Katie Trotter speaks to Natalie Kingham, senior womeswear buyer for Matchesfashion.com, about style, what to invest in and the brand's development in the UAE.
Natalie Kingham of Matchesfashion.com on trusting her instincts
Natalie Kingham, an international womenswear buyer from the global shopping website Matchesfashion.com, just wrapped up a whirlwind visit to the UAE, the site's biggest new market. She talks to Katie Trotter about the importance of the site's Middle Eastern customers, what the season's new trends are and what new designers we should be investing in
How did you enter the world of fashion buying?
I have always worked in the fashion industry. I started out in buying and then worked my way through different areas, including design and sales, but quite quickly realised the aspects I most enjoyed about the industry. One thing I particularly enjoy is when we collaborate with our designers on exclusive collections for Matches.
Who are the most exciting designers of the moment?
There are so many designers on my radar, it's tricky to pick just a few. There are some fantastic print designers coming out of the UK at the moment - Peter Pilotto, Mary Katrantzou, Jonathan Saunders, Preen and Erdem to name a few. We also love the more polished US designers such as Altuzarra and Jason Wu, and the Australian design talent Dion Lee. For shoes, it has to be designer of the moment, Tabitha Simmons.
What are the most important trends from the new season?
For spring/summer 2013, our most important, or what we have named the global magpie, would be futurama and monochrome.
Where do you gain inspiration from?
I try and read everything. On Instagram, I like following the designers that we buy from to see where their inspirations and ideas come from, which can be so insightful. I find inspiration everywhere; I love looking at what regular women are wearing in the different markets as I travel, such as our trip to Dubai and the Middle East. It helps me understand the international markets that are so important to us.
What have been some of the biggest risks you have taken as a buyer?
Being a good buyer is all about trusting your instincts. We were very concious that in a time of recession, you have to be bolder and braver with your choices to ensure we are always giving our customer the most compelling edit of products. Giambattista Valli couture was one such conviction: we believed we could sell it online and we were right. If we believe something is really good, our customer trusts us.
What new brands are you excited about introducing in the near future?
Thomas Tait, Lucas Nascimento, Myriam Schaefer and Mark Cross 1845, to name a few. Also, not new but new to Matches, we are very excited by Rochas. Designers are our partners - we support them and they support us.
How has the industry changed in the past decade?
The incredible growth of the online fashion industry has changed the way people shop. There is now an international global customer, which is who we are catering for. That is one of the reasons why we are here in Dubai - to gain insight into our local customer in this market.
What should we invest in?
This season I love Christopher Kane's sheer organza coat if you want to invest in a dress coat. Otherwise, a Fendi baguette bag - an absolute classic, as is investing in some fine jewellery. My favourites of the moment include Susan Foster and Delfina Delettrez.
In terms of style, who inspires you?
Strong independent women. I find many of the designers we stock such as Phoebe Philo, Aurélie Bidermann and Lena from Les Chiffoniers to epitomise the modern, effortlessly cool woman.
There are many new fashion weeks developing around the world. Do you have any particular favourites?
Travelling to our new markets is a part of my job that I am really enjoying. I am particularly excited about Tokyo Fashion week, as I believe it is hugely creative.
Where do you shop to get the best quality for differing products?
I buy shoes in Milan, swimwear and beachwear in Australia, great denim and dressed-down cool in LA, creativity, colour and print in London.
If you had an unlimited budget, who would you collect and why?
Without a doubt, Celine and Balenciaga.
How do the markets differ in the Middle East to that of European taste?
We are excited to meet people here and find out more about the design talent in the market. The Middle Eastern customer is becoming increasingly style savvy and it has been interesting to realise just how much the customer here appreciates luxury.
What's next for Matches?
It's an incredibly exciting time for us and we are at the start of a very exciting journey as we move to develop and grow our global omni-channel business.
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