We caught up with one of the winners from the design categories at the Drapers Footwear & Accessories Awards 2014 in May to find out how they plan to capitalise on their success.
Accessories Designer of the Year
With a growing international wholesale business and new product categories launching for spring 15, designer Alexia Parmigiani has plenty to talk about when Drapers meets her.
The west London-based designer, who graduated from Central Saint Martins College in 2002 and established her Alexia brand in 2005, has had a busy few months since scooping her award.
When Drapers calls she is in the midst of preparing for her spring 15 shoot, in which the Parmigiani - known predominantly for her scarves - will push forward with the brand’s range of resort wear. Sarongs in four styles will be a new addition, and she is in talks to start selling to a luxury hotel, although she can’t say which one just yet. “I like the idea of working with resort hotels. You don’t generally find exciting things in hotels’ [retail shops], so it would be great if you could find something more interesting,” she says.
However, scarves remain the foundation of the business. Alexia is known for its digital or screen-printed designs, as well as tie-dye techniques, embellishment and fringing, and for playing with different textures and weights.
The product is made in the UK and India, with the latter providing the embellishment techniques synonymous with the brand. Having started out working with an Indian factory embellishing cotton scarves, the past few seasons have seen the brand increase its average price point from £70 to £115 as it has headed in a more contemporary direction, working with finer fabrics such as silk, cashmere wool, and adding complementary products such as drawstring bags in autumn 12. Wholesale prices start at £40 for a sarong or smaller digital-print scarf, rising to £95 for a long digital-print scarf with fine suede fringing.
Wholesale makes up 80% of business, with the other 20% made up of retail sales via the brand’s website, www.alexiafashion.co.uk. Alexia has about 100 accounts globally, in markets including Italy, Belgium, Japan, the US and the UK, where its 30 stockists include Fenwick of Bond Street. Parmigiani is targeting 200 in the next five years, with 60 in the UK. “One of the things we pride ourselves on is everything is one size. So it’s an easy sell for a buyer, because they don’t need to stress about making sure they have a certain number of a style in a particular size.”
Parmigiani says trade shows remain central to her success. Every season she debuts the collection at Scoop in January and July, and then at Paris trade show Tranoï in March and September. “Trade shows are absolutely relevant for me,” she says. “We sell around the world from Australia to France, and a lot of our business is picked up at Tranoï.” She is now mulling whether to apply to take part in the Tmrw section of US trade show Coterie in New York, which is dedicated to emerging contemporary designers, next September.
Exhibiting at the show could help Alexia achieve her goal of widening the pool of international stockists as she targets further growth. “Opening up new countries like we’re doing with the US is going to be really important for growing the brand,” she explains.