Wednesday, 9 October 2013

#ESPspotlight REVIEW: #PURE34 LONDON (DAY THREE), KENSINGTON OLYMPIA, 06 AUGUST


Well now. I'm afraid that the third, and final instalment in my #Pure34 retrospective, must begin with a (justified) whinge. You see what I had come to learn over the previous two days, was that Pure London is a crucial educational opportunity. The seminars I attended taught me more about Fashion Industry specifics, than I had picked up in six months worth of reading. Great! I hear you say. So what is there to complain about, you ask? Quite simply, it's this:

Providing a tinned sardine-like, over-stuffed programme, full of the best teaching tickets in town is noble, ambitious, and quite rightly boast-worthy. But when you fail to factor in realistic changeover times, OR allowances for those with mobility problems to get from Stages A-B, causing visitors to end up missing up to 75% of a seminar, by the time they've triumphed over bad directions and personal discomfort to get there, do your weapons of mass education even matter? After all, you will have effectively done yourself out of an unattainable goal, before your competitors have even gotten a look in.

WGSN Trend Seminar SS14, led by Head of Retail & Strategy, Lorna Hall
As I'm sure you've gathered by now, I AM talking from firsthand experience. In the same vein as 24 hours prior, my day was planned out with military precision, so that I could get the most out of my aforementioned ticket, whilst still enjoying the plentiful eye candy on offer. My experience the previous day was so great, that I decided repeating the WGSN's Trends seminar SS14 would be priceless time spent. Unfortunately for Yours Truly, this also meant that hightailing it at warp speed from the Grand Hall Stage to the Gallery equivalent for my next stop, still wouldn't be fast enough to make the beginning of the talk I was aiming for.

Getting completely lost en route - even lapping the Gallery twice, it took actual verbal assistance to get me back on the right track. After chancing upon a (somewhat) helpful member of staff - who first pointed out the very large, very 'easy' to read flags, suspended from the roof for 'visitor guidance' - it seemed somewhat redundant (and time consuming), to point out that the SuperSized maps were great...when they weren't obscured from view by massive exhibition stands, or suggesting entirely wrong directions, dependent upon your immediate vantage point.

Noelle Reno - House of Fraser Brand Consultant and guest blogger
Back to the moment however; and I'm sure you can imagine my sheer, unadulterated annoyance, when House of Fraser Brand Consultant and guest blogger Noelle Reno, called time on 'Be your own PR Machine: Building a brand for your boutique', 5 minutes after I perched on a stage-side pew. My irritation turned mostly to bemusement soon enough, as I listened to a merciless dissection of the entire session by a photographer, buyer and fellow blogger - all of whom had caught the show from the top. Described as the worst seminar they had collectively ever attended, the group charged Reno as the most "narcissistic and shallow speaker" each had "ever been unfortunate enough to encounter" (their description, not mine)! "Vapid" and "shameless in self-promotion, with far too much focus on her D-list celebrity dating life"; I was still chuckling at the detailed play-by-play, long after the pundits had left the vicinity.

The Footwear & Accessories Catwalk was up next, quickly calming my temperament, but raising my pulse. Much more like a showcase, than the other two, the smallest of the three stages was the one that broke the mould. With greater emphasis on routines and synchronicity; the subtle differences in the five scenes presented, gave you much more time to take in, and think about the types of pieces you were seeing, than in the faster-paced Spirit and Womenswear Catwalks


From the moment you heard the first peals of typewriter keys on the backing track, you couldn't help but feel the Mad Men-esque modernity, of the stylish workwear in the opening 'Block Work' scene. 










'Understated Elegance' made you feel like a Sophisticated Lady, pairing bold, as well as muted colours with 'White on White' clothing, for grown-up opulence.















With their literal 'Shop Front' collection carving their own space in your memory, VendulaLondon left you hankering for Gossip Girl's answer to a Sylvanian Family Parisian cafe...











...whilst the uniform of black leather and / or lingerie, teamed with vivid shades of footwear and accessories for 'Colour Flash', appealed to everyone's inner Bad Girl














MRJ, with their ingenious wearable handbags remained the undisputed attention stealers...












...even after the stark, ethereal contrast of blank canvas-coloured maxi dresses that placed all of the focus solely on statement accessories and sandals, as 'Desert Decadence', the fifth and final scene closed the show.









Free to wander amongst the many, many pretty shoes on display; the sheer variety I spied at a distance on the Betsy & Keddo stand drew me in, like a moth to a flame. After drooling embarrassingly over some beautiful gingham open toes with red accents and piping (does my shoe love show?!); I found myself in an energetic debate over why the British retail market fails so catastrophically to cater for the buying public above a size 8. The 'sole argument' on the side of the manufacturers, is that each size(ist) mould costs approximately £1000 to make. Now whilst I, arguing for the hard done by Consumer, can appreciate the cost implications for the makers, the simple fact that there is such a huge chunk of the UK population forced to buy from the far more accommodating Americas, suggests that said makers are not only doing themselves out of some serious revenue by ignoring such an urgent call; but rendering their own argument redundant, because the take up from such a gigantic, hungry market would surely cover the costs of these extortionate moulds, several times over!

Agreeing to disagree, and parting good friends, I took in a few quick celebrity exhibits en route to my next stop. Ashley Roberts for Key Collection, and Amy Childs for...well, Amy Childs, had two unmissable stands, primely positioned for good foot traffic. Focusing mainly on Evening / Occasionwear; it was slightly difficult for me to imagine the former Pussycat Doll rocking any of the looks she modelled on a series of Dancing on Ice, never mind a red carpet, but hey; the contracts were signed and her pictures endorsed the label, so believe the hype we must...Right?!

Stylist Ihunna Eberendu led 'Styling master class: Styling the SS14 trends' in a 20-minute dash on the National Hall Stage, next. Talking us through the mechanics of how to put together five of the key looks we should expect to see next Spring through Summer. Touching on the return of pleats in 'Sheer Romance', and ways to work in acid green and hot pink for 'Carnival Time' were discussed - suggesting scarves as a good, versatile introduction to wardrobes unused to bright shades. Suggestions for incorporating the 'Flower Powertrend into SS14 wardrobes aligned well with Lorna Hall's earlier advice on the 'Retro Tropicana' macro-trend, as did the topic of 'Warm Weather Leather', where she encouraged less 'Rock-themed', more sophisticated looks, using pleather. Eberendu advised that the 'Tribal Revisited' trend was no longer restricted purely to African prints, again co-signing the WGSN stance that fashion will evolve in 2014 to include the Middle East, also. After discussing the surprise SS13 trends of black and leather; Eberendu talked shop on accessories, gave preparatory guidance for another confusing, 3-season climate, like 2013 thus far, and opened the floor to questions that didn't come, before calling the whole thing a wrap.


My final seminar of the day, I indulged myself with the Spirit and Womenswear Catwalks one last time, before visiting the exhibition stand equivalent of mini-stores, at Forever Unique and Party21. Not just about the gorgeous fashions that I want to live out the rest of my (fantasy) svelte days in; from what I had picked up over the course of the 3-day period, was that both were family-run boutiques, with every one of the generations in attendance, lending a helping hand. Their refreshment bars boasted baristas who doubled as sommeliers, with seating that implied relaxation, but encouraged business. The ambience at both made part of me regret intentionally leaving the near-neighbours until last, as the younger generations from each family recounted the shenanigans each had resorted to, in order to survive the event - although the Party21 team have to take the crown on that front, purely for the impromptu, all-singing, all-dancing mischief that they engaged in on their stand the night before!



As I packed up my wares, and headed for the train station, I thought back over the entire event. Overwhelmed by the wealth of information I was taking away, I mentally congratulated the entire team involved on a job well done. Were there specific elements that need some work ahead of the February launch of AW14? Undeniably. But overall, in this here little Blogger's opinion - +Pure34London SS14 was a resounding success.

The next Pure London show takes place from 9-11 February 2014, for which registration is already open. For the latest, up-to-the-minute news as it develops, visit the Pure London website...AND Get Connected online:


Don't Forget TWO other little things while you're at it:

  1. You can find all of my stops on Day Three in the event photo album on the ESP Ltd. Facebook Page, which is always hungry for more likes;
  2. This is the third instalment, which means that there is a first, and second to catch up on if you missed them thus far, and of course - both of them have their own photo albums too!
Until the morrows, folks - enjoy!
ES ;)