- Vivian Hendriksz |
It may be hard for those active in the UK children's wear market to imagine that there was no Dot to Dot two years ago. Since its first edition at the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in London, the event has grown from a pop-up showroom for children's wear to a fully-fledged independent trade fair.
In the run up for its fifth edition at The Vinyl Factory, in London, FashionUnited took a moment to talk to the co-founders and organizers of the event, Nicole Frobusch of Nixie Clothing and Carly Gledhill of Corby Tindersticks.
Dot to Dot London: The British counterpart to Playtime
"We met in Paris, at Playtime and Nicole was a few rows down from me, I had to walk past her to go to the toilets," explains Gledhill, on how the concept for Dot to Dot London came to be. "We had a little chat, and we were saying ‘why isn't there a show like Playtime in London?' It’s inspiring, has a great atmosphere and you get to know all the brands." Interestingly enough, it wasn't the first time the two had met. A few years earlier at an edition of Bubble London, Frobusch spotted Gledhill showing her collection.
"It was her first show and I just went ‘wow, thank goodness’," says Frobusch. "There was a real lack of interesting things going on at that time and I was so frustrated because everyone was copying each other at the time." She admittedly fell in love with Gledhill designs, but it took a number years until the two became the team they are today. Reunited in Paris, the two started discussing the idea of launching their own children's wear event across the channel.
"All the really cool and beautiful brands weren't showing in London and were showing in Paris instead. So we thought we need to do something for our home brands, where they have a platform where they can show themselves," adds Frobusch. Thus Dot to Dot was born, and christened with it name after a night in the pub, with a couple of friends. At first the duo started out presenting brands they knew, holding their first at the V&A, as they were able to rent a room "for a reasonable price."
Both designers agree that Dot to Dot started out quite organically, and indeed is still growing organically as well. With every event the show has grown in many ways and improved at the same time. "The trade show is much more professional now, we know what we are doing," jokes Gledhill. "Yes, we know a little bit more what we are doing," adds Frobusch. The trade fair has also grown in terms of brands showing, up from 15 brands to 45, with both local and internationals brands showing next edition including the likes of Beau Loves, Love Frankie and Maison Chaos.
Dot to Dot London: The platform for local and international children's wear
However, although both organizers agree the show should keep growing, they do adhere to a strict policy when it comes to which brands exhibit at Dot to Dot. "As both me and Carly had our own children’s wear brands, well Carly still has hers, we made a show that is in the best interest of the brands showing," points out Frobusch. "We try to protect them a lot because it’s one thing I feel trade shows could do better in." In other words, Dot to Dot does not let anyone in who is not a fashion buyer or a member of the press and can prove it at the door, so to speak.
Obviously such a strict visiting policy does affect the attendance numbers, but both designers are firm believers in quality over quantity in terms of visitors. "And talking to the brands and talking to the press, they are very happy about how the show has been going," says Gledhill. "They appreciate that we look after them and don’t like too similar brands showing at the same time." By limiting the types of brands exhibiting, Frobusch and Gledhill are able to cultivate a unique cluster of brands, whilst being able to ensure that no two similar brands show at the same time.
This in turns reduces the stress and pressure on brands showing, as they know anyone who visits Dot to Dot comes to do business and reassures buyers that everything they see is indeed one-of-a-kind. "The brands we select to show are brands we like, potentially not things we've seen before," stresses Frobusch. At the same time, the duo like to make sure there is a wide variety of brands showing, so that there is something for everyone.
"We had some amazing buyers last season and are extremely happy we able being acknowledged now," notes Gledhill. The trade show is also attracting more international attention and will be presenting a number of international brands next edition as "they bring with them a breeze of fresh air." Now the trade event is getting even more attention, from buyers and media alike, Frobusch and Gledhill have decided to try and give back to upcoming designers through a new area, 'Spark.'
Dot to Dot London aims to bring 'a breathe fresh air' to children's wear
Dedicated to new and emerging brands, this area of the event will promote smaller, start up brands and help connect them with potential buyers. Not to leave out other more established brands, the duo have also set up an internal competition for next season, which will honour three brands at Dot to Dot.
"It’s a small show, but people have the time to see all the stands, we have great quality brands and a lot is made in UK," says Gledhill, who hopes to see Dot to Dot grow to include 70 brands over the next few years and become an international must-see.
Photo copyrights: Dot to Dot London