Harrods general merchandising managing for womenswear, Helen David, talks to Lingerie Insight about the iconic department store’s swimwear strategy.
What do you look for in the swimwear brands that you stock?
Wearable, stylish and above all flattering swimwear is always interesting to us. Our customers want the latest brands and styles but demand that these also fit well and are functional.
What would be your top three picks for next season?
1) Melissa Odabash – fantastic shapes and great muted colours, and animal prints. 2) Lanvin – beautiful pieces which capture the essence of the RTW line. 3) Zeki – amazing cutaway styles and body-con fits in bright colours and patterns
Will you be looking to take on any new brands for SS12 and, if so, which ones?
We are always looking for new opportunities. For SS12, we will introduce Marie France Van Damme, who offers beautiful kaftans and special swimwear, which will take you from beach to evening.
How many new brands/designers do you look to take on each year?
Unique pieces and key trends set Harrods apart and drive our sales. We are constantly seeking to offer a point of difference as well as exclusive products. Our buying team work closely with all of our brands to deliver the best and most appropriate edit of each collection for our customers. We know our customer back to front and anticipate their needs at different times of the year, catering to their demands.
Which trade shows do you attend and which is your favourite?
As our offer is heavily designer driven, we do many of our selections alongside our RTW buys. However, we do visit the Mode City trade show in Paris.
What do you predict will be the popular trends for SS12?
– cut out designs
– retro styles including bigger shorts and tank tops
– orange, corals, khakis and taupes look set to be key colours
What is the biggest challenge of your job?
Heading up all of Womenswear, as well as Way In, which comprises 15 departments, my time is spent differently depending on the fashion season or time of year, but it is most greatly affected by the buying cycles of the different areas, as well as in store events. Juggling time and priorities is a must! Space is probably the biggest challenge and requires that I manage brand densities and performances very carefully whilst editing what new brands we are able to bring in.
Over the past year, what would you consider has been your greatest ‘buy’?
We are thrilled to have such a strong offering from so many great brands. We have secured a large number of exclusives this season, including Charlie by Matthew Zink, Zeki, Marie France Van Damme and Leonard.
What advice would you give to young designers hoping to get their pieces into Harrods store?
We always welcome hearing from new brands/designers. The best way to approach Harrods is with an email that clearly provides an overview of the brand, accompanied by a look book/images of the collection.
Have you any exciting new plans for next season and, if so, what?
At Harrods, we never rest on our laurels and we are always planning the next exciting project and exploring how we can develop our brand mix. We relish finding creative ways to maximise densities and selling space.
What does Harrods offer swimwear brands that no other retailer can?
Harrods Swim Room houses an all year round lifestyle offering. Almost 5,000 sq feet is dedicated to the World’s most desirable international, contemporary and classic swim designers and accessories, with an array of luxury holiday essentials such as cover ups, beach bags and flip-flops.
Are their promotional opportunities for brands within store and, if so, what are they?
We work closely with all of our brands to support new launches and maximise opportunities to highlight them in store, whether that be through impactful visual displays, showcasing them in our window or exposure on digital screens.
Would you ever consider a competition for up-and-coming designers?
Harrods is always keen to support young talent. We are actually running a competition with the British Fashion Council colleges for the second consecutive year, which offers one graduate the opportunity to win a year’s paid internship with our Harrods own label fashion team, working across design and product development.