We look forward to White Gallery London every year, it’s the best time to meet designers and discover their latest collections. In anticipation of this top industry event, I took a few minutes to chat with Wendy Adams, Director of Bridal Portfolio at Ocean Media to find out what we can expect at the show this year and more.
How much time is spent organising an event such as this?
We start on the last day of the show the year before so basically a full year!
How important is this sole event to the buyers/boutiques/designers?
Very – the designers are showing their new 2018 collections for the first time, and this is the only place the retailers can see the new styles, talk to the designers in person, and place sample orders.
What percentage of designers are established and how many are new unseen names?
We have a total of 95 labels showing and 57 of these are established designers either from the UK or overseas. It’s always great to promote new talent and give them a platform to launch themselves.
From a designer’s perspective, how important is it to be involved in this show?
It’s a beautiful setting – elegant and intimate – in which the designers can present to their stockists and, with their entire collection on show, it gives them the best opportunity to talk through individual shop requirements. Being in a show environment rather than an individual showroom also means that it is easy to attract new stockists both in the UK or from abroad.
Every year the event attracts more top names – what do you attribute this to?
White Gallery London is an exclusive show and exhibiting criteria is strictly adhered to. We have a well-earned reputation that stretches across the globe and therefore interest from designers is huge. But we will always restrict our participants, so that we remain the best of the best.
With the very sad news that Benjamin Roberts has ceased trading, how do you feel the industry is changing and what can be done to protect designers and retailers? Are we doing enough to protect brides from buying cheap?
There is lots of competition at the moment from online copies and the high street but associations such as the BBSA are really focused on delivering the message – and warning – to brides and increasingly getting the consumer press to support them. The media generally is sending out alerts and, in the US in particular, bodies have been set up to close down online copy houses.
With companies such as Benjamin Roberts closing their doors, however, it is a different story and one that retailers have to come to grips with moving forward as there is so much competition. Specialisation is vital for the retailers in this day, and age, and carrying a smaller number of brands. Buying into those collections in depth is a recipe for a healthy future and successful business.
There is a huge shift at the moment in media towards the high street and the cost of weddings – it feels like the wedding industry is under attack. How do shows such as WGL help designers/buyers to maintain a high and credible stance?
The news press, understandably, will always look for controversial stories, that is the nature of their business so reporting on high street options in bridal makes sense for them. However, whereas there will always be those brides looking for a bargain price, and on-the-spot choice, the vast majority of British brides want that whole fairytale scenario. For them, the prestigious boutique, run by experts and offering unparalleled one-to-one service, will always be the first choice.
What is the minimum requirement for a new designer to be allowed to show at WGL?
All designers need to complete an application that is then passed to our admittance panel. They are looking for at least 18 months in business, a good reputation as an esteemed designer, a network of existing quality clients, fabrics used, price points, marketing and PR campaigns and other International shows attended.
Where do you see the industry going over the next 3 years? And in particular WGL?
Although we are going through difficult times currently, with some brides buying online or in the cheaper outlets, there remains a strong, and growing, demand for the ‘experience’ that a professional boutique selling high-end designer brands provides. We, therefore, see a good future for White Gallery London and will continue to support the designers and the stockists that attend.
If you could change anything about the industry what would that be?
Get rid of the Chinese copy houses, cheap online sales and the big chains selling low-end dresses!
White Gallery London is an industry-only event and not open to the general public. The event is held between the 14th – 16th May 2017 at Battersea Park. For further information, visit the website, whitegallery.com