Pure London and Stitch Menswear Trade Shows

I spent last Sunday at the opening of Pure London and Stitch Menswear A/W’11 trade shows. I saw so many brilliant brands hoping to make it this A/W, some from the past and some brand new. I’ll be posting some juicy look book scans soon from some of my favourite brands but first, a general round up of my day.
I got there at just before 11 and immediately set out to see who was on offer at Stitch Menswear (the UK’s only dedicated menswear trade show). I found LUKE, Peter Werth, Kappa and even La Coq Sportif! Anywho, more about the brands in coming posts. As well as sampling the merch from the brands on offer I attended some seminars and talks across the event held in both Earl’s Court and Olympia. In Earl’s Court I was among the hundreds that crowded around the Pure Spirit Inspiration Stage to witness the unveiling of Katie Price’s latest fashion label Day 22. I won’t bore you with a commentary of the clothing as you’ve no doubt heard about it already but what I will say is that Miss Price shouldn’t be underestimated. 
After closing the catwalk show Miss Price was interviewed by some journo along with her fellow business partner Lamis Khamis, the designer. Miss Price commented on how she had never been accepted in the fashion world, “ever!”, and looked out to the see of fashion journos and buyers, before she declared that by 14:00pm on their first day of pitching the brand had nearly sold out to buyers! Pretty good going when not one brand I visited that day had made a sale. Katie finished her little interview by calling out to the crowd, “thank you for letting me come to your fashion event”… In other words, she stuck two fingers up.
Straight after Katie was a talk entitled “10 Things I Wish I Knew” which saw Editor of industry magazine Drapers interview, owner of Drapers Award for Best Indie winner, Lewis Yates. But, the talk was a bit rubbish. Jessica interviewed Yates, which was fine, but no top ten tips for indies were ever divulged and Yates have obviously not prepared. I was a little disappointed.
One thing that was of interest was Yate’s hesitation to talk his successful boutique online. I was shocked when he shrugged his shoulders and said it was too much work but upon pondering the answer I suppose it is a lot to talk on if your team is small. OiPolloi of Manchester have a whole floor of their HQ dedicated to eCommerce alone..
Another talk I went to was at the contemporary stage in Pure at Olympia. Here two lovely techies talked through the best ways to use Video media to maximise your eCommerce business. Three types of video were played: the Dorothy Perkins Xmas Stock Shoot which was an example of ‘behind the scenes’. A moody musicy typically Jordan Scott for Prada piece for some indie brand and finally a MyTV interview from mywardrobe.com with stylist Grace Woodward. The three videos aimed to show examples of the ways you can engage a customer with your brand through video media output on your website. The boys talked about the best ways to go it on the cheap including, sourcing independent music from local bands etc. Using basic editing software but not making it obvious you have by keeping edits simple and graphics bold and standard.
I missed the rest because I had to dash for the tube.

Burley Hurley Back From Bust

This Bury indie has dealt with difficulty over the Recession but has bounced back with 3 new stunning stores and a Drapers Awards win. I got a rare opportunity to quiz Managing Director, Mark Hurley, and you can see the full interview here. I kept these two answers just for Fashion Ramblings readers (cheeky).
Fashion Rambler: Hurley boasts a fantastic online store akin to those offered by international multiples, how are you finding the ecommerce sector?
Mark Hurley: The ecommerce sector has been difficult due the fact that we have issues with the back office side of our website, this is currently under re-construction with a new launch early in 2011.

FR: Would you consider the menswear market the toughest fashion sector during these uncertain economic times and how has Hurley navigated the storm?

MH: All sectors are tough, though we have a good solid core customer base who have been with us for many years and continue to support us, ladies is quite steady but still underpinned by the Ugg phenomenon. The main things is to keep your standards high if not higher than ever before with great customer service which is re-paid by loyalty. We continually look for new brands but the classics are still as important as ever.
Check out the website here.

An audience with Sarah Curran, CEO of my-wardrobe.com and Lauren Stevenson Director of PR

I recently attended an audience with Sarah Curran, CEO and Founder of my-wardrobe.com and her Director of Marketing, Lauren Stevenson.

The evening was chaired by Dale Hicks of MFN who introduced the ladieswho then in turn told the audience a little bit about themselves. Curran left school at 18, skipping University and heading straight for London where she worked for various companies including L’Oreal. Sarah eventually found herself working with News International, the parent conglomerate behind The Sun and The Times, which saw her land a job as sub-editor with The Times Online. “I was very lucky” says Curran, “falling into a sub Editor on the Times Online, no one wanted to be it … we were shoved right in the corner by the toilets … that was in 2000/02, it’s amazing how things have changed”.

Lauren Stevenson studied Marketing at University and whilst studying gained work experience at top stylist agency Aurelia who boast clients such as Versace, Jaguar and Krug Champagne. Stevenson had always wanted to be a Stylist but after witnessing the industry first hand whilst interning in PR she felt she was better suited to PR and Marketing. Upon graduating Lauren took a job at Versace and worked in PR which soon led to a PR job at Ketchum, “I went from working with Versace to working on Whiskers Cat Food” says Stevenson, “but what the job did me was excellent experience in Marketing communication”. Stevenson then moved then to competitor agency Hill and Knowlton which is where she met Sarah who was to become, firstly her client and eventually, her employer.

You can read all about what was asked and answered regarding the company’s Marketing strategies by visiting the MFN report here. But the remainder of this blog will focus on what was said about the company’s recent introduction of Menswear in February of this year.

Curran and Stevenson sought out Luisa de Paula to head up their buying division; Paula has experience in both womenswear and menswear from the likes of Selfridges and Liberty. But my-wardrobe.com also poached Steven Spears from industry magazine Drapers to come onboard as PR Director for Menswear. Assigning specific roles to tackle the menswear fight back from ASOS is a clever move as the two genders are never as far apart as they are in fashion.

Curran admitted that introducing and marketing menswear had been difficult as they, at first, approached the advertising in the same way as they had approached their womenswear. Sarah went on to say that “guys don’t actively seek out fashion page in magazine or newspaper” their strategy quickly became to latch onto other modes of communication that men were interested in and “accepting we weren’t going to the primary mode of communication in that piece”. After introducing the menswear arm earlier this year Curran admitted that it had “not had that ticking point” and that the split for my-wardrobe.com sales was 20%-80% to womenswear.

The work carried about my the etailer with focus groups and data collection lead Curran to conclude, rather exasperatedly, that “men are far more complicated”. Where the etailer found that women were impulsive and active in their approach to fashion the webstore found that men were more passive and were harder to attract in store. Stevenson said of their findings: “men only shop for a reason, a festival, a gig, a holiday” but Stevenson sees this as an opportunity for the etailer to maximise on its offering. She gave her husband’s approach to shopping as an example “he hates shopping” she said, “his worst nightmare would be walking into Harvey Nichols and being pounced on by a Sales Assistant.” Stevenson went on to prove that online provided a platform for men like her husband, who hate shopping but like designer gear, to shop without any of the negative to dissuade them from spending, “no hot changing rooms or sales assistants”.

I am not quite sure where I stand personally within the gender split, impulsive or passive, but what I can be sure of is that much care and attention is being paid to it by my-wardrobe.com and it is refreshing to see a dedication to a menswear marketing strategy revealed.

Photographs by Jennifer Urwin