Behind the scenes: Buying
It may have been a while since our last blog post but we’ve been busy bees behind the scenes here at The Lilac Room! We’ve started our SS17 sale, added new pieces to the website and been eagerly buying for the upcoming seasons. If you head into the shop now, you’ll see a range of AW17 pieces from Great Plains, Thought and our brand new label Seasalt (which has been flying off the rails already!)
Choosing the collection for the new season can be tricky – we always want to find unique designs and interesting shapes but also want to make sure you, our customers, will want to buy them! We’re proud to say that this year we’ve done better than ever with our selections and that all comes down to Julie, our buyer.
Having worked closely with Robin over the 10+ years The Lilac Room has been in existence, Julie has developed a distinctive style and buying eye. Entirely self-taught, she never fails to pick dresses, skirts and blouses that have all of us cooing over all season long (meaning Robin has to keep opening that cheque book…!)
Abi took her out for coffee the other week to find out a little more about Julie’s buying process…
First things first, we’ve loved the SS17 collection! It’s definitely the best yet.
“Just wait until you see next season! We bought loads from Seasalt for AW17 and SS18. It’s lovely!”
How do you pick the pieces we have in the shop?
“It can be daunting. If we go to a show room (rather than a trade show) we’re often faced with a whole room full of brightly coloured dresses, tops and coats. When I first started I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t buying just for myself!
I never have any real plan when it comes to choosing the collection. I go on my gut instinct – although I have learnt a bit about shape and colour over the years. I always try and think about what the dress (or skirt etc) will look like on different people: I aim to buy for all shapes, sizes and ages. For example, I might love a sleeveless dress so then I’ll try to find a cardigan to match to create a versatile outfit.
Colour is my main influence. I love bold shades, especially in winter. So that is what guides me really.
Ed, the agent for Fly London, always laughs at me because I never choose their best sellers – but the boots and sandals we buy are always very popular with our customers!”
What happens on a typical buying trip?
“Well, I prefer going to the brands’ showroom than going up to trade shows. At shows, there is always so much to see, and so many other people trying to buy that we worry we might miss something or rush the actual buying. At showrooms, it is much more civilised!
I like to go around the rails of clothes at least three times before making a final decision. On my first look, I’ll pick out anything that catches my eye – be it colour, pattern or shape. Next, I’ll look for tops, cardigans and accessories to go with the first selection. On my final sweep of the rails, I’ll make sure there’s symmetry in my chosen pieces: I might swap shades or prints to make the collection work better.”
Do you have a favourite brand to buy from?
“Oh! I love Emily and Fin because they just do the most beautiful prints and vintage shapes. But Simon from Bohemia/Nomads is such a laugh. He’s ex-army and not really the kind of person you’d expect to be behind those boho brands, but he does such a great job and we’ve been buying from him for years.
Like I said, Seasalt was brilliant too for AW17 (and SS18!). They had such a range of fantastic colours. Customers have been mentioning them to us for a while now, but it was only when I went into one of their stores when I was on holiday in Cornwall last September that I really got it. The offbeat prints and feminine silhouettes really appealed to me – I wanted to buy it all! And I could really see it working with our existing brands.”
Is there a label we don’t buy from/sell that you wish we did?
“I love Anthropologie. I love their ethical choices and ethnic designs. But I think they just have stand-alone stores. And I’d probably spend all my money on it, so it’s probably a very good thing we don’t stock them!”
Keep an eye on our social media for sneak peeks of some of the lovely pieces Julie has been buying, or pop in store to get a heads start on AW17!
The Lilac Room team x