which are present in the El Ganso current collection in a variety of different colours and patterns. 

We just loved the scotch pattern inner lining.

What else did we notice: Boarding School Cool

As mentioned previously, in this post, the El Ganso store brings to mind the surroundings of a common room in a boarding school.

One could go as far as to state that one is entering a slightly more modern version of Harry Potter's Gryffindor dormitory. The furniture and posters are vintage, there is sports equipment lying about and most importantly of all, there is the element of team spirit, a sense of belonging and companionship.

The clothes are made of mostly block colours and all patterns are coordinated. Socks and ties are stripped, blazers are lined and crescents are everywhere. 

El Ganso has  in a sense created its own personal branded uniform.

Consumers who choose to belong to the El Ganso clan can, through their branded chic uniforms, highlight to society their background, upbringing, heritage and lifestyle which is to say the least refined and elegant but under no circumstance pretentious.

Some of you may still be under the impression that I was when I first saw the window display: this is too chic for me, too upper class too elitist. Don't be fooled...

El Ganso is a brand the elite would deem to be caught dead in, but it's prices are for more than accessible.

Refer to image above: During the open night they weren't serving Veuve Cliquot in crystal glasses, they were rolling out Heineken's and there was no question that you were suppose to down it through the bottle (much to my mother's disapproval.)

What's a School without a Rock Band? 

To make things even cooler and hispterish, El Ganso invited the up and coming Spanish Folk Band to share with us some of their latest hits:

Go and visit the band's website by clicking HERE and check out their latest hits from the album Vidas Ejemplares.

What's an open night without Bloggers?

Obviously the entire event was swarming with bloggers. Among the nicest and most professional is Fashion Market's Love blogger Marta Pinto de Miranda: 

Marta Pinto de Miranda & Bernardo Duarte de Carvalho

Click HERE to check out Fashion Market's Love and learn about the newest trend in the fashion industry 
Final Facts and Figures: 

The fashion industry is known for its fantastic ability to recycle and modernize pieces and looks of the past, making them appealing to the tastes of younger consumers.

El Ganso has managed to adapt and rejuvenate the stiff upper lip and upper class- outdoor-hunting- public school attending- tennis playing-old gentlemen's clubing- rara look to perfection and best of all at reasonable prices

They've made it hipster, folk, geek chic and elegant 

The Fleet Foxes like the folk look, they do a lot of pattern, fleeces, tweeds and parkas.

 The ever-so-cool Michael Cera is another example of a celeb hinting at a retro old school uniformesque look.

Brands such as Gant and Timberland could be considered close competitors, but being multinational companies, says Clemente, they perhaps fail to ensure the authenticity and personal touch, as well as cheaper prices, that  he  and  brother Álvaro Cebrian bring to El Ganso

(The photographs above are taken directly from the El Ganso Blog Beat on the Blue from the category El Ganso On The Street. Click to view more images)

I like to think of El Ganso as a more adult and refined, not to mention slightly cheaper Abercrombie & Fitch:

It's all about pattern, youth, being trendy and the embracing the outdoor look in an urban atmostphere

 And wait, it gets better: 

(The shoes are made in Portugal )  

So, in conclusion and in the words of The Pipettes:

I like a girl in uniform (school uniform)
I like a boy in uniform (school uniform)
I guess not everything is uniform
I wanna kiss everyone in uniform!

All Photographs taken in the store are copyright of Fabulous Letters From Lisbon.
Credits to Francisco Steinwall.

If you have any questions email us at fabulouslfl@gmail.com

Make sure to go the Fabulous Letters From Lisbon & El Ganso Facebook Pages

 Special thanks to Cristina Dezcallar & Francisco Valente
Lots of Love From Fabulous Lisbon,


C.L.V & Francisco Steinwall

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