‘The original concept for the Stitch event was driven from my previous experiences working in Barcelona,’ says Stitch founder and director, Brian Duffy, ‘I was working behind stage at the Bread and Butter show and realised a lot of the brands didn’t have the money to get an international presence. So we decided to take the plunge and set up a dedicated show in London.’
With Stitch now running into its fourth season (the first event was in February 2010), the event is really coming into its own, making its mark as the leading menswear trade show. But in partnership with Pure, how do they actually integrate? ‘We are growing more and more independent,’ assures Duffy, ‘it’s actually more of a complimentary relationship where we look to retain our own place with our own show direction.’ ‘Having said that, we do work closely with Pure to improve services, such as hospitality, transport and generally the show experience. We constantly strive to give it that edge.’
Stitch itself is enjoying a moment where the menswear industry is flourishing more than ever, ‘I find that over generations men are becoming more and more conscious about how they look,’ but ‘I think menswear brands have always been growing they’ve just never really had a platform. This is what Stitch does so well.’
It certainly seems to have caught a zeitgeist; perhaps the ‘biggest revelation’ is the huge level of quality international interest, ‘30-50%’ each year. So what pulls the overseas crowd? ‘For sure, the idea of a British heritage behind brands, draws interest.’ But the team have been meticulous about their brand list, selecting only premium quality and have come to be a trusted source for the six and half thousand odd footfall count expected at this summer’s event. It promises to be ‘the best Stitch ever’ as a new creative concept and show direction have been implemented to keep moving the event forward. Anthony Wallis, from Trigger Happy and 40 degrees, has come on board as creative director and joins forces with Stylorouge, the cross media design consultancy who have worked with the likes of Blur and Ted Baker.
‘It’s about keeping the event fresh, moving forward and bang on trend,’ says Duffy, ‘although such strategies have always been there, we took an overview of confidence from the footfall, especially just coming back from Bread and Butter where the resounding voice from brands was the down UK footfall, and went for it.’ So this event, you can expect entertainment events such as tattoo artist to the A-list, Louis Molloy, at work and the ‘Stitch Chop House,’ for a men’s makeover, as well as brands putting on numerous evening parties. And beyond the visitor experience, Stitch have joined with US digital media partner, Nolcha.com. In an innovative move to project young brands, they’ve installed an online based ‘Stitch store,’ where a select number of brands will get a 4 week window to ‘open them up to the US market.’ The young brand ‘Tricky is getting good reviews in the US following such support,’ Duffy is thrilled to hear.
There’s plenty more in the pipeline though; ‘we aspire to keep Stitch building each season, in line with the menswear calendar and to keep direct communication with our brand list.’ Although Duffy is in full support of the British industry, he thinks ‘it’s time to be brave,’ and encourages buyers to buy into younger brands.
For now in the rundown to the event, the Stitch team are just ‘covering bases;’ finalising floor plans at the Earls Court Venue(the last event here before its knocked down in the Olympic countdown)booking entertainment events, working on aesthetics and starting the telemarketing campaign.
Duffy hesitantly admits to still find the first morning experience ‘nerve wracking’ and will never forget the very first Stitch when, unsure if anyone would actually come, he looked outside the window ‘to see the long queues!’ But the challenges to Stitch still thrill Duffy, ‘it’s always about quality and not quantity,’ he assures ‘and I firmly believe that is what keeps it Number 1.’