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Pure London's Julie Driscoll on optimism, athleisure and experience

pure spring 18

Drapers catches up with Pure’s portfolio director Julie Driscoll on the latest edition of the show

Julie Driscoll

Julie Driscoll

Julie Driscoll

How are buyers and brands feeling this season?

The show felt buzzy and vibrant, and I think buyers and brands are feeling good. I met the buyers from Fenwick at the show and they were saying they have had a really great season, so despite all the uncertainty created by Brexit and the political landscape, people are doing well and feeling optimistic. The industry is really leaning into innovation at the moment – it was great to see the level of thought brands had put into their collections and their stands at the show. People are willing to try things and experiment.

Why has Pure expanded its athleisure section this season?

Athleisure is larger this season. More and more independents now have a rail or section dedicated to sportswear and athleisure. It’s about bridging that gap between technical sportswear and athleisure – the kind of clothing you can wear to exercise but also socially. We’re all living longer now, so people are more interested in taking care of themselves and that’s reflected in the trend for athleisure. Millennials are drinking less, we’re all taking much better care of ourselves and embracing cleaner living. Pure Man has also grown: we’re investing in both our athleisure and menswear. Next season, Pure Man will have a separate entrance – it’s a real avenue of growth. Men can be equally as interested in fashion.

What else is new for this season at Pure?

We’ve introduced the Meet the Expert sessions, where retailers can book a one-on-one appointment with an expert to discuss subjects such as visual merchandising, PR, how to run a digital business … That’s something we’ll be expanding next season. These are subjects that we hear independents want guidance on time after time. There’s also been a focus on international brands.

Why is important for Pure to introduce experiential elements to the show?

We describe ourselves as the department store for buyers, and if you consider the department stores on the high street, they are focusing on experiences – think of Selfridge’s music project – or initiatives such as champagne bars. Experiences such as Glastonbury are becoming so popular because it is about spending time with people and feeling something real. At the show, it’s about getting people together – allowing them to see and touch the fabrics, do business face to face and have a real experience.

The footwear section of the show feels smaller this year – will that change in following seasons?

We’re marrying footwear into athleisure and menswear. Rather than heels, which may have been the focus in previous seasons, we’re now looking at trainers and sneakers.

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