LONDON — Matthew Williamson is set to concentrate selling his collections online with a renewed focus on licenses and is to close his London flagship, WWD has learned.
A new Web site is set to launch in early 2016 that will offer free shipping worldwide and same-day delivery in London. The move will also see the label streamline its wholesale order books and bricks-and-mortar retail.
Joseph Velosa, chairman of Matthew Williamson, said the company is in “ongoing” discussions with wholesale clients about how they’ll work together in the future.
Matthew Williamson’s store on Bruton Street here will close this summer and relocate to another central London space that will serve as a showroom and appointment-only boutique for online customers. A second store in Qatar remains open.
The firm declined to comment on job losses, but said the investment structure of the privately owned business remains the same.
In a bid to appeal to what the label called a “buy-now-wear-now mentality,” it will produce six fashion collections a year and present them directly to consumers at small events.
Discussing details of a business restructure first revealed by WWD last month, the London-based company still plans to have a presence at London Fashion Week, though “not necessarily through traditional fashion shows.”
Matthew Williamson, which marks 18 years in business this year, is the latest fashion label to seek alternatives to the traditional way of doing business. For the past few seasons, London designers such as Marios Schwab have been skipping the catwalk in favor of more intimate presentations and one-on-one contact with the end-consumer, while Paris label Jean Paul Gaultier and Amsterdam-based Viktor & Rolf have pulled out of ready-to-wear altogether as they refocus their businesses on couture and fragrances.
Williamson, creative director, and Velosa, chairman, who cofounded the company in 1997, said that on the 18th anniversary it was time to “rethink our company” and set new ideas in place. “Over the years, the industry and consumers have changed and we’re keen to address and respond to that.…The aim is to refresh what’s there, and to create a lifestyle brand that we’re truly proud of both creatively and commercially,” they said in a joint statement.
Both men will retain their titles, and have also promoted Rosanna Falconer to the role of business director. Georgie Macintyre will take the title of senior creative consultant. Both Falconer and Macintyre have worked at the business for the past two years, Falconer most recently as communications director, and Macintyre as Williamson’s design collaborator.
Falconer, who has headed Williamson’s digital strategy since 2013, said the label would continue to focus on bringing a “personal, offline experience” to its e-commerce customers, while developing brand-building social media channels, such as Instagram and Pinterest.
The e-commerce business is seeing a spike in growth, with sales via the channel almost quadrupling in 2014 versus the previous year, according to the company.
Macintyre will work with Williamson in “pushing forward the design codes of the house…while responding to modern consumers’ needs,” according to the company.
Matthew Williamson is also set to amp up its lifestyle and interiors products. The designer has ongoing collaborations with Linda Farrow for sunglasses; The Rug Company; wallpaper and paint firm Osborne & Little, and is working with Blakes Hotel in London on a design project. The designer has also signed a deal with a home retailer based in the U.S., and continues to design Butterfly, a home and fashion range for the British department store chain Debenhams.