LONDON — London-based designers and LVMH Prize winners Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida of Marques’ Almeida will today launch their first e-commerce site, part of their plans to expand the company after winning the LVMH Prize last year.
The Portuguese, London-based design duo will unveil marquesalmeida.com, a seasonless e-commerce site whose launch is meant to coincide with the brand’s fifth anniversary.
“It’s a project very close to our hearts,” said Marques. “We didn’t want to just do it the same way everyone is doing it. It was about really understanding what the brand was, and how that would translate on the Web site. We spoke to a lot of the girls who were clients and friends of the label about how they shop and what they want to do and what they like about the brand as well. It was a bit of a collage of all those things.”
Marques said the styles are a mix of “things that we ourselves really liked and we wanted to see done again, and the very limited editions. They should be quite special, hopefully, for someone who knows the brand and knows where they come from. For someone who doesn’t know the brand, it’s hopefully like quite a nice snapshot of the things we’ve done the past five years and it feels quite special.”
The site will focus on seasonless pieces, and Marques noted that the duo’s decision reflects what is best for the brand at this stage. “The seasonless thing for us was about our signature,” she said. “We work a lot on instincts and what feels right and relevant for the moment that we’re in. It felt like we had to do more, we had to offer more [than what was in the show] — it had to be more special.”
The designers also wanted to put the focus on “real girls” and enlisted close friends to model for the Web site.
“We didn’t want to shoot it on a model,” said Marques. “Since we started the label it’s about a girl, an attitude. It’s about the whole image, more than about the product. We shot it on our friends instead of shooting it on a model. Ronan, Sophia, Jazz — they’re all our really close friends. They almost chose what they wanted to wear and it made sense for them. And I hope that touches people in a different way, because you feel like it’s about their personalities as real people rather than some model with their head cropped off which we found devastating really.”
The designers have added personal touches, such as setting up their e-shop with pieces including exclusive items and limited-edition styles. There are also never-before-seen castings and fittings for shoots and personal videos, as well as archive pieces. They have also created an area on the site titled “Book Page” with unpublished images.
The Web site is the latest in a series of investments the designers have made after winning the LVMH Prize last year. They’ve also added staff in the communications, sales, logistics, production and product development teams and expanded their product range.
As part of the LVMH Prize, they received a grant of 300,000 euros, or $333,300, as well as business mentoring from LVMH executives.
Launched in 2011, Marques’ Almeida first debuted their spring 2012 collection as part of the Fashion East collective in 2011. The designers met while they were at CITEX Fashion School in Portugal. They moved to London in 2009 and studied for their MA at Central Saint Martins under the late Professor Louise Wilson. While Marques gained experience at Vivienne Westwood, Almeida worked at Preen. Their studio is based in East London, and their aesthetic is distressed clothing and denim.
Marques said that “2015 was an insane year for us and the company. Marques’ Almeida, the company, grew significantly. There were about five of us and now there are about 15. I felt like we always wanted to do more, but we didn’t have the means for it and now we do, and I think that was the biggest change. We wanted to grow the range, we wanted to do more collections, we wanted to do this Web site. We’ve been sitting on it for so many years just trying to get it done. It’s really expensive to make. There were a lot of things that we wanted to do that the LVMH Prize has allowed us to do it — it’s kind of incredible.
“We were lucky to have had the support from the fashion enterprises in London that give you notions of capital and margins and things like that to make sure your business can stay afloat. With the LVMH it went to a whole new level, it was more about long term and understanding how the strategies that you implement affect your long-term cash flow. I think the biggest change was definitely to have long-term strategies rather than short-term ones. I think before the LVMH prize, we were literally just trying to stay afloat and make sure that the business was going in a sustainable way and now we feel that we could really implement a lot of investment that would take us where want to be in the next five years, 10 years,” Marques added.
The designers are working on expanding their range.
“We stay very true to our direction and our intent five years ago,” said Marques. “The creative, the collection and the reason we do collections and the direction of the collections haven’t really changed. We’re doing more. I think that’s the difference; we’ve been given the resources to do more. But the way we approach it, we’re the same, we’re the same intent, with the same purpose that we had five years ago. We’ll see how well the Web site takes off now, and if it works well then we’ll be putting a lot of our efforts on this online, digital platform and I don’t know exactly what we can do yet but I think that’s going to be a priority. We’re working on expanding our collection, the range is getting bigger and bigger and that’s our biggest priority now — making sure that we’re putting out an offering in terms of collections that is enough to feed our clients basically and we feel we can do it at this point.”