The buying director of indie Machine-A tells Graeme Moran how he selects designers and focuses on backing new British talent.
You recently relaunched Machine-A on London’s Brewer Street during London Fashion Week. What is it?
Machine-A is a concept store, dedicated to showcasing innovative products and strong selections from our favourite international brands, up-and-coming British designers and a handful of graduates. This unique mixture of brands is presented in a coherent way, a story that highlights the trends of the season, so customers can get all the hard-to-find items from their favourite brands.
How did it go?
We’ve been working on this for more than a year so we were all happy to see it was perceived as a success by the press, key industry people, and the clientele. We’ve already sold out of some styles.
You stock up-and-coming designers such as Agi & Sam and Shaun Samson, as well the likes of Ashley Williams who graduated just six months ago. Why did you decide to focus on new talent?
Since the first store I founded, Digitaria, my main focus was, and still remains, new talent. As a result, my latest venture could not have failed to include a number of graduates who we all believe will become successful.
How do you pick designers for the store?
To secure international brands and sit them alongside British brands and graduate collections is not easy. They are brands we all love and admire, with a strong vision, that are sought after, innovative and aspirational, and, in the case of graduates, very promising with a developed business instinct.
You are Louise Gray’s only UK stockist. Why do you think more stores in London don’t support our homegrown designers?
We love Louise Gray and she is one of our most popular brands. I can’t talk in regards to the policy that other stores follow, but I guess it always involves an amount of risk, as well as knowing your customer.
What else can we do to support new designers?
In my opinion the UK has one of the most developed mechanisms to support new designers. In some ways the designers themselves have to take some steps to become more accessible with their price ranges, which could be the main reason why retailers are sceptical towards them.
What has been your career path to this point?
I’ve been working in luxury retail since I was 18, beginning as a sales assistant and then moving on to buying.
I’ve also worked as a fashion director and contributed to publications, and since 2008 I’ve been working on different projects with retail pop-up spaces focusing on emerging talent, which became the permanent store Machine-A.
What stores or websites do you admire?
LN-CC, Mr Porter and Dover Street Market.
What brands or designers do you miss?
Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Nicolas Ghesquière.