SUNDAY SOMEWHERE designed by eyewear aficionado’s, Dave Allison (COLAB eyewear) and Carlos Aviles (AM eyewear). Late in 2010 the duo decided to join forces with a singular vision of creating an eyewear and optical collection focused upon detail, quality, simplicity and originality. SUNDAY SOMEWHERE’S aesthetic is influenced by both the past and future, with references of classic vintage frames, intricate modern detailing and futuristic materials, all finished revealing a wearable modernity. The end result is a ‘classic with a twist’ collection making SUNDAY SOMEWHERE fresh, covetable and timeless. The debut SUNDAY SOMEWHERE eyewear and optical collection is now available at The Annex store and online shop. Be the first to get your hands on this new eyewear label for summer 2011!
Check out the Sunday Somewhere Eyewear video: http://vimeo.com/29818565
The team at The Annex went along to the Saint Augustine Academy show on Day 5 at Sydney Fashion week this year. Designer Alvin Manalo again did his own stand alone show and was definitely the stand out Menswear collection for Sydney Fashion Week. This Summer’s collection was entitled ‘Love & Height’. The collection as always had the clean structured black and white look with suiting and formal shirting, but also had an American cowboy influence with denim shirting, leather and fringing. Saint Augustine Academy always delivers wearable unique pieces and amazing tailoring. This collection is about to hit our shelves so heres a sneak preview of what to expect:
Brand new summer collection from Sydney based Footwear brand Mere has arrived into The Annex.
Every season these guys are so on the money with their footwear. This season for their Menswear Shoe collection, they have used a new Nubuck Leather on most of their collection. Really nice look and finish on the leather.
The shapes that they design are just so easy to wear, the perfect summer shoe that can be worn both day and night. Best of all they are so comfortable to wear. The leather used is handpicked by the designers and they really only pick the best. So soft!
Here’s the new styles we have available instore and online now:
Shop this collection online now: http://www.theannex.com.au/mere-footwear-mr-48.html
Stephanie Reeve is the very talented owner and buyer for The Annex Concept Store located in Bondi and online. 7 years after starting her boutique at the age of 21, Stephanie sat down to talk to us about her store, life and the new in house brand she designed called “The Annex”. The Annex’s blog is also online.
Can you tell us about yourself, and what you do?
I’m originally from the UK and have been living in Australia for 10 years now. I basically came over on a working Visa and fell in love with Bondi. I opened the store about 7 years ago, originally as men’s and women’s fashion and in the last 2 years it’s been purely menswear. I’ve definitely found my feet specialising in menswear. But it took me a while to find that place…
What inspired you to specialise in menswear?
We saw a big gap in the market. When we were doing both the men’s and women’s we found that the menswear really moved and the womenswear just sort of stayed sitting there, and we thought to take the jump and be one of the first to do this properly as a men’s only boutique. Guys are very loyal, and because we’re a purely menswear store they know they can always come back to us because we’re reliable.
What attracted you to your Bondi location?
It’s a personal thing, I think because I know Bondi so well. Having a store here, you’re living and breathing the environment around you. I’ve lived here for 8 years now and knowing the market, knowing the people, it’s integral to what we do. Live it, breathe it, know it.
Bondi is edgy, it’s not like we’re in a shopping centre where you walk in and it’s that little bit impersonal. That’s not us. There are a lot of young, well travelled people here who really appreciate fashion.
The space has a distinctly industrial feel to it, how important is brand direction to The Annex?
Once we decided to concentrate on menswear we decided that brand direction was really important for us. While running another shop just around the corner, we were able to spend a year to design and nail the shop fit which was a really amazing blessing. It was a lot of hard work and a lot of research- we travelled to New York, London, we absorbed as many ideas as we could and then put our own twist on it. We custom made and designed the whole store ourselves. We wanted the store to represent who we are, and represent our customer and our clothing. We wanted for people to walk in and get and experience, to feel The Annex brand. That goes from the store fit to the service that you can expect, to the staff having an understanding of the brands and who we are. And now that we’ve established the creative direction of the store it will be the groundwork for everything else that we have going on…
What has been your work and study experience leading up to The Annex?
I left the UK when I was 18. Since I was very young I always worked in fashion retail and so I was always involved with it but at such a young age I still didn’t know what to do. So, when I got to Bondi aged 18 I just saw a big gap for my kind of style and that’s when I decided to open the store. We opened in 2004, I was 21- it’s been a significant journey. Obviously it was a big learning curve running my own retail business having never done it before, but now I’m 7 years down the track I’m really doing something I love. And that’s the most important thing- I have so much passion for it, it keeps me going and is what gets me up every day.
Reflecting on your journey from landing in Australia to the point you’re at now with The Annex, is there anything you would have done differently?
There’s one thing, and that is to study something relevant to what I’m doing now. I wish I had studied fashion design when I left high school, but I’m making up for it now- studying fashion design at Ultimo Tafe. So I’m still educating myself, getting into fundamentals of what my business really is. It will open a lot of new doors for us.
You have recently introduced your in house label, ANNEX to the store. What are your plans for the label? Do you hope to expand the label to be the dominant brand stocked in store, or do you plan to continue to stock the label as a smaller buy?
To be honest, we’re really not sure yet. We’re doing a basic’s collection, we’re doing some jewellery, we’re doing some footwear but we’re going to take it as it comes. The other brands we sell in store are amazing and we definitely don’t want to lose them. We’re not going to cut down our ranges- hopefully as we get bigger we will add more of our own line into the store, because the brands that we have work really well for us. It will be a growth thing, but we have big dreams and visions for our brand. The most important thing for us is exclusivity. The plan is to open more The Annex stores, plus we have our online business where you can buy ANNEX. We have big dreams, but we definitely do not plan to wholesale to other boutiques. We find that a lot of stores you walk into house the same brands and it risks looking too similar to other stores.
Many designers starting out feel that a major issue facing production is finding a supplier willing to work in smaller quantities. What was you solution to this?
I think that ‘issue’ is a bit of an illusion, really. I think that people say that every factory has minimum order quantities and a lot of them do, but you need to visit the factories- talk to them, build up a relationship with them. Even in the first meeting, if you tell them seriously what your plans are and provide an accurate forecast then you will find people to do it for you. Given the economic climate at the moment, a lot more people are more willing to accept smaller orders. We sometimes only do 20 units per style and in the beginning that was really hard for us. We thought ‘nobody will want to do this for us’ but when when we looked it wasn’t actually that hard.
So you really just had to keep looking until you found the right place…
That’s right. You might go into a factory, make a request and they will say ‘no I can’t do it…but I do know of someone else that might be able to do it for you’.
I noticed some of your stock is sources in Indonesia, is that where you produce the majority of your range?
That’s just our jersey. Indonesia is great for the cotton and jerseys, and we have a wonderful printing company and an amazing factory that we work with. We go over there, we monitor everything, do all the quality control, everything. We also do some product here in Australia and we are also starting to look into China. It’s more about where is good for that particular product, so in the future we may get our shirts done in Italy (because of the tailoring), leather may be sourced from somewhere else… it depends what we are looking for.
What were some of the key differences that you noticed between Australian and British retail?
The UK is a totally different world. Based on my experiences, there are boutiques but you’ll find them very rarely. In the UK it is very commercial. There are massive stores, loads of staff- one major thing for me is customer service, and I find the customer service here can be more personal than the UK.
The UK is absolutely flooded with retail. It’s very competitive, it’s very cut throat. Whereas here I feel that we’re a growing country, there’s more that you can do- you can survive as a small boutique, people will appreciate it and people like that it’s different.
Can you talk us through the buying process for The Annex?
Generally with most of our ranges, we buy 6 months in advance. For example, on Monday I’m going to go see the new Chronicles of Never winter ‘12 collection to be in store February. We go in, do the showing, the sales agent will talk us through the range and we buy what works. A lot of stuff will be repeat buys that have worked for us in the past, plus we will always include a couple of key pieces that reflect the mood of the collection and lift the profile of the store. We tend to buy deep into our collections- we’re not one of these stores that stock a few pieces spread over 40 brands. We stock about 10 brands, and we buy a lot of our ranges. That gives us an edge as it means that when a customer calls that particular brand, they will always direct the customer to us as we will be holding a lot of their stock.
From there, my business partner and I will take home the range, photograph it, go over the orders, place the orders and then 6 months later it’s on the shop floor. Then…well, hopefully we’ve bought the right stuff and we sell it, then start all over again!
What is your advice to those looking at starting their own business in fashion?
Look, I’d always say definitely go for it but always be aware that while there will be risk involved, it MUST be a calculated risk. With any business the most important lesson is that it doesn’t happen overnight. It took us a good 3 or 4 years before we really found our feet. That was 7 days a week, all year round. No holidays, just working hard and giving it everything. But if you put your mind to it, after a while the business just really gets into a rhythm and it really flows after those years of doing the ground work. Fashion is tough. You have to love it- if you don’t love it then don’t bother doing it because you won’t succeed. Put everything you have into it. Have vision, work hard.
What are some key performers from the range this season?
Summer is all about subtle colours. There are highlight colours that aren’t as bright as the usual summer palette. We have some burgundy, rusts, browns, some really tonal colours coming in that you can see on the shop floor. Always loads of shorts (we are in Bondi!), really interesting graphics and amazing fabrics. Brands such as Chronicles of Never will always focus on great fabrics. There’s so much great stuff coming in this season, we’re really looking forward to it!
What’s in store for The Annex over the next couple of months ?
We have lots of new deliveries coming in, and I would say it’s a great idea to jump online. As soon as the new stock comes in our online store is updated.
Store 8, The Beach House, 178 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach, NSW, 2026
Ph: (02) 9300 8888
October 11th, 2011