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Best Of: FashionUnited's Interviews from 2016

By Vivian Hendriksz


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London - With the start of 2017 just around the corner, FashionUnited takes a moment to reflect back on some of its most read and original articles of the year. Here we roundup our top articles of 2016.

John Lewis steps into Europe with ‘capsule’ shop-in-shops in de Bijenkorf

John Lewis has made its first foray into Europe - albeit in a slightly more edited and 'capsule' format. The British department store group opened its first shop-in-shops with its debut European partner, de Bijenkorf in Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam, the Netherlands this spring as it continues to expand. "We have essentially selected what we believe is to be the best of our brand and put together a wholesale collection of 2,000 items," says Katie Jordan, Head of International Development at John Lewis.

Read more: FashionUnited / Vivian Hendriksz

Photo: Courtesy of John Lewis

Zalando aims to become the "sports x fashion destination" for Europe

"We want to establish Zalando as the sports-fashion destination in Europe," says Benjamin Kruemel, Zalando's Vice President for Specialities. The German e-tailer has been paying close attention to larger shift taking place within the fashion industry, which sees more consumers prioritising their health and fitness. In order to establish themselves as the main, online destination for fashion and sportswear in Europe, Zalando dedicated its spring/summer 2016 campaign to sportswear and athleisure wear.

Read more: FashionUnited / Vivian Hendriksz

Photo: Zalando SS16 Campaign

Claesen's India: “We don't consider anyone a competition”

Premium Dutch fashion brand Claesen's has been going strong in India for the last three years, showing exceptional growth and eyeing a 10 percent market share in childrenswear over the next two years. “There was already a strong presence of Dutch brands in India – like Heineken, Amstel, KLM and others – yet Holland is a small country and while Amsterdam may ring a bell, Holland not so much; it's not like Germany,” says Nayanika Pawar, Clasen’s head of Indian operations. “But most importantly, people understood that there was a huge gap in fashionable quality for kids. Plus, our pricing and products are so sharp and competitive that people said 'why not'.”

Hunkemöller ramps up expansion plan, thanks to support from new owners

With the new owners, the Carlyle Group, fully supporting Hunkemöller’s three-year plan, the lingerie brand has its sights set on becoming the largest omni-channel lingerie retailer Europe. “At the end of the day I see it as a very positive thing to have happened to us, as there is plenty of opportunity for us really grow and evolve the product,” says Design Director, Zoë Price-Smith. “I think that when you are in-line with your strategy, you believe in the vision and at the end of the day you deliver it yourself.”

Read more: FashionUnited / Vivian Hendriksz

Photo: Courtesy of Hunkemöller

Kings Of Indigo - Not your next G-Star denim label

"More is not always better," says Tony Tonnaer, the founder of sustainable denim brand Kings Of Indigo. "Of course, I do not want Kings Of Indigo to be a niche brand and we want to sell to as many people as possible. But I don’t want to be on every corner on every street - I don’t want to be a mass-market retailer. I don’t want to be a G-star - no way." In an ever competing industry, such a refreshing mindset is nearly unheard of. But Kings Of Indigo is not your average denim brand, and Tonnaer is not your average founder. "If you become too big then you become too distant from the factories, from the retailers and from the business and that’s not my thing."

Read more: FashionUnited / Vivian Hendriksz and How Kings of Indigo continues to thrive in a market "under pressure".

Photo: Courtesy of Kings of Indigo

The Leather Satchel Co: "Your bag, made your way!"

“We are focusing on getting the message out there that bags can be unique like their owners…[and] things are so exciting now we have secured the backing," says Keith Hanshaw, Managing Director of The Leather Satchel Co., on hitting their crowdfunding goal of 50,000 pounds to create an online customization tool. "Really, I am so happy and so excited right now, you can't even imagine!" Hanshaw's excitement is very understandable as the UK's oldest leather satchel company managed to reach its target a week before the campaign officially ends on Kickstarter.

Read more: FashionUnited/Vivian Hendriksz

Photo: Courtesy of The Leather Satchel Co.

Shackleton brings 100 year-old Antarctic trek to life via Twitter

It has been over 100 years since explorer and entrepreneur Sir Ernest Shackleton made his now-legendary journey across the Antarctic - an epic tale of survival and endurance which was brought to life once more by the Shackleton Company through one of the most used mediums today - Twitter. “We wanted to use social media to give Shackleton a voice, as if he is doing the expedition now and tweeting live from the ice. I feel that if he was alive today and making the same journey, that he would use social media to communicate with the outside world,” says Ian Holdcroft, Managing Director at Shackleton.

Read more: FashionUnited/Vivian Hendriksz

Photo: Courtesy of Shackleton

"This is the best Urban Outfitters has ever been"

In spite of a turbulent year, US retailer Urban Outfitters has continued to thrive thanks to ongoing demand for its core labels Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People. Which is why Richard Hayne, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Outfitters, aimed to open a total of 24 new stores for the year, including the new UO flagship store in Utrecht. "It’s never easy for us to find the right store locations," said Claire Arksey, Retail Director for Urban Outfitters. "We always look for interesting buildings with a story to tell where we can put our own twist on - although we don’t want any one or two stores to be the same. So it is hard.”

Read more: FashionUnited/Vivian Hendriksz

Photo: Courtesy of Urban Outfitters

IKKS chief executive talks debut UK store

French label IKKS made it debut in London, the UK this year with the opening of their first standalones store. Although the French brand may not be a household name in the UK, the brand has big plans for expansion in the UK. “London is a very important market as we want to expand abroad,” says IKKS chief executive officer Pierre-André Cauche. “We are strong in France, Benelux, and Spain, and two years ago we entered Germany and we are aiming to have 10 shops there. We are still discovering London’s attitude but we feel that the city is a strong place to be for fashion and international appeal.”

Read more: FashionUnited/Danielle Wightman-Stone

Photo: Courtesy of IKKS

Havaianas: More than just flip-flops

Most people around the world probably own a pair or two of Havaianas flip-flops. The Brazilian footwear brand produces over 250 million pairs of flip flops each year, and now, the brand aims to win over even more shoppers with its carioca lifestyle products as it expands it offering to include more footwear designs, apparel and even eyewear. “Consumers love Havaianas. We are so lucky because usually brands have to work so hard to speak to their consumers, but for us it’s totally different,” says Hervé Pinot, General Manager of Havaianas Benelux.

Read more: FashionUnited/Vivian Hendriksz

Photo: Courtesy of Havaianas PR

On|Off founder gives advice for new designers ahead of LFW

On|Off, one of the most established independent fashion showcase, has nurtured both emerging and well-known designers such as Gareth Pugh, Peter Pilotto, Pam Hogg, and J.W. Anderson. Each season On|Off reinvents itself, using technology, new approaches, blending tech with design. “At On|Off we’ve always been big on innovation, we were the first to livestream and last season for On|Off Presents we re-did the catwalk with a live band, which then went into a photoshoot,” says founder Lee Lapthorne.

Read more: FashionUnited/Danielle Wightman-Stone

Photo: Courtesy of On|Off

Dov Charney: "Corruption, Greed and Incompetence" has led to American Apparel sale

“I can’t believe what happened - corruption, greed and incompetence led to this,” says Dov Charney on the bankruptcy and sale of American Apparel. “This was a Wall Street raid and an asset strip. The company was illegally stolen from its shareholders, including myself and the workers many of whom were also shareholders.” Charney sees the sale as “part of a progression of events that stems from his illegal firing and disenfranchisement as a shareholder,” matters that continue to be litigated both in California and Delaware.

Read more: FashionUnited/Vivian Hendriksz

Photo: American Apparel, Facebook

Q&A: Donna Ida Thornton ‘Queen of Jeans’

The ‘Queen of Jeans’, aka Donna Ida Thornton has gained a legion of denim-loving devotees due to her denim boutiques and online store, which actively help women find their perfect pair of jeans that fit, no matter their body shape. Since she opened her first store in 2006 in Chelsea, London, Ida’s boutique has offered the best selection of denim brands in the capital, from J Brand to Paige, Current/Elliott, and James Jeans as well as her very own line of denim Ida. “Denim is so democratic, anyone can wear it from politicians to supermodels, it's effortlessly versatile and hard wearing,” says Ida. “The perfect pair of jeans always make me feel at my best and I wanted to help other women feel the same with an edit of the best designer jeans in the world.”

Read more: FashionUnited/Danielle Wightman-Stone

Photo: Courtesy of Donna Ida

Doug Gardner on turning River Island into a 'digitally led' retailer

"The way we live these days is being driven by digital," explains Doug Gardner, Chief Information Office on why River Island is placing technology at the core of its strategy. "But that is what is also driving our sales. We are seeing digital sales moving more rapidly, every year our digital channels count for a bigger percentage of our total sales. Our commitment to becoming the leading digital retailer stems from what we see we should do, as well as the broader view of how people in general tend to live their daily lives now and going on into the future."

Read more: FashionUnited/Vivian Hendriksz

Photo: Doug Gardner, Courtesy of River lsland

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