Attire Accessories -Jul/Aug 2018 (Issue 71)

92 ATTIRE Stephen Thurlow discusses the evolution of Alexander Thurlow Co. from wholesaler to successful jewellery brand MOVINGWITH THE TIMES Tell me a bit about how the company started.What was the aim of the label when it was launched? Alexander Thurlow Co. was started in 1949 by my late grandfather. He would initially travel out to Germany and Czechoslovakia, buying mainly rhinestone and rolled gold jewellery – as it was known then – and then wholesale it to retail jewellers. I suppose the aim was just to satisfy local needs for the jewellery trade of the time. We hadn’t thought about brands then. As the years progressed, my father entered the business and soon realised there was a much bigger fashion jewellery wholesale market opening up and was able to sell it in huge volumes. With this, he stopped selling to the small retail jewellers and instead concentrated on the lucrative wholesale business. Production had now moved away from Europe to Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Move forward to the noughties, and business has changed again. We were then supplying directly to the major high street chains, as well as the wholesale business. However, with the onset of the internet, we started to experience a change. Communication has become so much easier.The chain stores started buying directly from the East Asian factories, and we saw the local wholesale market collapsing. Having been volume jewellery suppliers for so many years, we suddenly realised that business was changing yet again, so we decided to go back to how we started trading when we first began. We created a brand and targeted the boutique, gift shop market and destination retail business. How were the initial products developed, and what was the response? Initially it would be a case of just going around various factories and buying the new lines that they were producing at the time.There would have been little design