BREAKING THE RULES
EMMA You need something on the shop floor that everyone can relate to. A commercial message solely talking about fashion week and British brands isn’t strong enough. It’s not coming from a place with heart and soul, it’s coming from a place of ticking all the boxes.
DEBBIE We are a British brand and we do want to champion London talent, but it can’t be the only thing we talk about, because it’s not the only thing we are.
EMMA Self-expression is key. It’s how we make our process, having conversations and building an idea based on a feeling. We’re not just a womenswear retailer – we’re a concept store.
Our customers are real women who want something different.
How do you select each piece for the store?
EMMA We don’t focus on the collections everyone is talking about. I buy what I adore and what I know our customers will love. At the end of the selection I’ll ask the designers what pieces they believe in. No other buyer asks that question and it’s crazy because they’re the people who built the brand and the reason our customers are buying into it.
I asked this question at an Isa Arfen appointment last season, and the designer had chosen a coat that I didn’t think was right for our customers, but it was her favourite piece from the collection, so I bought it and it sold out. I love every designer’s vision; I trust that. I can’t pick every single bestseller – it has to come from that sometimes.
With some of our bigger brands, if they mention the obvious, I’ll walk away from them. They know that now, so they show me the cool pieces.
Our customers are way too savvy to buy the predictable. If they’re going to do that they’ll go to a department store.
We bought a dress from Rosetta Getty last season, and I loved it. It wasn’t your obvious fashion choice for a wedding or event, but our customer wants a point of difference, and this is exactly what I saw. Kate [a member of the Bluebird team] sent me a photo yesterday of a customer wearing it [Emma shows us a picture].
DEBBIE Aw, I know her. She’s a good customer.
EMMA She looked beautiful in it, and that’s just one customer who has worn it. I then saw another person wearing it who I think you’ll know, Debbie. She tagged herself in it on Instagram, worn completely differently. Our customers are real women who want something different.