V&C London Fashion Week Review!
V&C London Fashion Week Review by Jasmin Nathan, Consultant September is in full swing which always means two things: 1) Unseasonable warm weather and the "do I need a jacket or will it give me damp armpits" morning dilemma. 2) London Fashion Week! We weren’t quite sure what to expect this year after so many big changes in the industry and protest campaigns, however London has shown that is has no plans to slow down despite being caught up in a furore of activism and is very much included in the forefront of creativity and trend direction and the all-important sustainability movement. This season gave us all of the drama with none of the need for shock value. Here is my review of some of my favourite shows from this seasons showcase… Julien Macdonald Never one to disappoint with his intricate feminine designs, Julien Macdonald made a glittering showcase at the Southwark Cathedral. Known for always bringing the drama that London fashionistas so love, Julien made a point of including “real women” in his show, saying “I am bored of young girls on the runway. They look fabulous on the runway in my clothes but they are not the ones who buy the clothes. I want to produce a collection for real women, not just 16-year-olds.This collection is about celebrating being a woman. Presenting Julien x Gabriela, a collaboration between the iconic designer and socialite Gabriela Gonzalez, Julien made a point of expressing that the brand is actively making an effort to be sustainable, and stressed the importance of sustainability in the industry, saying “It is really important to try and be sustainable. My clothes are made from as many organic fabrics as possible. I am trying my very best to do better ... I think it is a good sign designers are taking it more seriously.” Bringing a controversial edge to the beautiful setting of the Southwark Cathedral with raunchy designs, the collection was a dreamy whirl of glitter, embellishment and marabou feathers (what more could anyone want in a fashion show!?) Arguably one of the most hotly anticipated shows of LFW, Julien cited long term friend and client as a muse for this collection, with surprising additions of marble-print poolside meets beachside looks mixed in with the high end glamour we all know and love from Julien. With his signature fine knit sheaths and elaborate bedazzling and embellishments that he does like no other, proudly shunning modern sewing technology in favour of his beloved vintage machines, each delicately and painstakingly beaded, fringed and glittered design was a show stopper in its own right. All hail the king of partywear! House of Holland Known for his effortlessly cool designs with a unique edge, fashion favourite Henry Holland put on a public facing show at Gasholder Park, Kings Cross with an impressive celebrity guest list eagerly anticipating the new season’s collection. Dance The Pain Away was a follow up from last season’s politically charged theme, encouraging us to go out, have fun, dance our troubles away and escape the pressures of modern society. With nods to 90’s acid rave, and 70’s disco as inspiration, House of Holland displayed an eclectic selection of mini dresses, country and western inspired denim, power tailoring and a revamped take on his signature sports luxe brand DNA, including zippy sweatshirts and cropped joggers. Graduated leopard print took centre stage as the collections signature print in an array of bold colours, with some effortlessly chic monochrome prints thrown into the mix to create the perfect balance of edgy and cool. Pixie Geldof strutted her stuff on the catwalk in an 80’s style mini dress in a lush green, in keeping with the surroundings of the setting, among an array of fellow gracefully cool models. Henry is one of the biggest champions in the industry for sustainable fashion – who can forget his “Single Use Plastic Is Never Fantastic” slogan tees of yesteryear? – so we had expectations of another infamous rhyming slogan tee to add to his iconic collection, however we were surprised to in fact be presented with a collaboration with leader of the fashion fintech field Klarna, with the “Shopping Drama Averted With Klarna” slogan, modelled by Isabeli Fontana underneath a sure fire trend setting sheer shirt. Is this a collaboration showcase or an example of paid advertising gone mad? Perhaps it’s up to the individual to decide, but one thing is for sure – Henry Holland continues to lead his House into the forefront of young, trendy and sustainable fashion. Victoria Beckham As a long time and incredibly loyal Spice Girls fan, I am often more than a little biased when it comes to Victoria Beckham, so I went into this season’s collection with an open mind and firm desire to remain critical. It turns out that my energy was wasted as this season was arguably her most impressive collection to date since the start of the VB brand back in 2008, this collection struck an impeccable balance of Victoria’s beloved masculine tailoring and feminine skirts with her unique attention to detail. Exaggerated lapels were a key note in the unstructured blazers in classic beige and grey tones, as well as powerful pinstriped blazers paired with glorious feminine ruffles that were also a key theme taking centre stage in the collection. The designs were the perfect mix of classy and sexy without trying, and one could be forgiven for assuming the inspiration for this collection was drawn from the 70’s, with a louche vibe coupled with smart tailoring and odes of camel tones. The light fabrics in the full skirts create beautiful movement and would have even the most devoted skinny jean lover twirling, skipping and basking in the glory of feminine floaty panels that have cemented Victoria’s status as an iconic British talent in the fashion industry and her impeccable taste once again shining through. With her hotly anticipated foray into the world of beauty being a huge success, it would appear the girl power movement is still going strong for our favourite fashion spice! Burberry One of the biggest – if not the biggest – headliners of London Fashion Week, Riccardo Tisci’s iconic reign in his third season at Burberry had us all wondering where the heavily Victorian influenced designer would lead the brand for the upcoming season. Riccardo is a self-professed obsessive of Victorian era fashion, often incorporating corsetry and oversized sleeves into collections. This season was no different, with tassel and lampshade elements adorning sleeves and hemlines, not so much so that it drew away from the lightweight fabrics and stunning tailoring and structure of the designs. There were nods to the iconic Burberry mac that is a classic wardrobe staple for every die hard fashionista which set the tone for a clean, neutral colour palette for the most part, as well as the ever cool monochrome palette with a modern twist, adding mesh, ruching, balloon sleeves and a dash of sport luxe to appeal to the ever profitable Gen Z market. Showing us that the brands core style cemented and established in the Victorian times is truly timeless, Riccardo combined modern corsetry and relaxed structuring with classic shapes such as boxy trousers and tailoring including hourglass suits, and a whiff of 80’s piping thrown in for good measure, and we absolutely loved it. Riccardo cites life in London as a huge inspiration for the collection, comparing it to last season by saying “The biggest difference is that I feel more comfortable in my place, living in London and understanding living in London. When I arrived two seasons ago, I wanted to take it slow because it’s very important to understand what British style is. It’s a style that’s been so strong in history, and to interpret it in a modern way, you have to be very meticulous. After three seasons, it’s been about the response of the market. The trench and the check will forever be the icons of the house but the world is changing and people want to wear whatever they want. It doesn’t matter which country it comes from. This globalisation of style means a different approach to fashion nowadays”. Coming from the man who has not only brought back the smoking jacket, but belted it and made it into a must-have dress, I’m sure we can all agree that as Londoners we are proud to have offered inspiration to one of the most iconic talents in Burberry’s history.
The evolution of brand awareness and marketing in Retail.
The evolution of brand awareness and marketing in Retail. How times have changed. It was only 5 years ago that we could shop in major towns across the UK and walk into department stores such as Debenhams, House of Fraser, Beales and many more independents, and find brands that no longer exist - to go one step further some the departments stores that we used to shop in no longer exist. Are the days of marketing your branded products via in store concessions with 3rd party partners over? Moreover and strikingly, dare we suggest that the days of marketing and selling your brand with 3rd party websites such as ASOS, FarFetch, Zalando, Net-a -Porter amongst others have lost their appeal? Why fuel their own private label designs with a brands intellectual design ideas? Why give them the Intel on customer shopping behaviour? Is the kudos now about gaining a credible CRM than the having your brand affiliated with these websites perhaps? These are the questions that many of the smaller brands today that we consult with ask themselves, as we all become aware of the power of internet shopping and not fully understanding the backend algorithms that make it happen we have relied on these 3rd part sites with the big market budgets, customer databases and know how to sell our brands, but is this a short term solution? Social media influencing is paving the way forward, with clever brand positioning and targeted campaigns you can just as easily make sure your brand is in front of the right eyes with only one click away from a sale. Facebook and Instagram is much more than a ‘Voyeurs’ journey in what ones friends are up to, where they are and what they eat! They are a means to adapting to a different type of selling. These social media platforms know more about us than we think, but in a positive way so that you the audience, are presented with products that you actually want. If you are a user of these platforms, you will no doubt have purchased from seeing a product first on social media and then buying via direct or a link. These platforms engage with their audience differently, we are a nation with less patience; thanks to Amazon when we see something, we want it now. It’s clear that the offline marketing days of print don’t allow instant buy in contrast to when you are 35,000 miles in the air browsing Facebook and Instagram you can buy instantaneously, better still if you have purchased at the airport and about to board a long haul flight there is a good chance that it will be waiting for you when you get home! Crazy but true. Notwithstanding the above, the clever brand that exploits these platforms gain benefits of building a rapport and loyalty with their customers in a newer more effective way, whilst the brand continues to drive campaigns and content it delivers what we call the ‘halo effect’ with their customers, by implanting brand awareness subconsciously in the customers mind that proves invaluable, more importantly it allows the brand to understand 1. What your customers purchase 2. When they purchase 3. How often they purchase 4. What products are selling 5. The rate of sale Leading back to the all-important function within retail - Merchandising. This vital information allows you to plan your range and OTB, gain better insight into introducing new lines crucial to the growth of a young brand and understand what their customers like as well as manage returns and calculate margin more effectively. V&C Digital Marketing Services have successfully delivered Paid Social and PPC campaigns to our brands, working closely with them on strategy and getting their campaigns exactly right. With over 20 years of analytical and brand experience we can deliver measurable growth via your online presence buy having strong knowledge in the fashion retail sector partnering up with your digital team giving you un-apparelled level of service navigating in this challenging and exciting arena. Additionally we are excited to be hosting our next V&C event/workshop in October together with the Head of Retail from Facebook/Instagram, date and time to be announced... To register your interest in our Facebook/Instagram event or for further information on case study's and how we can help your brand, please feel free to contact us on 02036681466.
The Art of Retail Merchandising
Right product, right place, right time – that’s what we know makes a retail business tick! And it’s the merchandising department that is pivotal to this formula with its remit on optimising the sales for any retail business – so often the function is over shadowed as a profession by its more glamorous sister position - the Buyer, that can take more of the glory of a successful retail business. However it’s the Merchandiser that should equally command this acknowledgement by successfully buying the product at the best margin and keeping the Buyer ‘in check’ and adopting the role of 25% Buyer to their 75% Merchandiser, questioning the amount of buy, options/SKU’s, price, weighing up the sale through rate against a mark down to sale scenario. A simple diagram illustrates this relationship between the functions below:- 75% 25% 75% We are finding in today’s environment the Merchandiser has to be more commercial, understanding the financial implications of the buy on the cash flow and how important it is to trade and optimise the margin to ensure the best return on the buy, the discerning Merchandiser will question the buy. The questions that a retailer should be raising include:- Would you rather sell out of stock and hit full price meeting your margin? What are the implications of not buying enough stock and having a great sale through rate – is it a loss of sale scenario or can flipping the coin mean an overbuy with excess stock for a sale item? Zara maintain the first option, the lack of stock sometimes creates that ‘impulse buy’ - ‘when its gone its gone’ leaving the customer knowing that that the buy could be completely missed, the effect this has is actually two fold, firstly creating a good sale through and secondly returning interest from the customer who will be compelled to buy for FOMO (fear of missing out) reasons. The merchandiser should be the architect of the buy particularly for ‘bricks & mortar’ stores ensuring there are enough of the right options to optimise the allocated space - continuously with new buy options - working closely with Buying and of course allocating. Merchandisers should question the business on buying scenarios such as:- What would be the implications of reducing size ratios and obtaining a better cost price? Would it be better holding griege for RTD garments and being more flexible to market need? The business of merchandising is trading and the more the merchandiser is commercially aware with sound knowledge of the market, their competitors and their customers, this will put them in a winning business position. After all Retail is Detail! If you are looking for new opportunities within Merchandising - get in touch with the team!