As globe-trotting style seekers, travelling the world in search of inspiration, new designs and ideas, fashion buyers surely have the most exciting and desirable of jobs.
Yet sometimes, there’s no place like home, and a short (or not so short) break towards the end of summer and the start of autumn, in a British area of outstanding natural beauty, can be just what the style doctor ordered.
Knowing what will translate from exotic and unfamiliar countries to appeal to shoppers back in the UK is a skill that fashion buyers obviously need, but so is being able to put together a wardrobe that will look just as good on home soil, where the sun doesn’t always shine.
“I’ve been to some gorgeous places like Costa Rica, Japan, China, Cambodia, Seychelles, LA, but I do still absolutely love a UK holiday,” says Caroline Barstow, head buyer for womenswear at Joe Browns, the men’s and women’s fashion brand and award-winning e-tailer based in Leeds.
“With so much of my life on the road, I reckon I’m now pretty nifty, even if I say so myself, at packing a suitcase. To get the most out of your space – and purse strings – it’s all about layering. I like to have good basic pieces that I can then add to, for both extra warmth and personality.”
Joe Browns decided to demonstrate the versatility of its clothes with a fashion shoot on the North York Moors Railway. “Goathland station was the perfect backdrop to showcase our brand new autumn/winter ranges – a beautiful vintage setting with plenty of stunning locations to create some really powerful imagery,” says marketing director Tracey Hepton.
Lifestyle photography has become increasingly important to the brand as a means of explaining its philosophy on fashion and life. “When it comes to models for the shoot, it’s not about finding the perfect face or figure but more about having the right spirit and being a true individual,” adds Tracey.
“It’s really important to us that our shots are honest and candid – we just hate cheesy and fake. We do all sorts to get people laughing, but it’s often the models themselves, especially Adam, with the beard, who make everyone laugh with their banter and bizarre antics. Strangely, it’s often the out-takes that get used for the hero shots as they are so much more real.”
Layering is key to trans-season dressing. “The palette of rich autumnal colours – gorgeous burgundies, greens and purples – make mix and matching outfits a doddle,” says Caroline. “My must-have basic is the Ruffle blouse in white. It works as an elegant and understated look on its own with a pair of jeans, or you can layer it with the luxurious Royal waistcoat for a sophisticated heritage feel. For a third layer and a really striking look, I’d add the Funky Fox jacket. We fell in love with this jacket’s check while exploring a market and knew we had to do something special with it.
“I think my absolute favourite piece from the new collection is the Perfect Peacock lace dress. It’s got real wow factor with a stunning print and sexy shape that’s different to anything you’ll find on the High Street. You can dress it down with tights and flat boots or make an impact this forthcoming party season with a pair of killer heels.”
Adele Tyrell, head buyer for menswear, agrees that layering is also a key rule for men when packing a capsule wardrobe. “Multiple thin layers are more versatile than one heavy one,” she says. “This season we’ve gone for some classic pieces that won’t go out of style. The tailored jackets and waistcoats are high quality, functional and compatible with lots of items from the collection.
“My favourite of the tailored gent looks is the rich green Deadly Dapper blazer and waistcoat combo. The fabric is an amazing wool-mix that’s easy-wearing, looks great with our checked trousers for an all-out debonair look, or you can keep it smart/casual with a pair of jeans.
“For me, what makes the designs truly stand out are the extra added little touches and details. I’d add the funky Stag pin and mustard velvet pocket square for that Joe Browns twist.”
Tracey adds: “North Yorkshire Moors Railways were absolutely fabulous. However much you plan a shoot, there are always extra shots that you can immediately see would be amazing on the day and they helped us make it all happen.”
The new Joe Browns autumn/winter collection is available at joebrowns.co.uk.