Friday, 2 April 2010

Review: Wednesday's Mentoring Event

Emma Crosby and David Jones
Allen Scott
Eudon Choi
Vauxhall Fashion Scout's Martyn Roberts
 'The night was very useful, we are all gradually learning each day!', Yukun Zhao from Jasper Garvida.
 'It's great to be around like minded people, the location is so central and it's really relaxed', Yvon Modu.
 'I've been to lots of these events, they're great, it's fantastic what Vauxhall Fashion Scout do', Delia Covezzi.
Anna Brett

Well, Fashion Week’s over, and it’s time to start pushing for sales. With umpteen press days lined up, manufacturers to source, and funds in short supply, our info packed night aimed to lead designers through the Fashion Week comedown and into the money-making phase. With double the usual number of panellists, a highly selective guest list and running an hour longer than usual, our first, post Fashion Week mentoring event, sponsored by the LDA, was set to be a busy one.

Making up the bumper line up of panellists was Emma Crosby, Sales Manager for Vauxhall Fashion Scout, David Jones, Luxury Freelance Fashion Consultant, Allen Scott, from New Planet Fashions, Anna Brett, MD of Image Studio Production, Alison Lowe, MD of Felicities PR and Emma Davidson, Recruitment Consultant and Finance Manager from Denza International. With the booze flowing, and questions a-plenty, here are the top tips gleaned from our fabulous, double event!

Dealing With Buyers
‘A buyer from Browns told me, ‘I’ll give everyone 5 minutes of my time, but only 5 minutes’, David Jones.

If a buyer has suggested they are interested, but hasn’t followed up, don’t hound them. Try them a couple of times, then follow up with a friendly email setting them a deadline date to make an order by, and thanking them for their interest.

Be open and transparent: if they ask you about other stockists you have, tell them as it
may be reassuring for them. However, try not to offer up that information voluntarily.

Buyers Outside of London
‘You wouldn’t attempt to learn how to drive around Hyde Park Corner, so it makes sense to cut your teeth outside of London’ David Jones.

Don’t just target big retailers in London; there are lots of great retailers outside of the capital.

Higher disposable income outside of London means that sales are more likely, and buyers are more receptive to new designers. They don’t have designers knocking on their door everyday like London buyers do.

Money: Getting Paid, Sale and Returns, and Deposits
‘Arrange payment plans with people to spread out the cost, like paying 50% now, then 50% in 30 days. Lots of people will say no, but someone will always say yes in the end, so give it a go’, Emma Davidson.

Consider who owes you money, and start collecting it. If you’re organised and have payment plans set out, you are much more appealing to buyers and manufacturers.

Don’t automatically offer the buyer 30 days to pay you, purely because you think it sounds professional. Ask for payment sooner, and then negotiate from there.

Never deliver the second season’s product if you still haven’t been paid for the first, and if a store is failing to pay, keep following up. Those who shout the loudest get paid first.

Sale or return: only consider this if you are able to stay in constant contact with the shop. Try giving stock to a shop for a month’s trial period, so if it doesn’t sell, you can try it at another. However, always set a strict time limit on it.

Retailers tend to push the items that they’ve purchased, rather than the borrowed stock, so bare that in mind when offering a sale or return deal.

Press Contacts
'PR is about your wider public. It’s about telling everybody and anybody you come into contact with what you are doing’, Alison Lowe.

You must keep up communication with press contacts between fashion weeks, what new things are happening with your label? You should be contacting the press with something new each month.

Tell of your successes, tell other buyers about new stockists and release the story as soon as you can.

Create a professional image: rename your flat as a studio, set up a different phone line just for press and use letterheads.

Dealing with Manufacturers
‘If you can’t get a deposit, ideally 30%, then don’t work with them’, Anna Brett.

Get ahead of yourself, plan which manufacturer you would like to work with way before you need them. Don’t wait until you suddenly have a huge order to fulfil.

Manufacturers want designers to be punctual, focused on what they want to achieve, and well prepared with the correct paperwork (toiles/spec sheets/samples/time plans).

At the design process, you should be considering how much the garment will retail at, then what it will wholesale at, then how much the fabric will cost. You need to consider this from the very beginning.

Make sure you check the blog for info on the next mentoring night!

Fiona Anderson
Images by David Maunder

Jasper Garvida in i-D

King of luscious prints and sexy, flowing silhouettes, the supremely talented Jasper Garvida has been featured in i-D's Spring issue. Judging by these shots, the results are smoking hot.  Well done Jasper!

Fiona Anderson

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Louise Amstrup in Style Bubble

The lovely Susie Bubble has already hot footed it down to the British Designers Collective pop up store at Bicester Village, and taken these shots of Louise Amstrup's gorgeous printed separates. For a sneaky peek at the other designers selling their wares at rock bottom prices, check out the Style Bubble blog!

Fiona Anderson

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Louise Amstrup at Bicester Village

For the first time ever, Bicester Village, the Oxfordshire-based shopping outlet and ultimate haven for all label lovers, has opened a Pop Up Boutique, stuffed to the gills with London’s edgiest designers. Working in association with the British Fashion Council, our very own Louise Amstrup will be joined by Felder Felder, Graeme Black, Erdem, Preen, Emma Cook and tons more, and even better, the shop opens today! With price reductions of up to 50%, and running until 7th May, this is one event you can’t afford to miss.

Fiona Anderson

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

House of Blueeyes: Fashion Week Film

The House of Blueeyes presentation was undoubtedly more wild, raucous and fantastically crazy than anything we witnessed over Fashion Week, and judging by the amount of jaws on the floor and eyes on stalks, the audience of experienced show-goers were equally as awestruck. Loud, proud and always with a sexy swagger in his hips and a smile on his face, Johnny has made this fabulous film of his AW10 presentation, reminding us all just why we adore him. Negative attitudes, look away now, heeeeere’s Johnny!

Fiona Anderson

Monday, 29 March 2010

Review: The Enchanted Palace

William Tempest with 'The Dress of Freedom'
The Room of the Sleeping Princess
Designers behind the label Aminaka Wilmont with 'The Dress of Tears'
The Room of the Dancing Princesses
Kensington Palace’s transformation into the Enchanted Palace has been unveiled at last. Fiona Anderson dons her crown and corset for a journey into the secret past of this royal residence.

Recently, a rare, never before seen portrait of Queen Victoria was released. Painted for her husband, Albert, the portrait captured the famously austere Queen as a young, glowing girl with brunette locks tumbling provocatively over naked shoulders. Victoria looked girlish, uncontrolled and, dare i say it, sexy. The portrait, so rare and so remarkable, for me, illustrated the importance of seeing history in all its dimensions, understanding that genuine loves, lives, dramas and crises have gone before us. And this is what The Enchanted Palace, held in the State Apartments of Kensington Palace, aim to do. Examining the personal lives, intimate passions and secret scandals of the seven princesses who have lived in the Palace, a theme is attributed to each woman, and a space is built around it. Visitors are therefore set the challenge of deciphering which room signifies which princess, on the way discovering the inner thoughts and personalities behind the names in the history books.

Helping to bring these seven women to life are a fantastic line up of artists and high profile designers, including our own William Tempest, who joins Stephen Jones, Vivienne Westwood, Echo Morgan and many more. Tempest takes part in ‘The Room of the Sleeping Princess’. Set in the young Victoria’s bedroom, where she slept the night she became Queen, Tempest has created a ‘Dress of Freedom’, encompassing a spectacular flock of origami birds, which spill out from the bodice and envelop the gown, appearing to lift it off the ground. Representing Victoria’s desire for independence, William explains, ‘It is well known that Victoria felt restricted and isolated in the Palace. The installation is created from one thousand origami birds which, in ancient Japanese legend, will grant the holder of the birds any wish. Here the birds are swarming together to help free Victoria and grant her dream of freedom.’

Another room, ‘The Royal Room of Sorrows’, is stunning, with a dress by Aminaka Wilmont, fittingly entitled ‘The Dress of Tears’, suspended high above a typical period bed, with two vast wings of blue dappled chiffon stretching out across the room in a dreamy canopy. Another highlight is the breathtaking, ‘Room of the Dancing Princesses’, having been transformed into a misty, shadowy forest, with silver birch trees, howling animals and whistling winds. Amongst the trees sit two glass cabinets, the first with a soft, taupe dress and blood red ballet shoes, primed and stood on point, as if the invisible princess has been frozen, mid dance. The other encases a stunning, ghostly white lace gown, surrounded by single white feathers, hanging silently, and somewhat hauntingly, in the air.

Yet more and more beautiful, thought provoking spaces appear as the visitor plunges further into the dimly lit, labyrinth-like set of rooms, each brimming with messages, words, sounds and imagery so poignant and so real, that it is at times overwhelming. Frustratingly perplexing, frighteningly human, and deeply moving, it is easy to forget you are wondering through a Royal Palace at all, so far removed it is from the fusty tours, stale antiques and faded oil paintings of trussed up, pallid figures in all their finery.

Sexing up history for the masses, (actors dressed as odd, Back to the Future-style ‘spirits’ stalk purposefully about the space) this exhibit serves as a pioneering step forward for such a traditional institution. However, with change comes the undoubted ruffling of feathers and (much to my amusement) more old school members of the public will clearly need time to adjust. Mutterings of, ‘Oh, it’s far too dark in here, I wish they’d open the drapes, you can’t see the view!’ were followed by staff, cringingly reassuring visitors, ‘It’s very modern, but everything’s based on historical fact, really it is’, felt a touch embarrassing to witness. This exhibit will need to stand the test of time before convincing the older set that moving forward, and drawing in a younger crowd, is the only way to survive.

Terribly juicy, terribly indulgent, and terribly un-British, this is one Palace that’s had a right royal boot up the backside into the 21st century. Polished, insightful and visually stunning, this installation is setting a precedent so high, that others are sure to follow.

Our Next Mentoring Event

Hold on to your hats, we’ve got a brand new, post Fashion Week mentoring night on Wednesday 31st March, and it’s a double whammy! Divided into two events on one night, the first hot topic will be Production and Manufacturing, and the second will be Fashion Week’s Over: What Now? Guest speakers will include David Jones, luxury freelance design consultant, Allan Scott, from New Planet Fashions, Anna Brett, MD of Image Studio Production, Emma Davidson from Denza International and Emma Crosby, sales manager for Vauxhall Fashion Scout's London exhibition and Paris showroom. With such a stellar line up of speakers, and plenty of delicious refreshments to keep you going all evening, it’s not a night to be missed.

For further details, and to book a ticket, email

Fiona Anderson