“Customers can break out of the forward order cycle and move at their own pace with low financial risk”

John Pearce is the owner of London-based agency John Pearce Fashion

What is your career background?

Like many agents I started by working with British brands and then moved into European product as the market changed and these became more dominant.

When did you start your agency and what is it’s USP?

I first became a freelance independent agent in 1976 working with Wm. Stembridge of Leeds, one of the first coordinated separates manufacturers with the brand Dawnbreakers. How things have changed since then! Our USP is not so much that of the agency, but as the points of difference in our products and supply model. Our choice of brands is deliberately focused on family businesses who make their own products. All our collections are made in Europe and therefore not subject to UK import duty. We also focus very much on independents, offering exclusivity arrangements because we want customers to feel safe to commit to us.

Which brands do currently offer at the agency?

We work with by basics/Own and grums from Denmark as well as Andam from the Paz Torras group, which is a three-generation family business based just outside of Barcelona.

Why are your collections suited to indies?

Indies need to excite customers with fresh product and colours. With by basics/ OWN, we offer quality product and constant but incremental changes to a collection of shapes that are already proven sellers, adding and removing styles and colours to update the range.

I joined by basics in May 2017 as UK/Ireland agent having answered an advertisement placed with Anton Dell. (Thank you, Anton!) What attracted me to the brand was the product itself as well as its sustainable ethos and business model.

By basics is unique, offering Scandinavian-style garments in 60 pure merino wool colourways on a 4-week order to delivery model. The pieces are available all year and made specifically for each customer with no minimum order. The collection is augmented with a Bamboo and cotton (Cotton Sense) range operating on the same basis, meaning customers can break out of the forward order cycle and move at their own pace with low financial risk.

Two years ago, by basics introduced OWN (One with Nature) offering two weights of linen in 22 colours alongside cotton poplin, a merino/cotton mix and brushed merino reversible garments. OWN cross coordinates with by basics and has taken the collection to a new level.

Complementing the collections is grums, a lifestyle brand comprising natural beauty products made from used coffee grounds alongside a range of bamboo wood accessories.

Then Andam from Spain is our most recent acquisition and offers contemporary coordinates. Customers who bought AW21 stock have all commented on the high quality and fit, detail and most importantly, sell through.

How popular are your brands among buyers?

The colour, style offer, quality and flexibility of supply drive strong sales for by basics/OWN. Our service and exclusive arrangements with our customers are what makes those sales grow. It’s not about grabbing orders; it’s about controlling distribution. Based on results so far, I expect Andam to follow in a similar path.

How have your brands grown since introducing them to the UK?

by basics/OWN is the company with most history here in the UK. We started with small orders and have developed from there. We are now in the position where we are with some very well-known independents and doing very significant business with them on a continuous basis.

Our marketing through Boutique magazine since December 2020 has also proved very successful. Plus, a return of confidence post-Brexit and since the lockdowns finished in March has resulted in the overstocks held by retailers diminishing.

The recent growth in the number of customers has been due to recognition of what by basics/OWN is about, a proven track record established over the past four years and a deliberate expansion of representation, bringing in two new agents in May this year on my recommendation and in agreement with by basics management.

Which indies do you work with?

We work with the likes of Molly and Co in Towcester, Village Life in Kent, Burford Garden Company, Walkers of Lowestoft, Collen and Clare in Southwold, Oberon in Shrewsbury, Kings Road in Woburn and Leighton Buzzard, Willow in Knutsford, Brenda Muir in Glasgow and N. Shelly in Billericay. There’s around a hundred so far on by basics/OWN, but far fewer on Andam since it’s our first season here.

What are your plans for showing your brands next season?

JPF will be showing all brands at Harrogate Fashion Week and INDX and in London and around the UK by appointment. We’ll also be showing by basics/OWN at Scoop in February.

What will be your key focus for the next 12 months as a business?

The focus is to develop what we have with indies throughout the UK.