This year, we have 15 prized awards to highlight the fantastic achievements of retailers big and small, and brands old and new, plus the Lifetime Achievement Award.
BEST ACCESSORIES OFFER IN AN INDEPENDENT
Address 20 Thistle Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1EN.
Online at www.thoushaltcovet.com
Brands include Angel Jackson, Becksöndergaard, Coccinelle, Jas M-B, Lena Klax, Mirabelle, ModaIn
Covet may be small, but this compact boutique has had a huge impact on Edinburgh’s retail scene. Since 2007, joint owners Anna Somerville and Blaise Donald have created a destination store of must-have bags and accessories that set it apart from the Scottish capital’s established department stores and top-end high street competitors.
As one judge said: “Covet offers a wide variety of accessories, from mid-market to high-end, in a great part of town.”
Its offer has attracted a loyal customer base. With its meet-the-designer evenings and party events, Facebook and Twitter interaction between store and shopper, as well as consumer to consumer, Covet’s loyal fans have a real sense of belonging and ownership.
YOUNG FASHION FOOTWEAR BRAND OF THE YEAR
Our judges were impressed by Kickers’ consistent sales growth, its great collaborations, particularly with Christopher Shannon and Lazy Oaf, and, above all, its extensive distribution. One said: “Any brand that can be in Sports Direct and Oki-ni is doing something incredible.”
The brand has been around since 1970 when Frenchman Daniel Raufast created a new style of casual boot to wear with jeans.
The classic Kick Hi, first produced in 1975, is still going strong.
This is a footwear line that stays ahead of the fashion trends through its use of interesting designs, prints, materials and new technologies.
In the last year, Kickers has revived old favourites like The Legend and introduced technologies including Kickers Stay Klean, a water- and stain-repellent, scuff-resistant leather.
Pentland Brands has invested heavily in understanding Kickers’ consumers, identifying the roles of each segment and designing, selling and marketing with these targets in mind.
FOOTWEAR AND/OR ACCESSORIES PURE-PLAY ETAILER OF THE YEAR
Our judges were unanimous in awarding Asos the winner of this prestigious award. “It’s simply a great site,” was their overriding opinion. And what’s to fault? Judges were at pains to find a single thing. Footwear addicts worldwide can choose from more than 1,500 options per season, at everything from just £6 to almost £300. Of course, it’s not just about shoes - Asos also has more than 2,000 fashion accessories options, from bags and belts to gloves and hosiery.
In short, it’s hard to find more variety of styles and brands in one place. Since its launch in 2000, Asos has been an etailer with vision. Social media has played a major part in its success, and it has created a business blueprint that many aspiring online fashion retailers try to emulate. It has country-specific sites for its international markets, speaks to its customers in five languages, and has its own mobile site, iPad and iPhone apps.
ACCESSORIES DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
When Alexia designer Alexia Parmigiani finished her textiles degree at Chelsea College of Arts, she started creating collections of clothes and accessories for stylists and celebrities. These found favour with stars including Ms Dynamite and Kelis, and even made it onto a Vogue front cover shot by Mario Testino.
In 2005 she launched her first cotton scarf collection under the Alexia label, and has been honing its collections ever since to create the inimitable aesthetic that won the judges over. The Alexia collection is firmly top-end as Parmigiani now works purely in 100% silks, cashmeres, chiffons and wools. She also uses her design background to push the boundaries of screen and digital prints.
Judges praised Alexia’s luxurious scarves, particularly the current pop art range, for being “rather different” and offering “beautiful prints”. They agreed unanimously that Alexia was a clear winner in this competitive category.
ACCESSORIES BRAND AND/OR SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR
Lily and Lionel
London College of Fashion graduate Alice Stone’s grandparents were Lily and Lionel.
She was an expert dressmaker, he supplied clothing to exclusive boutiques. Stone has combined her family heritage with her love of fashion to create a unique range of scarves and leather accessories.
Each scarf opens up to show what the brand calls ‘the big reveal’. The prints are abstract so it takes a while to understand what the bigger picture is. This simple but clever concept is what made Lily and Lionel stand out. The judges enthused that the scarves “told a beautiful story, were really cool and of great quality”.
Global stockists include Harrods, Matches and Liberty, Le Bon Marché in Paris, Henri Bendel in New York and Harvey Nichols in Kuwait and Hong Kong.
Stone is also passionate about good causes and has collaborated with Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale and the World Land Trust.
FOOTWEAR DESIGNER OF THE YEAR
Exquisite materials, innovative shapes and skilful fittings make Lele PyP footwear a lusted-after women’s brand. Each heel, flat or wedge is handmade in limited numbers to ensure the brand’s luxury status.
Designer and founder Stephanie Müller Knab’s passion for what she does is supported by knowledge gained from studying fashion design in London and Milan. Since 2008 she has been building the Lele PyP brand with her siblings Samantha and Bernardo, and the business opened its first UK store, in London’s Mayfair, last year.
The end result combines, in the designer’s words: “European sophistication with Latin audacity and embodies extravagance, elegance and the highest quality standards.”
The judges recognised all this when they said: “Lele PyP stood out for its interest in technical development, its demonstration of expertise in footwear and its creation of beautiful shoes.”
MEN’S FOOTWEAR BRAND OF THE YEAR
In the most competitive category of this year’s awards, judges decided Ted Baker stood out from the crowd for its “outstanding sell-through” and its “very different yet very commercial product”.
The team behind the footwear brand, which is produced under licence by Pentland, is dedicated to bringing the unique “Ted” personality through in every level of the business.
This means the product is designed with Ted’s style in mind while also staying ahead of the trends with quirky designs, prints and materials.
By understanding its target consumers and ensuring the product is spot-on for them, Ted Baker has created new opportunities for itself and also for its wholesale partners, driving sales for all.
The Ted Baker thought process applies to marketing too. It’s about driving awareness and engagement at all levels of the communication chain and capturing people’s attention with its irreverent and surprising campaigns.
Ted Baker is a smart and worthy winner.
WOMEN’S FOOTWEAR BRAND OF THE YEAR
The judges were unanimous on this one - Clarks impressed them with its sustained growth across all channels, its more fashion-focused products and its great marketing campaigns and support. With Paolo Gabrielli, formerly of Puma, Bally and Aquascutum, as creative director, Clarks’ current collections are imbued with the company’s heritage and more recent trend-led handwriting. Key bloggers are consulted during the range development process and the company continually pushes boundaries so the brand is always on top of the catwalk trends.
Clarks is also a highly collaborative business.
In 2013 it teamed up with designer Eley Kishimoto, and the recent venture with Orla Kiely has been a huge success. Fashion magazines cannot get enough of Clarks’ products, mainline and the collaborations.
So for a brand that is almost 200 years old, Clarks is doing a brilliant job of changing with the times.
GROWING BRAND OF THE YEAR
Simple ideas definitely work and Mi-Pac’s success in its first 18 months of trading is testament to that.
Mi-Pac aims to create simple, good-quality backpacks with a fashion-forward edge, all at an affordable price. Considering this was a brand that was only at conception stage in 2011, it has since made an impact with an impressive global distribution strategy that more established brands can only dream of.
It’s quite a feat for a business to become a market leader in its first two years, but Mi-Pac has also gained stockists in 20 countries in a very short space of time.
Mi-Pac puts its success down to its strong team, innovative product development, engaging marketing and a lot of hard work.
The judges praised the “phenomenal growth and great brand recognition” of this young business. Stockists include Asos, River Island, Topman, Urban Outfitters, Bank and John Lewis.
EXPORTER OF THE YEAR
H by Hudson
In this tightly fought category, H by Hudson stood out to the judges, who described it as a “great brand, with great product”.
They were hugely impressed by the footwear brand’s dedication to continually widening its distribution on a global scale.
Through clever use of social media, linking in with influential style bloggers and handpicking agents in its various international markets,
H by Hudson has seen sustained growth for its high-quality but affordable trend-savvy shoes across Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and Russia.
The brand’s signature modern classics for men and women continue to win it worldwide attention, but it is also a favourite with its stockists because the in-house team works closely with buyers to create exclusive designs in addition to the main collections. H by Hudson now plans to explore new prospects in the Far East, the Middle East and eastern Europe.
BEST ACCESSORIES OFFER IN HIGH STREET MULTIPLE OR DEPT STORE
Why did the judges pick River Island as this year’s winner? Because the risks taken by the retailer have been “hugely impressive”. They added that River Island has “reinvented its accessories business to make a real change, offering directional pieces at great speed”.
River Island offers a mouth-watering array of accessories to suit all budgets, with prices starting at £1.50 for simple stud earrings
to £150 for a leather bag - with all achieving impressive sell-through rates. The business has a strong focus on newness, with fresh ranges coming through every eight weeks. Flagship stores receive deliveries every day and fresh drops each week.
Maintaining its fast-fashion credentials is a top priority for the chain and it uses some local manufacturers in the UK to source products close to the season. These include fedora hats, which it can secure within two weeks, as it aims to keep ahead of its high street rivals.
BEST FOOTWEAR OFFER IN A HIGH STREET MULTIPLE OR DEPT STORE
Our judges praised the value chain for “its great use of space in stores and fantastic environment to display all the work that has gone into the product, from design to niche areas like wide-fitting shoes”.
Primark has left no stone unturned in its efforts to improve its footwear offer. Indeed, women’s footwear was given a significant overhaul in a few Primark stores at the end of last year and the highly successful results will be rolled out to all new stores in the UK and Europe in the future. At present the retailer has 250 stores in the UK, Ireland and Europe.
Introduced to a few stores last October, the new concept has led to footwear being given its own dedicated space. This can be spotted from across the store by the large towers spelling out S H O E S. The footwear areas were previously sometimes hard to see across Primark’s large floor space.
The towers also act as merchandising points, with footwear, bags and other accessories shown together in the glass display units.
MULTIPLE FOOTWEAR RETAILER OF THE YEAR
Dune was praised by the judges for being an “outstanding retailer, showing huge international growth and future potential, and a broader product category to satisfy its customer base”.
The 44-store retailer, founded by Daniel Rubin in 1992, has listened to customer feedback and reduced heel heights on women’s shoes for spring, improving comfort and wearability while retaining the stylish edge Dune is known for. Meanwhile, men’s product has taken a more adventurous turn, with the addition of colour-pop heels and a shift from formal loafers to a more casual style.
Daily deliveries and the addition of new styles every week keep the product offer fresh while the new spacious store layout makes for a more comfortable shopping experience.
Dedicated US, French and German websites have also been launched this year and the first Dune standalone store in the US is set to open this autumn in New York.
INDEPENDENT FOOTWEAR RETAILER OF THE YEAR
Address Three stores in Wood Green (pictured is 119 High Road) and Walthamstow.
Online at www.tower-london.com
Brands include More than 100 names, including Ash, Cheaney, Converse, FitFlop, Dr Martens, and Ted Baker
The judges were unanimous in awarding Tower London the top independent accolade, praising it for being “one of the most ambitious footwear independents in the country - a solid business model that works, is well-run and inspirational, with a great brand mix and impressive online arm”.
This 30-year-old family-owned business is investing heavily and confidently in the future of multichannel branded footwear retailing.
Building on the two shops founded by their father Harry, Yiannis and Gerry Demopoulos are moving forward by buying two new stores, the first steps in building a seven-strong chain in London.
A recent rebrand will be carried through to the new stores, which are being developed by London design agency I-am Associates.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Daniel Rubin, Dune
The Lifetime Achievement Award is the gift of Drapers, but we take extensive soundings from senior figures in the industry to discover who they regard as worthy of this most distinguished accolade.
Previous winners are among the legends of the footwear trade, including the late Arnold Ziff of Stylo Barratt, the unsinkable Ken Bartle of too many companies to mention, the indefatigable Catherine Paver of Pavers, and the pride of Manchester Harvey Jacobson.
Uniquely, on separate occasions, we have celebrated the huge contribution of father-and-son Stephen and Andy Rubin from Pentland and, last year, the legendary Richard Wharton of Office collected this prestigious award.
To this impressive list, this year we have added Daniel Rubin of Dune - a man who is supremely well respected within the footwear trade and a man who was suggested to Drapers by many of his peers for this year’s award.
Those who have had the opportunity to get to know him because of the recent phenomenal success of the Dune chain may be surprised to know that Rubin has served almost 40 years in the industry, and the path that he has taken since 1986 has mirrored the development of the UK footwear sector itself.
Our winner has had a remarkable and admirable capacity for reinvention, having moved from a background of British manufacturing in his family business Jack Rose London, to being an early convert to Far East supplying.
This led to the creation of a highly successful importing business, Browning Enterprises, which served many of the biggest names on the UK high street.
The next stage in Rubin’s career was to create an own brand that started off just as a few concessions in Jane Norman in 1992 and is now one of the paragons of fashion footwear retailing in the UK.
Dune has 44 stores and 77 concessions in this country, plus a further 49 franchise stores around the world. It’s a fantastic British success story.
Rubin has always built up and retained exceptionally able teams that have conducted themselves with the very high standards that our recipient has always stood for. And all this has been achieved while our man in the spotlight has modestly earned a reputation for being one of the nicest people in the footwear industry.
Rubin is a most worthy recipient of Drapers’ Footwear Lifetime Achievement Award for 2014.