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Pure London opens with a feeling of 'newness'

By Vivian Hendriksz

8 Feb 2015

The underground to Olympia, London was packed with cheery fashion buyers, visitors and exhibitors alike Sunday morning, hailing the buoyant kick off to women’s wear trade fair Pure London.

Inside the event hall the sun was shining through the exhibition windows, reflecting the positive atmosphere which seemed to be catching among all attendees at Pure, which includes over 800 exhibitors for Autumn/Winter 15-16 as well as selected short-order labels for Spring/Summer ’15. At Dutch fashion label Oilily, marketing director Gijs de Kogel laughs at the irony of being inside all day, noting that visitors still come to Pure, whether rain or shine.

“This is the first time we show at Pure, and we are very pleased with the way things have been going so far. It is in a beautiful venue, with large windows, so at least we can see some of the sunshine indoors,” he says. The fashion label, which recently refocused its attention on women’s wear with a new strategy, decided to attend the trade event for the first time because they felt the time was right to bring their new look to the UK market. “We decided to show at Pure because we heard it was the best trade show that attracted buyers who mean business. Buyers who want to buy.” Judging by the buzz filling up the venue’s two halls by mid-afternoon, business at Pure was booming. “We like the brand mix here and the sense of newness as well.”

Pure London is the best trade show to attract buyers who 'mean business'

Newness is one of the main three pillars that Pure London’s organisers, i2i Events Group, emphasis on to keep the bi-annual event going strong. “What our retailers in the UK, as well as overseas, want is newness,” explains Julie Driscoll, portfolio director for Pure. “They absolutely focus on bringing new brands into their stores which will create a point of differentiate on the high street. So we really have focused on the brand mix and brought in brands with a strong story to tell this season. Whether that be bringing new brands to Agenda or Aspire, or new brands to Footwear and Accessories brands, focusing on emerging designers with strong capsule collections, we aim to create a feeling of newness.”

So far the newcomer Dutch label has attracted interest from buyers at Liberty London, who seemed very interested in the label’s own printed fabrics, from House of Fraser and John Lewis, which could suggest that Driscoll’s feeling for newness may be right on the money. “We chose Pure over the other UK fashion trade fairs because we wanted to attract higher quality buyers, as we did in Germany when we attended Premium,” adds de Kogel. “We are currently focused on finding the right type of buyers for the brand, who have the right type of stores and clientele for our brand. Of course, we would love to be in a store like Harrods or Liberty, but we have to wait and see. It will happen once they see other similar stores picking up our brand.”

Improving the quality of buyers attending the event is another area Driscoll and her team have been focusing on this season. “We are more focused on the quality of our buyers. That is a key thing we focused on this season,” revealed Driscoll. “We really measured ourselves against our VIP buyer and we map them by looking at the quality buyers our brands tells us are good and we work closely with industry services like WGSN to attract those buyers.”

Pure London's 37th edition to attract higher quality buyers

“We also launched the Best of British Awards, which is a small award ceremony we will be holding on Monday night at Pure London catwalk at 6. There we aim to reward and engage with the very best of independent retailers in the UK. And that has been a real tactic for us to ensure we get great buyers to come to the show and to show them new brands, which has been very well received. Then we also will launch our Buyers Power List for August, which will celebrate and honour the most influential buyers in the UK as well as buyer teams working for retailers in the UK. So these are all things we have done to improve our buyer quality.”

Kogel adds that the team has been very pleased with the event team’s recommendation for the stall location, although he initially wanted to be placed in another section and would have liked to seen it a little more reflective of the brand’s personal DNA. “Although the stand may be a little more bare than we are used too, we are in a great spot in Agenda, with a lot of traffic going by and near strong UK brands like Kerber, where you have Mrs. Kerber the owner of the brand at the stall speaking to the buyers herself, which is so inspiring to see.” Another new-comer brand to the event who was also pleased with their prime location was Antoinette.

Janine Fichna, founder and CEO of the German contemporary label Antoinette said: “Pure really is a beautiful fair. We are so happy with our stand and with the fact Pure managed to arrange everything in just three weeks.” Located near the cloakrooms in Aspire, Fichna says that by 9.15 am there was a huge queue for the wardrobe going passed our stall, which led to a lot of interest for us.” During the first 15 minutes alone the brand managed to place 3 orders, with a number of visitors asking if the brand was related to the former label Miss Antonette. “The atmosphere is really great here, it really feels a lot like Bread & Butter did in the early days, when it was first starting to become big.”

Although it is still early in the event, Fichna hopes to see more quality buyers as well for the brand. “I have to say, I wish there were more upscale brands here and not so many inexpensive ones. Some independent buyers seemed a little bit scared when they saw our prices, saying they were too high, but I think it is because they are not used to seeing more higher end market labels at Pure, so it would be good if more buyers from department stores like Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols would stop by as well.”

Over in Spirit, Kerry Liddell, head of marketing for newcomer Unique 21, feels like Pure is a good fit for the young, trend led label. “We attended Moda last season, which was good for us but it did not feel like it was the right platform for us to connect with the right buyers. Pure seems to fit much better with our brand identity and we are really happy with the event so far. We have had a lot of traffic come by this morning and afternoon and there has been significant interest in not only our Autumn/Winter collections but also our Spring/Summer ’15 collections as well.”

Pure London is the 'only viable trade fair' in the UK

“Pure is the only viable trade fair for MinkPink in the UK,” according to Phil Lawler, sales manager for the Australian label. The vintage inspired fashion label has matured over the years with its core customer and decided that now was the right time to return to the UK after a few year absence and present their new look at the London trade event. “We attended Pure in the past, so when we decided to come back to the trade circuit it made sense to show at Pure once more.”

Recycled leather handbag label PaperThinks is another satisfied returning exhibitor to Pure. “This is our third time at Pure and we are really pleased with the event,” said Lou Hunt, key accounts manager for the accessories label. ‘“There is always a good turn out here at Pure, although things did seem to be a little bit slower last season compared to this season so far. The mix of brands and buyers makes Pure the best fit for our brand. The event organisers always seem to do their best to make the show different for everyone each season."

Pure London to introduce menswear

One major change to come to Pure next season will be the addition of menswear. "We are going to launch menswear for August 2015. We have already had over 125 meetings with new brands for next season and we are looking to bring in an edited selection of menswear," adds Driscoll. "The response has been extremely positive, there is definitely an opportunity for a womenswear and menswear show under one roof."

"The menswear will be reflection of the womenswear, an edited selection that covers all price ranges from mid to high point, which is what our buyers are looking for. Many boutiques are introducing menswear at the moment and over 20 percent of our buyers already stock menswear so there is absolutely no reason not to do it. All our research supports the launch of our menswear section. For the first season we want to launch at least 30 brands for menswear, footwear and accessories. We have some really strong connections with mens fashion, footwear, accessories and jewellery so I am very excited for the offering we will be bringing our buyers from across Europe."