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Alice Stone

The founder of scarf label Lily and Lionel tells Stephen Spear why the time is right for it to move into men’s styles and handbags

How did you come to launch Lily and Lionel two years ago?

I worked in PR for years across fashion and lifestyle. I loved the people but it wasn’t creative enough, so I left. After a few months interning at different design houses and helping my folks, my dad [Charles Stone, director of high street supplier Bandana] suggested I strike out on my own. He said “You’ve got a design background [Stone studied at the London College of Fashion], contacts that you’ve known for years, you’re good with people … just do it”.

Which of your brand’s designs is your favourite?

The Cruz, which launched for spring 09 and has been repeated since, has been massive for us. It’s an orange and blue ikat print, which appeared in Vogue, and stores got in touch on the back of it. I had an email saying “This is the buyer from Anthropologie”. I thought it was a joke at first. It’s not our best-seller though, that would be the animal prints.

Are you expanding your product portfolio?

We’re launching our first range of men’s scarves for autumn 12. It’s a capsule of 22 styles in fine wool and cotton bamboo. The designs are stripes and checks, a vintage clock print, mainly in oatmeal, sky blue, navy, black and with little pops of colour, all quite man-friendly. Fashion agency Macandi is selling it for us.

Why have you chosen now to launch men’s styles?

I feel there’s a real gap in the market at the £50 to £75 retail price point. We’ve always done a little bit of men’s but the price point was the same as the women’s and men don’t really shop the same. The price point in women’s scarves is from £99 to £169; men don’t really spend as much on accessories. It’ll be the same plan as with women’s – we won’t go in gung ho, just build up gradually and roll it out slowly. Indies will be really important for us.

What’s next after that?

Handbags. We’ve developed a range that will probably be ready for high summer next year. It will use beautiful leathers in a muted palette of charcoal, grey, mushroom and oatmeal plus some quirky snake prints.

What will be the price points?

From £295 to £450 at retail. There’s no point competing at the top end because there are so many brands doing a great job there. But there is a gap just below that which we will bridge. We’re cutting back on margins in order to get a presence. It’s been eye opening to see how much cost goes into these. I always thought designer bag prices were just greedy, but after costing these up I’m not so sure.

What’s the hardest part of your job? Honestly?

Production. It’s exactly like my mum and dad told me – in the fashion industry there are lots of people that can design and be creative or whatever, but the toughest hurdle is production. Deliveries are so crucial and in this climate the selling window is tiny. Loads of brands do four or eight collections a year, and the Sale period is longer. There’s more pressure now than just three years ago. 

  • Alice Stone is founder and director of accessories brand Lily and Lionel

Quickfire questions

What shop do you love?

10 Corso Como in Milan is super-inspirational. I love all the odd books in there, all the nature and just the energy.

10 Corso Como

10 Corso Como

Who’s look do you admire?

[Model and actress] Olivia Palermo. She’s effortlessly stylish and although she has an amazing wardrobe, she wears the clothes, not the other way around.

What autumn 11 trend are you most looking forward to?

Grown-up vintage. I love the ladylike, nostalgic feel.

Which is your favourite destination?

I’m obsessed with Buenos Aires. The art is beautiful and the fashion’s amazing.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

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