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Show talk: Pure London

Tom Bottomley
17 February 2023

The Pure London trade show at Olympia in Kensington on 12-14 February hit the right notes with exhibitors and buyers alike, and the feelgood factor was not in tune with the country’s current economic woes.

Pure London Event Director, Gloria Sandrucci, said: “From when the doors opened on Sunday, I have been extremely overwhelmed by the buzz, the energy, and the positivity from the entire fashion community and especially from our exhibitors and the buyers.

“It has created such a nice atmosphere to be back at Olympia and in such a beautiful environment that looks elevated, colourful, and busy. Everything has been well received, from the content programme to the beautiful catwalk, to the launch of The Independent Sustainability Toolkit and all the initiatives which together have really made the show stand out.”

We, took to the aisles on the final day to hear what some of the key exhibitors had to say.

Pure London

Gillian Ridley Whittle, Peachaus

Gillian Ridley Whittle, Founder and CEO, Peachaus

It’s actually been a brilliant show, our first time here, with great energy and lots of people. For us, as a new brand, we’ve had lots of interest in our product and we’ve opened up lots of connections – so I’m really happy.

We’re an ethical underwear and lifestyle clothing brand which only launched at the end of March 2022. We say that we’re ‘bed to beach to bar’, so our clothes go across different moments of your day – it flows.

I’ve been in the industry a long time. I was Head of Buying at Marks & Spencer and worked my way through up to Trading Director for underwear and beauty, before going to Australia and running Target’s womenswear business. I then went to Myer – the premium Australian department store - and ran their beauty and kidswear business. Then I came back to the UK and was Topshop’s Fashion Director.

I’d seen a lot and decided that the industry was doing too much damage to the planet and to the people, and it was profits at any cost. I felt that I had a responsibility to do it differently and to help drive much needed change in the fashion industry.

Peachaus is a brand that’s about giving back to people and the planet, and a platform to unite people to drive positive change. People love the femininity, the colours and the fact that it’s really light, soft and comfortable, and they love the back story.

People have particularly liked our light and delicate underwear, especially our ‘Betula’ bra which is all made out of recycled Italian yarns, and our cotton sleepwear, particularly our embroidered shirt and shorts set in organic cotton.

Pure has been really well set up, I love our stand and positioning. It’s a really great way for a brand like ours to expose ourselves to retailers and to get feedback. I came with a very open mind, I didn’t know who was going to be here, but the reaction has been great.

We’ve just come out of a two month pop-up covering Christmas in Fenwick on Bond Street, on the main womenswear floor, and that was really good with great customer engagement.

Pure has been really positive as we now look to pivot the business into wholesale as well as retail, having started out as a direct-to-consumer brand from our website. I now want to partner with the right wholesale partners and agents to get our brand out to a wider audience and increase awareness.

Silvana Landa, Landa

Silvana Landa, Co-Founder and CEO, Landa

It’s our first time showing in the UK and the show has been good for us. We weren’t sure what to expect. We were in Copenhagen last week at CIFF, and it was very different to this. There tends to be more agencies with stands here. However, we have gained a few new customers at Pure, which is encouraging. We only currently supply the National Gallery and Wolf & Badger in the UK, and we sell really well with them.

We’ve only been established four and a half years. I am originally from Argentina and my mum is Italian, so the design influences come from that, but I live in Dublin – and have done for 20 years as I married an Irishman, so the brand is based in Ireland where we supply the likes of Brown Thomas, and a number of high-end boutiques. We’re also now supplying Zalando and we are developing our business in  Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium.

The UK market is a very attractive market to us and we feel we have the right product, prices and strategy for here. We’d love to partner up with the right department stores – the likes of Selfridges, John Lewis, Liberty and some of the high-end boutiques, as well as the marketplaces like Net-a-Porter. That’s our ambition.

We’re not too convinced with our positioning at Pure, because of our price point – our best-selling bag retails at almost €400. It may have been better for us if we were located in an area amongst other brands and designers who have similar prices and target market to ours. We may consider doing Scoop next time, but we’ll see. Overall we are happy as we have written new business, and people say you don’t write orders at your first show.

The collection is predominantly leather hand bags and accessories. Leather to us is a sustainable material because it lasts forever. Also, our products are very well made in Spain. Vegan products don’t last!

Our leather phone bags have been popular at the show, and also the faux shearling version. They retail below €100, so that has worked well here.

Michael Waterman, Love Rocks

Michael Waterman, Founder and Designer, Love Rocks

We’ve had a great response and a very good show. I don’t do many shows, but I always do Pure – so this is where people know they can get me. It’s been patchy, but when we’re busy, we’re busy. I like the Olympia venue, and I’m pleased that we’re downstairs because as a jewellery brand I love being mixed with the clothes on the same level. It all complements each other and I think it’s easier for buyers. We’ve been upstairs in the past, but this works better.

We’ve seen lots of independents, and some department stores, but not so many store groups – mind you, there’s not many of them left! We have seen lots of new customers too, so that’s been very positive as that’s what we come here for really.

I call our jewellery ‘cutting edge glamour’, the kind of thing you’d see on the catwalk, in Ibiza or on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. It’s fun, funky, colourful and sparkly dressing up jewellery, but also good quality and for women of every age. We’re selling in-season, so this collection has a 4-6 week delivery from order.

I’m best known for big earrings, and our beaded earrings are popular – statement pieces, but affordable. Our products retail between £20-£75, so it’s not low-end high street prices – it’s a bit above that. Fenwick is a key account.

I’ve been in jewellery for about 40 years, but I’ve had Love Rocks about 12 years now. Prior to this I had Mikey jewellery, but this is more like that boho festival look. For summer we go a little more out of the zone because everyone wants bright colours, especially after the Covid pandemic. There’s more of a desire to dress up.

Paul Tobin, North & South Footwear

Paul Tobin, UK agent at North & South Footwear Ltd, showing Macarena and Natural World

We’ve had a really good show in general. We also showed last July, which was our first time back at Pure as an agency in a long time, and we had a fantastic show then. We’d been doing Scoop previously, but we thought that with the relaunch of Pure it would get a lot of press and be beneficial to us. It’s certainly been a success for us.

We’re showing two Spanish footwear brands, Macarena and Natural World, which are actually from the same village, Arnedo in La Rioja, which is the second largest footwear producing town in Spain, but is perhaps best known for producing wine!

The Macarena slipper collection is something we are just starting to push here in the UK for autumn/winter. It’s something the brand has started to do as a second line to what they are known for, which is espadrilles – huge in the summer. The brand was 50 years old last year, and the business was built on espadrilles.

We’ve also got the SS23 collection here, which is short-order and can be ordered now for delivery at the end of April. ‘Java 22’ is the key style – a mid -wedge espadrille with a scoop front and an ankle strap. We have it in 15 different colours of suede, including orange and electric blue. The Macarena retail prices go from £70 up to £140. We deal with anyone from small independent boutiques to department stores like Hoopers and Sandersons.

We’ve seen a lot of existing customers, but the reason why we do the show is to get new customers and we’ve got about half a dozen on board this time. It’s been worthwhile.

We will definitely do Pure again as opposed to Scoop as I think we fit into that spot price-wise which is in between the mid-market and upper level. I think there’s maybe a better representation of that here at Pure rather than at Scoop.

Natural World is a eco-friendly brand best known for producing traditional Spanish pumps, but in organic cotton and using natural rubber. The shoes also have a strawberry essence, which goes down well. They also do Birkenstock-style sandals with natural rubber sole units and cork footbeds infused with a high level of latex for flexibility. They retail at £39.99 – a very competitive price-point. The most popular style is the two bar, or two strap, similar to Birkenstock’s classic style. We’ve been carrying Natural World for five years now, and we’ve got over 100 independent stockists in the UK.

Sinead Bradford, Jayley

Sinead Bradford, Marketing Manager, Jayley

We’ve done Pure for about seven years now and this has probably been the busiest show we have done to date. It’s been absolutely packed on our stand, so it’s been great. Our catwalk show has gone down really well, and with having a stand right by the catwalk it’s drawn people to us. I also think people are starting to recognise our brand a bit more. We’ve seen the retailers we expected to see and many more. We’ve opened up a lot of new accounts, as well as seeing our repeat customers.

The collection is bold and bright and a bit like an adult’s costume box. It’s feelgood dressing and a lot of trying on has been going on. Our colourful and sustainable bamboo faux fur pieces have been very popular. They wholesale at about £100.

Around 90% of what’s on the stand is for autumn/winter, but we do also have a short-order summer collection here – in stock and ready to go. Our warehouse is in Stoke-on-Trent. The company (called Ubi Group) originates from Shanghai – it’s a family business with a history in production – but the family moved to Stoke about 20 years ago to set up here. We bring the colour to Stoke!

We’re also a retail company, with an online business, a store in Stoke, which we’ve had for 10 years, and one in Birmingham, which we’ve had for three years now. There are plans for retail expansion, and we are looking at doing a couple of pop-up shops as we’ve seen massive demand in London and Manchester. Anywhere like Soho in London would be great for us, and there seems to be a demand for it.

We’d like to launch the new collection, test the market and get a feel for a location in a pop-up shop first because people tend to shop Jayley slightly differently in different areas. For instance, in Liverpool they absolutely love our bright and bold pieces, but actually in Stoke we sell a lot more of the neutral colours.

Zoe Baldack, Blank

Zoe Baldock, Sales Manager, Blank

There’s been a really different mix of buyers here. I don’t know whether that’s to do with the brand mix, or Pure not now coinciding Scoop. It’s always good to introduce the brand to new people, and we have taken on some new accounts here – not many but a few that seem quite strong. We’ve also had dedicated appointments with existing customers. We do invite them to our showroom in Shoreditch as well, but sometimes it just makes more sense for them to come straight to the show and have a time slot with us.

Our stand is right by the runway, which is always where we like to be. The brand is 22 years old and we’ve always done Pure. I’d say this has been slightly slower than previous shows for us, but that could be with Scoop being two weeks earlier – which means Pure has had to be another visit to London for buyers. Pure and Scoop have normally been on the same weekend, so buyers have tended to dart between the Saatchi Gallery and Kensington Olympia. However, we have generally seen the retailers we expected to see – or have showroom appointments for them.

Some buyers at Pure have considered us in the higher price-point bracket – which we’re not typically. Our dresses (which wholesale at up to £120) are our biggest sales touch point, followed by tops. Statement dresses, not just evening wear but smart day wear, are key for us. There’s always something vibrant and nine times out of ten you can tell from a mile off if someone is wearing a Blank piece. Whether it’s a spring/summer collection or autumn/winter, there’s always embroidery and lots of colour and prints.

We’ve got some other shows coming up, such as Coterie in New York and Fig in Texas at the end of March, so that’s when we will take AW23 orders up until.

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