2 days in Germany

Hopped over to Germany with our Retail Director for Europe last week to see our stores and meet some of the online teams I speak to.

It was a great opportunity to see the brand in store over there and get to know the department stores as well as the other brands we’re placed near. Lots more on the horizon for new spaces in the future!

It was lovely to catch up with the online teams for Karstadt and Brueninger, as opposed to just on conference calls. We got to hear about their AW16 plans and our on-going partnerships. As international continues to grow for us its so valuable to see these markets and to understand how their multi-channel operations are evolving.


Below – Kuafhof, Frankfurt – mannequins showing off the new collection-


Kaufhof, Dussledorf the new collection



Last day of lovely sun in Stuttgart, hope to go back again soon..

Phase Eight is stocked at Kaufhof stores. It is online and in stores with Karstadt and Breuninger.




eCommerce passport stamps

2016 seems to be the year to explore even more cross border eCommerce. This of course isn’t revolutionary, international expansion has been growing steadily especially in the US and China with brands such as ASOS, Superdry and Primark stamping their mark into these markets. John Lewis announced this week their down under adventures, opening six concession stores in the department store , Myer. This is big news as already, H&M, Zara, Gap, TopShop and Marks and Spencers have ventured to Australia.

This year I had first hand experience of going into Australia online managing the online production of a separate Australian website channel.

There’s obviously many important elements to consider when expanding into new territories online, it offers new possibilities for a fashion retailer in terms of customer but it also brings with it some of  the most basic problems such as delivery, language and imagery. Ensuring you’re in line with the customer and climate is key but so are the basics such as a smooth shopping experience with clear product and delivery messaging.

“We’re delighted to be expanding our international presence and bringing John Lewis to new countries around the world, both through physical collaborations and by expanding our online international delivery destinations,” said Katie Jordan, head of John Lewis’s international development.


I have reviewed a couple of big multi-channel players who have begun to explore the Australian market:

Marks and Spencer

On entering the M&S Australia site you are greeted with a pop up 20% offer mentioning their ‘new’ site which has been live since February 2016. This is still coming up in July 2016, which is interesting as they’re still offering an incentive and branding it as ‘new’. Be good to understand how the first 5 months have gone for them on the this new channel.



Their homepage (above) is customised to the Australian market focusing on Autumn season – the current season down under.

There’s slight amends to product banner images and copy to be in line with the current season feel.

There’s less top navigation categories on their Australian website as well, pairing back the offering, a good idea in my experience is a good plan whilst trying to manage cross border online territory CMS areas. Also sticky header on delivery follows around the website (below) – a great idea to highlight the importance of delivery for the Australian customer.


Karen Millen

Their homepage is tailored to the Australian customer again making sure the banners and product copy is leaning towards the Autumn season. Products have been merchandised to reflect this.


Again, sticky header highlighting delivery.


Looks like they trade the counter season to the Australian customer, so AW15 while UK is in SS16. The Australian homepage is messaging the new season, with the striped dress on the Australian homepage marked as ‘new’ and full price but on further inspection it is on sale in the UK – see below.



I also assume that when looking at these sites if I was in Australia that I would be auto directed to the Australian site based on my IP address/configuration.

I wonder how far the Australian customer looks when shopping to see these differences, does it depend how well-known the brand is? Should they be offering specific Australian stock packages? Do they expect to pay more for British brands delivery options?

I don’t think there’s ever one perfect rule to execute this as there are so many factors as I mentioned such as price, imagery and  brand awareness- such as is it already stocked in an Australian department store? or does the brand already have a stand-alone store? I have found the sore presensc ein a country is sometimes key to lifting online. Browsing in store and discovering more, such as a full collection from the brand on the website.

With department stores like David Jones reporting 8.5% increase in sales for 2015/16 (52 weeks up till June 2016) there’s cause to maybe rethink these questions.

Like-for-like growth at Myer was 3.4 per cent in the three months to April 23. Its better-than-expected first-half sales grew by 1.8 per cent to $1.8 billion for the 26 weeks to January 23 and comparable store sales were 3.3 per cent stronger for the same period.

Macquarie Wealth Management’s research suggests ‘international retailers account for only 1 per cent of Australia’s clothing and department store sales though’.
So what we also see now is a squeeze on the department stores from the likes of heavy weight global players such as H&M which recently reported a 50 per cent surge in its Australian sales for the May quarter as well as investment in local discount department store chains Big W and Target.**

Just a peek at what can be expected, deep breath – H&M will increase from nine stores to 40, Topshop from four to 20, Zara will increase its store numbers by 30 per cent and GAP will boost numbers more than fourfold to 25 stores. Wow.


‘Macquarie Wealth Management’s research suggests international retailers account for only 1 per cent of Australia’s clothing and department store sales’ 

Of course how this directly affects online is not entirely known but from experience the store presence of the brand is key to online with more pressure on wallet share. I think is a positive element creating much more of a ‘stage’ for international brands,  however to what effect this eventually has on Australian’s homegrown discount stores and big department stores, only time will tell. Recent reports show that cumulative market shares from these department stores have fallen from 15 per cent at the tail end of 2008 to 13 per cent in 2016***.

The international expansion of eCommerce rolls on and I hope this continues despite Brexit!



* Source: Telegraph, 15/07/2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/07/15/john-lewis-goes-down-under-with-australian-shops/

**Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 14/07/2016, http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/david-jones-unveils-strong-fullyear-sales-20160714-gq5u6q.html

***Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 17/06/2016, http://www.smh.com.au/business/retail/international-retailers-like-hm-zara-topshop-have-only-started-their-invasion-20160617-gplczt.htmlrese

Spring Clean

House of Fraser and Marks and Spencer’s have had a spring clean and launched new site designs.

Two established retailers, Hof seen as younger more on trend perhaps, M&S seen as with of an established customer base that’s older, both not places I usually shop online at.

Explored these on desktop, tablet and mobile. Three things stand out from both, Image, White and Minimalist is king.

Product pages – here’s the M&S one, and the Hof one.

They have strong points in terms of the images being sharp and clear, both are clearly gearing themselves towards the mobile/tablet customer, with the image heavy flat designs.

Both are image led on their front pages. Hof with static single image then more blocks of images further down. While M&S have a carousel that fills the screen on the desktop, mobile or tablet. Then more image blocks further down. Although a lot more slick looking, M&S was a lot harder to navigate on a tablet and mobile for me and it seemed you ha a lot more clicks to get to pages. Whereas Hof have their own mobile site, that sits well with their desktop navigation design too.


Varied typography is consistent on these two sites, something that’s becoming increasingly used on many ecom sites. Here’s an example on Hof’s Jo Malone brand page. Still unsure about this but it definitely draws the eye.

Spring Clean?

Keen to see what else develops on these two site in the coming year, both clearly moving towards a more responsive design but not entirely yet..

I shall be keeping an eye out for more redesigned sites. I’ll also be exploring how well or not so well they actually work for shopping on! Follow me @lauramalteser

Noma Bar

My new obession is artist, Noma Bar. Simple, clean fascinating pieces that I never get bored of. I got to see more of his works recently at the Designs of the Year exhibition currently on show at the Design Museum.

His work is hard to pinpoint, as just being either design, graphic or art. He describes his craft as visual communication, combining the skills of artist, illustrator and designer.

Noma Bar - Train

Noma Bar - Stalker

See a snippet of what I thought about the exhibition here!

Bus Art!

Just been told about a great project combining technology and art! My two favourite things!

Bus-Tops is a new digital public art project that invites local communities, the general public and nine leading contemporary artists to transform everyday bus journeys into an art experience.

Bus-Tops 2012

These artworks will be on show ‘live’ 24 hours a day from January – September 2012 across 20 London boroughs. These areas will host a network of interactive, screen-based installations on bus shelter roofs.

Artists involved include, Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen, Jemima Brown, Jasmina Cibic, Michelle Deignan, Kate Davis, Ian Monroe, Mark Titchner, Conrad Ventur, Zoe Walker & Neil Bromwich. I shall be heading along to the launch hosted by Turner Prize-nominated artist Mark Titchner at Idea Generation Gallery on 10th January, so keep your eyes peeled on Art Pie to read about what I discover!

For more information on where to see the works, keep an eye on the blog and twitter updates here @bus_tops

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair: A Time Travelling Snapshot

The camera was my tool this weekend when I took on a blogger challenge, snapping my experience at Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair. My mission? To take a disposable camera and capture my experiences.

This is my record of secret portal to a treasure trove – captured for those who crave vintage goodness.

Donning my fashion blogging uniform (see below) and clicking my heels into another land, I sort to document Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair on 3 December . This glimpse into other world’s at Old Spitalfields Market debuted on Saturday – the first time in 100 years – by welcoming Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair which shall be gracing the site every first Saturday of the month in future.

My time travelling blog uniform!

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair feels as if it’s always been at Old Spitalfields; laying down its time travelling cloak of glamour with well-honed vintage heels and spreading out its decade defying 140 stalls from all over the UK.

Diving straight into these worlds I could become any character, traversing eras. Forget slaving over fashion’s ‘latest’ or ‘must haves’, Judy’s shows worlds ahead and beyond that. The wealth of stalls offer items Topshop or Urban Outfitters won’t have and that’s what fellow time travel shoppers felt, commenting how, ‘You don’t get this quality in the shops‘. This is coupled with great prices and an added dose of history, transporting its owners back to another time.

The girls travel back to a world of vintage lace.

There was all the fashion you could shake a clutch bag and armed with my camera I found new worlds and revived memoires. Overwhelmed, I didn’t know where to begin, suddenly all sensible thoughts of – ‘I only need to find a print to go on my bedroom wall’ – float out of the packed crowd of fellow explorers.

A peek into the wardrobe of a glamorous goddess.

I chanced upon the 70s with sequined dresses, felt the 50s in well-loved leather jackets, discovered oriental traditions with silk kimonos and put myself into the shoes of a 20s party girl.

Whose shoes will you step into from past times??

Trying on the shoes reminded me of the past characters who have passed through Old Spitalfields Market, making it what it is today. The site can boast the fact that it was a Roman cemetery in 1601, and that Charles Roberts Ashbee, founder of the Arts and Craft movement, opened his Guild and School of Handicraft at Toynbee Hall across the road. It saw Maltese, Irish, Scots, West Indian, Somalian and Bangladeshi communities came to the area in 1900s. This history made the clothes come to life more against backdrop of the wrought iron roof of the market.

Eras of elegance collide with Old Spitalfields Market’s history.

Further on in my travels I landed in a music box of my childhood with my parents record collection, a vinyl collection featuring Eric Clapton and Grace Jones. More figures came to life such as the Beatles and Wham, this was a literal slice of a time gone, making my fellow shoppers laugh and admit their (sometimes embarrassing) musical loves.

Travel back to Grace Jones’ ‘Slave to the Rhythm  of the 80s.

It’s not just the fashion and music eras that took me time travelling, furniture and home accessories sent me to other lands.  I found lamps, vases, telephones, chairs and china. Taking me by surprise I was whisked into the Madmen set with 50s clocks to show how long I had been caught up in amongst this colourful landscape.

Which time shall you travel to at Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair?

Towards the outter edges in-between the rails and jewellery boxes I tiptoed back to my childhood with these teeny tiny shoes. Reminding me of my tentative first ballet steps as a 6 year old, they took on a life of their own, I could smell the hairspray and remember my practice steps as if it was yesterday.

Tiny steps back into my childhood.

I began to discover more and more stalls that all had hidden surprises, shifting from one exotic time to another. Along the way I met more fellow travellers who were able to feel extra special with vintage underwear from the 20s that’s not on the high street. Other vintage lovers were reminded of places from childhood with old town posters, or of their much loved toys with Lego and Scrabble jewellery.

Discovering memories of places.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair was also an opportunity for everyone to add to their collections – no matter how ‘unfashionable’ or not on ‘trend’ it may seem. I could see how the fair gave everyone a chance to not only to take on different characters, but immerse themselves in their favourite style. Sports shirts always remained elusive one shopper (below) and he found something perfect by travelling to the 1990’s with his find at the fair.

Finding something to go with own your style.

Finally I managed to tear myself away from the dazzling array of stalls and back to the present day. Still reeling with all the images its hard to pin it down to just a few but hopefully my snaps have inspired you to take on an exploration of a future Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair. It’s the perfect place to find new eras of inspiration and banish vintage designer price tags.

Travel through lands and time, be inspired and experiment but most importantly, pass on this secret passage into vintage heaven.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair comes from humble beginnings in London 2005, starting as in indoor market. Now it boasts not only vintage fairs around the UK but the Kilo Vintage Sale, Furniture Flea, AND they even casted their kitsch eye over Vintage at Goodwood by curating it in 2010. They’re also expanded to outsite the UK shores in February 2012 increasing their stalls form 140 to 170 – more goodies for all!

Follow all their latest updates for events here and also their tweets @JudyVintageFair.

For the images from my photo blog challenge head to Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair Facebook page where they shall be posted soon!

Open Doors London Lands in SW4

This weekend sees Open Doors London launch their second London borough exhibition, SW4. This pop-up gallery network, who I have posted about before, have an eclectic mix of artsits showing works at Clapham North Arts Centre this weekend.

As previously, like with Exhibition W12, the artists have been inspired by the area and Open Doors have helpfully uploaded images of the Clapham area to their digital scrapbook of to ignite creativity, see it here.

© Foo Illustration 2011

The exhibition is open 3-4 December at Clapham North Arts Centre 11am – 6pm, so catch it while you can!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next pop-up London borough from Open Doors London. Follow their updates here @OpenDoorsLondon

Candlelight and the 20’s

Shh! Let me tell you about The Candlelight Club, a lover of all things of the 1920s jazz era, they pop-up in secret London venues and promise a peek into a world of decadence and damn right good fun! If you’d like a night out away from the bar crowds then we think the Candlelight Club could be your haven.

This speak easy style club doesn’t have loud promotions or glossy adverts, its merely via word of mouth. It holds events throughout the year in tucked-away dens with a 1920s swing band flavour, completely lit by candles of course. Each event offers a one-off bespoke cocktail menu and a theme, the event we attended was Shanghai, so I readied my folding fan and awaited the secret location to be announced…

We tiptoed our way into the secret location which was revealed via emial two days before. The pathway entirely lit by candles – as was the room – felt tucked away but in the heart of central London which was very handy when leaving.

The setting for Shanghai 20s adventure...

Drink Me

We sipped on Singapore Slings and Opium Dream cocktails, both very punchy and deserved their £7 price tag. The cocktails also came with a very friendly bar service with plenty of flaring skills on show despite the candlelit setting.

An Opium Dream

Eat Me

If all the glow of the candle light left us feeling worn out then our needs were met as outside a stall served Chinese food in cute takeaway boxes. Maybe not strictly prohibition era but tasty and plentiful none the less, and just £5 a portion!

Move to the 20s

Music from a laptop, not necessarily authentic, but the band Benoit Viellefon and his Orchestra entertained later with their punchy 1920s sing band sounds.

Held in a gallery space with high ceilings, white walls and wooden floors, it gave a prohibition shabby chic feel. Once the band kicked off the slither of a dance floor space quickly filled and no one could resist testing out their 20s moves. Getting squashed several times didn’t matter as everyone was trying hard with their Charleston dancing. I was surprised how everyone made an effort no pathetic attempts; guys in tails, with canes; girls in sequined flapper dresses with perfectly pin curled hair, it was a change from the high street fashion slaves.

So we stepped back into the 20s..

We’re already getting ready to apply our red lipstick and pin curls for their future events!

For more about the Candlelight Club and their clandestine events see here but shhh!

A Foggy Sunday Stroll

Seems winter may have finally shown its face, and in a nice way. On Sunday I spent the afternoon in my favourite part of South West London, Richmond Park observing the mad joggers (wearing next to nothing) and cyclists and also trying to see through the fog.

The fog was so dense after about an hours walk my hair was soaked, it was like slow motion rain!

Despite the weather it was perfect for walking, crisp and fresh! Horses riders were still cantering through as well.

Spooky horse riders pass by.

Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve and was originally a Royal hunting ground, and was enclosed by Charles I in 1637, so deer have been roaming the park for hundreds of years. In fact the park contains an astonishing amount of wildlife from woodpeckers, squirrels, rabbits, stag beetles and parakeets and more, not that I could spot any of them through the fog…

To explore more (professional!) photographs of the park see the Richmond Park, London website by Steve Morgan  http://www.richmondparklondon.co.uk/ follow him here @richmondparkuk

Hello winter!

Boombox Art

The boombox shall be taking centre stage at Whisper Gallery and XOYO this December thanks to The Boombox Project by Lyle Owerko.

Music listening today has changed from a collective aspect to a very personal and private one, thanks to the iPod some may say. We plug into our phones, iPods etc., and shut out anyone else.  The boombox was as much a social object, where everyone could gather round, listen and share, as well as a music device. You may think of boomboxes as cumbersome, ugly 80s icons, that we’re paraded around on peoples shoulder in music videos. This exhibition of prints may make you think differently.

Lyle Owerko, a New York based filmmaker and photographer, has given boomboxes a contemporary art edge and a new lease of life. This display is the output of an obession of Owerko’s; he’s spent years collecting and photographing vintage boomboxes, resulting in a photo series of these cult objects, all of which have been documented in his book, The Boombox Project: The Machines, The Music, and The Urban Underground.

Lyle Owerko's Boombox prints

The display took form when he was in Japan and found a mint condition late-seventies Victor JVC at an outdoor market. Already a collector, his hunt began for more rare and obscure models.

Owerko has directed music videos for artists such as, Rufus Wainwright and American HI-FI. He also shot the cover for the September 11, 2001 issue of Time Magazine, which was ranked as one of the most important magazine covers in the past 40 years by the American Society Of Magazine Editors.

Owerko’s works go on show at XOYO from 2 December – 7 December and at Whisper from 9 December – 14 January. Find out more about Lyle Owerko’s works here.