Attire Accessories - Dec 2017/Jan 2018 (Issue 67)

ATTIRE 91 RETAILER INTERVIEW What do you consider to be your core customer base? Our core customer is a young cosmopolitan woman with style and substance. She’s aged between 25 and 38. She lives in the city or within commutable reach of the city. She makes her own money. She has a broad and informed world view. She always votes. She has a great job. She has a close-knit social group of like-minded and diverse individuals, and she values their opinions. She’s well-dressed, but wants to know where her products have come from. She prefers to buy a few quality items rather than buying cheap and often. She stays up-to-date with current trends, but she’s not a slave to fashion. She’s active on Instagram and Pinterest. What are the key factors you consider when sourcing new product lines? When it comes to sourcing new materials and fabrics, I research their ethos and commitment to supplying quality natural goods. I prefer to do business with smaller, independent, family-run suppliers as I like the personal touch, which leads to a more natural and fluid client-customer relationship. When it comes to designing new product lines, inspiration always comes from observations – what I’ve noticed about the way people go about their lives: how they commute, what they wear to work, at the weekend and in the evening, and what activities they get up to. It inspires me to think about how a new product might fulfil a need, or fit seamlessly into their everyday. So, utility comes first. Then it’s about bringing our signature style to make that functional design beautiful, sculptural and desirable. How important is providing brand knowledge and customer service? It’s more important than ever. Shoppers are smarter, savvier and conscious about the purchase decisions they make every day – especially when it comes to fashion. They want to know where their clothes/shoes/ bags are made, who they’re made by and why they cost what they cost. So, getting our brand story, ethos and product virtues across is so important – in retail it can be tough, because you have such a short window of time to engage the customer. I tell all our staff that if the customer leaves with one piece of information they didn’t know about our brand, then that’s a success – even if they didn’t walk out having bought something. Are you planning any special events to attract new customers? We have a few exciting events lined up, as well as launching a new season collection that we’ll engage with the press about. We have one major project that we’re working on, which won’t land until next year. It’s a bit hush hush for now, so watch this space! Who would be your ideal customer and why? We get a lot of famous faces in the store on Cross Street – actors, musicians, models and film directors. It’s always a great compliment that they’re attracted to shop in our boutique. It’d be mad not to admit that they’re our ideal customer. However, I’m happiest and proudest when we meet customers who have a genuine appreciation for the craft and value of what we design and produce – and that can be anyone, from any background or walk of life. I just care that we’re able to offer them a product that complements their lifestyle and that they enjoy owning. I have customers who occasionally drop in on their way past to or from work, to chat, to see what’s new and add another bag to their collection – there’s no more ideal patronage than that. How has the online store enhanced the business? The online store was live before we opened our boutique. It has certainly helped drive traffic in store, and we’ve seen increased sales because of the store opening – many customers visit the store to look, feel, smell and try on products, then a good number of them order online. We have a click-and-collect in-store option within our online shop, which is very popular, and it helps bring more customers in to the boutique. How do you view the current state of the retail market? There’s no denying it’s tough out there. Seeing some of the behemoths of British high street fashion close down over the last 18 months was certainly worrying. But despite that, UK fashion’s having a resurgence, and as an independent mid-luxury level brand I feel confident that we’re well-positioned to cater to the needs of a more conscious and discerning shopper. What advice would you pass on to other independent retailers? It may seem obvious, but you should focus on what you do best and what makes you different, then make sure you tell your customers about the one thing you do best or what makes you different before they walk out. What are your plans for the business? My husband has joined the business, having just resigned from his job as a Senior Creative in a top London advertising agency, which is very exciting. We plan to maximise our brand exposure and increase our wholesale customer base. And then there’s that big exciting project I mentioned, that I can’t tell you about yet! A A Contact Lost Property of London +44 (0)20 7704 9064