Only an hour from London, Tunbridge Wells has become known in recent years as a fashion forward area – the historic High Street is lined with trendy boutiques, many stocking up-and-coming British designers, while the department stores are full of luxury, contemporary pieces. We take a look at what makes the town stand out in the style stakes.
Julie Prior is head of fashion buying at Hoopers in Tunbridge Wells. Here, she explains how she goes about finding great buys for the town’s fashionistas.
How would you describe the women of Tunbridge Wells’ style?
The Tunbridge Wells lady is fairly conservative in her style but she does love good fit, quality and service.
We have the advantage in being a fairly small team, and know many of our customers personally, so where possible my buying does reflect each store’s personality.
Are the women in the town very fashion conscious?
I would say the Tunbridge Wells lady is very style conscious and fashion aware, she is not a slave to it. She is canny enough to know what suits her and will choose trends to follow as and when they are appropriate.
How do you go about finding pieces to suit the Tunbridge Wells market?
I visit trade fairs both here in the UK and Copenhagen, Paris and Berlin on a regular basis to get a feel for trends and colour for the upcoming seasons and then interpret that into our range architecture for each store. This is then further refined for the Tunbridge Wells store taking into account collection adjacencies, colour palette and target customer for each brand.
What key items should customers be investing in this autumn?
Definitely a poncho or loose knit, the oversized top and slimmer bottom half look is still quite key for autumn, although we will see a return to bootcut and wider leg trousers for spring 2016. Silk, cashmere and unusual knits are also always great investments as they don’t date.
What upcoming trends are you particularly excited about?
Well it’s with a sense of dread that we see the return of bootcut denim coming through, but I’m sure we’ll all get on board eventually as we have with the skinny jean. It’s nice to see more relaxed feminine shapes coming through, and the return of the investment statement coat after years of the puffa jacket!