The Interviews: the word from Pure London SS20
Yesterday was the final day of the PURE London trade show at Kensington Olympia, and we found several exhibitors who were feeling upbeat in the heat. Here’s what they had to say.
Andy Nicholls, sales agent, Bibico
Where does the brand originate from?
It’s a fair trade brand from Bath. The knitwear is organic cotton and all the woven pieces are made by a women’s cooperative in Mumbai, India. There’s a lot of disadvantaged people who work in the factory, and it has everything you need to keep everyone happy in a working environment.
How have you found PURE London?
It’s been better than I thought it was going to be considering the Brexit climate. It remains to be seen, as the sales season is only just getting going, but so far I’ve been quite surprised at the positivity. I think the heightened awareness around fair trade and sustainable product, which is possibly being forced by extinction rebellion, means people are starting to think a lot more about what they are buying. So, for me, selling sustainable products, including from two other brands I represent – SKFK and Eribé knitwear – it’s not a bad thing. I’ve been selling fair trade products for a long time now, 10 years or more, because I wouldn’t really want to sell anything else.
Have you picked up any new accounts?
Yes, it’s been good, I’ve picked up new accounts that I didn’t even know existed, so I’m quite happy about that. And people I’ve been chasing for a while are now coming on board. I’m satisfied.
What are the key pieces that buyers have been drawn to?
They’ve been drawn to some of our winners, such as the summer knits in organic cotton, which feels good, and it’s a decent price point at £75 retail on a 2.5 mark-up. Buyers also like our lightweight SS20 summer denim, such as the shirt dresses. The printed and belted floral swing dress is also proving popular. They love the shape of it, and we do it in plain colours as well. We’ve also got some AW19 pieces here, again the knitwear is really strong, with the easy to wear slouchy ‘boyfriend jumper’ with pockets being a key piece.
Stephanie Frost, sales director, Pretty Lavish
Where is Pretty Lavish from?
We’re based in Hertford, and we have one standalone store there though we predominantly sell online. The brand was established six years ago this year and, as well as supplying independents, we sell on the likes of ASOS and SilkFred.
How have you found PURE London this time?
It’s been really good for us, Sunday was our busiest day. We’ve met existing customers and new customers as well. It’s our third time at PURE London, and we booked up last minute – literally on Friday last week! Another brand had pulled out so, when we got a call, we decided to do it, and I’m pleased we did!
What’s the brand best known for?
We’re quite minimal, but over the last six to eight months we’ve introduced a lot more prints. The animal prints are proving very popular. Occasion wear, with blouses and dresses are the main area we focus on. Wedding guest dresses is our core business, and we’re going to expand on our bridesmaid offer, which we’ve had real success with. We’re going to do a photo shoot and promote how you can style the dresses. Instagram is our biggest social media platform, and our following is quite loyal – they’ve seen us grow as a brand, and they’ve come on the journey with us. Our dresses can really be styled up or down, and they retail between £50-£70. They are high street prices, but we pride ourselves on the quality and the fabrics we use. We have factories in the UK and the Far East. We don’t work as far in advance as other brands, so we can be quite reactive to the market. A lot of what we’re showing here is already online – you can order it from a retail point, or wholesale.
What have buyers been picking up on?
We designed a lightweight see-through maxi-length leopard print dress, with beachwear more in mind. But people have been wearing it with a slip underneath for occasion or evening wear. It’s very versatile piece, and it’s almost sold old, so we will be doing repeat production.
Michael Schakenraad, sales director, 4 Funky Flavours
Where does 4 Funky Flavours originate and what’s your speciality?
We’re from the Netherlands and we’ve been going since 2009. We don’t have enough of a UK business, and that’s why we’re here. We do womenswear, menswear, baby and childrenswear. Our speciality is lots of patterns and colour, using high quality cotton. It’s 70’s-inspired with a funky retro look, but with a modern twist.
How have you found PURE London this time?
The show was slow on Sunday, but Monday and Tuesday have been better. We’ve actually picked up some new shops for France and Italy at the show, more than for the UK, so that’s strange! Maybe we are too niche. Overall the show as been worthwhile for us, as we always get good exposure from the press, and there’s always new stores. It’s our third time at PURE and we are now working with agents for Northern Ireland and Scotland, and we are trying to attract more retailers in the UK in general. It’s difficult, because we have noticed that it’s not standard procedure for retailers to visit PURE every season.
What are the buyers picking up on?
For SS20 we’ve got colourful geometric print tops for women, and we very well known for our high quality cotton knitwear. It’s very playful. The 70’s are a real design inspiration for us, though it’s more the mindset.
How big is the brand currently?
We supply around 300 stores in Europe, with about 60 stockists in the Netherlands. France is our biggest market outside of the Netherlands, followed by Belgium and Germany. In the UK we only have nine accounts, so there’s plenty of room for growth. We supply the Avoca lifestyle shop in Dublin, and they have about six or seven stores. But we mostly sell online from our own website and from others. We post everyday on Instagram and Facebook, and we also promote our posts – so we have a lot of interaction with customers.
Anne Marie Holdsworth, director, BRODIE Fine Cashmere
What’s the background of the brand and what’s new?
We’ve been established since 2010 and we’re based in Yorkshire, though we manufacture in Mongolia. It’s mainly machine washable 100% fine cashmere, but for summer we do have some cotton and sill products. We are now part of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA), which is a non-profit international organisation working with the extended cashmere supply chain, from the goat herders – who rely on cashmere for their livelihoods, to retailers. It also promotes a global sustainability standard for cashmere production in order to preserve and restore grasslands and ensure animal welfare. It’s a big part of our mission for BRODIE.
How have you found PURE London this time?
We’ve seen all of our regular customers, which has been great, and we’ve met a few new stores too. I don’t think the hot weather helped on Sunday, as we were busy in the morning but quite quiet in the afternoon, but in general we’ve achieved what we came for. We’ve had a bit of a flurry of customers on the stand on the final day.
What are key pieces that buyers have been honing in on?
They’re loving all the neon zebra print knitwear and pops of colour, which we are known for, also the intarsia. The newest pieces are the quite slouchy and cropped shapes. They are oversized in the body, but quite a short fit. We’ve also got some beautiful soft shades, because we’ve still got that classic lady who loves more traditional colours of cashmere in white or light brown. We also have individual one-off patchwork scarves, which are put together from the various cashmere remnants from the factory.
What kind of accounts do you supply?
We sell in the more high-end ladies boutiques, such as The House Of Bruar in Scotland and Iris – which has a few stores in and around London. Our prices start at £79 wholesale, going up to £160. We’re mainly showing AW19 here at PURE London, but we will have the SS20 collection ready for the COTERIE show in New York in September. Around 80% of our business is in the States. We also sell on the JOOR app, which is a global online wholesale marketplace. It’s like online shopping for the buyers.
James Lakeland, CEO and designer, James Lakeland
Do you always show at PURE London?
I did do it from the beginning, though I missed a couple of seasons and came back for the winter and again for this show. I was used to having huge stands, but we’ve scaled down which I’m glad about because I think everyone has. We’ve come back with no expectations and we covered our costs. We’ve mainly seen existing accounts, and I will come back.
How long has your brand been established?
We’re based in Hampstead, near East Finchley tube station in a beautiful open plan office – we actually bought the building and refurbished it, and we’ve been going for 26 years. We’ve got a strong retail presence, and we’ve just opened a big store in the Mailbox in Birmingham, next to Armani and Harvey Nichols. We have eight standalone UK stores, and we also have concessions. We’re currently in discussions for two more stores in London. I had a fantastic store on Marleybone High Street, but they doubled the rent so we’re now really looking to get back in to Central London, because I really need a Central London flagship. We also sell on HSE24, which is the Home Shopping Europe TV network, and that’s big business for us, as well in various independents all over Europe. The brand has a really big following but there’s lots of areas where we are under subscribed in terms of stockists.
What would you say are the brand’s strong points?
We do unique pieces that have a wide appeal – from 25 year-olds going to Ascot who want to look cool, to 50-60 year old women who wants to be glamorous and not look like a granny! It’s really ageless. New pieces include a beautiful midi-length shirt dress with an incredible print, which can be styled with our little sequinned jacket over the top – which is super glam. Our customer doesn’t want to look old-fashioned. Our main price range retails between £160-£200, but we have very special pieces such as a dress in six metres of silk, which is handmade, for £1,000.
Do you do much on social media?
We’re on it non-stop, both on Instagram and Facebook. Some people are following my life, and others are following the brand. It’s very important for us. I’m very aware that Zara exists, and all the online businesses exist, but I’m doing something different and retailers now need to find a point of difference.
Emily Kyte, key account manager, DIDRIKSONS
How long has the brand been going?
It was established in 1913 by a husband and wife team in a small fishing village in Grundsund off the west coast of Sweden, specialising in waterproof and windproof outerwear and clothing, originally as protective clothing for the fishermen. Our whole brand philosophy is that we don’t challenge elements, we adapt to them.
What does the offer consist of now?
We have a sportswear range and an originals collection. The sportswear line you will find in the likes of Blacks, Go Outdoors and Snow + Rock, but the originals line has more of a premium distribution and sells in smaller selected independent stores, such as Oi Polloi and Yards Store on the men’s side. We sell men’s and womenswear, and childrenswear does really well for us with all-in-one waterproof garments. The originals line has more of a fashion look to it, and on the women’s side, for SS20, the buyers have really been liking our contemporary upstyled take on the belted trench coat, with a funnel neck and detachable hood. We also have an oversized quilted piece, and everyone is saying the whole oversized look is going to be really big for SS20.
As you are showing men’s alongside the women’s at PURE London, have you seen many men’s buyers at the show?
No, it’s been very quiet from a menswear buyer’s point of view. It’s certainly a show that’s more suited to womenswear. This is our first time showing at PURE. We’ve often showed at Jacket Required but we thought that, as we didn’t have a particularly busy time at Jacket Required last time, we’d come and try something new, to meet new people and customers. PURE hasn’t been the busiest show we’ve ever done, though we have met some new people on the womenswear side.
What’s unique about the product?
We developed a fabric called Galon, which we have trademarked. It’s a PU fabric that’s welded together, and it has breathability and stretch. Everything that is not Galon has 100% taped seams, so again waterproof. We use all premium fabrics, including organic cotton and we use recycled fibres where we can. This year we have also introduced some garments that are 100% recyclable. With us being a Swedish brand sustainability really is at the core of what we do.
While we were at Pure London this week we spent time talking to a lot of exhibitors and visitors who shared their questions, successes & challenges, and fashion industry information requirements with us. It was a great opportunity for the team to showcase our unique master database, The Intelligence, which provided all the solutions they needed to drive better business.
We also gave a sneak peak of our soon to launch retail and brand tracker, The Index - a definitive barometer of fashion according to the consumer.