Urban Touch – Pure London
Urban Touch, and its founder Zeynep Basaran, has cleverly finessed her prior relationships with manufacturers and fabric suppliers in Turkey, to drive down a very competitive price point, and combined this with her professional contacts in the business. The end result, an online profile for her collections on John Lewis and Dorothy Perkins, live in the last 6 weeks. Not bad for a brand launched two and a half years ago.
The wisdom shaping this retail strategy seems to make a lot of sense, contrasted with the more cash intensive production requirements to satisfy the wholesale market. By profiling within these key accounts there are obvious adjacencies online that help to position the brand. What can make all the difference with getting to market and developing a brand presence or struggling and failing with a much bigger dent in your pocket. No safety nets in wholesale, but with the sort of contacts Zeynep has, she can manage short-order runs, to order and not break the bank. This could all change if the ‘right’ wholesale business came along, but the business critical thing is, they are not dependent on this now to get a foothold and may never be with the online retail model not going away any time soon I believe.
“The fabrics Urban Touch uses is all natural, 100% cottons, if there are mixed blends, they will all still have a very good hand feel. Details are very important, particularly with our lace work in each of the garments.” It’s good to see the light touch within the designs, keeping the garment simple, feminine and for a younger buyer. Unfortunately not something one always sees with the overseas designers at Pure who just about it seems get everything wrong for this market: over-embellishment, out-of-date styling propping up old-fashioned looks, made worse by ridiculous minimum orders. It’s like hello; did you consult with anyone before coming over?
Zeynep has spent many years in the UK understanding the UK market, but also critically, “I used to work in Turkey for 9 years, so know the manufacturers very well and can get exclusive designs which can be very expensive but it’s worth it.” For a lady that worked with Koton (500 stores worldwide) you get a sense that what is ‘expensive’ will have been hard-bargained down, retaining the quality but allowing her to price her garments at a competitive rate so the customer wins.
I come across a number of brands that may be ‘just starting out’ but there’s often a ton of experience backing them. And a supplier network to leverage on favorable terms – well, they were the beneficiaries of significant business, so why not! It was in fact encouragement by both John Lewis and Dorothy Perkins that when she was designing for Pussycat London that, “pushed me to do my own brand.” With anyone that knows the due diligence of John Lewis and their quality control, it provides a great discipline and a working template for how to satisfy all manner of professional production requirements that will stand you in good stead for anyone throughout your career. A little bit like mandatory mentoring but with great benefits.
Where next for this ambitious brand? They are looking at Lipsy and House of Fraser online as target websites and will be at Who’s Next, Paris and Pure London in the summer as key trade shows. Great to see a smart entry to market of a new womenswear brand and will enjoy seeing how with a few more seasons and collections under their belt this brand will mature. It has done a lot of the hard work regarding positioning at the outset by understanding the business of being in the fashion business – not too many start-up or even long-standing brands you can say that about.
By Paul Markevicius