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Scoop’s triumphant return to the Saatchi Gallery and the word from exhibitors

Tom Bottomley
01 February 2023

Despite all the talk of the cost-of-living crisis, the UK economy in meltdown, strikes and a war going on, the mood at the 22nd edition of Scoop on day three was remarkably upbeat. Positivity was by far the overall consensus from exhibitors who had spent their time meeting old customers and plenty of new too, as well as writing orders and filling up appointment books for showroom follow ups.

It also helped being back at the show’s natural home at the Saatchi Gallery on the King’s Road, such a stunning venue and expertly curated by Scoop Founder and Managing Director, Karen Radley, who said: “There has been wonderful positivity from retailers on the diverse edit of designers across womenswear, menswear, accessories and lingerie, and there’s definitely optimism about the AW23 season ahead.”

The conversation from exhibitors was also very much focused on the confidence in independent retail once again, with customers shopping more local and being loyal to their local stores, while also being more adventurous with their purchases. Here’s what some of Scoop’s finest had to say.

Carina Vester Simonsen

Carina Vester Simonsen, Trade Advisor for the Royal Danish Embassy and co-ordinator of 18 Danish brands exhibiting at Scoop including Part Two, Day Birger et Mikkelsen, American Dreams, Charlotte Sparre, Signal and A. Kjaerbede 

The Danish brands have generally been very happy, and it’s been amazing being back at the Saatchi Gallery with all the attention to detail. They all had a lot of appointments scheduled to do at the show, but they have had just as many new retailers coming to see them. That’s always a positive because that’s really why they come to do the show – to meet new customers.

The amount of brands we bring to Scoop varies from show to show, but we have 18 here this time and it’s a great mix. We’ve done Scoop for the past 10 years, including previous shows at Olympia, The Truman Brewery and at Old Billingsgate Market, but I think a lot of buyers like coming to the King’s Road as it’s a very nice area to come to and more of a treat.

The big department stores have been here and we’ve had a lot of smaller independent stores visiting, not only from London and surrounding areas but from the north too. Part Two has had a particularly good time here, but even the brands that haven’t been that busy have still written orders here.

In terms of the mood coming in to January, a lot of the brands were a bit hesitant because of the economic forecast for the whole of the European Union, but also the UK. However, they’ve come here from doing shows in Amsterdam and Frankfurt where they have been very surprised by the positivity they’ve been met with in terms of orders, and it’s been the same here.

I wouldn’t say buyers have been treading with more caution either, in fact a lot of retailers have even said that 2022 was their best year ever. Independents had to adapt their buying during Covid and the lockdowns, and it gave them greater focus on what their customers want. You may have the likes of Oxford Street suffering, but other smaller pockets of London and more village areas in the UK have benefited as consumers have been shopping more locally and have discovered, or even rediscovered, their local independents. That’s the feedback we’ve been getting.

Jonathan Chamberlain

Jonathan Chamberlain, Founder and Sales Director, Inside Out Agencies, showing brands including Michael Kors, Mos Mosh, Pepe Jeans, Dr. Denim, North Sails, Dedicated, Noella and Knowledge Cotton Apparel

We’ve got nine brands here altogether, some we’re showing across both men’s and womenswear. We are introducing more menswear where we’ve had success with womenswear. It makes sense if an independent does both to see men’s and women’s all in one show. We’re showing both from our sustainable brands, Dedicated and Knowledge Cotton Apparel, and on the denim side we’ve got Pepe Jeans here and also Dr. Denim. Then on the more outdoor lifestyle side we have North Sails, and we’re showing Mos Mosh menswear on the top floor of the show and the womenswear in the Danish area downstairs. It’s worked well for new stores discovering Mos Mosh menswear for the first time. That’s been an instant hit.

We’re a young agency, as we’ve only been going for three years, but we’re quite unique as we’re a husband and wife team. We had a really strong first selling season for AW20, and we’ve acquired more brands as we’ve grown. We have a really strong brand mix now, and we’re dealing with around 170 stores across the UK and Ireland, so we’ve had some really good growth in a difficult time. We’ve had to work very hard to build it.

It’s our third time showing at Scoop, and the first time at the Saatchi Gallery because the previous shows were at Olympia and The Truman Brewery, and the first two days have been the busiest we’ve ever had. Even day three has been busy. We’ve pretty much had Gallery 14 on the top floor to ourselves, and we’ve been able to get through a lot more appointments across the brands this time, as well as having new interest from walk-ons. We’ve been better about how we planned the show, in terms of booking appointments and writing orders here.

We’ve seen a lot of the stores we wanted to see, which is really encouraging. Buyers have definitely made the effort to get out and they’ve been looking for a bit of novelty, something a bit different. We’ve also done well across that whole ‘gorpcore’ outdoor lifestyle look, but things are also getting smarter as well, especially since the lockdowns when people were buying more casually. Smarter overshirts and shirting from the likes of Michael Kors and Mos Mosh have gone well.

The mood from retailers has been positive, and I think a lot of the independents have been quite buoyant, especially with people shopping more locally and them having less competition and more of a point of difference. I think they’ve also realised how loyal their customers are as well.

Ruth Taylor and Nicola Jones

Ruth Taylor, Managing Director and Nicola Jones, Design Director, Endless Love Affair

Ruth Taylor: We’ve launched our brand at wholesale here at Scoop. It’s a sustainably focused premium nightwear, lingerie and swimwear brand. We also provided the uniform for the Scoop staff! We’re all encompassing, so our size range goes from 8 right through to 26.

We’ve done a collection of bright colour pops and prints. Most nightwear ranges are quite dull and drab, and it’s normally the supermarkets who drive all that business – which is both of our backgrounds! Between us we’ve worked for Arcadia, Debenhams, Walmart, M&S, Karen Millen and George at Asda, where we worked together a few years ago heading up different teams. But we wanted to do something completely different and more fun. We literally only launched Endless Love Affair online three weeks ago.

The show has been amazing. We’ve taken our first lot of orders and we’ve got lots of follow up calls to do, especially follow ups with independent boutiques around the UK. All the retro printed fleece products have done well, as buyers have created a bit of a lifestyle look with our bags and accessories, especially for that beach look for retailers located in coastal towns.

On the more sophisticated side we have our printed kimono pieces. Some of the boutiques have been buying them for nightwear, but also day to evening wear, and even to wear with jeans.

Everyone’s been really optimistic and upbeat and they want to get some interest in some different product that you can’t get anywhere else. I personally think there’s going to be a massive resurgence of independents in the smaller local high streets. No-one wants to buy from the main high street anymore, it’s really boring! Especially across nightwear, lingerie and swimwear, which is our passion. No one gives it the love and attention it deserves.

Nicola Jones:  Also, at certain points during the year it’s the best selling product, especially at Christmas time. It’s a bit of a forgotten area, or it’s treated as a bit of a sideline. We created a range with a factory initially to sell to the high street, but the reaction was way bigger than we anticipated so we thought we needed to be doing this ourselves.

We’ve travelled the world with work in the past, and we’ve been very lucky to have shopped in loads of vintage markets – collecting amazing vintage pieces as we’ve gone along, a lot of which we’ve kept. In fact, I don’t get rid of anything! So, we have such a collection that inspires us. We don’t follow trends, we just want to create tasteful product that’s going to last and something that customers will have for seasons to come. Not flash in the pan.

Gerard Levy

Gerard Levy, Owner, GIL Agencies, showing Arche and 4CCCCEES

I’ve been an agent now for about 25 years and I’m here showing two of the brands I work with. Arche is a French brand that’s been in existence since 1968. Essentially it was a comfort shoe brand, but over the last five or six years it has become much more fresh and contemporary, though the comfort element has been maintained. The other collection is from 4CCCCEES, a relatively new brand which was launched in 2020 – right in the middle of lockdown. The gentleman who runs the company has huge experience as he’s worked at United Nude and Alexander McQueen, and he’s taken the designer from Alexander McQueen who has also previously designed for Issey Miyake.

The show has been good, in fact I think it’s been the best show for a long time. I think the show’s heart is here at the Saatchi Gallery, as I don’t think it can be replicated like this at somewhere like Olympia, which is too big. The concept of mixing fashion and art just works so much better.

I also think the market has evolved and it’s definitely a time for independents. There’s lots of new shops opening up, and I haven’t heard that for a long time. Conversations in the past have been about shops closing down, but now there’s much more energy and confidence, and that’s despite all the doom and gloom. It’s been quite surprising. Every time I turn on my phone, there’s something else going wrong, but I don’t feel that from the buyers.

I also have an independent shop in London called Spice, and we’ve been established in Primrose Hill for 38 years – selling women’s shoes and clothing, though predominantly shoes. We actually replaced men’s shoes for women’s clothing and that’s worked really well for us. It’s become more of a lifestyle store, and I think that’s the thing now. Independent shops in general seem to be a lot more clued up now as to what’s going on in the market, where as department stores tend to be struggling a little bit.

Lucy Walsh

Lucy Walsh, Owner, The Brand Ambassadors Agency, showing Sirens, Unreal Fur, DWRS and Atelier Rêve

Atelier Rêve is our new Danish brand from the DK Company. It translates to ‘dreams workshop’. It’s had the best reaction for us at the show and I think that’s because of the prices, as we’ve found buyers are much more price conscious. For my agency, the average retail price of a dress is around £200, but an Atelier Rêve dress is more like £120 retail. I’ve opened 27 accounts with it since last Monday, mainly in the showroom but another six have come on board with it at Scoop - good retailers like Pamela Shiffer too. It will be the first time I’ve worked with her, though she said I’ve been chasing her for eight years!

It really is all about price this time around. I’ve never known a show where people have been asking about prices so much. Interestingly, everyone who has been picking up Atelier Rêve has said that this is the price point they are going to need for the next two years. Anything over £150 retail is a considered purchase. The Atelier Rêve blouses retail at £85, perfect for something new to wear going out for drinks with the girls. Anything above £100 for a top is going to be trickier. Even for quite wealthy customers, the boutiques have been saying they are holding back.

Unreal Fur is only an autumn/winter brand, and this is only the second time I’ve had it. It’s an Australian family run brand, with a focus on ethical faux fur and vegan fashion. It’s that kind of après-ski look with short metallic puffer jackets and longline printed puffer coats, joining printed faux fur outerwear. The cuts are great and there’s no minimum order.

DWRS is a Dutch footwear label we’ve just taken on which has had some real interest. There’s different colours of cowboy boots, again some metallics, in both a short style which will retail at £150, and a longer version at £180, as well as sneakers, loafers, mules and high heels – all made in Portugal so there’s no tariffs to pay, which is quite a big deal. The collection is huge and I’ve only brought a small selection here to tempt buyers to come to see it in its full glory at the showroom. I’ve now got loads of appointments booked in.

I’m only really here for new business, as we have our showroom in Hammersmith where we’ve already got over 150 appointments booked. I must say I have met some new customers here, so that’s been good. Buyers have been surprising upbeat in light of all that’s going on. I’d say they are ‘cautiously optimistic’.

Xavier Aujard

Xavier Aujard, Owner, Pret Pour Partir

I was showing at Scoop from the show’s beginning, but we stopped pre-Covid and also when the show moved to another venue, so this is a return after maybe four years, and we are very happy to be here at the Saatchi Gallery.

The show has been very good and we’ve had lots of clients come to see us, including old customers who are coming back. It’s been very pleasant to see them and it’s nice to work with them again. We’ve written a significant amount of orders, so we are pleased.

We are from Paris, and the brand has been established for 12 years. Pret Pour Partir means ‘ready to go’ and we only do women’s outerwear, largely in technical fabrics with a waterproof treatment. That’s certainly the main selling point for customers in England! We also have a very nice selection of women’s coats.

We’ve done well with our printed technical outerwear, and also the long raincoats in a very technical fabric with a pleat detail at the back and a detachable hood. It’s functional but also elegant. All our parkas have a zip pocket at the back, it’s part of our signature look.

We have a premium price positioning, and that’s not been an issue. When you live abroad, you have this feeling that the retail and economic situation in the UK is complicated, but we haven’t felt any restraint from the buyers. It’s been very positive.

In England we supply lots of stores in small towns, which are amazing premium independent retailers of a certain standard who can sell jackets for £600 - £700. We’re not currently selling to any department stores.

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