MATCHESFASHION.COM buyer Chelsea Power sits down for an interview as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia (MBFWA) kicks into gear.
What prompted you to attend MBFWA this year?
We always try to have one of the MATCHESFASHION.COM buying team present at MBFWA as it has a point of difference to the rest of the fashion weeks and we have picked up numerous Australian brands over the years of attending. I am really looking forward to seeing what our brands are showing for resort, as well as on the hunt for any new designers.
What Australian designers are on your radar?
As buyer for resort-wear at MATCHESFASHION.COM, MBFWA is one of my favourite shows to attend and last year we picked up four exciting new Australian brands which are already performing extremely well for us – Aje, White story, Romance is Born and SIR. I also love the exisiting brands which have grown from strength to strength; Albus Lumen, Matteau and Lee Matthews and are highlights within our vacation edit but also do particular well as every day ready-to-wear. I am always keeping an open mind when attending shows and visiting showrooms - we are always on the lookout for interesting new brands that can offer something different within our edit. It is less about looking for specific products and more about discovering that exciting new label that we know our customer is going to love.
Do you stock any Australian designer brands?
We currently stock sixteen Australian brands – Aje, Albus Lumen, Camilla, Carl Kapp, Ellery, Ephemera, Le Specs, Lee Matthews, Matteau, Pippa Holt, Romance Was Born, Ryan Storer, SIR, The Upside, White Story, Zimmermann. They all perform really well for us and our clients who love their personal aesthetics, whether that is laid-back, clean and simple or a more elevated and structured design.
How important is the resort season to overall sales?
Resort collections have become such an important and viable part of the fashion calendar, and of our business and this particular category grows YOY. As an International retailer our client wants to be able to buy-in season wherever they are in the world – whether they are looking for swimwear in December or knitwear in July.
What is an advantage of resort over other seasons?
It really is a call-to-arms for the start of the summer season – it’s when the customer gets excited about what is to come for the rest of the summer and offers different products to buy, especially in the northern hemisphere, when its most likely freezing cold, almost like living through an alternate reality by buying things for future holidays.
What are the top selling categories and brands for you currently in the resort season?
I think our customer is more savvy when it comes to what she is buying and curating resort wear as part of her wardrobe – she might buy a dress for the beach but wants to make sure she can wear it in the city or at home. New York based label, Merlette is the perfect example of this with the versatile cotton dresses the perfect relaxed getaway style that can be worn in the city or on the beach. Other brands include Albus Lumen, Staud and Adriana Degreas who do beautiful two pieces which have also become incredibly popular. Other standouts in recent seasons have been artisanal kaftans from Pippa Holt and Kilometre and long, silk dresses Loup Charmant and Kalita which I envision being worn in the evening to dinner somewhere hot, paired back with a pair of simple sandals and statement earrings.
Are there any challenges in stocking brands from Australia/Southern Hemisphere?
I can’t think of any particular challenges to buying from Southern Hemispheres, we buy all over the world and there is always a want for product for all climates. We are a global retailer and our customer is an international traveller who needs items for all kinds of climates, which we can cater for.
What criteria is most important (ie, pricing, delivery windows)?
We look to have collections drop throughout the year - our global customer has become increasingly impatient with the traditional fashion cycle, more interested in constant newness with a buy now wear now ethos.
What do you see as the biggest change to your role as buyer recently?
The biggest change in recent years has been in the amount of new brands that are creating vacation wear - so many designers have noticed that its relevant to have a vacation offer within their collections. When I first started buying in this category, there were a few swim brands and lots of contemporary brands that did summer dresses, but hardly any brands that were dedicated to vacation dressing in the way that there are now. Brands such as Lisa Marie Fernandez, Mara Hoffman, Rhode Resort, Loup Charmant and Kalita have been particularly successful in this way. However, this has moved on even further by becoming more versatile - vacation-wear can be worn not only on holiday or at the beach but day-to-day in the city, layered up and accessorised in a different way.