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The Drapers Interview- Alice Stone

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.

Alice Stone

Alice Stone

Lily & Lionel
Accessories Brand and/or Supplier of the Year Winner

I can’t reveal too much just now,” Lily and Lionel founder Alice Stone replies when asked about her plans for the scarf label. But her resolve quickly breaks: “For spring 15 we are going to market as much more of a lifestyle brand.”

Stone will celebrate her sixth year in business in November, and during that time her brand has built up a loyal following for its signature scarf designs, which are predominantly made in Italy and India. “Scarves will always be the core business, but this feels like a natural progression for us. It has taken a long time. We weren’t quite ready for autumn, so spring felt perfect. It is exciting for our customers, for us as a business and as a team to get our teeth stuck into something so new.”

Swimwear and resortwear will be new for spring 15. She explains: “Inherently in my gut it felt like now is really the time to push the brand forward. I think it worked in our favour that we’ve had a core foundation for five years where you get known for something, get recognised and build up a following, rather than doing it the other way, which is launching 10 different categories from the start and having it a bit diluted.”

The turning point came last year when shooting campaign images for the spring 14 collection. “That’s when it really hit us. We used other brands’ clothes to style with our scarves and I just sat there and thought, ‘hang on, why haven’t we got our own?’. So it felt like the right transition.” However, she remains tight-lipped about what the new clothing line will include. The wholesale entry price for a printed city tote bag is £25 and the exit price is £95 for a silk resortwear clothing item.

As the daughter of Charles and Angela Stone - owners of well-known high street accessories supplier Bandana - and having studied design at the London College of Fashion, Stone was destined to work in fashion, and after a few years working in PR, launched Lily and Lionel, which is named after her grandparents, in 2008.

Today, in addition to the UK the brand is sold in Australia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the US, Canada, France, and the Middle East, to about 100 accounts. The UK comprises 15, including Liberty. Global revenues are split 70% in favour of wholesale, with the remainder coming from the brand’s transactional website.

“We will obviously want to grow the online store, but selling in stores such as Liberty is really important. Especially for our older customers who like to be able to try them on before they buy.”

Stone says the business is now turning over in excess of £1m, which she hopes to grow following the launch of the new product categories. As Drapers leaves Stone she is just about to jet off to Miami for swim and resortwear exhibition Cabana.

“It’s a great show for us. It’s part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and is very international and full of buyers. I’m even seeing a couple of our key accounts there because it’s easier for them to see us there rather than in London. We are aiming for a lot more presence in the US and Canada. Especially now we’re out there with this new lifestyle game plan.”

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