(Issue 99)
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If you're anything like us you're still opening your wardrobe to reveal summer garb primed and ready for sunshine that never really arrived. Fear not, for Birmingham is about to experience an Autumn/Winter fashion boom with big Brum-born store openings and all manner of sartorial celebrations inbound.
Steel & Jelly is an independent, contemporary menswear brand, born in Birmingham and, rather impressively, moving into its first physical home (it was online only until now) at Grand Central on September 24. The new store will focus on the modern day gentleman’s wardrobe, with each piece carrying an unexpected detail - from a patterned trim inside a collar, to a contrasting button thread. This is smart, accessible and affordable stuff and a wonderful tale for a local team. 
Liquor Store's menswear outlet, in the Great Western Arcade, has long been a bastion of style brilliance and its brand new womenswear store opposite, promises, in a city lacking ladies independents, even more bang. Expect global big hitters, including French label A.P.C., Scandi bag heroes Sandqvist and Filson, who are from Seattle and therefore by definition cool. Add to that plenty of knits, boots, rainwear and the plethora of denim that the menswear store is famed for.
Lifestyle menswear brand, P&Co, are the Brum behemoths you've (probably) never heard of. The t-shirt pictured (£30) is taken from the team's wonderful Wild Ones Never Die collection and is typical of the alternative yet high end designs propounded by the online only store. Their leather range will kit you out with some sterling belts, card holders and hip flasks, but you'll have to grow your own gargantuan hipster beard. 
Small but perfectly formed, Custard Factory's Flamingo Vintage is packed with goodies of yesteryear, from 50s dresses and 60s kaftans, to 70s leather jackets and mod Fred Perry polos. With more flamingo memorabilia than is customary, there's a kitsch, retro feel to the place. Owner Jo describes it as a "vintage treasure trove where you never know what you might find." Except for vintage gear, which we're pretty sure you'll find.
Behold! The second in a series of t-shirt collaborations between Provide (formerly of the Custard Factory) and a photographer simply known as 'Dave' is now available for pre-order at £25. The previous limited edition tee (see here) sold out almost insultingly quickly, so pre-ordering is strongly recommended. All pre-orders will come with a free Central Library button badge. Pre-ordering closes September 27 and t-shirts start shipping the week commencing September 28. Consider yourselves told. But politely so. 
Those lucky enough to live in Kings Heath have been smugly frequenting People for a while now. Run by a local husband and wife team, the design duo make all of the store's clothing and select a fine range of accessories, the pick of which is this handmade tan leather satchel. Preposterously good value at £30 it's also available in a mini version, with the next consignment dropping shortly. 
Clements & Church - who will be opening their second Birmingham store in the Mailbox in October - have a rambunctious range of pocket squares to deal with your lonely breast-pocket needs. The limited edition pieces are woven in Suffolk using 100% silk. Starting from £44.95, if you really want to up the sartorial stakes invest in the team's colour-coordinated ties, socks, brollies and bags. They're offering 10% off any purchase to our readers (until Oct 31) if you quote code ICB2015.
If all this fashion chat has you actively seeking out a runway on which to strut, there's absolutely nothing we can do for you. If however, you're a happy voyeur, there's better news. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery's Gas Hall is the venue for this year's Style Live catwalk event, featuring local boys Disorder and Liquor Store. Choose from six shows, starting at 11am on September 26. We'll be the ones in contrasting block leathers. Tickets.


Normally we wouldn't be quite so accommodating to a Manchester-based outfit having the audacity to come to Brum to cook Indian food for us, but this time we have to make a begrudging exception. The Spice Club is a supper club of phenomenal repute, currently holding the number 2 spot out of 1,823 on TripAdvisor Manchester and, in the North West, there's a three month waiting list to get a seat. A raft of top chefs have hailed their food and The Hairy Bikers even stopped by for their BBC show. The Spice Club's first sojourn into Brum is expected to sell out fast so check your diary (Saturday, September 26), check your bank balance (£29 a head), check this menu (hello, slow-cooked Kashmiri lamb palak) and if all looks good, book. This four course, family-made, authentic Indian feast will take place at 6/8 Kafe, Millennium Point.  


The idea of casting Tom Hardy as both Kray twins makes so much sense, it’s a wonder it’s taken so long. As the relatively sane Reggie, he’s East End cool, charming and cocksure in phenomenal suits – it’s a performance only a bona fide star could give. The other Hardy comes out as the lunatic Ronnie, pantomiming his way through barneys and confrontationally coming out as gay to all and sundry. As Ron, Hardy’s having too much fun, but fans of extravagant performances will lap up every twitch. As with a lot of big performances, Hardy is called on the do the heavy lifting – it’s his show, and his broad shoulders carry a few flaws. A focus on Reggie’s marriage and some on-the-nose narration add little, and some more examination of the gap between the Krays’ myth and reality would have been welcome – but these are but mere quibbles. 


A new craft brewery, based in Nuneaton, but owned and operated by Brummies, is targeting the city for rapid expansion. The Indian Brewery Company can often be found on cask in the JQ's Lord Clifden and The Anchor in Digbeth, while Stirchley Wines are now selling all seven bottles from their repertoire. They've made lagers, ales, IPA, Green Tea lager (for vegans and veggies) and even a beer called 'Junk Food', for those with a sweet tooth. But owner Jaspal Purewal is forecasting big things for their session lager 'Indian Summer'. It's already top-selling and the company suspect it will prove to be their flagship beer. By the end of September they're hoping to launch a canned beer simply called 'Birmingham Lager' and also have plans for a city centre bar.


Under the accomplished guidance of local chocolatiers, Kneals, taste your way through a series of handmade chocolates before learning how the bejewelled, molten parcels of happiness are crafted. Steeped in victory following their recent Taste Award success, Kneals will be at the Birmingham Independent Food Fair on September 12 and 13, with masterclasses taking place at 12.30pm (you'll need tickets for both the fair and the class). And if you're not able to make it down to Millennium Point for this weekend's food-based happenings, fear not, you can try the team's salty butterscotch crunch at the Eight Foot Grocer, or if you're cocoa-obsessed, buy the handmade chocolates pictured right here, right now. As Fatboy Slim probably said once. 
Venue: Boo Boo Coffee, 27 Lordswood Road, Harbone, B17 9RP; Facebook
Choice: Boo Boo Bacon Bap on brioche (£5.50) Chooser: The owner

Ready for five reasons why we've fallen head over heels in love with Boo Boo Coffee? 1. Alongside Carters they are one of only two places in Birmingham who use, probably, our favourite coffee: Allpress Espresso. 2. They sell a tonne of Persian loose leaf tea which, when drunk black with loads of sugar, kicks cold weather right in the frozen bits. 3. At the time of writing they have Estrella Inedit in stock. It's a beer designed by Ferran Adrià, former head chef at elBulli, the greatest restaurant that ever existed.  4. The interior is beautifully lit by awesome Brum lighting collective Jam Jar Lighting. 5. As alliteration goes, the Boo Boo Bacon Bap on Brioche is about to beautiful as Birmingham Breakfast bites can be. The brioche encases the perfectly crisp (but not crunchy) rashers while the egg yolk bursts out on bite one. As the nearby chain, Boston Tea Party, expands into Moseley (to some anger), Boo Boo are flying the independent flag with creativity and assertiveness. Support them. 
  • The second iteration of Kings Heath Street Festival will be commandeering both York and Heathfield Roads. Expect food, music and this sort of general debauchery.
  • Go for a walk and learn things on Tuesday from 1pm, with Brum's Archaeological Society. A lunchtime talk is followed by an educational saunter dating back to the 16th century. More here
  • Barbara Nice is leading the laughs at Butchers Social from 6.30pm on Sunday. Tickets are £5 in advance or £8 on the door. Come early for food, which is served from 4pm until 6pm. More
  • A click of the mouse here, will show you it's a big week for Hidden Spaces. Birmingham Museum Collections Centre, Perrott's Folly and Curzon Street Station are all open for viewage.
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"Looking good and dressing well is a necessity. Having a purpose in life is not." - Oscar Wilde

WORDS: Katy DrohanLaura Smith, Andrew Lowry, Tom Cullen
I CHOOSE Birmingham, Office 317, Zellig, Gibb Street, Birmingham, B9 4AA 

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