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July 2014

« June 2014

No Summer Sale, Free Gifts For All!

Posted 14/07/2014 at 16:08 Comments

I know it's properly Summer now and everyone and their dog is doing a Summer Sale and probably will do from now until September, when it will be a back to school promotion instead, but we don't.

We just don't really enjoy them, sorting through the poor sad lonely suspender belts and bikini bits and then selling them to people who are often only tempted by the low price and then feel faintly disappointed, tainted with the inexplicably ineradicable aura of undesirability.

You know what's WAY more fun? When an order comes in and we all try and work out what the person who made it would enjoy from our pile of interesting things!

Sometimes we get it wrong. And we stpped doing it with bras because the sizing is WAY too complicated.

Sometimes you *think* we got it wrong and then you try it and you're like, wait, why have I never tried this colour/style/item before?!

Sometimes you send us a tiny order but we know you so we pick out something amazing. Sometimes you order so much stuff that we think, oh . .. maybe 2 free gifts?

Sometimes people cancel the entire order but still want their free gift, which is a bit rude!

Sometimes it's a pair of stockings, other times it's a rare Vargas item.

Now, it's always labelled clearly as free gift after a bunch of people extremely honestly tried returning the things we packed "by mistake"! (we love you).

And sometimes . . . we run out of gifts. One Christmas we ran out of all our size L gifts in less than a week. Since then we've been a bit better organised (we didn't expect people to get so excited!)

Anyway, at the moment, when you make an order, we'll pack an extra item into it with great glee, whizz it in the post to you, and in 1day to . . . hrmm, several weeks if you're in Australia or similar, but usually faster than that, you'll get a lovely parcel full of nice things to try on including something mysterious and free, and also, if I remember to pack my suitcase properly tonight, one of our excellent postcards of Morgana, Emmie and Jess! (plus 1 dead courtier, free to a good home)

Go on, you know you want to!

Has the internet killed trade shows?

Posted 14/07/2014 at 12:48 Comments

In spite of triumphant pronouncements in the trade press otherwise,  I think trade shows are a bit dead. Emma from Playful Promises agrees, but what we can't agree on is why - the internet, or the economy?

I'm going to back this up a bit now to explain what trade shows are and why it matters. Skip down if you already know!

Things we take to trade shows; brochures, fabric swatches and people who can wear a corset. Say hi to bex :)

About half of KMD's income for the last few years has come from selling our products to other stores to sell to you, the end customer. Traditionally, the way to find those stores has been to go to trade shows (or go to market, I think they say in the USA) and sit in a very large concrete shed that's been gussied up for a few days, trying to meet as many folk as possible and convince them that we're the best thing since sliced bread.

As always, we keep track of statistics - footfall, the number of people we see - and conversion, how many people we manage to get to buy things. In the last few years we've been forced to add "and then how many of them we actually manage to get payment out of for said order" but hey, we're far from alone in that.

The bonus of selling to other stores should be  bigger orders with less profit that  offset some of the manufacturing costs and reduce our risk, expanding the brand into areas we can't access or don't understand, building a customer base in new places, and speaking foreign languages badly. (The British are the only Europeans who don't speak 2, 3 or more languages to even a remotely competent level, courtesy of a bad case of post-imperialism laziness and a peculiar approach to schooling.)

From your end, it means being able to get KMD in a place that's accessible to you, in your own language, without having to work out if you'll pay import duties or how long it will take to arrive by post (in the case of Russia, Croatia and the Ukraine, the answer is "probably never").

Trade shows come complete with 1930's carousels at parties. This is so we can show you why we like Anna from Paolita.

Some brands write off trade shows costs as marketing, seeing it just as a chance to make contacts and promote themselves, but since we have no investors,  I'm generally more in favour of not losing money doing events, so I'm very "did we get any orders?".

We used to mostly get enough orders - but I chopped Moda, the UK show, after over a year losing money on it, and the same with the US show after I worked out that we were also losing money on that. Now I'm seriously debating the Paris shows, because honestly, our figures are steadily declining; and this is consistent with the brands we share figures with.

At the point where it costs £4000 to do a show plus the opportunity costs and you see less than 40 retailers, well, I really have to think about how much those contacts are worth.

Your 4k gets you some furniture on a carpet, your staff, and free running eletricity. Just remember that the wifi is a lie and that water costs £5 a bottle and you're sorted.

Anyway! This meant that on Sunday, over at the ready-to-wear show Playful Promises tried being at (equally low attendance but free champagne all day), Emma and I got into a debate about *why* show attendance is on the decline.

Repacking your stand can be quite tricksy. Don't even talk to us about the Eurostar.

Her opinion? "The internet killed trade shows."

Why? Well, now people can find suppliers online, and often order online (you can actually order from us without ever speaking to any of us, and though this was rare 8 years ago, most brands have managed to cobble together some way to order withour a physical presence). Plus, she sees retail as moving away from physical stores and onto online, with online being dominated by large stores who are great at IT and logistics, leaving small bricks and mortar stores floundering and excluding niche online stores because they can't access the sorts of schemes large ones can, like free delivery or free, collected returns, and heavy discounting.

Naturally I totally disagree with her, but happily no voices were raised and neither of us care that the other one uses the f-word way too much.

I'm never going to be down on the internet as KMD thrives on it. That said, I agree that in the UK, it's a large part of what's destroying small stores. I just think that means that small stores need to get better at online; get a website, get your social media channels working, and buy in brands that protect their value and work towards an SRP (suggested retail price).  But other countries haven't seen as strong a swing to online retail, and though small stores can't compete with large ones on logistics and money, they certainly can on customer service, brands, and accessibility.

After I left Playful drank this much champagne. This may not have helped packing.

My theory? Trade shows are just part of a pattern we're seeing across the board that's developed and deepened ever since the recession hit - risk aversion. Retailers are running out of cash and running scared; they want to KNOW something will sell. And when you run on fear, you stick with the comfortable, you buy the same brands doing the same products year on year. If you're doing that, why head to a show? It'll cost you in staffing, travel and expenses - all so you can just order the same thing as last year, but in pink.

I think this, more than the internet, is really killing stores - it's just so damn boring! And it's not backed up by the figures, at least for us. I suspect if you're Gossard or Debenhams, yes, last year's figures are a great place to base next year's designs on, but for us? Every figure we have from the last 8 years shows us that it's all about the new and different, if we want to galvanise or grow sales.

So; what do you think is killing trade shows? The move to the online retail and online research, or risk aversion and boring stores?

Fight it out in the comments :)

Coming to see us at Paris?

Posted 01/07/2014 at 12:50 Comments

So this weekend is Mode City, where we show retailers and press all our shiny things. First thing, if you're confused as to where we are (stand D91) then look for this:

We'll be hiding behind it.

At the moment this is the sample list; we generally bring things in a size small and/or a 34B.

Wine Demi-Corset

Pinstripe Vargas Longline Girdle

Violet Divine set

Blue Divine Corselette set

Silk Ariadne Corset

Emerald DeVille bra, skirt and knicker (corset should join us)

Blue Tempest bra, knicker and cincher

Cupless Vargas Dress in red and black

Jacquotte bra, brief and longline girdle

Peacock Sirena bra, cincher, brief and ouvert brief

Virgin bralet and knicker (ouvert girdle should join us)

Ivory Cherie Teddy (Black cherie slip and chemise should join us)

Ivory Van Doren bralet and knicker

Ivory Silk Corset

Scarlet Fifi

Renoir bra, brief and suspender skirt

Cabaret mesh bikini

Teal Bow Deluxe swimsuit

Red Lace Deluxe Swimsuit

Leopard swim suit and bikini

Ivory and black ruched bikini

Flamingo swimsuit

(Cabaret Lace Bikini should join us with fabric sample for the gold swimsuit)

Metal Corset

Box of stockings

The fan laced girdle sample is officially missing, and the rest of our samples won't arrive in time.

We will also be bringing postcards and wholesale brochures, but we're not doing looksbooks or leaflets anymore; instead, we've all got a tablet with all our pictures and so on loaded up, because technology is now officially cheaper than colour printing!

If you're very lucky there'll be sweets, but I have a tendency to eat them all before anyone turns up.