LONDON — Fall 2021 is primed to be a “happier” season and, in preparation, Browns is launching new names, categories and the best of the mega brands.
The ultimate aim? To bring back the elements of discovery and joy in shopping, and to cater to all types of women, from the purists to the exhibitionists.
“It’s really important to continue to pick up newness. It’s more important now than ever to keep customers engaged and excited,” said Ida Petersson, the retailer’s buying director. “And as we move on to the new season, designers have been more experimental. For spring, everyone was more safe because they got smacked in the face with COVID-19 and tried to adapt with what they already had. But now excitement is back.”
This means a strong party wear edit with crystal Versace or Area party dresses, plenty of stringy little black dresses from up-and-comer Nensi Dojaka and LaQuan Smith statement pieces.
“It’s all about those crazy, full-on ‘I’m going out and I’m proud’ LaQuan pieces,” said Petersson, also pointing to other young names like Knwls, Thebe Magugu and Maximilian.
“Maximilian is going from strength to strength to strength. It’s designed for real women; he really thinks about how it’s going to look on different sizes — and we really started looking at what sizes a brand offers, to be able to celebrate women in every size.”
For all the fresh talent Browns is launching for fall, there are also plenty of familiar names.
“Still obsessed with Bottega,” said Petersson, adding that the buzz around Daniel Lee’s collections isn’t going away anytime soon. She also name-checked the likes of Valentino, Prada, Chloé and Celine as her fall highlights. “I think Hedi [Slimane] has really found himself, and [discovered] who this new Celine woman is.”
New York-based Khaite is also establishing itself among the luxury players, as far as Browns is concerned, and it has bought deeply into the brand’s fall cashmere and trendy clogs.
There is plenty of newness in the accessories world, too, with names like Tabitha Ringwood, known for her sculptural heels; Angelo Figus, a footwear label from the ’80s that is making a comeback, and Petit Kouraj, a conscious bag label offering exuberant macramé fringe bags.
“There’s definitely been a narrowing down in that entire contemporary accessory world and people have changed the ways they shop and engage with those brands, especially bag brands — because there weren’t as many Instagram moments,” Petersson said.
Brands like Jacquemus, By Far or Italian boot label Paris Texas remained strong, but as the market builds itself back up again, there will be a bigger expectation for brands to provide a unique selling point.
“Brands will need to have a really strong identity, that’s maybe not inspired by Bottega or whatever else is trending. I think people have had time to save up for Bottega instead of buying three contemporary-priced pieces,” Petersson said. “There’s still a lot of opportunity for someone who is clear about who they are.”
Outside its core fashion offer, Browns is also continuing to build out an array of adjacent categories from sport to resort, homeware and a soon-to-launch new kids wear offer — all in the name of inclusivity and offering “something for everyone.”
When it comes to resort, a host of new swim brands will be launching soon, from minimalist favorites like Jade Swim to Rielli, a Miami-based brand favored by the Hadids and the Jenner sisters for its bold cuts and colors. It will be a Browns exclusive in the U.K. until October 2022.
Loungewear remains relevant, too, and is expanding as a category with a host of conscious labels like Come Back As a Flower, known for its bright patterns; Copenhagen-based OpéraSport; and Lisa Yang, who is all about chic, fuss-free silhouettes.
“People are changing the way they dress. There are those who want to throw on that glitz and glam again, but there’s also the people who might have changed their style a little bit to something more fluid and easy going,” Petersson said. “We’re still going to be working from home a lot more, and will still want to look good, so it was important for us to address that.”
To that end, the retailer’s home section is quickly filling up, too. As dinners and hosting resume, the Browns team has been building a wider tabletop collection too, with labels like Snoopy Studio, Vaisselle, Ka Na and Les Ottomans.
“Again you have something for every woman, from minimalistic to quirky to mismatched patterns for the bohemians,” Petersson said. “We want everyone to be able to come in and find something new that will appeal to them, be it luxury or something a little more unexpected. It’s less about a price point and more about feeling and personality. That’s why we’ve mixed it all together and [encourage] customers to fall in love with the piece rather than the name. Fashion, especially today, should be about discovery.”