Pure London is to review its social media policy after members of the public attended the show this week and were seen buying product off stands at wholesale prices for cash. Tweets sent by Pure have been blamed for this breach in the womenswear show’s security procedures.
Store owners, brands and agents contacted Drapers following the show at London’s Olympia on February 8-10 to express concern over non-trade attendance.
Several independents said they had seen their own customers on stands viewing forward- and short-order stock at pre-mark-up prices. They feared this would cause shoppers to be driven away from buying at full-price in store.
A spokeswoman for Pure confirmed to Drapers the show was definitely not open to the public, emphasising that it operated a “rigorous and detailed online registration process” and was only publicised to those in the trade.
In a series of tweets from January 22 and February 6, however, @PureLondonShow described the event as “a great day out for all fashion fanatics” and encouraged visitors to “come along with friends”. When one person asked if anyone could attend, @PureLondonShow responded: “Yes it is a trade show but the public is welcome. Click to our website here to get your free ticket [link].”
Pure told Drapers: “As a result of the recent communications on Twitter, we will be reviewing and tightening our social media policy. Our followers are primarily the fashion business community, going forward we will insure that our messages cannot be misinterpreted by the general public.”
Julie Caskey, owner of clothing and accessories independent Fashionista in Wraysbury, near Windsor, said: “I recognised at least five people who shop in my store. I approached one and she spoke like it was a shopping trip. People who don’t understand pricing structures aren’t going to buy something in a store if they have already seen it with a wholesale price tag on.”
Natalie Anderson, owner of womenswear store Elisabeth May in St Andrews, Fife, said: “With the end consumer, ignorance is bliss, but those who find out what things cost at wholesale wouldn’t buy from us again – they don’t understand what our overheads are.”
Others saw money changing hands directly between the public and exhibitors for single items, despite selling from stands being forbidden under Pure’s exhibitor contracts.
Lauren Ferguson, owner of Sisters Boutique in Falkirk, Drapers Young Fashion Independent Award winner in 2014, said: “I saw members of the public buying stock in the Spirit Hall on the Sunday. Exhibitors were asking whether attendees had a shop or were buying for themselves. I even had someone come and ask me to go round and place orders for single items in specific sizes for them.”
Audrey Devere-Hunt, owner of Glam in Chingford, northeast London, also witnessed this: “I saw somebody trying on clothes and asking for different sizes. I thought she was checking it for her store but then I saw money handed over and she took the product.”
The Pure spokeswoman said: “We make it very clear throughout all our communications, registration and entry signage at the show, that Pure London is a trade-only event. Before anyone registers they have to go through a sequence of questions to determine their job role, business type, primary and other interests. Those visitors who register on the day have to bring with them proof of their business. The majority of our audience is from historical repeat visitors and direct marketing to the shops our exhibitors want to meet.
“We do everything we can to screen visitors, and have security around the show and on the entrance; any member of the public found or brought to our attention are removed immediately. Brands are strictly informed that this is a B2B event and no products should be retailed. We will investigate any reports of activity in breach of this.
“We have just closed on a successful Pure London, with quality buyers, and a higher number of exhibitors than ever before have re-booked for the following season. This is a testament to the high levels of satisfaction from both buyers and exhibitors.”