Lucy Walsh: “I truly believe in collaboration over competition”

Lucy Walsh wearing Sirens

Multi-agency showroom concept The Fashion Huddle is returning to London this summer with its biggest ever showcase of brands. Now in its fourth season, its latest instalment will run for five weeks from Saturday 13 July – Friday 16 August. Buyers will be able to browse the latest collections from an increased line-up of UK agents, who will come together to collectively represent almost 100 collections. Here The Brand Ambassadors’ Lucy Walsh, who helped launch the joint pop-up concept in AW23, reveals what buyers can expect when they visit this summer…

How are your plans coming together for the next instalment of The Fashion Huddle? 

The most important part of organising The Fashion Huddle is securing the space each season. As we are essentially a pop-up showroom for five weeks and we aren’t always guaranteed to be in the same space as the season before. The office we use is normally focussed on long-term lets and at times the rooms we have used have been rented by other big companies, so trying to ensure we have enough space for everyone can be a bit tricky. We’ve always managed to make it work, but it’s a case of holding our nerve and trusting the process. I’ve been showing in the building for about seven years now and the building manager and I work really closely together to try and get the best space we can. By mid-May we will know exactly what space is available and then the planning of who goes where starts. 

How did The Fashion Huddle first come about?

I’d been showing independently in the Hudde in Hammersmith for a few years and more and more agencies started showing in the same building or one a few minutes’ walk away. Buyers would visit us separately and constantly comment how they wished they had known there was so much to see as they would have booked out the whole day rather than dashing across London before having to come back another day. I spoke to the other agencies in the building – Richman Brands, Magpie, Middleton Green and The Year of Agency – and they all had the same experience. We decided to put our competition aside and all show on the same open plan floor with the aim of making the buying experience easier for buyers. I created an Instagram page called The Fashion Huddle and then last season a website. We also started joint marketing and it’s just snowballed from there.

How does The Fashion Huddle experience differ to a trade show?

We have to keep reminding people that we are not an exhibition. We are a collection of multi-branded, like-minded fashion agencies all taking pop up showrooms in the same building. Buyers don’t have to register to attend. We are mostly open plan and while buyers are welcome to pop in for a browse, we recommend making an appointment to get the best out of the experience. We are showing for five weeks rather than three days. Plus, because we have the space, we show the full collections of each brand we represent rather than a couple of rails. Buyers get to see the full collection as the designers intended rather than a snapshot. Many of the trade shows this season are so early that buyers won’t have seen any of their main brands, so the benefit of The Fashion Huddle is that they don’t have the panicked time pressure to buy so early in the season.

What can buyers expect during their visit? 

This season we have so many new brands coming to The Fashion Huddle, which we will announce as soon as they are confirmed. It’s really exciting to see so many new labels coming to the UK. As we do each season, we’ll have our car service running between The Fashion Huddle and Olympia while Pure X JATC and Scoop are on to make it really easy for buyers to visit both locations. Many of our buyers used the car after they had visited us to travel to Scoop and we are happy to help as our main aim is to make it as easy as possible for time poor/ cash poor buyers to see as many brands as they can. I truly believe in collaboration over competition, and having so many buying options in Hammersmith really does make it the destination for finding new brands. We have had nothing but glowing reviews and feedback about The Fashion Huddle. Everyone loved the atmosphere, the huge brand mix and the sense of fun. They really loved how we agencies all worked together and helped introduce new buyers to each other. It really is collaboration over competition and you can feel it in the air. It’s just such a great place to be. We agents all miss it when it’s over as we love being together.

Have you seen any of your brands’ new collections yet? What sort of pieces are coming through for SS25 or is it still too early to say? 

I can’t say too much now but I have some seriously exciting new brands coming to my agency and if the mood boards and CADS are anything to go by, they are going to be beautiful. Think vintage romance and whimsical prints, lace and jacquard. I can’t wait to see the samples. 

How hard do agents work during buying season?

During the buying season it’s relentless. We often have our first appointment at 8am and don’t finish until 7pm. You’re constantly on your feet, talking non-stop and trying on samples hundreds of times a day – it’s like a gym work out. Sometimes I get home and my cheeks hurt from smiling! But it’s fun work. There’s nothing like the buzz of a busy showroom. It’s all the more fun at The Fashion Huddle because we are sharing the space with other agencies and we’ve all become great friends. We have our ‘Buyers Drinks’ every day at 4pm over the Scoop / Pure x JATC weekend and buyers often stay and just chat over a glass of fizz and it’s such a great atmosphere. Five weeks is enough though, by the end we are all shells of our former selves. Then a week after we are calling each other saying how much we miss it. I’ve always loved the buying season but now we have The Fashion Huddle I look forward to it even more. Spring/summer is always my favourite season to sell, so I can’t wait to see everyone at The Fashion Huddle this season.

The next instalment of the Fashion Huddle will run from 13 July – 16 August 2024. Find out more here.