- Isabella Griffiths |
As glorious summer sun shone down on Kensington’s Olympia, a bustling atmosphere dominated the s/s 19 edition of London trade show Pure. Despite the sweltering temperatures outside – and inside – the mood amongst buyers and exhibitors was positive, particularly in the busy main hall, while new sectors Pure Conscious and the expanded Pure Origin added newness and a further diversified line-up.
Sunday kicked off this season’s edition with strong footfall across all sectors of the show, including contemporary, premium and fast fashion womenswear, accessories, footwear, athleisure, menswear and a small edit of childrenswear. This continued into Monday, and whilst there were pockets of quieter areas throughout the day, particularly in the upstairs segments, the general consensus among exhibitors was that the show attracted a high calibre of independent and store buyers, with good order volumes and boosted confidence in the market.Summer Spring 2019 edition of Pure London through the eyes of FashionUnited correspondent
Strong debut for Pure Conscious
Pure’s focus on sustainability continued this season with the debut of Pure Conscious, a dedicated area with a curated mix of ethical brands across accessories, fashion and footwear, with emerging designers sitting alongside more established labels such as People Tree. “It’s been a great show for us. We have previously been in the main hall, but it’s nice to be among like-minded labels and to see this sector of the market getting more attention and its own dedicated area,” says Anna Birse, head of wholesale for People Tree to FashionUnited.
This was mirrored by Tanya Jain, owner of Pasithea, which made its UK foray at the show. “This has been a great platform to launch for us. We have made some very valuable contacts and enjoyed the exposure this has given us. I’m impressed that a show is embracing and pushing the topic of sustainability, it’s the right thing to do for our industry, and it has put us in touch with the right stores,” Jain says.
Retailers also expressed praise for Pure Conscious. “It’s great that there is an area dedicated to sustainability and that you can view like-minded labels in one place. My shop specialises in ethical and sustainable brands, so this is a very relevant segment for me. I would like to see even more brands in this section in the future,” says Alexandra Boardman, owner of Alexandra’s in Keswick to FashionUnited.
Over in Pure Origin, the sourcing event which was launched last season, it was generally quieter, however exhibitors nevertheless reported a steady, if slower, stream of visitor interest. “It’s been relatively quiet, however, the contacts we have made have been positive and promising. It’s important to support events like this and good for us to be seen. It’s something we can build on,” says Arun Bagga, director at knitwear manufacturer Dee Kay Knitwear.
Grace Zhao, merchandising manager at Sumec Group, concurs: “It’s been very useful to be part of Pure Origin, it’s been good exposure, but also a learning curve. We have had fruitful conversations with brands and buyers. Some found our minimum orders of 3000 pounds a bit high, so this is something we will have to take away as valuable feedback and consider for next time,” Zhao says.
Commercial product and strong collections dominate in main hall
Meanwhile, in the main hall, the mood was generally upbeat, with mainstream, contemporary and higher-end brands presenting their latest s/s 19 collections, which were characterised by bold colours, vibrant prints, texture-rich styles and trends that offered plenty of commercial potential.
“We didn’t stop on Sunday and Monday was also very busy. Pure is always a good show for us, and we saw many of our core customers but also picked up new stockists. Buyers seem quite confident this season and the order volumes have been very healthy indeed, which we are very pleased about. Colour and prints have been our bestsellers,” says Patricia Stooke, agent for Danish brand Cream.
Martine Marcelle, director of Belgian brand Mes Soeurs et Moi, confirms this view. “We don’t have UK agents, so Pure is our main platform and once again this season has been strong. We were very busy and come away with good order volumes and some new leads, too, which is always important, as well as having seen our core clients and a number of international buyers, mainly from Ireland.”
In menswear, which was adjacent to the lively Spirit section, exhibitors were also happy with the show’s outcome. “We’ve only been going for 16 months and are debuting our brand here in menswear, and it’s been a really positive experience. I think this has been the right launch pad for us; we’re happy with our decision to show,” says Christian Gould, creative director of 100 Hail Marys.
This is mirrored by Alex Newman, CEO of Rupert and Buckley: “We’ve not been as busy as last season, but then we were totally rammed. Overall, it’s been good and we’re definitely happy to have exhibited here as Pure is the only trade show we are taking part in,” he says.
Buyers on the hunt for niche labels and transitional product
The clash of Pure with premium trade show Scoop did not seem to be a problem, especially as a free VIP taxi service between the two events meant a smooth transition. Buyers were on the lookout for niche labels with wow factor, as well as transitional products that could withstand weather conditions and fast trends.
“We’re in London for three days and are also doing Scoop. It’s great that there is a taxi service, it makes it so much easier to go between the two. In terms of product, we are particularly looking for transseasonal pieces, as it’s getting harder and harder to predict the weather, and we are also forced to take deliveries of stock so early that it’s not always reflective of the conditions outside, like coats in August. So we are specifically looking for collections and styles that can be sold in between seasons,” says Angharad Bury, director of Visage based just outside of Cardiff.
Jenny Armstrong from Rhubarb Boutique in Portadown, Northern Ireland, was also looking for smaller labels with a point of interest. “We’ve come to Pure to look for labels that are a little bit more niche and exciting. We want to find individual labels that also offer a degree of exclusivity, and we think we have found a couple of gems,” she says.
Pertinent content programme tackles sustainability and diversity
Once again Pure’s content programme gathered high-profile speakers and panel discussions, with key topics centred around sustainability and diversity in fashion.
On Sunday Radio 1 presenter and fashion designer Maya Jama took to the main stage, speaking about the current culture for inclusivity and diversity, while Laura Balmond from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation outlined the organisation’s vision for a circular economy, setting out how manufacturers, brands and consumers can get on board and join forces to redesign fashion’s future.
On Monday the conversation continued with a panel discussion at the Origin Stage, with panellists including Fashion Revolution’s Orsola de Castro, Vin + Omi co-founder Omi and blogger and diversity campaigner Natalie Lee as well as host Caryn Franklin addressing issues around ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry.
In her keynote address, Professor Caryn Franklin further called on the industry to embrace diversity and change, with vivid examples from her long career and personal role as an industry thought leader and ‘disruptive fashion lover’. “The global marketplace is changing, culturally, geographically and politically. Change can take time, it requires tenacity, consistency and requires us to be fixed on the vision, to become a stakeholder in the things that matter to you. Whatever that is and no matter how small. All it takes is the power of one to drive change.”
On Tuesday the seminar programme continued with fashion editor Hilary Alexander hosting a panel discussion on the future of fashion, and Jessica McGoverne from Sedex mapping out the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and how retailers can incorporate this into their business plans.
Speaking to FashionUnited, Julie Driscoll, managing director of Pure London, said she was thrilled with how the show had gone. “I am absolutely energised by this edition. The atmosphere has been electric. We’ve had 722 brands showcasing over 1300 collections from fibre to the finished product. Our new areas have had a great reception and we have welcomed key buyers from the likes of Selfridges, River Island, Topshop, Victoria Beckham and Asos,” she says. “We continue to listen to retailers and exhibitors and what their key challenges are, and we try to incorporate that into the show. I’m pleased that we have delivered another relevant and strong edition,” she adds.
Photo credits: Photo 1, 2, 5 and 6 by FashionUnited
Photo 3,4 courtesy of Pure London