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Exclusive: Monsoon founder to relaunch East

Womenswear retailer East is relaunching online next month with a focus on sustainability, after it was bought out of administration by Monsoon Accessorize founder and chief executive officer Peter Simon. 

East fell into administration in January 2018 for the second time in less than three years, blaming tough trading for the collapse. Simon acquired the retailer in May 2018 under his company Drillgreat Group. 

East will relaunch online in mid-June, offering bohemian-inspired womenswear, accessories and homeware. There are no store openings in the pipeline, but the brand is planning to open wholesale accounts and may launch childrenswear in the future. 

Retail prices will range from £59 for a top to £299 a printed silk kimono. 

Earlier this year Simon hired the head of design at Monsoon, Caroline Jackson, as East’s brand director. She will oversee the brand’s creative direction, through the use of sustainable fabrics and products, while remaining in her role at Monsoon. 

Jackson said: “When the opportunity arose, I started working it through, looking at trends and the current market, realising there could be huge potential. The return to craft is so prevalent and the customer wants to be part of a beautiful story and understand the journey these designs are taking. The concept was if we could tell this story and channel timeless sustainable pieces whilst creating an online community, maybe we can reconnect with old customers and new. 

“I think, ultimately, timing [of the relaunch] is crucial. I think the current movement to sustainability and craft is a perfect time to reincarnate its rich history and ensure we tell the stories with a new direction.

“Our key focus is to ensure we have suppliers who understand the quality and aesthetic and who can help us execute our ethos. We are proud to say we are using plastic free production so all the garments are shipped in organic cotton bags, which hasn’t come without its challenges, but we really do want to challenge every part of the process.”

She added: “We are launching on our own website, but aim to secure key accounts within the next year.

“The initial idea is to look into pop-ups potentially next year, so we can learn about key locations for the brand. No store plans as yet, but it is definitely something we may consider in the future.”

Drapers revealed last year that a total of 29 head office staff were made made redundant following the retailer’s collapse into administration last year. 

It was the second time East had fallen into administration in less than three years. The business collapsed in June 2015, blaming an “inconsistent” approach to design.

Meanwhile, Simon has reportedly said he will inject £34m into struggling Monsoon Accessorize if landlords agree to cut rents, as part of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).





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