Pure London: the word from the AW20 show
Pure London closed its doors today after three days of brisk trading at London Olympia, despite storm Ciara doing its best to thwart visitors' travel plans. At a buzzy show, we talk to six diverse exhibitors about their experiences.
Emily Voss, account manager, Lacoste
Have you shown Lacoste womenswear at Pure in the past?
No, this is our first time. Obviously, everybody knows us as a menswear brand, but we’ve always done a women’s collection, and we now have a new creative director, Louise Trotter, who was previously the creative director at Joseph. She has completely reworked what we do from a silhouette perspective for womenswear, and we really wanted to showcase the change, and also let everybody know that we do have a women’s collection. I work within the wholesale department of our team, and we manage the network of accounts across the country for menswear, but we’ve not really had much luck with recruiting women’s business, up until this point really, so it was quite important for us to just be visible, and Pure felt like the best opportunity for that.
Have you seen many buyers here?
We have, yes, and we’ve taken some orders. The main feedback from everybody who’s walked on the stand has been that they’ve been pleasantly surprised by the offer. We’ve taken on some new accounts, so it’s definitely been worthwhile. We already work with Psyche in Middlesbrough on menswear and childrenswear, but they’ve walked past our women’s product in the past. However, they came on yesterday and saw it in a different light, and they are now going to be placing an order on the womenswear too.
How would you best describe the AW20 collection?
Our identity is quite split, so we’ve got logo heavy jersey driven product that represents our streetwear heritage, which is very reminiscent of the 90’s revival that’s happening at the moment, and sportswear in its classic sense. Then we also have a more feminine offer that’s very French in essence, which is a little bit cleaner – using a lot of tonal branding.
What would be some key pieces?
A favourite that is actually in stores now for SS20, which we’ve carried through for AW20, is our long, pleated skirt – retailing at £155. It’s available in five colours, with a Lacoste branded waistband which gives it a bit of a younger appeal. Then, on that preppy aesthetic which everyone associates with Lacoste, we have a V-neck knit in 100% cashmere, which comes in a heritage colourway of cream with green trim for that tennis association. That will sell for £270. We also have a varsity style jacket with an oversized crocodile logo on the front, and Lacoste lettering in a towelling flock on the back. On a more classic front we’ve got a double-breasted herringbone overcoat, which is slightly oversized, and is another key look of the collection, to retail at £420. There’s also cord down-filled puffer jacket with a detachable hood, which is unisex and we’ve sold it in to multiple menswear retailers. It comes in beige, which we’re seeing a lot of as a trend for this season, and also in navy. That’s £350 retail.
Dougie James, sales manager, Eribé knitwear
Whereabouts is the brand from and are you a Pure regular?
It’s named after my wife, Rosemary Eribé, the founder and CEO, and it’s from Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, founded in 1986, so 34 years old. It’s the fourth winter season that we’ve shown here. We always just do the autumn/winter show.
How have you found the show this time?
It’s been good, we’ve been busy. We see a lot of existing accounts, as we do a lot of work before the show contacting people so they know that we’re going to be here. It’s part of our policy to link in and communicate with our customers, but also a chance to meet new customers, and an opportunity for people to come and actually see the collection – touch it, feel it and see the colours in the flesh, so to speak. A lot of people choose to actually do their work and make orders here. Other people come on and take their list away, and then go online to our trade portal to place their orders later. The main reason for doing the show is to meet new people. The value in it is to extend our reach and find new customers.
What do you specialise in?
We take Scottish tradition and bring it up to date. We make it wearable for contemporary markets, but this is slow fashion at its best. We’re really known for our Fair Isle knitwear, and our Fair Isle cardigan is the iconic Eribé garment, which is still outselling everything else.We also have a Fair Isle belted knitted dress. We’re using natural yarns, so there’s no plastic microfibres, and we have a solar powered factory. Nearly everything is available in 20 colours. We keep designs in the range for quite a few years – we let them mature and really come of age. We’re also always innovating and coming up with new design ideas which will then supersede the existing range.
Our Alpine Fair Isle range is new and we’ve got a roll neck, two exciting, younger and more sporty hoodies – a hoody zip-up cardigan and a hoody sweater, and for larger ladies we’ve brought in a V-neck cardigan. We’ve brought in some new body shapes due to demand. We do a lot of research with our social media fanbase and we send out colour option ideas to people and get them to vote on them. The colours that are voted number one have become best sellers. We work mostly with Merino wool, with touches of Angora wool, but we’ve also got a whole new range of knitwear in Shetland wool. We also have accessories such as berets, bobble hats and beanie hats, and a variety of scarves and large wraps that work as throws as well.
Mehv Khan, designer, Grapevine
Is this your first showing at Pure?
This is my first time, though I did come to visit last time. I only launched in April of last year, so it’s very new. I graduated in fashion design from the London College of Fashion and then jumped straight in to designing.
What kind of interest have you had here?
We’ve had quite a few buyers come by, taking cards and exchanging information, so it’s been good so far. I’m very happy I decided to do the show. I’m currently just an online business, as I have an online store, so this is good for brand awareness. I am actively now seeking wholesale accounts. It’s doing well online, and I’m launching on ASOS Marketplace this week as well, and I’m on Etsy already.
How would you best describe your offer?
I would say it’s about unique pieces that you won’t find in your average stores on the high street, but they are high street price points. It’s all ethical wear and limited edition, not mass produced. I like making small amounts that you are not going to find anywhere else and you’re not going to find a million people wearing it. I’m aiming more for boutiques. I get the materials from the UK and Pakistan, and I manufacture in Pakistan. I have good contacts to get small runs, as I’ve been going there for many years. The good thing with being small is that everything is transparent, and I can visit all the factories and see what conditions the workers are working in.
What are the key pieces of this AW20 collection?
One of my favourite pieces is the oversized blazer, which I’m also wearing! I call it the dad blazer, as it came from the idea of me wearing my dad’s blazers all the time because I wanted the oversized look. It’s got elbow patches and toggle buttons. Another piece that’s been quite popular is the teddy hoody, with large safety pins for the neck fastening. It’s quite eye-catching. I also have a velvet kimono that’s been popular, in black with a floral print and tie-waist so you can go out in it. The oversized trench coat is another key piece, as is the duster coat.
Mark Cuthbert, commercial director, Compañía Fantástica
How long has the brand been established and do you always show at Pure?
The company started out in 2002 in Madrid, and that’s where we are based. We’ve been in the UK market for about five or six seasons now, though we’ve been coming to Pure a bit longer – since about 2016, and we got an agency agreement in about 2017. We were with TCA Showroom, but now we are with Level One Showroom in North London.
How would you best describe the look and the target market?
Our real strong points are the prints and the colours. If you came for the spring/summer season you would see it’s even brighter, but even for autumn/winter we use a lot of colour. It has a broad appeal in terms of age group, as we know thorough our own store in Madrid and our shop-in-shops in El Corte Inglés.It tends to appeal to people who have a sense of fun and energy, with the animal prints particularly, and we see a lot of people who work in the creative industry buy our goods.
How is your UK business?
It’s growing but it’s not been easy with the uncertainty around Brexit. I think that’s hurt us a little bit in the last couple of seasons. But most of the people we’re speaking to here now seem to have a good season in AW19, which means they are coming prepared to book well for AW20. We have quite a loyal account base. We see a lot of people come back and do repeat purchases.
How has the show been for you?
So far, after the last two days, I would say that between new and existing accounts we’ve seen it’s been about half and half. So, we’ve seen a nice development on new business. I think we’re in about 80-90 accounts now in the UK. We took between 10-12 orders yesterday on day one, and I think we’ll beat that on day two. We were a bit worried yesterday, because of the stormy weather and travel difficulties, but what we’ve maybe seen is, some of the orders we would traditionally have taken on the first day seem to have come in today. Another good thing is, we also see lots of interest from people who come across us for the first time.
What are the key pieces for AW20?
What we tend to see in winter is the dark base colours with the prints work better on the dresses. We’ve introduced a shirt-dress for the new season, and wrap-around dresses too. Typically, our best seller would be a round neck dress, which is very easy to wear. We also do the same prints in trousers. Generally, the stronger prints are the best ones for us. The round neck orange knit with navy blue polka dot design is popular. It has puff-shoulders and is 1940’s inspired. Coats have also been very strong for us this season, including a mid-length oversized piece. A lot of what we do is retro and vintage inspired, but incorporate styling details that follow trends.
Ken Kaki, owner and designer, 8 Paris Rocks
Where does the 8 Paris Rocks name come from when you come from Tokyo, Japan and what do you specialise in?
8 Paris Rocks is my underground brand name, and has been for 25 years, but before that I had another line called Harajuku Sukajyan, which was Japanese embroidered limited edition ‘Suka’ jackets, and this is what I’ve brought here. It’s what I specialise in, and I have three stores in Tokyo called Harajuku Sukajyan Dept. carrying the jackets. I’ve just started looking for retailers in the UK now.
What’s special about them?
Some of the embroidery on the back alone can take 27 hours. That’s why there is very small quantities of each jacket, in some cases just 30 pieces of each one are available. But, I have over 100 designs to select from. They are very unique, and the prices are high. The Japanese cartoon embroideries on the jackets are very popular now, especially from the One Piece cartoon series, a Japanese pirates series featuring three brothers Ace, Sabo and Luffy – it’s very famous around the world. In New York my jackets sell for $1,000 and, in the UK, they would be maybe £800. Alice Cooper and Kanye West are among some famous customers of mine. I’ve just started looking for retailers in the UK now. In New York I show at Capsule.
How has the show been for you?
It’s been so-so. It’s my first time here looking for UK boutiques to supply. The UK market is quite conservative, but I think it’s good that the UK has divorced from the EU countries! I respect England, the culture and the people. They have good pride in everything, like the Japanese!
Mark Armstrong, sales manager, Madison Paris
How long has the brand been established and how would you best describe it?
It’s been established for five years now. It’s a small company, but the family behind it has been in the fashion industry for some 20 years now. We make trendy women’s coats, jackets and dresses and our target market is chic and elegant women from 25 years-old up to infinity! We are not focused on fast fashion, that’s too young. The quality is very good, but the prices are very low. Everybody is looking for that, so we are providing it. Elegance at an affordable price.
How have you found it so far?
This is our second time showing at Pure, but the first time for me, and it’s been great. I’ve met lots of great people and we’ve taken some good orders. I’ve seen a lot of buyers from independent shops and websites, including international buyers. We sell a lot in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, USA, Japan and Brazil. But not so much in France!
What are the key pieces?
We’ve brought SS20 with us – which is available to buy from stock - as well as the AW20 collection. We have a long trench coat with an all-over houndstooth type of print, which is very elegant. It’s 90% Polyester and 10% Spandex, so it has some stretch. That wholesales for £25. The long-pleated skirt in many colours such as gold, green and navy is another favourite. The long fluid dresses with floral prints are also strong for SS20. For AW20 we have a biker/aviator style jacket with a detachable fake fur collar and there’s another version of the long trench coat with an all-over check print, as well as a hooded teddy coat.