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Ex-Harvey Nicks buyer sets up premium etailer

Former Harvey Nichols menswear buyer Damien Paul is launching a fashion website selling women’s designer bridge brands.

Paul, who will be brand director, has created the site, www.glassworks-studios.com, with investment banker and business partner Lauren Lewis, who will be chief executive.

He will use his premium market knowledge to launch the website, which will be pitched above premium chains such as Reiss but below etailers such as Net-a-Porter and My-Wardrobe.

The Glassworks Studios site will go live in the UK on March 10 with more than 200 styles from 16 brands, including premium denim brands Craft and Sass & Bide, and womenswear labels Karen Walker from New Zealand and Olivia Rubin from the UK.

Paul aims to hit the premium end of the middle market with the site. “There are great contemporary ranges coming out at the moment, and the high street and luxury market are well covered,” he said.

Product will be priced between £50 and £500, with most pieces priced at the “high end of the high street”.

Paul hopes to double Glassworks Studio’s offer to about 30 brands for autumn 10. The etailer will diversify into accessories and footwear as the business grows.

Glassworks Studios, which is named after the London offices occupied by the duo, will offer exclusive collections from some of its brands.

“We are trying to get the brands we talk to to give us exclusives, but if not [totally] exclusive, then just offer us some exclusive styles,” said Paul.

Although Glassworks Studios’ main focus will be the UK market, it will ship globally and is in discussions to open pop-up shops in key cities in Asia, the Middle East and the US to promote the site and its offer.

The etailer plans to create an online lifestyle “concept” and will also offer customers tips and ideas on restaurants and hotels in London and abroad.

Paul said that having worked in the premium sector, he has seen that the way women dress and shop has changed. “They are not now spending £2,000 on every dress, but are becoming more savvy and really want quality and something different. We are bringing a product-led quality offer.”

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