Scoop sees 'business as usual' with successful show
Scoop’s return to the Saatchi Gallery for its AW23 edition this week not only underlined the return to normality for the fashion sector but also appears to have been a big success with brands telling us they were writing orders from day one.
Organisers reported the highest-ever number of buyers in attendance for an Autumn show. A host of Indies turned up including Stanwells, Aria, Chattertons, Cavells, Morley Stores, Pamela Shiffer, Elizabeth Rose, Young Ideas, Cordelia James, Kate Bird, Gemini, Javelin, Jules B, Doyles, McElhinneys, and more.
And it attracted big names too, with teams from Matchesfashion, Browns, Harrods, Galeries Lafayette, Liberty, Fenwick, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols, Le Bon Marché, and Anthropologie Europe out in force.
The general consensus was that the return to the Saatchi (after last season’s appearance at Olympia and several seasons in Shoreditch) was a great move. And there’s no denying that the accessibility, general ambience and room arrangement at the gallery work very well for the show.
And as mentioned, brands were writing orders. Nicola Jones and Ruth Taylor launched their still-young sustainable intimates brand Endless Love Affair at the event and said they “had an amazing response, opened our first few accounts on the first morning. Buyers have loved the colour and prints”.
Brand after brand also said business has been going well, despite the wider gloom and this year has started strongly. That’s perhaps something confused to the premium and luxury sectors though. The show very much reflects what’s happening in those sectors with an end customer who’s largely unaffected by the cost-of-living crisis.
Not that they’re completely unaffected and more than one brand told us that there’s some price sensitivity with buyers who might previously have been focused on dresses to sell at around £350, now laser-focused on £250 instead.
Trend-wise, that target market was expected to have a big focus on occasionwear and that was therefore big news at the show, while the floral print maxi dress remained the star item for both day and evening.
This time around it comes tiered or tunic-shaped, with balloon sleeves (long or short) being a statement detail seen across many ranges.
Knit was big news too from knits that mimicked woven for dresses, coats and jackets that were smart (but with a much more easy-wear post-pandemic feel) to the proliferation of softer-than-soft chunky yarns (with bubblegum pink the favourite colour). The big pink cardy should be everywhere this autumn.
Danish brand Noella (handled by the Inside Out agency) was doing a roaring trade with such pieces, so much so that staff on the stand couldn’t even get away for some lunch on day one.
Indies were enthusiastically buying into its textured short balloon sleeve occasionwear, as well as its longer balloon sleeve soft, fluffy (and definitely not itchy) knits. It’s autumn jackets and winter puffers (in blue and green stylised animal prints) were also strong.
Ignoring individual styles, an overarching key trend was sustainability. From ethical production to trainers made from plant ‘leather’, a ‘doing-good’ approach for brands is now the accepted norm.
For instance, Conditions Apply, which has been showing at Scoop for many years, was heavily touting its sustainability credentials. But because thinking eco and ethical is now the norm, it was able to combine that with pieces that were once hard to make sustainable, such as pearl embroidery.
The brand, which also uses lots of traditional Indian fabrics (including those using the jamdani weaving technique), said business is buoyant. It told us that “we had a great spring/summer with lots of our regulars coming back to us. We've just come back from Who's Next in Paris and that was really good with lots of returning European customers”.
Another brand riding the sustainability wave with ease was MoEa (short for Mother Earth), represented by agency Trend Union. The French vegan label specialises in trainers made 100% from plant waste and recycled/natural rubber. In fact, watching the reaction of show visitors, there was a lot of surprise at just how vegan all the materials are given that the shoes look and feel like regular leather.
“Every part of the shoe is completely vegan, it's all from fruit waste. We’ve got apple skins, corn skins, grape skins, and pineapple,” the agency (which was writing plenty of orders at the show) told us. “People have been shocked that they're actually made from fruit, but they’re responding really well as we don't think there's another brand that's quite like this…. lots of vegan shoes out there but not from as many fruits as this”.
With retail prices ranging from around £135 to £170, they’re accessibly priced while also having the premium edge and brilliant back story that made them stand out from the crowd.
As MoEa shows, Scoop is a key jumping off point for new brands and for further developing a still-nascent business.
Magpie agency, which was showing Danish brand Moliin Copenhagen, launched the brand to the UK market at the show for SS20 and said Scoop helped it “build a fantastic consumer base”. With the label still relatively new to the UK, Magpie was using Scoop this time to put the brand in front of British buyers who might not have seen it yet and especially in front of Irish buyers as Magpie doesn’t have a presence on the ground in Ireland.
The print-led brand (which also added block colours for this season) syncs very well with the key pretty, easy, slightly Bohemian look for the season across its dresses and blouses, with some strong colour combos for knitwear.
Like others, it wrote orders at the show and connected with new customers, despite some initial nervousness that business might be slow, even with its very commercial price points (around £200 retail for a dress). “We were quite nervous about autumn/winter sales and what the mood music would be like with quite a gloomy outlook in December. But, so far, we’ve found the selling season to be quite buoyant. even though it’s still quite early,” they told us.
A very different brand, Diego Lazzaroni, was a first-timer at the event and something of an outlier given its ultra-high price points and super-sexy Rivera-style.
Its founder has an impeccable background having worked on mainline collections for Gianfranco Ferré, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana (latterly in senior deign positions and also taking in haute couture).
The time with Dolce helped hone his ultra-commercial instincts and having also independently studied the Chinese market for two years, Lazzaroni launched his signature label as a resort offer two seasons ago. Now extended with more dresses and fine-knit pieces, it’s a very “yacht-to-dinner-party” look targeting someone who’s very confident in their style.
Still in start-up mode, Lazzaroni is focusing on widening the product offer from the original beachwear, “trying to be as sustainable as we can,” and keeping it ultra-luxe. That means signature details such as its own sequin thread (that’s difficult to work with and not something many suppliers can handle), or the velvet-look material that’s actually a very fine chenille knit. Prices also scream high-end with entry prices in the mid-hundreds for beachwear rising to a couple of thousand. But that’s still deliberately pitched well below the level of runway designer mainline collections.
Meanwhile, the Self Service agency was also showing some still-new brands from Australia. Apartment (or APT) is a sustainable Sydney-based label with plenty of organic cotton and recycled polyester pieces, plus silks. Shapes are simple and can be layered for warm or cool-weather dressing. The brand is only just starting UK distribution and the look makes the most of easy silhouettes and impactful colours (mandarin, lavender, copper) for a versatile “office-to-bar” look.
The agency was also showing Billy Boo, featuring hand drawn prints, and a mixture of loose and more fitted silhouettes with a focus on detail (particularly lingerie-style or details from another era, inspired by the designer’s English grandmother). It’s meant to be fun, feminine and flirty, with lots of ruffles and frills, and has already scored a big-name fan, being stocked in Harvey Nichols.
Finally, it offered Andean collective, which is a new brand to the agency. Based in Australia but working with female-owned factories in Peru, there’s a lot hand knits with a big focus on intense colour (pink, purple, rich green) and covetable soft yarns.
Self Service told us that buyers were responding well to the stories behind the brands at the show and there was a generally upbeat mood among them. “What's nice is that speaking to UK boutiques they've all had a really good Christmas that's giving everyone a good head start for this year,” they said.
That was a view repeated by Scoop stalwart Jane. MD Kalpa Shah told us that “buyers are really pleased that it's back at the Saatchi Gallery because it's a lovely venue and I think more buyers than I've seen in recent seasons are making the effort to come. People have started January really well. We deal with quite top end stores that have said their good customers are coming in and buying amazing spring outfits already. Anyone who's had their new delivery is really happy and just wants to see the back of last year and start afresh.”
As for business now, she added that “it’s really positive. There’s still a backlog on weddings and events and occasions from the pandemic a lot of people are planning a lot of nice things this year. We're starting really positively and we've got some beautiful things for next winter.”
Jane’s one of many labels seeing stronger occasionwear demand. “If anything our wholesale customers are really looking for more event-wear clothes to celebrate in. We still do very professional workwear, but that side of the business is much calmer and we sell to those customers directly whereas wholesale clients are really looking to dress their women customers with occasionwear.”
The current business strength is encouraging after a 2022 second half blighted by “all that political turmoil in September that really pulled the rug from under us. We were surprised at the impact, combined with the mild winter and a few delays with suppliers that made October-November a tricky part of the year.”
But January “has been fantastic so we've basically made up for the shortfall”.
So what is Jane offering for AW23? There’s print (a Chelsea flower print as well as some statement duotones), plus jewel-tone velvets and crepes. It’s very much the Jane signature look with a strong occasion edge (contrast velvet collars, pussy bows, even some sparkle and fashion tweeds).
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