We spend the day casually talking with exhibitors at the new Pure London and Pure Origin FashionShow at Olympia London.
I am walking my dog at silly o’clock in the morning near a beach somewhere in Devon and one of my neighbours passes by.
“I’m taking the train to London, to a Conference”, I say.
“You must be out of your mind”, he says.
This is the Monday 18th July, and I should have visited the Show yesterday, but yesterday was the hottest day of the year, and even the trains weren’t running, so no – let’s go today instead. And they have promised free drinks and food at the end of the day.
Today is even hotter. I am already sticky. This is the first day ever in the UK where we have a red danger warning. The train companies say we should only go “if our journey is absolutely essential! ”
What wimps. I remember my student days working in a textile factory in Prato Italy in the summer. God that was hot! No, London will be fine. The trains have airco.
The Pure London and Pure Origin Shows, combined, are having a makeover, a resurgence, after two years away. Billed as a Show with “Real Wow Factor, and everyone is very excited, it is the start of the buying season for retailers and their suppliers, new and old.
It is a pity about the weather. They do have airco on my long distance train, but it arrives 1 hour and 40 minutes late into London. The tube also is cool. But the bus from High Street Kensington is steamy and overcrowded. The 200 yard walk to the Show entrance is stifling.
The organisers have done their best; I already have my Invitation which included the Catwalk and the free cocktails and the two courses of canapés, and the girl at Reception insists she gives me a voucher for a free cold drink.
The 200 – or so Exhibitors are fabulous. There is an immediate splash of colours and long flowing garments.
But it is 14.00 and already, nobody is interested in having any conversation whatsoever. It is not insufferable, but it is just too much of a trouble for most of the exhibitors to get up and try to be excited. Only one Exhibitor that we talked to, had an Order pad on their knee.
Yet, hidden away, in plain sight, there were some jewels of excellence.
Best was The Wicher company, a two-sister Partnership, where Inez Wicher, the designer, proudly showed me the spectacular choice of dresses and styles. Her flowing dress pictured here is one of their favourite pieces. It is their first time at the Show, they are launching in the Uk from Poland.
“People said we are expensive”, she said, worryingly. I said no, “you should focus on perceived value’ – the actual cost is not important”.
Tasha at SuzyD London, was far more pragmatic. “We are already international and it has taken years from the ground up”. We talk about everything, including scary movies.
Salvador Wowenicki, owner of the Nosugar Clothing label from Poland, had brought his young daughter to front the Stand, as she was the designer of their range. Completely different from others, they had a range of sharp women’s suits.
Zoe at the Bl-nk Stand was deep in her paperwork but had a super range of long garments, and introduced me to her design team. She smiles at me and looks up. They had done this before, they knew their customers.
Ruben at Marie Mero was a little more hesitant. “We are not sure about this” he says. The stand is deserted. But his team are smiling, and it is not anybody’s fault. It is just hard work getting up the energy to have a meaningful conversation, and so many stands are just talking among themselves.
People gravitate towards the Catwalk at 17.00 – Suzanne Ellingham is already delivering a sharp and flowing small speech and video about their plans. It is all great stuff, convincing. We exchange cards.
But I am already tired. I take a glass of Prosecco – thanks – but I can’t face another 5 hours on a train for my return journey, so I skip the canapés and the live music. I snatch a pasty from the bakery shop at Paddington station and call my wife to say I should be home sometime after 23.00.
Will I go next year? Yes of course. This Show has tremendous potential. The trick is to link it to the Wimbledon Tennis, where, as we all know, it rains every year.