How London indie group Ediit is experiencing rapid growth in a challenging retail market

Ediit’s Libby Allan is incredibly busy right now. The first time we speak it’s on a drizzly spring day and she’s in the car rushing from the school run to go to her new Islington boutique. “We’re yet to find a manager,” she says. “So, for the time being, it’s me.” 

Opened so recently you can still smell the paint, it’s the second bricks-and-mortar store for the owner’s expanding retail group. The first opened in December 2020 on a busy street corner in London’s affluent Queen’s Park. Formerly home to premium womenswear indie group Iris, former fashion agent turned clothing brand founder Libby felt the premises had great potential: “Living in Queen’s Park, I knew the market well,” she says. “It’s such a busy high street, so I was sure I could create a really successful boutique if I brought in the right brands and lowered the price point.” So, with the help of husband and business partner Alex, she swiftly contacted the landlord and signed the lease.

Unique experience

Positioned in a prime location opposite a popular Gail’s bakery, Libby describes Ediit’s Queen’s Park store as “eclectic and European”. Inside shoppers can find a broad mix of hand-picked mid-priced pieces from around 45 international brands, spanning well-known names such as American Vintage and Berenice to emerging designers. Among them is her own wholesale clothing brand, Libby Loves, which offers stylish separates, knitwear and accessories.   

Ediit Islington

The majority of the store’s edit is made up of versatile separates. Think floaty cotton tops by M.A.B.E, silky co-ords from Essential Antwerp and Me369 as well as denim staples by Agolde and FRNCH. “I’d describe our edit as quintessential London style,” says Libby. “The pieces we stock are a bit more casual but edgy. Comfort and wearability are both important. Quality is key too – when people are paying more premium prices, they expect it to last.”

Gifting is also a strong category at the store, particularly around Christmas. Shoppers can pick up sustainable jewellery by Pilgrim, natural bodycare from Sevin London or a Bella Freud candle for £50. 

Libby singlehandedly selects the entire edit, visiting a mixture of trade shows and showrooms in London and Paris: “I spend three days at Who’s Next every season and always find great new brands there,” she says. “I also love The Fashion Huddle in Hammersmith as you can see each brand’s full collection.”

While she makes most of her selections with key customers in mind, Libby says her buying decisions naturally veer towards pieces she’d wear herself: “It’s always easier to sell something you love.” Her number one buying rule, however, is to try everything on before committing to an order: “Things can look amazing on a hanger, but if they don’t fit properly, they won’t sell.”

Journey to retail  

Libby was well versed in retail long before opening her own boutique. The daughter of two successful indie owners – her mother specialising in occasionwear and her father in footwear – she was practically raised on a shop floor: “I’ve always known how to serve customers and dress people,” she says. “My mum had three shops at one point, and I used to run one. I’ve always loved independent retailers and brands.”

But rather than going into the family business after university, she began her fashion career in wholesale. Her first job was working with a family friend to launch Forever Unique in the UK. A few years later, she set up on her own as an agent bringing in short order wholesale brands from Paris. Later, she launched her own clothing brand, Libby Loves. However, all roads eventually led to retail, and four years ago she decided to follow in her parents’ footsteps and open Ediit. 

Ediit Queen’s Park

Although Libby and Alex had already secured the perfect premises, it took longer than usual to open the doors and begin trading: “The pandemic meant there were lots of delays,” she says. “But that was probably a blessing in disguise as it meant we had time to renovate and get everything ready first.” Opening just a few weeks before Christmas, the physical boutique was an instant hit: “We had a fantastic start. Everyone was just out of lockdown and wanted to shop local. We were already starting to make good progress online, too.”  

Online growth

While the owner was already using Shopify for Libby Loves, she admits setting up Ediit’s website was a whole new ballgame: “Uploading inventory for 40+ suppliers is a huge job,” she says. But fast-forward to 2024 and all that hard work has paid off. The retailer’s transactional website now makes up a substantial part of the business, bringing in 37 per cent of its revenue. Its profits have risen exponentially since the beginning, with takings growing by +50-70 per cent year-on-year. 

Libby puts the website’s success down to social media, direct marketing and relentless investment in advertising. She also believes the strong emphasis on delivering a standout service keeps shoppers returning: “We try to offer a consistently excellent service,” she says. “The inventory is always available, and we send all our orders by DHL so they get to customers quickly. It’s working – we have a huge repeat customer base located all across the UK as well as overseas.”

To give customers an even bigger reason to return, Ediit has recently introduced a loyalty program. Shoppers collect credits with every pound they spend, which eventually convert into money-off vouchers. “It’s our way of showing our loyal customers how much they’re valued,” says Libby. “It’s a great scheme and many Ediit shoppers already really benefitted.” 

Libby Allan

However, despite its staunch customer base, Ediit still faces numerous challenges when selling online. International shipping charges in particular are a big issue for the owner: “They just aren’t transparent enough,” she says. “DHL’s overseas shipping prices can vary from £18 – £65 and it’s difficult to gauge beforehand so you can’t pass it onto the customer. If they then want to return their order, you make a loss.”

Ediit was also one of the many indie retailers affected by the collapse of online marketplace Atterley in December 2022. “We lost a lot of money when that happened,” Libby says. “We still sell via Trouva, and that’s been good for bringing in new customers. However, I wonder if the money spend on commission could be used better elsewhere.”

Branching out

Ediit’s owner hopes the success of its Queen’s Park boutique will be echoed at its new Islington store. Also positioned rather coincidentally next to a Gail’s bakery on a busy thoroughfare, it offers a similar edit to the first store with a few necessary tweaks.

Alex had set the goal of opening a second boutique within three years of opening the first, so tirelessly explored London high streets and opportunities until the perfect spot came along: “We considered lots of different areas, but ultimately we kept coming back to Islington,” says Libby. “It has some higher-end multiples like Jigsaw and Toast, so I knew the right customer was there. And while there are boutiques in the area, there’s no one offering what we do.”

The latest store combines chic mid-priced French labels with British brands including Libby Loves: “There are lots of young people living in the neighbourhood and they don’t always want to spend £300+ on one piece, so our price points suit the market well.” The boutique’s interior is slightly different to its Queen’s Park counterpart, with a cooler colour palette and contemporary light fittings mixed with soft fabrics and sleek shelving units. There’s also an accessories room, accessed via an archway, laden with footwear, bags, hats and sunglasses.

The challenge for Libby so far has been finding the right staff: “That’s definitely been the biggest hurdle,” she says. “The staff at Queen’s Park are brilliant so it feels difficult to live up to that, but we will get there.” 

When it comes to the business’s future, Libby and Alex are sticking to a plan: “It was always going to be three bricks-and-mortar stores,” says the owner. “I’m hoping by next year we’ll have our third and final boutique. I know it’ll be in London, but the exact location is very much undecided. If something could come up next door to a Gail’s that would be perfect!”

But for now, Libby remains very much focused on growing the following for her latest store while finding the right manager. And although it’s only been a matter of weeks since its grand opening, the outlook remains extremely positive for her burgeoning business: “Back in 2020 I thought we were going to be a small London boutique serving the local community,” she says. “But we already have shoppers travelling from all across London as well as a growing nationwide online customer base. It’s exceeded my expectations; Ediit is so much more than a local high street boutique.”