Buyers determine what from the catwalk to the sidewalk is being translated. “In this industry there is nothing as important as a forward to keep watching. You have today an excellent day had in terms of sales? Fun. But what are you going to do tomorrow?’
With 85 of runway shows, 45.000 images from Getty photographers, 101.000 volatile cushion, and an endless parade of street style stars who hope that their outfit is clicked by a photographer, you might almost forget where the fashion weeks are really turning. Namely the show and the final sales of the new collections. Who will not soon forget, are the buyers (buyers) of clothing for boutiques. This designers of the fashion industry and are the final voice when it comes to what items it from the catwalk to the store and ultimately to our wardrobe. Two of those buyers are Rob Ehlen and Margot Meessen, owners of high-end multi-brand store Labels in Sittard, in which they together with their son Ramon to operate.
Take us first to the essence of why you are here on London Fashion Week: why are fashion weeks for you as a buyer interesting?
Margot: “If I am honest we did used to have a lot more shows than it is now, it is impossible for such a long time to be away from our shop. We are here now on London Fashion Week because we have been invited by the British Fashion Council and we will let our planning largely up to them. They may during these five days, determine what is important to them that we see. And we also completely open to it.’
Now, each small brand instantly online with photos, videos, and reviews. It is in my opinion too much and too fast.
‘In this way, we see not only the big names and the top designers, but also young, emerging names so we get an idea of what is there now alive and brewing. That is also essential for me when I the shows view, that I touch you get with the collection. Not only so that we have that feeling afterwards can be translated to the customer, but also so that we can then be sure that we make the “right” pieces shopping. The items that the vision of the designer, the brand for that season translate. That is why shows of interest to me continue, feel that they are on your project.’
Rob: “We do indeed have a lot less shows than in the past, but that is not only due to a lack of time. Every show you see now, you can five minutes later or even live on social media channels. There, you can even zoom in on details for an even clearer image of each item. That was used completely differently. When brought to the press afterwards, an overview of the biggest names in the industry, but now every small brand instantly online with photos, videos, and reviews. It is in my opinion too much and too fast.’
Because the whole show online right away, you notice it immediately, which looks and items with the most likes and reposts. If everyone is the same pair of shoes or the same dress starts to post, that affect your purchasing strategy afterwards?
Rob: “I would be lying if I say that it is not so. (laughs) You can if the buyer is impossible to say that that hypes you are not interested in. You will notice that the demand for that specific product there is, so you also know that it will sell if you do it in house. The advantage associated is that it also opens the door for the rest of the collection. If everyone’s obsessed with that specific pair of shoes, to me a light burning that we might have that a more difficult piece from the collection in the house can make it.”
Why is it so important to the vision of every designer to give a correct?
Margot: “It is very easy to get as well as shop to say: we get 100 brand names in the house, but just buying the T-shirts of that brand and the jeansbroeken of that brand. What do you see as a customer of these brands? What do you see the vision and identity of the designer who’s behind it? We find it important to offer our customer a little bit to feed. Them to guide you through the collections and to assist with advice and knowledge behind every product.’
‘Everybody is welcome and we also notice to whom by our door. We have superjonge customers, but also men and women of 60. We have customers that have a lot of money to spend, but also some with a more limited exchange. We, these customers will always help and appreciate it and they grow it in our store. But that can only be if you them from the beginning can do fall backwards with what you have.’
Rob: “What for us the most important thing is, is the designer behind a brand. For example, we are very big fans of Demna Gvasalia and that is also the main reason why we now Balenciaga sales. Nicolas Ghesquière has, during the fifteen years that he was at the helm to the top and then Alexander Wang with the thankless task given to it to take over and is therefore a bit of a pedestal cases. But now with Demna, you will notice something new, a unique identity of its own. Then I must be that brand. Then I want to that it items offer to our customer. That story, that vision.’
Designers and their creative vision, which is where the whole industry runs and supports. You can shop and if buyerniet other than that recognize and respect.
‘Demna is together with Raf Simons the lines and direction of the entire fashion industry to determine. There are brands that me personally less, but if Raf or Demna tomorrow to get there it would attract, then I am the day after tomorrow at that mark on the door, knocking to have it in-house. Designers and their creative vision, which is where the whole industry runs and supports. You can store and as a buyer not otherwise than acknowledge that and respect it.’
Spotting you that key pieces that you will definitely want to have all during the shows?
Margot: ‘I am there other than Rob. With me is a feeling, a personal love for an item. If I see something then I know immediately whether I want to have. Sometimes I can already predict that the item in question will not sell in the store. That I pull me not to. What is harder, is that sometimes during a show in love with a collection of some pieces. If you then later on in the showrooms comes down to that, specific documents to review and to order, you hear sometimes that’s all that show items cancelled before production. I can be very evil to be. I understand not why they are just that-pieces, which are so crucial for the image of the collection, the production will not make it.”
Rob: ‘That process makes it nearly impossible for a show to decide which pieces you want to have for the shop. I this decision can only make in the showroom. If you will go see how many show pieces of the runways here in London effectively in the high-end stores end up… That you can be counted two hands.’
How are you as buyers as compared with the whole, ‘see now, buy now’ to happen?
Margot: “For me personally, that does not at all. I think it is now all already to go fast. I think that you people the time has to give something to get used to. To a trend, to a vision, to a new style. But with the rise of social media and everything now. You can see the spring/summer 2018 collections now on your phone to appear, so people also start immediately to us to call them to do that specific piece of like. That doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.’
Rob: “I make about that subject, often to the comparison with the music world. In the past when a new album would come true, then you wrote that date in your diary and then began the waiting and the countdown until you finally get that cd might be able to pick and listen to. Now bring artists beforehand dropwise numbers, and when the final cd in the racks is there are only a few songs that you didn’t know. This ensures that your album superficial is going to listen to, and so you’ll never be completely in the atmosphere that the artist had in mind when he made the album composed. That is the same with ‘see now, buy now’.’
‘You miss as a customer, the story, the vision, the atmosphere. Those things need time. Magazines there must be a story around, customers should be able to get used to the idea.’
That speed of production, brand, the, ‘see now, buy now’-craziness also in the number of collections that designers have in a year to produce.
Rob: “It’s such as Alber Elbaz says:” you can not have four collections in a year.” It simply can not. There is no author of whom we expect that he is four books in one year would release, or a musician four plates. But in the fashion industry is four collections (and then I let haute couture for some still not) are almost the minimum. It can’t be that a designer four times per year with the necessary creativity. That pre-collections, that are really just reworked versions of inspiration from the main collection.’
There is no author of whom we expect that he is four books in one year would release, or a musician four plates. But in the fashion industry is four collections almost the minimum.
But that pre-collections are very important for the store?
Margot: “Yes, because we have them for a longer period of time to be able to sell. The large seizoencollecties: autumn/winter and spring/summer, often come too late and sell a little harder. I find that collections are usually just more exciting and pre-collections often commercial, but they do sell very well. Of me would feel free to two or even one collection per year, but that’s not possible. Sometimes the customer knows even more what collection it now is correct.’
Rob: “Many brands also have their own monobrand stores and if there’s only two times a year new features are, then people get quickly bored. For us as a multi brand store, is less of importance, but we can no longer look. It is now so well established.’
Before you start the real madness only when the fashion weeks and shows and the showrooms, and re-sees start. How do you see days there will be around during that period?
Rob: “I consider that week to be always at top level. We do about six to seven showrooms per day. Every morning we need to 9 hours start with the first showroom and then as soon as you come outside running to the next appointment. The last showroom, we are often only outside around half past 9 in the evening or even later and then we eat a quick bite and we go back to the hotel, because the day after we must be there again at 9 am to begin.”
Margot: ‘I am special ‘diet’ to follow, or better on my nutrition started to watch, simply because I weeks at that level should be able to handle. I am 49 and my body should be life span. Your meals that day are a little fast in between and you have to constantly run to each appointment. We must also, in every showroom, the pieces that interest us doorpassen to know how they will fall, photos of take to afterwards, to be able to review our decision, we should be careful that we budget to keep an eye… and so we sometimes have three to four hours in one showroom. There is so much more than simply a few T-shirts and shorts and the select that we are beautiful.’
Will the crowds still persist when you after the showrooms in Paris at home again?
Margot: “That can you yourself not imagine. It is too crazy for words. Most buyers sit in the office and after all the hustle and bustle on the holidays, but we run our own shop. So for us it stops the never. We have a very busy period for me at the start of the season, then leave on the purchase, focus on it and when we are back in the shop to arrive the crowds over there will just go while we still all orders must be placed. Ramon, our son, also works at Renaissance in Antwerp and he is so crazy every day after work to Sittard to ride with us.’
Rob:“We have until half past three at night often preoccupied with quantities to fill in. During the showrooms, we have our selection made, but afterwards we will be able to decide which items it will pick up that season, in what quantities and for what amounts. That days discuss, we are also the hardest amongst us, the three of us because we each have our own vision of each collection. People who us is doing will sometimes think that we have an argument.’
There is much more to it than simply a few T-shirts and shorts and the select that we are beautiful.
In your job as buyer is so much stress look, it is the passion that eventually ensures that you remain motivated?
Margot: ‘Fashion is not that beautiful, glittering world that everyone has in mind. It is extremely hard work. I am since we have the shop, not yet on summer vacation. It is to work hard every day. Take time to reflect and enjoy we seldom do. If we now return, would look at three years ago, we, of course, been quite a few further. I don’t want to experience that we are on our * sixty and fifth, an analysis would make and regret of ‘fun shop’. We do this really like. And that everyone can notice, I think.’
Rob: “I was received by me this is definitely not, but what we do is top-class sport. You should do it out of passion. And then you will occasionally have to leave. In this industry there is nothing as important as a forward to keep watching. You have today an excellent day had in terms of sales? Fun. But what are you going to do tomorrow?’