With Pure set to kick off this weekend, we caught up with some womenswear indies, agents and brands to ask what they want from the show, talk trends, and find out what’s driving their sales.
Mark Ashton chief executive, Little Mistress Group
The pace of the industry is faster than ever. As always, it’s important to be first to the market with new trends before it becomes saturated. Customers are buying closer to the season to get the most relevant fashion-forward product, so it’s key to react quickly to emerging trends. Fabrications, quality and price strongly influence our collections. Co-ords [matching separates] have become important. Fine-gauge knitted two-pieces are still relevant, while tailored co-ord statement suits will be focused on texture and print. We have also noted a rise in sales for colour, from gelato shades of pink and turquoise to orange, as customers look to experiment. Matchy-matchy prints are [still] proving hugely popular.
Belinda Shaw buyer, Boudoir Boutique in Liverpool
We go to Pure to discover and research new and up-and-coming brands. We attended in February and found it really beneficial, so we are going back for spring 15. Affordability, quality and classic pieces are essential for us. Customers are looking for wearable pieces, items they can carry through from day to night. For eveningwear, digital print is still coming through strong for next season. A personal favourite of mine is Kevan Jon. For autumn 14 he has incorporated unique digital print designs onto draped and fitted garments. Pure is the only show we attend, and we are also making appointments at showrooms for our key brands.
Emma Woodward co-owner, Aspire Style in Solihull, Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford
We go to Pure in February and August as it has quite a lot of brands that are very much in line with our target customer [women in their 20s and 30s]. We used to do all our ordering at Pure, but now we do a lot before we go. We find it easier to do that away from the show, because we’ve grown and spend more with our brands. We now use Pure more to see the smaller brands we stock and to look for new brands. We will be looking at Sugarhill Boutique and to pick up new jewellery and handbag suppliers. We have always focused on dresses, but our brands are getting really good at separates now, so skirts and tops are proving very popular.
Maggie Smart UK distributor, Humanoid
Buyers are less concerned about price point, as long as the quality is there. Versatile collections, offering trans-seasonal pieces, are gaining the most traction. Spring 15 is characterised by lightweight trenches in fresh colours. Other key looks include wide-leg palazzo pants, maxi shirts and kaftans in strong prints and sports luxe maxi skirts. For the new season nude leather T-shirts are paired with striped silk shorts and ankle boots.
Joanne Wood womenswear buyer, Accent Clothing in Leeds
We go to Pure as it is a great womenswear-only show that showcases not only the bigger brands but also small designers with something different. I’m always looking for new contacts to introduce a point of difference.This season I’m looking for a competitively priced brand for a high-summer June/July drop. We have a very strong denim business, which has performed well this spring, along with prom and occasion wear. Our customers will spend on investment pieces, so I’m looking forward to autumn as we have some phenomenal outerwear coming in.
Sarah Millet owner, N Shelley of Billericay, essex
I’ll be spending two days at Pure to look at womenswear on the Sunday and dedicate Monday to placing orders for accessories. I’m usually very successful with accessories at Pure and come home with two or three new scarf or jewellery brands. I’ll be looking for ‘wow’ pieces in both clothing and accessories. I won’t be going there for basics. I’ll buy neutral colours, like a soft pink or a mint green. Our customers are quite sophisticated and they love fabric with a good feel. Our wholesale prices start from £7 for a T-shirt and go up to £300 for a wedding outfit.
Hilary Cookson owner, Maureen Cookson in Clitheroe, Lancashire
I will be attending Pure on the Monday and Tuesday this time. I’m looking for separates in particular and really just to get a feel for the trends. It’s also good for a gossip with my mates in the trade to find out what is happening throughout the country. I will also be at Moda for two days, the IMC show for menswear in Whittlebury Hall Hotel near Northampton for menswear and other small hotel shows. I’m getting an appetite back for a European show next time, as it’s been too long.
Luca Segale UK/Ireland
We are seeing a trend towards smarter outfitting, combining summer staples with soft tailoring and feminine classics. There is a move towards a more relaxed fit and luxury look. Jackets are becoming more transitional, summer dresses more sophisticated and sporty. Oversized knits, soft draping jerseys and sheer panelling are increasingly being mixed with structured blazers and short suits.
Suzy Andrews Owner, Woosters in Olney,Buckinghamshire
I visit Pure because I can spend two full productive days sourcing new brands and accessories under one roof. I always visit two of my brands to place orders and never fail to find something new and interesting in the accessories upstairs. I’ll be searching for brands that offer statement pieces to sit alongside loose layering silhouettes, strong textures and colour. Our customers will happily pay the price for a stunning jacket, and it helps if we can offer a value for money piece to go with it.
John Alston managing director, Collectif Vintage
When the business started out 14 years ago under the name Collectif it was more alternative, and we showed at LondonEdge. Then three years ago we decided to launch a label in addition called Collectif Vintage, targeted at Pure and that appealed to a wider audience. We gained 70 accounts on our debut at Pure this year [autumn 14 edition], so we are hoping to do even better this time. The need for flexibility in the supply chain has a real impact on our business model. We have reacted by carrying a complete stock of 30,000 items, of which 20,000 are dresses. Our stock level has risen 30% to 40% every year for the past three years. Our online wholesale platform allows customers to order the specific sizes they want and pay online. This means our stockists do not have to make massive forward orders and have the flexibility to reorder at any point during the season.
Venetia Anderson buyer, Barbara Easton in Wokingham, berkshire
Sometimes we go to Pure just to look at what is new and check out some of our existing labels, but this year we will be concentrating on finding something new. I’m looking for new brands in womenswear, accessories and shoes, as well as existing brands we carry. I’m looking for something a bit more directional. We are trying to keep things different rather than have brands that department stores have, but our job is getting harder. We are targeting women in their 40s to 70s who want to be trendy and fashion forward.
Jeremy Clayton owner, Javelin in Bury St Edmunds, suffolk
We go to Pure every season. It’s an important show for us to view collections, but more importantly to place orders with key suppliers, both forward and short order. The accessories gallery takes up a lot of our time over the two days we are there. This season, I will be looking for something to freshen up our offer, whether it be innovative use of fabric, texture or print. Our customers want to see something new every week -that makes buying much tougher and short order is vital. Good fit and price point are key, and I am looking for a 2.8-plus margin.
Shelley Lambert manager, Bridge Fashion in Solihull
I go to Pure when I’m on the hunt for new brands to add to my womenswear and accessories collection. It’s always a good opportunity for me to restock on items that have sold particularly well. When looking for potential new brands, I tend to go with an open mind. I’ll be looking in particular for stands that have bright, colourful pieces, as they’ve been selling well for us. I’m always drawn to good-quality fabrics as well. In terms of price points, for me it’s about getting the balance right between high quality and a strong price - at Pure I’m looking for a brand with an average wholesale price of between £50 to £100 on clothing and a range of £10 to £15 for accessories.
Denise Green womenswear buyer, Jarrold in Norwich
Pure is always useful, but it used to be more comprehensive. There used to be a bigger variety of brands. I think it’s become more of an accessories show than womenswear. But you need to do the shows or you feel you haven’t done your job properly - and you just have to find one new brand to feel it was worth going. I’ll be looking for crop tops and longer skirts. I think maxis will come back again, but I won’t be looking for jumpsuits.
Richard Broadbent owner, Broadbents in Knutsford, cheshire
Generally speaking we value Pure. It’s that little bit earlier than Moda and, although buying season has already opened, we think of Pure as being an introduction to the season. This time we want to get a little bit of excitement - we want to discover something new and we want a good steer as to what the spring is going to be looking like in fabric, colour and style. We want new brands to refresh our offer in store. Pure hasn’t always had that - sometimes it looks a bit predictable, though that is more the dominant themes in fashion than Pure’s fault.
Michael Shalders Director, Love Brands agency
We’ve always had great success with our brands [which include B Young, Nu by Staff, Jonny Q jeans, Skunkfunk, Smash and Anonyme] at Pure and this, coupled with a noticeable decline in visitor numbers at the Berlin shows, has increased its relevance. As Nu by Staff is only in its second season the goal is to expand the customer base. For Smash we want to develop greater depth within each account, while we plan to introduce B Young to key retailers to grow new business. The market is all about product package. Good product is the driver. Good margin, retailer exclusivity, help with brand sell-through in store, lack of visible discounting and flexible buying requirements from brands and distributors are all the main ingredients that make the brand attractive.
Helene Rapaport owner/buyer, Bernard Boutique in Esher, surrey
I don’t think I will go to Pure this year - I’m going to Scoop instead. Some of the brands at Pure are a little bit too commercial for me now. At the moment everyone is buying the same old labels, so I thought I would look for labels that aren’t around so much, and you tend to get that more at Scoop.
Sumit Jairath head of operations, Forever Unique
Value for money and wearability are the main factors driving the womenswear market. It is very important to offer styles the customer sees as a multi-purpose purchase. Unique design really sets brands apart. The customer isn’t looking for copycat design. Pure is the best show in the UK for our brand, and has been part of our selling campaign ever since we launched. It plays an important role in showcasing the brand to our UK and Irish stockists.