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HWE post - Start London

Start London

"Stripes, suede and the seventies. Maybe not all at once though!"

How long have you worked at Start?
I have been with the company for over nine years now – I started as a part-timer when I was running my own small knitwear company. I found [owners] Philip and Brix so inspiring to work for that when they gave me the opportunity to get involved with the buying I couldn’t really pass it up.

What’s a typical day for you?
I usually check my emails before I come in to work, then get to the store around 9.30-10am. I catch up with the shop floor team to see how the previous day went, then evaluate what the plan is for the day. During peak buying times I can be back-to-back with appointments and showroom visits. It being an independent business, it’s all hands on deck so you never know what is going to crop up. One minute I’m in Paris FOR THE SHOWS? and the next I’m up a ladder changing light bulbs and taking out the bins!

Why is Shoreditch such a natural home for Start?
I have lived in Shoreditch for around 20 years and have seen it change incredibly. I was studying at the London College of Fashion (now UCAL) just around the corner from Start when it first opened in 2002 and remember thinking What are they doing? It will never last! How wrong I was. What’s great about this area is the creativity of our clientele. There has obviously been an increase in traffic coming into the area as so many great restaurants and boutiques have cropped up nearby. This has really made Shoreditch a great destination pulling people in from all over the city, country and around the world.

Who is the Start customer?
They are independently minded strong creative women who are a pleasure to work with. From film producers and artists to designers and students, we’re lucky to have a fantastic local clientele as well as tourists and destination shoppers. We have one amazing lady who comes to see us every time she is over from New Zealand. We know her daughters by name and she has been coming to see us for years now.

Where do you find your buying inspiration?
From all around me! Social media has increasingly played an important role as I can search for great new jewellers and clothing brands daily and find trends on the cusp of coming up. We have a really creative team here so we all keep our finger on the pulse and talk about designers that have caught our eye. Following great bloggers and stylists on Instagram is useful too as they see fashion through an editorial eye rather than from a commercial sense.

Can it be difficult knowing which trends to pick up on?
It can be, but I am a firm believer of trusting your gut instinct about these things. If you have your eyes open, trends tend to be an organic movement from one season to the next. Seeing the buzz happening around a particular show or designer also gives a great indicator of what’s going to be an influencing trend in the coming season.

What do you love about working with Brix?
Oh my – what a force of nature! There is never a dull moment! I love her sheer energy and genuine passion for fashion. I am also a bit of a music geek so it’s great talking to her about the Fall and other bands we love. I am so proud of her writing and performing music again. It is a side of her that not many people in the fashion business know about, but soon will.

What’s been your best buy of all time?
Thankfully, there have been a fair few! Kenzo espadrilles seem to be flying out for us. We recently took on the label Shrimps which has done really well for us too – we only have one jacket left and it’s been in store less than 2 weeks. Sometimes it can be something really daft. We have some fluffy pom pom keyrings at the moment that have sold out numerous times – we’ve sold hundreds!

How is your own style reflected in the pieces you buy at Start?
I mostly wear Margiela, Mr Start Woman (Start’s in-house brand), and Alexander Wang, and I tend to buy pieces that are fairly timeless. It’s quite a source of amusement here as mine and Brix’s styles are polar opposites – I will often wear black; Brix is all about colour. It’s so important that the buy should be a reflection of what we are passionate about. Brix and I balance each other out in terms of taste so I feel it works well for our consumer.

What fascinates you most about the fashion/buying industry?
It never stops! You are constantly on your toes and I am always so impressed with the constant stream of new talent coming through. It’s a joy to see.

Which designers at Start should we look out for?
There are a few that are already shaking things up. THE one to watch as far as we are concerned is Sandy Liang. We took on her very first collection straight out of college last season and are eagerly awaiting her next which should be with us next week. She is a very talented young designer with a really fresh approach to design that has been like a breath of fresh air to have in store.

What are your key predictions for Spring/Summer?
Stripes, suede and the seventies. Maybe not all at once though! We have a great Sandy Liang burgundy coat coming in that I think will be this season’s biggest sell-out.