“We’ve witnessed a few recessions” – Apt Collection’s Nigel and Claudia Hughes celebrate 25 years in business

Alquema SS23

Since launching in 1997, Apt Collections has evolved into a highly successful multi-branded fashion agency supplying the industry’s best indies. Today its roster includes international labels such as Alembika, Alquema, Elsewhere, Igor, Ozai N Ku, Philomena Christ and Urban by Alembika. Plus, new for this season, TKS (Trine Kryger Simonsen) from Denmark.

Here founders Nigel and Claudia Hughes reveal how the business has evolved over the years and what they’ve learned along the way…

“Having both enjoyed successful careers in the industry, we started to feel like it was the right time to start out on our own. We set out to introduce individual and exciting collections to the UK and to run a personal but professional agency that championed independent boutiques and businesses.

“Since then, we have witnessed a few recessions and general ups and downs, but we’ve always loved what we do and surrounded ourselves with people of the same attitude. Despite technology and all its advances, we’re in the people business and the relationships with buyers and suppliers are at its core.


“Our journey has been shaped by the changes in our sector – from one label and one showroom, we quickly grew to multiple labels and ever-expanding premises. Now we’ve come full circle and are thoroughly enjoying the more efficient and personal way of working, which we’ve developed over the past five years.

“It’s fair to say that age and experience have led us to work with wonderful and reliable family-run suppliers that take huge pride in their product, look after their workforce, and respect the planet we live on. The saying “buy less, choose well and make it last” really underpins our whole outlook.

“More recently, Brexit and the lockdowns have challenged us yet again to introduce new ways of working. We are agents as well as distributors, which allows us to make the import process for our shops as (hopefully) easy as possible. We have also sought to introduce lesser-known brands to the UK, and this has proven to be a great success with our customer base, which is largely made up of independent boutiques.


“All our labels champion effortless and individual styling for the twenty-first century, with quality and fit at their heart. We thoroughly enjoy working with suppliers from around the world and the richness of their respective backgrounds that shines through in every collection.

“Styling evolves, trends and attitudes change – sometimes very quickly – and we’ll continue to do our best to offer shops the collections they expect to see from us.”

Showing at Devonshire House, 1st Floor, 1 Devonshire Street, London, W1W 5DS (30 July – 11 August); Elliott House, The White Room, 2nd Floor, 151 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WD (14-18 August).