2013 January 22

Result_Active_Fleece_Tassel_Scarf_36_491The first real snowfall of the year has led to lots of fun for most, but some serious consequences for others: broken or sprained limbs are just one consequence of being outdoors in snow and ice. The risk for those pursuing their fitness goals is even greater: runners aiming for the London Marathon this year are aiming to get their 12 mile run done this week – ice and snow or no ice and snow.  There are some practical tips that can help outdoor lovers to stay safe in winter weather:

1.    Check current and expected weather conditions for the time you will be outside. It may look great now, but if a blizzard or sleet is due in the next couple of hours, you need to make adjustments for temperature drops, poor visibility or the effect of wind-chill on your ability to complete your activity safely.
2.    Dress appropriately. Several layers of lightweight and loose clothing are ideal – and the outermost layer, and preferably the one below that, should be waterproof and wind-resistant. The value of have two waterproof layers is that if the first gets damaged, perhaps in a fall on ice, the sports person isn’t exposed to the elements for the duration of their time outside.
3.    Remember that goggles, gloves, sock, shoes, hats and helmets are vital. Poor vision can cause accidents and the extremities: hands, feet and head are the most likely body parts to be injured.
4.    Don’t go out alone. If you really must run or exercise solo, make sure somebody else knows where you are, what you are doing and when you expect to return. Call them when you get back safely. If they don’t hear from you in a certain period of time after your projected return, they are in a position to alert the authorities. It’s good to carry a mobile phone but don’t rely on a signal in bad weather. Wear highly visible clothing to ensure other people can find you if they need to.
5.    Warm up thoroughly and check your health before leaving home. If you feel at all unwell, don’t exercise in extreme weather conditions. If you feel or experience any signs of hypothermia or extremity frostbite, head for shelter and get medical attention. The things to watch out for numbness and tingling in the hands or feet, lack of feeling (if the face is exposed to the elements, rub your cheek regularly to check that you can feel your fingers on your exposed skin) or poor motion in your fingers or toes.

2009 January 12

For many people, especially students, 2010 is the year of preparation – while only a few of us can expect to actually win a place as an athlete at the 2012 London Olympics, many of us will be enthused by the imminence of the games into taking up a new sport or re-visiting one that we’d abandoned in the past. The streets will be full of T-shirt wearing runners and the gyms and swimming pools will be packed too.

This is good for our weight, or stress levels, our health, and our families, as setting a good example to children is the best way to get them to become, and remain, healthy. But it’s not without cost.  Especially for the thousands of young people who are hoping to be good enough to represent their country in 2012 or 2016, the years of training can be incredibly expensive. What can you do to keep your costs down and your fitness levels up?

There are quite a few things that can reduce the expense of taking up a new sport and make frugal exercising a reality

  • Decide what matters: for runners, good shoes are essential – bad ones can end your running career for good. Second to shoes is upper body wear – most heat is lost through the torso and back, so clothing that keeps you warm in winter, cool in summer and sweat-free is vital. It’s also important that it doesn’t chafe – this means you may want to invest in special ‘wicking’ T-shirts and tops. But lower body wear is relatively unimportant: any comfortable pair of jog pants will do the job, so there’s no need to pay out for specialised clothing. Hats are important but any well-fitting baseball cap will keep the sun out of your eyes and off the crown of your head, and prevent rain making your run too much of a misery – again, specialist (expensive) gear isn’t necessary. For rowers, lower body clothing has to be right because the strain of the boat against the buttocks and thighs can cause serious chafing, but shoes are unimportant and a good cotton top will serve for training sessions. Decide what’s vital to your sport and spend your money wisely
    Sporting clothing exchange: as people move through a sport they also move through levels of clothing. Many karate schools have clothing exchanges where students can buy the unwanted gis and belts of students who’ve progressed upwards. Consider whether your local university, youth club, rugby or football or running club, could do the same?
    Or copy the example of a weightlifter I know. He’s only nineteen, but he’s already got two fully equipped gyms: one at home, one at work,  and all for pennies.  He went round to all the local charity/thrift shops and offered to value weightlifting equipment that was donated to them. This meant that he got to see items as soon as they arrived, because the stores rang him for his advice. And because he can point out dangerous or dodgy gear, they are more confident in selling items that he’s examined. He prices the goods fairly and if he wants something for his own use, he gets several prices from ebay and other sources to prove to the shops that he’s not just pricing down an item because he wants it.  Half of the kit that he’s obtained would have been thrown away if he hadn’t been around to advise on it, because the shops wouldn’t have known how to price or sell it.

2008 December 15

The latest research by Mintel into clothing sizes reveals that sales of plus-sized men’s clothing have increased by 40% over the past five years.  This growth in XL and above sizes is partly due to spiralling levels of obesity: it’s predicted that nearly a third of men will be obese by 2013 and 90% of all UK adults are expected to be overweight or obese by 2050. The market for men’s clothes sized XL or larger is now worth £1.7 billion, up from £1.2 billion in 2003. The other driver for XL clothing sales is the modern desire to wear loose clothing such as T-shirts that are not tucked in and hoodies that have drooped shoulders and can fit at least two tees underneath.

DEFRA also reveals textiles have become the fastest-growing waste product in the UK. Nearly 74% of the two million tonnes of clothes bought in the UK each year end up in landfills. Meanwhile, the poor quality of the cheap fashion that is sold in cut price stores has destroyed the recycled textile industry. Cheap imported fashion, like t-shirts for a pound, has removed any possibility of selling second-hand tees at charity shops.  And very little of the material that can’t be sold, can’t be recycled either less than 4% of the two million tonnes, around 13% is incinerated and the remainder is either sent abroad or buried in British landfill.

To stop this wasteful behaviour, DEFRA wants us to buy less often, buy better quality and take more care of our clothing. Their suggestions for better clothing behaviour will be revealed in February and are likely to include a focus on buying pure cotton t-shirts, rather than cotton/synthetic blends, for everyday wear and keeping mixed fibres for performance clothing like sportswear; investing in clothing that can be layered: T-shirts under hoodies, sweatshirts under jackets, rather than buying individual garments to be worn alone; and not buying complete holiday wardrobes cheaply that will not be worn again when you return.

2008 July 17


It’s an important thing to do if you’re a Mormon!  A practicing Mormon who created a calendar with pictures of shirtless (male) Mormon missionaries has been excommunicated after a disciplinary meeting with his local church leaders in Las Vegas.  

The man with a calendar mission – Chad Hardy – bears no ill will towards the council of elders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He’s an entrepreneur and he says ‘I spoke my truth …they still felt the calendar is inappropriate and not the image that the church wants to have.’ The calendar, called Men on a Mission had already sold over 10,000 copies and has now sold out as a result of the publicity, although Chad says there won’t be any more printed to meet the new demand.  The dozen missionaries are all wearing their uniform of black trousers but lacked the Mormon trademark white shirts.  In smaller supplementary pictures they were shown in their full missionary wear and talking about their religious beliefs.

It isn’t yet clear if action will be taken against the 12 modelling Mormons by their church elders.

2008 May 29


James Galdolfini, who starred as Tony Soprano in the cult American gangster series bearing his name, is auctioning off key items from the show for charity. The garments include the button-down blue shirt he wore in the opening credits and the bathrobe he donned to fetch the morning newspaper.

More excitingly, he’s also put up for sale the blood-splattered costume he wore when shot by Uncle Junior – a black and tan coloured polo-shirt and black trousers – together expected to raise around £1,500. Profits from this cult culture auction being organised by Christie’s New York, are going to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charitable organisation that helps severely wounded American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The auction takes place on 25th June, and the entire sale is expected to net around £19,000. 

The costumes for the series were designed by Juliet Polsca, who earned two Emmy nominations and a Costume Designers Guild Award.

Tony poster courtesy of Joxin

2008 April 28


Auctions come and auctions go, but this auction featured a polo shirt that has taken its former owner to the stars. Bidding for the pink polo shirt once owned by NASA astronaut Eileen Collins opened on 1 April at just $10. A week later and more than a day before its auction was set to close, collectors had pushed its price up to $300 and the final winning bid was $520.

“I can’t say it was easy for me to donate such an important part of my past,” Collins said.  She wore the shirt while training for her four space shuttle missions and her career was a glittering one indeed. In 1995 she was the first female U.S. astronaut to pilot a spacecraft and just four years later, she was the first woman to command a space shuttle mission. Most recently, and humblingly, it was Collins who led the shuttle fleet’s 2005 return to flight after the loss of Columbia and its crew in 2003.

This shirt was important to her because Collins has only a few mementos from her time in space. “Astronauts can keep very little. [I have] only the personal items, such as my wedding ring, old toothbrushes, and some shirts!” she said. She donated the shirt, which is embroidered with her name and her astronaut class’ nickname, “The Hairballs,” on its front to be part of an annual auction run by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). Founded by the Mercury astronauts in 1984, the ASF supports college students who are excelling in their pursuit of science and engineering degrees to give them the best chance of doing what Collins did – saying The Sky’s The Limit. 

Polo-shirt image courtesy of austronaut scholarship foundation

2008 January 14

internet-shopping-pandemia.jpg After a gloomy Christmas, high street retailers are pessimistic. Debt-laden customers face the reality that years of carefree spending, fuelled by record levels of cheap credit, may be coming to an end. But in a typically British fashion, rather than going for the burn of not shopping, we’ve been exploring how resourcefully we can continue to get the shopping buzz without the hefty bill, and while high street shops took a hit over Christmas and the New year, two sectors made big gains: the charity sector enjoyed sales growth of 5% in the run-up to Christmas and home shopping took off in a big way.

This year 4.4 million people turned their backs on the festivities on Christmas Day itself, preferring to shop online for TVs, mobile phones and washing machines, with virtual tills ringing up £84m – a staggering 270% increase on 2006. Men, right across the world, fuelled a large part of the post-Christmas sales online too, both shopping for electrical goods and, interestingly, buying new clothes – were they fed up with being taunted about their lack of sex appeal over Christmas, I wonder? It seems that men use down-time, Bank Holiday weekends, Public Holidays etc to hoover up clothing bargains and one reason for this may be that they can sit down with their wife or girlfriend, and a laptop, and buy online with expert advice alongside them, but without the hassle of wandering the high street with shopping bags, or the humiliation of being seen by their mates out shopping.

Internet shopping by Pandemia

2007 June 10

We would love to be able to help all the people with worthy causes that approach us. Unfortunately we can’t do that. We have decided to focus our efforts on helping a limited number of charities. Currently our selected charities are Shelter and Barnardos.

Charity Donations Clothing