The Elizabeth Martin collection oozes sophistication and when you meet the lady herself, you soon realise why. For a brand which is still in it’s formative years, each season brings with it a timeless style that would fool anyone into thinking that this is already a heritage brand. Our latest spotlight focuses on exactly this; the journey of working with an establishing brand which requires a certain style of sophisticated promotion.
We first met at a Fashion Foundry event in April 2015 and had mutually admired each other’s brands from a distance for some time. After saying our goodbyes to the variety of independents there to network, we bumped into Elizabeth for the second time that day on the Style Mile (how fitting!) and agreed that there was clearly a reason why we were meant to keep meeting. We knew it was the right time to collaborate and began the process of bringing Elizabeth’s collection on to the W.E. platform. It was soon after that Elizabeth and Protected Species were co-running a Princes Square weekend popup and one thing we always try to do is support our brands and visit as many events they are running as we possibly can. Not only did we enjoy bubbles and cupcakes, Elizabeth very kindly introduced us to Protected Species (who also joined our platform) and Elaine also treated herself to a very nice waistcoat which will not only stay in her wardrobe season after season but also provided lots of inspiration for various Instagram and Pinterest style-ups!
It was soon after that we ran our #8daysofshopping event, also in Princes Square, and Elizabeth was fully on-board. What was extra special about this event was that our PR company at the time, BWPR, had ensured that all relevant outlets had information of the event with a full selection of images to choose from and, unsurprisingly, Elizabeth’s classic designs and strong photography meant that she was regularly selected time and time again for promo. As we always say, you can never guarantee a sale and you never know which brands will be picked up for press but the right mix in your branding design goes a long way. Elizabeth’s collection ended up being featured on numerous well respected blogs, such as Miss West End Girl and Laura from A Life With Frills writing about us for The Scotsman plus it was lovely to see shoppers from as far afield as Dubai heading home with an Elizabeth Martin piece!
Shortly after the summer event we were invited to run a winter concept boutique in Princes Square and it made sense on many levels to say yes and work as hard as we could to promote these brands over a longer period, especially in the run up to Christmas. Elizabeth was already booked to participate in various events but it also made good business sense for her to have a presence in a managed retail environment in Glasgow as part of her strategy for that retail period.
In the run up to our October boutique launch we were thrilled to be nominated for Retailer of The Year at the 10th anniversary Scottish Fashion Awards and as the theme was ‘Highland Fling’ and we were representing our Scottish designers in London at the gorgeous Corinthia Hotel, Elizabeth very kindly dressed Elaine in her Isabelle blouse and it didn't go amiss with many of the Scottish talents there who spotted the brand immediately without a moment’s hesitation!
Another bonus was the awards team choosing to include an Elizabeth Martin image in our official nomination banner. This image had an outreach into the tens of thousands as it was not only included on all social media platforms across a variety of companies, it was also reproduced in the official awards programme and major publications such as Harpers Bazaar, Drapers and Vogue ran with awards stories and had all of the finalist images at their disposal.
It was around November time that the stars started to align for Elizabeth’s brand and very big things started to happen. Not only was she stocked in key Scottish locations selling in both traditional independent and managed retail environments, she was also nominated for (and won!) a Herald Fashion Award! At the same time she was also selected to go to Hong Kong with Scotland Re:designed to exhibit at an international trade fair there and was featured in the Daily Record as a designer to watch. It was lovely to see this brand finally receive recognition on a wider scale, and our job was to cross promote where possible and share this good news with Elizabeth’s fans on our platform.
At the same time, we had a request from Westender Magazine to select key brands from the boutique to feature on their cover and leading editorial and, unsurprisingly Elizabeth was selected as a key part of the gothic-inspired story.
Elizabeth participated in the initial four months of the popup boutique run and in that time she sold to customers in the UK in addition to Finland, Canada, America and Asia. Each knew they were investing in a timeless piece which was evidently of a high quality and enjoyed asking us questions about the brand and the heritage fabrics each piece was created from.
Bloggers and even fellow designers loved sharing her pieces with their fans and followers and it was always enjoyable watching their individual style-ups.
In the final few weeks before Christmas Elizabeth and Euan McWhirter joined forces to run a fun shopping event and not only did customers love chatting with them both, they were also treated to Elizabeth’s delicious mulled wine and homemade mince pies. If ever there was a multi-skilled designer, we’ve found her in Elizabeth. It was truly a day to remember.
When she reverted back to the online platform, we had another burst of press interest in the brand and this included requests from Lorraine Kelly and This Morning. The latter requested to keep a piece in their wardrobe department so next time you're watching there’s a good chance that a presenter, guest or model could be in an Elizabeth design!
We’ve really enjoyed getting to know Elizabeth and watching her brand grow alongside us - 2016 has been her year! Any path to success is never what you thought it would be and opportunities come along that you may never have expected but if you keep your mind and your options open then anything could happen. A contemporary recently asked us how we felt we performed for our showcasing designers and if there was pressure to sell a certain amount of product for them. The answer is a very simple no. If your key goal is purely monetary, you’ll hopefully get there in the end but there will be a lot of stress, anxiety, disappointment, disagreements and broken ties along the way.
If your goal, however, is a successful brand built on respect, ethics and the solid foundations of a sound business mentality then you’ll achieve your goals with some great kinships and stories to share as you accept the opportunities and good fortune that comes from understanding this industry in the way that Elizabeth certainly does. We look forward to this brand's future and have a very good feeling that 2017 is going to be another big year for all things Elizabeth Martin.