BUY LESS, CHOOSE WELL
The world of fashion. It’s a cutthroat, albeit very well dressed, business. For young independent brands it can be almost impossible to sustain a viable – and ethical – company. Years spent studying fashion, art, or design can often do no more than forge a passion for the industry and for the art of creation.
“Everything is out to get the independent designer. A smaller brand equals smaller production, higher surcharges, expensive production runs and fabric orders, and all the stores want discounts and place low orders with returns policies and exclusive rights. All of this eats away at your profit margin. The more ethical and sustainable the product, the fewer options you have, each getting more and more expensive.”
Out there in the big wide world of the competitive High Street and price wars, profit tends to overrule passion. Corners are cut. Souls are sold. And new designers are finding themselves turned away from boutiques because it is hard to sell the unknown.
Experiencing this first hand, designer Rebecca Morter sought to use her inside knowledge to form a new retail concept, handing back the power to the designer and offering the consumer more than just a product; they are offered the story behind the creation and design, as well as a garment carefully and ethically handcrafted, not mass produced, that will outlast anything bought on the High Street.
It is impossible to think that someone who launched their first womenswear brand at London Fashion Week, in conjunction with celebrity collaborations such as Lady Gaga, Charli XCX, and Little Mix – just two years after graduating – should find themselves struggling to build and maintain their business.
“A lot of smaller designers face the same issue when it comes to knowing just how well they’re doing, and if what they are creating is what the consumer wants. You can’t grow and evolve if you’re having to call the stores who stock your designs to ask what the customers think, what they say. More often than not they don’t know themselves. Trying to build a brand from analyzing the returns and spreadsheets of sales is near impossible.”
Born from these frustrations, while vehemently wanting to increase awareness over the use of ethical and quality materials, Morter founded Lone Design Club in 2016. Partnering up with fellow designer Stephanie Fleming, the pair are putting two fingers up to the High Street Corporates. Their aim, and execution, is simple: Short term maximum impact experiential retail – providing small and independent designers and brands with a platform to expose their creations directly to the customer through a series of pop-ups across London, and soon, Europe.
Both women are incredibly passionate about the founding principles behind LDC. A healthy mix of absolute ambition, a steely business nous, an obvious eye for the next big trend, as well as a certain effervescence that oozes girlish charm, it is little wonder designers are queuing up to work with them.
For two years, LDC has arranged pop up concept stores across London, combined with various events such as “Meet the Maker”, jewellery workshops, personal stylist sessions… Building a customer’s trust in LDC to promote the very best in independent brands has in turn created their own loyal customer base, and by proxy, loyal customers of the brands that they represent. The buzz and excitement that you feel when walking into any of their pop-ups is palpable.
Experience led and immersive, this is the real new retail concept. Meet the designers, learn the stories behind the clothes, and come away with garments that will last for years. At least you will have a different reaction when someone says that they love your dress, you can tell them the story of how you bought it directly from the designer, the story behind the material, the inspiration behind the design, instead of the usual “thank you, it has pockets!”
“We’re giving designers the opportunity to have exposure on the ‘High Street’, and by that I mean in a store where they can interact directly with customers. People want experience over materialism from the High Street, they can’t get that easily online, yet for smaller independents that are unknown the High Street is the only place consumers can come to touch, try, and be introduced to these brands before they buy. We are, to an extent, mixing the two, we are rebirthing retail as it needs to evolve and adapt, to become omnichannel and deliver an experience one can’t get online yet craves. You get to meet the designer and find out about how your t-shirt or pair of shoes was made, the thought process behind it, and then you also get to enjoy an exclusive and limited edition piece of consciously and ethically made fashion.”
Past collaborators with LDC have included the taboo breaking, socio-political womenswear brand Conflict of Egos, the ethically mined, fair-trade, statement jewellery designer Linnie Mclarty, and Italian footwear designer Dominic’s.
This latest pop-up, which was open on Greek Street in Soho for the duration of London Fashion Week, proved very successful for LDC and their sponsored brands, enjoying their most successful weekend to date. At the same time, following a one-day trip to pitch in Milan they have just secured their first round of investment, and an international partner in Milan to start their European adventure.
Big things lie ahead for Lone Design Club. With this new kind of shopping experience, wave goodbye to buyer’s guilt.
Click for more info on their upcoming stores:
Visit www.lonedesignclub.com to stay informed of their latest events, and to see the list of represented brands and designers.