Pure London: international appeal and strong newcomers
Pure London looked relatively busy last week despite the UK fashion industry and retail sector facing massive challenges at present, from the unknown impact of Brexit to looming business rate rises.
While no figures about attendance were made available, the organisers said it was a “strong edition”, citing attendance from major independent retailers as well as key department stores. they included Matches, Topman, ASOS, Fenwick, John Lewis, The Dressing Room, Scarecrow Boutique, Smyth & Barnes, and Ej Menswear.
The show was particularly interesting this time given that it included the Athleisure section as a standalone for the first time, further underlining athleisure’s evolution from fashion trend to ongoing category. And the show’s ongoing Pure Man area, highlighted the increasing cross-gender offer from many brands.
It was certainly a strong forum for young and international labels and many of the brands Fashion Network spoke reported steady trade at the show. We spoke to a number of very different brands showing for the first time who will be coming back.
Stockholm-based Dedicated makes sustainably-produced graphic T-shirts and casualwear. Global sales head Johan Graffner told Fashion Network: “This is our first time but we will definitely come again. Sunday was good. we saw lots of independent stores and it was quite international. I thought it would be more centred on UK buyers but we had people from Sweden, Greece, Turkey and the Benelux countries.”
The brand, which has been operating for a decade, is working to boost its womenswear with its offer currently 75% menswear and a target of a 50:50 split. That means widening out the range, hence Pure’s dual-gender approach being so relevant.
And as the label expands, Graffner said it will not only stick to its sustainable ethos but should shout more loudly about it. He said both buyers and customer are more eco-conscious and open to a sustainable positioning these days.
“We created a brand dedicated to sustainability and creativity but as we were mostly selling to young men we knew that was not the main reason why they would buy the product. It was style and price. But awareness is growing a lot and we have seen that here,” he explained.
BAGS BY KRISTINA
Also new to the show was Bags by Kristina, the Croatia-based label designed by Croatian photographer Kristina Fazinic. The five-year-old label takes Fazinic's premium bag designs and adds ‘hardware’ panels featuring her photography (inspired by the natural patterns of stone and wood) to each piece.
Marketing director Dominika Tomasovic told Fashion Network that she had seen a lot of international buyers at the show, which was a surprise. But she was pleased at the response so far.
She felt that attendance at such events was important as the company targets growth in Western Europe, and especially the UK and Germany.
“We launched five years ago but now we want to grow in the UK and European market as the market in Croatia is quite small,:” she told us. “We launched to the UK market online only this year.”
Part of its expansion strategy is not just about targeting markets that are bigger but countries that have overall higher income levels and can afford bags that sell at wholesale prices of around £150-£250.
Also interesting, in the light of recent developments like the launch of Debenhams’ Muslim-focused initiative and London’s Modest Fashion Week, is London-based label Coded Nation.
Still in its early stages, it debuted at Pure with an offer that combines fast-fashion streetwear (it drops new designs every Friday) with motifs that celebrate the Saudi Arabian roots of the brand founders and the Middle Eastern origins of some of its partner designers.
It was launched only six months ago by Thana & Sakhaa Abdul, two London-based sisters in their 20s who leveraged a popular blog into a fashion line.
“It all started because we couldn’t find good fashion at affordable prices and we were in touch with designers from London, the Arab world, China and Japan,” they told Fashion Network. “So we just did it. We launched 10 designs, 228 pieces and they sold out in three hours, which was a shock,”
With all prices below £200, the sisters are celebrating Saudi and Kuwaiti culture, as well as offering less specialised streetwear. “We translated our history in a modern way. People from our generation people want to wear something that represents Saudi, but not necessarily the desert or the flag,” they said.
They told us they had strong response at Pure, not just from the UK but from boutiques and distributors from markets in Europe, including Italy.
And the next step? And expansion of the line to include more pieces such as dresses and a return to Pure next season.
Not all newcomers to the event were newcomers to the industry. Daisy Street, an entry level youth brand is currently available through Asos and New Look, but was a first-timer to the show and said it had been “very busy”.
Brand director Daisy Auberson said that on day one “we wrote a lot of orders throughout the day and got a really positive reaction.”
The company has been expanding fast and added two new lines in addition to its core Daisy Street offer. Mad But Magic is a slightly-more-premium footwear and fashion offer with a trend-led aesthetic while Plain Studio is also priced slightly higher with a “more classic” but still trend-oriented look.
For a wholesaler offering low prices and wanting to “do something extra with our brands”, it is clear that trade shows are the key channel to get its message out. But why Pure?
Auberson said the team had checked out Who’s Next in Paris and Magic in Las Vegas but decided Pure was the best option for the four-year-old Manchester-based firm and the decision appears to have paid off. However, it’s likely that those other shows will been its agenda for future seasons as it targets wider international distribution.
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