Attire Accessories -Jul/Aug 2018 (Issue 71)

fashion items, whether it be a coat, handbag or wallet that will improve over time as it gains a natural patina of age. What sets you apart from your competitors? There are three things that remain important to us and set us apart. Leather finish; from the outset, we’ve always favoured natural leather finishes. We use a lot of aniline and semi-aniline finish leather, as this means we don’t use much pigment topcoat, preferring to show the grain of the leather and keep the touch natural. Most of the high street will shy away from aniline finishes because they require deep understanding and leather expertise to get right.They also need sales staff who can explain to customers how to care for their leather jackets. Our staff are all highly trained on all leather finishes. We do use some pigmented leather – certain styles are better suited to this – but when we do, it’s because the style merits the leather selection rather than having a fear of the underlying leather quality. Range size; I can’t think of any other retailer that carries the leather selection we offer. At any time, we can offer customers more than 50 different women’s leather and sheepskin coats and jackets, more than 40 men’s styles and at least 100 options of leather handbag! And service; our mantra is to delight our customers. We do this by offering good-quality products at prices that delight them. We are very much an assisted sales retailer. Our customers expect to be served by knowledgeable staff members who can explain the different leather types as well as help select jacket silhouettes that will suit and flatter the customer. We spend a lot of time training our teams so that they are confident in helping customers. How important is your location and history to the company in its success? We are certain that customers buy into our brand just as much as the products. Our location is a massive part of who we are. At times, the Lake District can be wet, windy and cold. But we forgive it when the sun breaks through, warming the land and catching ripples on the lake. We could never be based outside the Lake District.The natural beauty of our home is our metaphor for the natural beauty of leather goods. Our success is also helped by our location. Almost all of our 15 stores are based in tourist villages, towns and cities.This gives us frequent changes in customers and plenty of international visitors. We’ve found our leather goods travel the world – they’re loved just as much overseas as they are in the UK! How has the product offering changed over the years and how would you describe your current collection? About 70 per cent of what we sell is leather. Over the years, we’ve adapted our ranges to meet the changing fashion trends and consumer demands. For example, as well as selling real sheepskin, we also offer a faux version.The price differentials are significant, and it allows customers to get the look without paying the higher price. When we make faux sheepskin, we follow the same principles as when we make real sheepskin – working closely with the factories to develop fabric finishes that closely mimic the real thing. We also find that in the summer season, especially on warmer days, selling leather jackets is tricky. So we developed womenswear and menswear textile collections that work alongside our leather ranges.These collections fit with our casual brand style to curate a natural look of easy- to-wear pieces. How often do you launch new lines, and what are your best-selling designs? Tell me about your recent campaigns. We run a traditional SS and AW season, plus we run trans-seasonal collections to bridge the UK weather vagaries of it never being as warm or cold as it should be for the time of year! Within each season, we will run different collections centred around colour themes and led by the textile ranges. For our men’s ranges, it’s pretty easy and grounded in blues, brown and blacks. Our women’s collections follow the fashion market, and we try to develop leather jacket styles and colours that reflect the trends and coordinate with our textile ranges. Fortunately for us, leather remains an investment piece, so traditional browns, tans and blacks remain as a constant in all or ranges – from jackets to handbags and purses.This season, we’ve developed handbag and accessory collections that use hand-woven leather. It creates beautiful, almost architectural, design lines to our handbags, and customers just love it. We’ve also used contrast stitching in more designs. It allows us to keep the product shape classic and functional but also add a ATTIRE 85 PROFILE