Attire Accessories -Jul/Aug 2018 (Issue 71)

Contact Lakeland Leather +44 (0)1539 439 039 level of subtle design flair through the stitch detail. What trade shows do you attend, and which ones work best for you? We launched our wholesale division at the AIS show in April. We created exclusive designs based on our own best-selling shapes and styles and made in leathers we know customers love. It’s fair to say we were overwhelmed (and a bit relieved) at the fantastic response. Our next show is the Harrogate Home & Gift in July and then Moda in August. We’re new to these trade shows so would love Attire Accessories readers to come to say hello! When was the website launched, and how does it support the business? We’ve had a website for many years but upgraded it in May last year. Web is becoming a central thread in our strategy, so we’ll be investing heavily in it during the next year. We find that customers want the convenience of being able to research and shop at any time of the day – web gives that capability. No retailer can ignore web, but it’s important to create a web proposition that complements your retail stores rather than competes with it. So far, we are very pleased with our progress and have some big plans for the future development of the company. What have been the key milestones in the business? In more than 60 years, there have been many milestones, but more recently, winning a national Drapers Award for best multi-channel retailer under £25M is particularly pleasing.This year, we will be celebrating 40 years since we opened our store in Bowness-on-Windermere. For any retailer, to have a store that’s firmly part of its local community is wonderfully rewarding. How do you view the current market and what trends, in both product and business, do you see emerging over the current months? Press reports tell us retail is having a tough time. Such reports focus on the big retail groups. Such groups typically have high debt levels and stores with leases taken many years ago at rents that the market can no longer sustain. It’s a slow and difficult process to change the fortunes of such businesses. Smaller retailers can react quickly to the changing wants and needs of their customers. We are seeing customers switching back to higher-quality goods. They are buying fewer items but spending more overall as they invest in quality. Customers are also seeking a shopping experience that offers them something different.The days of pile it high and sell it cheap are gone. We are continuing to grow sales and win new and repeat business by offering products that can’t be found in the mass market. Keeping our leather natural and not being tempted to compromise on quality is helping us succeed. What are your future plans for the business? We plan to keep doing what we do best: create beautifully natural leather goods. This year, we are focusing on our new wholesale division. We’ve now launched our handbags collection, and this autumn we’ll add our men’s and women’s leather jackets range. To share our leather expertise with other retailers through our exclusive wholesale collections is very exciting, and it’s already shaping up as another strong growth year for Lakeland. Is there anything else you’d like to add or say about the company? We’re proud of the fact it takes us more than six months to make a leather handbag and even longer to make a jacket.This is because we don’t buy finished leathers. We like to know the source of the skins, and that will most likely be in the UK. We then spend time with the tannery to ensure we get the finish and touch we know our customers love. Our aim is to keep the leather natural to reveal its unique grain and texture. We call this “the Art of Slow”, and it exists because we believe slow is a counter revolution to synthetic. In a changing world, wherein fast fashion is in retreat, it’s nice to see traditional skills and craft industries grow again! A 86 ATTIRE