Q&A with Julie Driscoll, Managing Director at Pure London

Pure London is set to open its Autumn/Winter 2018-2019 edition under its new theme 'We are London' this Sunday. Running from February 11th to 13th at London Olympia, the fashion trade show will present 800 brands across eight curated show sectors. As the largest fashion trade show in London, Pure London is set to welcome more than 17,000 UK international visitors, who come to see the event's offering of emerging talents as well as established brands.

Ahead of its upcoming event, Yankeemagazines took a moment to speak to Julie Driscoll, Pure London's recently promoted Managing Director to learn more about the current changes taking place at the event, the new sourcing area set to launch as well as its plans for the future.

Q&A with Julie Driscoll, Managing Director at Pure London

What does your new role as Managing Director at Pure London entail?

Julie Driscoll: “I previously served as the Portfolio Director at Pure London and I looked after some other events but only from a commercial point of view. Whereas now I look after all the marketing, all the content, all of the operations as well as the commercial side of things. It really brings brand focus and the possibility to focus on new projects. The whole team was restructured and we have already seen many positive changes as a result of that. For us, it is really important that everyone who works at Pure is an expert in fashion, so I am restructuring the team to ensure that fashion focus and expertise comes across.”

Q&A with Julie Driscoll, Managing Director at Pure London

You previously said that you wanted Pure London to become the biggest men's and women's wear trade show in London - do you feel like you have accomplished this?

“Not yet - it’s still a work in progress. But I think having a women’s wear event that has been running for 20 years and trying to match that to our men’s section which only launched two years ago was possibly a little bit early. However, menswear has done really, really well and we are pleased with the progress that it is making. I think it is an organic growth rather than an exponential growth. Pure London has grown to the size it has because it has built up s over the last 20 years and it has taken time to build those key s. Retailers, brands, the whole supply chain, we have s everywhere.”

“In order to keep on growing, we are extending our knowledge by working with experts like London College of Style, Central Saint Martins, and Coloro to ensure the latest trends are reflected in menswear and womenswear presented at the event. We have also realized that being able to tell the story behind the clothing is really important to retailers as well as brands. We don’t get that story from massed produced labels so for independent boutiques, indies, we are encouraging a diversified offering. We are encouraging them to be adventurous and to take on new exciting brands.”

Q&A with Julie Driscoll, Managing Director at Pure London

How has Pure London grown over the past two seasons? What is new this season at Pure London ?

“We grow organically from the sectors we have - menswear, womenswear, footwear, and accessories are the broad areas we have. But we are set to launch a new area this February which is all about sourcing - it’s called Pure Origin. The vision for Pure London is to have a festival of fashion which starts at the fiber and goes all the way through to the finished fashion product. That’s our direction of travel at the moment. We will have over 80 exhibitors from fabric suppliers to manufacturers at Pure London in their own dedicated area. This is the first time we are introducing this concept, it is brand new. It will be supported by a conference, which covers everything from the circular economy through to fashion sourcing.”

Q&A with Julie Driscoll, Managing Director at Pure London

“We also have Coloro , which is a new company that is owned by Ascential and is a sister brand to Pure London. It is a competitor to Pantone and they will be talking about color trends for 2019 and beyond. We will have many different people speaking at the event who have never spoken at Pure London before, like Jonathan Chapman, and it feels very topical because UK consumers are more concerned with the province of their brands. They are more concerned with the story behind the brand - where was it sourced, who are the farmers who made the cotton - all of these things. Buyers and retailers have been very positive about Pure Origin because the time is right to launch it. We are also launching a VIP programme for retailers and buyers who are short on time to learn about the latest trends, fabrics, manufacturers and gain a global overview of what is happening in the industry. We are really going out of our way to connect with a whole new audience who do their own labels, like Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Tesco who we can invite to Pure now.”

Q&A with Julie Driscoll, Managing Director at Pure London

What do you hope to achieve with the launch of Pure London’s new sourcing event, Pure Origin?

“We are very excited about Pure Origin, I have met some very inspiring people within the fashion supply chain and I am so excited to have conversations with them on how we can move this initiative going forward. We want to educate the whole of the fashion industry supply chain to do things in a more sustainable way. Even if you are not an ethical brand, everyone can work in a more sustainable way. We are trying to figure out how we can help everyone in the fashion supply chain change its way of working.”

“What I’ve also recently learned is that there have been so many progressive developments in Asia to ensure great working practices recently as well. Sometimes when we think of the supply chain we may think that all manufacturing is not great but actually there are so many great projects taking place. Factories now offer childcare for female employees or education to the families of workers and there are so many wonderful stories like that which I think the end consumer would interested in hearing. So we are trying to bring these things to life to help demystify the fashion supply chain and help educate brands, retailers and then the end consumer on how the whole supply chain works. We want to shine a light on the manufacturers we work with because they are great, really fantastic and the people we have chosen not to work with because we do not agree with their working practices. These positive stories are the ones want to uncover and share with the industry.”

Q&A with Julie Driscoll, Managing Director at Pure London

How has Pure Man grown since its launch two years ago?

“We are nurturing new brands in menswear at the moment. We are giving them concept stands which similar to a discovery concept where they can learn about the UK market, speak to local retailers who really understand what price points, styles, and collections will sell through. We are very keen to support new talent and bring it back to the UK market. It can take two to three seasons for new brands to see trajection with the bigger retailers - Liberty will watch a brand for two to three season before taking them on board usually. It’s almost like dating - the retailer needs to look, touch and feel the brand, meet the brand owner and director to be sure they can do business.”

What makes Pure London different to the other UK fashion trade fairs?

“We want to create a festival of fashion where we incorporate and work with our sister brands WGSN and Coloro, where people can come and think about trends and colors for the season ahead. We have brands and manufacturers from every corner of the globe, we cover the whole fashion supply chain. So if retailers and buyers are looking for fabrics, or pattern designs, or innovative ways of printing, or new ways of manufacturing through to new brands - whatever stage you are at throughout the fashion supply chain you will be able to Pure London to find what you need. That is what we want.”

Q&A with Julie Driscoll, Managing Director at Pure London

Will Pure London be launching any new areas next season?

“In July we will be launching a new section, Pure Ethical. We will be working with the World Style Forum that is based in the UK and showcase trailblazing ethical brands who will talk to retailers and explain why they are ethical and sustainable. This concept fits in very nicely and follows on beautifully from Pure Origin. It is the natural next step for us to take as well. We aim to start small, with a mixed area of fashion, footwear, and accessories edited together. We are going to work with the Ethical Style Forum and we are welcoming applications from brands who have stories to tell. We want to ensure that we really understand the story behind every brand that is part of Pure Ethical. Our aim is for the retailers to meet ethical brands that have a fantastic story to tell. I already have identified quite a number of brands we want to present, but we are welcoming applications at the moment. Many retailers are thinking about sustainability and how they can incorporate these brands into their edit, I think we will see that more and more going forward - the time is right in the UK.”

Q&A with Julie Driscoll, Managing Director at Pure London

What effect do you foresee Brexit having on the UK fashion industry?

“Interestingly Brexit is being received as a great opportunity because people are being more innovative. London will always be regarded as an epicenter for fashion and design, the British Style Council really have the view that London is firmly at the cutting edge of trends, forecasting, fashion schools, we have some of the very best designers in the world coming out the UK and based in the UK. Retailers like Clarks recently brought manufacturing back to the UK and I think there will be more people who reshore their manufacturing. We need to make a few tweaks here and there - so why don’t we do it in a sustainable fashion? It is becoming just as competitive to manufacture in European countries as in Asian countries. Brexit is prompting a re-evaluation of how they do business.”

“I am not saying that there are no challenges ahead - there are always challenges in fashion but because we are a global event, based in the UK with brands and visitors from all over the world, it will level out.”

Photos: Courtesy of Pure London


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