FRESH FINDS: Bicester Village has carved out a Millennial pink and highly Instagrammable space for its pop-up boutique in partnership with the British Fashion Council. The pop-up will be open until Nov. 12 and houses 11 British fashion labels including Christopher Kane, Roksanda, Mother of Pearl and Peter Pilotto.
The pop-up marks the first event of Bicester Village and the BFC’s new two-year partnership, Business of Retail, which aims to help designers from a business angle.
“This is an example of the kinds of partnerships we want to develop with the wider industry,” said Stephanie Phair, chair of the BFC. “Commercially, Bicester Village is offering valuable retail space for free, and it is also providing mentorship for all our designers.”
Designer Holly Fulton said the international platform that Bicester offers is invaluable. “Bicester has such a unique position in U.K. retail, and you really have access to a much more international audience. This is where we get the best kind of sales, when your stock is out of its usual context and put under a different light, people are more engaged and you get feedback from the staff.”
Since the outlet’s dedicated train station opened in 2015, Bicester Village has been working steadily on expanding its offer. Last year alone, 30 fashion labels set up boutiques and most recently, Charlotte Tilbury, Amanda Wakeley and Café Wolseley have opened their doors.
Bicester Village has a huge international draw, too, and smaller designers such as Amy Powney, creative director of Mother of Pearl, are eager to take advantage of being part of the pop-up space. “I think for international travelers coming, to see the BFC designers as a whole is a big pull and from there, they can discover new labels.
“The China market is exciting for us. It’s a completely different shopping experience over there and it’s a whole different process for us. I think what’s great about being here is that it opens a path to that audience as it’s quite a complex market to grasp on your own.”
The Chinese market is major for Bicester and its owners Value Retail, too. According to Bicester Village, over half of Chinese visitors to the U.K. shop at the outlet, making Bicester the second-most visited site in the U.K. after Buckingham Palace. Bicester also has two sister villages in China, in Shanghai and Suzhou.
For young label Teija, which has already seen its pieces worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, the pop-up is a way to make new industry connections. “We might open up our own retail store so it’s a great opportunity to get to know people and see how retail operates here at Bicester Village,” said Teija Eilola, founder of the brand.