It has been a busy show season for Pachacuti with four shows to present our Spring/Summer 2012 Panama hat collection. We started at Pure in August where we added some new countries to those where Pachacuti Panamas are already stocked, including Singapore. Then off to a fantastic Première Classe in Paris in early September where we had a really great reaction to our range, particularly from a number of luxury Japanese retailers. We are also delighted to be supplying the California-based Fred Segal, with stores in Hollywood and Santa Monica, from this Autumn.
Then back to the UK for Estethica at London Fashion Week. The show got off to a great start for us with an order from Japan on the Thursday, before it even officially opened! Again, we found a very high level of interest from Japanese customers and it was great to see the Japanese buyers back at London Fashion Week again as, in recent years, many buyers have favoured Paris Fashion Week over London. Other new stockists for 2012 will include the fabulous Mezzo Mezzo boutique in Corfu Town.
After the success of our collection in Paris and London, we managed to obtain a last-minute stand at The Box as we felt that the new collection had such good momentum that we should show it to some more customers. Very excited to now have a stockist in St Barths, French West Indies, as well as several new customers in France and more Japanese stores.
Although I wasn't able to go to Paris for the entire show, my 15 year old daughter Sienna and I headed off to Paris on Friday afternoon for the weekend. As temperatures soared, we were happy to be showing at The Box in the beautiful Pavillon Cambon, rather than in the nearby Tuileries where the temperatures in the tents were unbearable.
Sienna and I walked various shows: Première Classe, Zip Zone, Atmosphère and caught up with some of our favourite ethical designers such as Ada Zanditon, Beautiful Soul and, our neighbours from London Fashion Week, Lost Property London. All were having a good show which was very encouraging to hear.
As we were staying with friends in St. Ouen, whereas to visit on a Sunday morning in Paris than the famous Marché Puces de St Ouen flea market which, incredibly after so many weeks spent staying in the area over the years, I had never visited on a Sunday. Had I known that the flea market also contained vintage clothing shops, I may have visited a little sooner! For those who aren't acquainted with the St. Ouen flea market, the name is probably a little misleading as the area has very little of the bric-a-brac normally associated with this type of market. Instead, you can admire the most incredible antique shops specialising in different époques and merchandise: a shop filled with copper pans (my husband's favourite); lighting from huge glass chandeliers to anglepoise lamps of every shape and size; art deco furniture; antique maps and, our favourite of course, clothing.
This was vintage clothing of the ilk that is very rarely seen in vintage shops, certainly not in the many vintage stores in London which I trawl regularly for '50s dresses. These flea market stores were specialising in the highest designer fashions and there was something incongruous but quite refreshing about seeing names like Alexander McQueen, Galliano, Dior, Vera Wang, written on scraps of paper in black marker pen and affixed to the garments, bags, shoes and jewellery on display.
Oh how we wished to be the American women in those stores, accompanied by their husbands who we suspected would not blink at the prices and their wives would emerge with a vintage prize. Unfortunately for us, we were on a budget, and a tight one at that. Sienna was hunting for a vintage dress to wear to her prom next year and fell completely in love with a fabulous, floor-length, figure-hugging beaded Versace haute couture gown. Undoubtedly a snip at 2000Euros, it certainly wasn't coming home with us. She still sighs in a longing manner whenever I mention the flea market and I suspect that I am bringing her up to have expensive tastes. She was hunting in Waitrose for foie gras this afternoon for goodness sake!
And so I return, sad to leave Paris but very excited at what the year ahead holds for Pachacuti. This year has been a difficult one for most ethical clothing brands and I was concerned at what next year would hold, particularly given the poor weather we have experienced which I think has affected our sales more than the recession. However, they always say that in a recession you should concentrate on building your exports and, with over 90% of orders from these trade shows coming from new overseas customers, that seems to be exactly what we are doing. Now if only I could find an excuse to personally visit them all...