Agi & Sam

WALPOLE WINNERS: Walpole, an association for British luxury labels has announced the lineup of 12 brands that will take part in the Brands of Tomorrow program, WWD has learned.

The 12 brands selected are Agi & Sam, Capstar, Helen Amy Murray, Tessa Packard, Alexandra Llewellyn, Duke & Dexter, Hillier Bartley, The New Craftsmen, Camilla Elphick, Exmoor Caviar, Rory Dobner and Troubadour Goods.

The scheme, in association with Mishcon de Reya and Sloane Point Partners, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Recipients were chosen from a shortlist that presented their business plans to the selection panel. Each brand will be paired with an industry mentor and will attend workshops that are focused on financial planning, distribution, strategy, branding, marketing and business management.

Agape Mdumulla and Sam Cotton, the design duo behind Agi & Sam said they are at a critical phase in their growth. “We are still being recognized as an emerging brand but tipping the line of semi-established,” Mdumulla said. “We need to take advantage of the attention while ensuring that we emerge and cement our place within the faculty of other established British fashion designers. With the help of Walpole and it’s mentors we can critically analyze the various paths available to us and make sure that we take the most efficient and effective path to a strong growth.

“The industry is currently undergoing massive change,” he added. “Walpole’s awareness of luxury brands and their longevity is key to us ensuring we don’t get left behind, and can adapt to the best strategy for the more digital and commercial market of today. The wealth of knowledge and experience available through Walpole is unparalleled, and would significantly streamline some key business decisions that we must make to survive and thrive.”

Mdumulla noted that the brand’s key focus includes consistent business growth, strategizing product lines, increasing awareness of the market, as well as a steady expansion of their wholesale business, with the potential launch of e-commerce. “We are working with a new sales agent and showroom in order to focus this growth,” Mdumulla said. “And at the same time, finalizing discussions with a Japanese distributor. Asia is steadily becoming our biggest market and it is important for us to understand this to the fullest that we can in order to maximize our potential.” In terms of future projects, he said they might expand the brand in “a different kind of way.”

“We are immensely proud to be celebrating 10 years of the Walpole Brands of Tomorrow program,” said Jonathan Heilbron, chairman of the Walpole Brands of Tomorrow program, Walpole Board. “The Class of 2017 is a group of superb talent who we cannot wait to work with over the next 12 months, alongside a team of some of the luxury industry’s very best brains. These brands, designers and craftspeople are leading the way for the future of luxury and to be able to give all of them the opportunity to grow and develop through such a unique platform is a huge honor.”

Launched in 2007, more than 85 designers and brands have been under the scheme including Charlotte Olympia, Oliver Sweeney, Agent Provocateur, Thomas Pink, Shaun Leane, Miller Harris and Bremont Watch Co.

Among the 170 British luxury labels that are Walpole members include Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo and Harrods.