Q & A: Selfridges buyer Helen Attwood

Selfridges head lingerie buyer Helen Attwood talks to Lingerie Insight about the secret of the department store’s success and reveals which lingerie labels are performing well, this year.

What do you look for in the brands that you stock?
The key factors we consider at Selfridges are: point of difference, product innovation and – where possible – exclusivity. Our mission is to surprise, amaze and amuse our customers and our buying strategy is in line with that.

What is the best way for brands to approach you?
My team and I visit trade shows throughout the year, which is a great way for brands to discuss their collections with us.
There’s also nothing better than sending us a good old fashioned lookbook.

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Which brand has performed best for Selfridges, so far, this year and why do you think that is?
This year we’ve seen phenomenal growth across Mimi Holliday and Marlies Dekkers.
Both brands are defined by a really unique, fun aesthetic, as well as offering sizing up to a G cup and excellent fit.

What does Selfridges offer the brands that it stocks that no other department store does?
We pride ourselves on offering flexibility to our brand partners – I think that makes us unique as a department store stockist.
We have exceptional marketing resources behind us and the ability to bring collections to life in some really innovative ways. This is a part of our company DNA.

What have been the greatest challenges to overcome in the intimate apparel market, this year?
There has been heavy promotional activity on the High Street this year. To compete – whilst we don’t mirror these discounts – our focus remains on offering an exceptional customer experience, something which can’t be found anywhere else.

What are your three favourite brands, right now, and why?
At the moment, the brands I’m being increasingly impressed by are Mimi Holliday, Dirty Pretty Things and Agent Provocateur.
I like Mimi for it’s progressive and brave choice of colours and new shapes, Dirty Pretty Things for it’s attitude and evolution of the collections since launch, and AP for reinventing its beautiful classics, this year.

How do you see the Selfridges intimate apparel department evolving over the next few years?
We’ve been adventurous, this year, and introduced some lesser-known brands in the hope that our customers will respond well to the point of difference.
This has paid off, so is something we’ll be doing even more of moving forward.

From where do you source the majority of your brands?
We pick up a lot of information at trade shows, and the rest is from research and word of mouth. We are constantly on the lookout for newness.

Which are your favourite trade shows and why?
The Lingerie Collective in London is a real favourite of mine. It’s a great show for discovering exciting, emerging brands. Selfridges is such a fast-paced business that my team and I can be rather time-poor, so the chance to talk directly to designers is extremely productive. We use it as a one-stop-shop.





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