In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that the future of retail is reliant on a holistic approach to both the physical and digital space; a fact which Lone Design Club are fully aware of. Whilst their online platform is a portal to a community of emerging and independent designers, LDC also curate short-lived concept stores which are centralised around events and experiences, as well as a first-hand approach to the designers behind the products.
As we discover more about the exciting LDC brand, we interview the founder of the 'antidote to fast fashion' and discuss her thoughts on omnichannel, collaboration and event retail. Read on to discover part one of our 5 Minutes With... Rebecca Morter.
Tell us a little more about the LDC story?
A few years ago, I founded my own womenswear brand called REIN London. We participated in London Fashion Week and Paris Showroom as well as going to market via wholesale.
As the co-founder of a small fashion wear brand I faced many of the same trials and tribulations that most emerging designers do and I soon realised that wholesale was tough, expensive and unsustainable.
Generating awareness, building excitement and momentum around a new brand and finding the ‘right’ customers is always challenging, so I started using pop-up stores as a sales vehicle for my own brand. I found that they were a fantastic way to build deeper customer relationships; they were an exciting place for customers to visit for a limited time, where they could test new designs and have the opportunity to speak to the designer while they tried pieces on.
One of the most rewarding parts of creating these niche pop-up spaces was giving a voice to these talented emerging brands.
Why do you think this type of business model works in today’s retail landscape?
Gradually everything seems to be moving online - if not completely – and most stores will be focusing on increasing and developing their online presence. While online is easy access, and many high-street and chain stores have lost the excitement that used to draw people into them, people do still like to discover hidden gems and shoppers will travel to a unique store for the right experience. And I think this is what independent pop-up stores have been able to tap into with real success. As a result, retailers really need to make their in-store shopping experience more personal and fun for customers; this is where I think the high-street is falling behind.
Most people I have spoken are more much inclined to travel and visit an independent pop-up store like ours rather than a high street store They know they will find unusual, high-quality pieces which they do not mind paying a little extra for. As well as finding more unique, often sustainable clothing, they also enjoy being able to meet and speak to the actual designer who made their dress. It’s shopping 2.0 – a heightened experience where people can enjoy perusing new designs and also learn and chat to the people who made them. We therefore are building a community space of consumers and designers alike.
Does social media play a big role in your strategy for event retail?
It definitely does and its presence in our strategy has increased a lot over the last two years. Social media can be a great way of connecting people and allows us to share our story such as new designers that we have onboarded, as well as sharing highlights from our events with people to encourage them to join future events.
I encourage our designers to connect with people as much as possible on social media as it is a great way to stay in touch and for people to keep up to date with news and new collections.
It’s a different experience; it’s either social media or watching something online versus coming down to our pop-up store to touch the fabrics of the pieces, speak to designers face-to-face whilst getting involved in an immersive event or workshop.
The challenge is to take the in-store relationship we have with our customers and create the same digitally across Instagram or our website. Video and DM are making this easier, but it is still a very new way to converse and communicate and build such a deep community when it is all digital.
Social is extremely important for us to boost campaigns, awareness, share our story and reach customers. In our lifetime I don’t believe we won’t have a high street; it simply needs reinventing and it will become about community and sense of place; to make the effort to feel part of something and to discover and experience things in-store.
The concept of seamless transitions between online and offline is incredibly important right now, is this key for the LDC brand?
There is a huge disparity at the moment between online and offline and we believe the future has to be balanced for both; it has to become an omni-channel. To prove this, we are starting to see digitally native brands like Everlane and even Amazon take to physical using pop ups to help customers get up close to their product. For many brands, especially small brands like ours at LDC, it’s a difficult space to only be selling online - customers that don’t know the brand are unlikely to purchase online from a brand they’ve never heard of and don’t trust. They want to see, touch and feel and try the product first before they feel comfortable shopping online.
At LDC we try to make each of our stores as exciting and immersive as possible, theming the stores around current events such as Chelsea flower show, Wimbledon tennis, fashion week and we are also short term for maximum impact. Two weeks is a call to action, ‘come and see before we are gone’ - and if that’s not enough our events and experiences are even deeper calls to action, another reason to come and visit the store that last only 1-2 hours.
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF OUR 5 MINUTES WITH... REBECCA MORTER.