Fashion system is constantly shifting to the more consumer-focused fashion business model. Having that in mind, new retail opportunities arise as industry insiders come up with innovative ideas. One of those – a brand new concept by Karen Harries and Sam Jones, friends with backgrounds in fashion buying.
‘Harries & Jones Presents’ is an exclusive fashion week-tied event inviting customers pre-order & purchase designer collections straight from the catwalks. A perfect opportunity for the designers to gain direct insights from the consumers (without the interruption of the stockists’ selection politics) and for the customers to become fashion buyers. The first event a couple of weeks ago had over a dozen apparel, accessories and jewellery designers under one roof. From the London Fashion Week’s favourite Eudon Choi to our favourite Georgian designer label Tata Naka. Fashion Bloc catches up with Karen Harries and Sam Jones to find out more about the new approach to fashion retail.
Fashion Bloc: How did you start this business? Whose idea was that?
Harries&Jones: The idea was born out of several conversations about how the shopping experience can be so impersonal for women, both online and offline. The idea was to create a shopping model that injected a fun and emotional element into the experience, while at the same time allowing women to take more ownership of the selection process.
FB: Please give us some background about yourselves
H&J: Both Sam and Karen have come from successful buying backgrounds. Karen runs her buying consultancy business Boutiqueye and has worked in senior buying positions for prestigious retailers such as the Harvey Nichols Group and Selfridges, and Sam runs her own personal shopping & styling business, The Style Alchemy, following a career in buying spanning over 15 years.
FB: What is the business model?
H&J: The business model takes a “trunk show” concept which we have translated into a beautifully curated event. “Harries and Jones Present” invites women to a handpicked venue, whereby they can view, not just one, but several key designer brands ranging from RTW, Accessories and Jewellery.
Our clients get to Pre-order from the collections that are literally days back from the fashion week. Furthermore, they also get to view a much broader selection of the range, as well as work with industry line sheets, enabling them to play around with colours and fabrications. The idea is to allow women to engage more in the personalisation of their end purchase. As a result, we created the hashtag #BETHEBUYER for the event.
Throughout the course of the event, the aim is to make guests feel at home with refreshments and process being served all day encouraging women to enjoy the space and take their time. To address it very simply, our event was about bringing together the things women love to do: shop, chat to each other and enjoy a drink in a glamorous setting.
FB: Who are the designers that you work with?
H&J: For our first event we had Eudon Choi, Tata Naka, Osman, Isa Arfen, Kisshoten, Kelly Simpkin, Ducie, Chinta & Parker, MOS, Hill and Friends, Ejing Zhang, Joanna Laura Constantine, Lisa Edoff, and Swash.
FB: How do you select designers?
H&J: The selection for our debut event was based on having a mix or ranges that were not only complimentary but also offered a cross section of price point and categories, again, like that of a small boutique. The idea was that we wanted our edit to be as inclusive as possible, where you could come and not feel out priced by our designers.
FB: Do you work with London based designers only?
H&J: No, we had a few brands that were not from London. We showed a scarf brand from Denmark and two jewellery brands from Italy. However, in our fledging stage, we have aimed at more UK-based brands, as from a logistic point of view, it is much easier for both, us and the brands.
FB: Why should people wait for 4-6 months to receive their product?
H&J: We think that women are happy to wait for very special pieces, and for the reasons mentioned above, the time frame is totally offset by the opportunity for our customers to customise their selection, and also be exposed to a much broader selection than that of a regular department store or a boutique.
FB: Are you planning any future events?
H&J: Yes, Absolutely. We are planning our next pre-collection event at the end of June/beginning of July.
FB: How can we find out about your future events and plans?
H&J: You can follow us on our Instagram page @harriesandjonespresent for up to date news, plus we are working hard on the marketing of our next event, we also hope to launch a platform where women can sign-up for newsletters and a subscription to our up and coming events .
FB: How do you feel after the launch?
H&J: Really happy! Undoubtedly there are things that we can improve on as with any debut launch; you are approaching it without a true gauge on demographics, etc. But overall, it was a success, the women that attended absolutely loved the brands, concept and venue which proved to us that the model worked. We think it is just a question of building from these initial, very positive, foundations.