James Lakeland is celebrating his 25th Anniversary we are looking forward to the launch of his new Autumn/ Winter 2019 collection at our January Show. To learn more about James Lakeland business read below.
James Lakeland has been running his British Fashion empire for 25 years but it hasn’t always been plain sailing.
It all started from an early age and a passion to dress women in beautifully cut clothing and with his Italian blood he had a natural flare for colour, print and style.
Year on year the business has evolved and continues to grow going from strength to strength. Inevitably there have been some bumps in the road, cash flow, staffing, sales, rents…you name it, it’s a constant juggling act but James has a clear vision and its clearly working.
Where it all began? Well it all could have been so different. After completing a Masters in Political Theory, James embarked on an Accountancy career. However having missed an important exam, he took a leap of faith and jumped on a plane to Italy – and what would start a thriving career in the world of fashion, a far cry from book keeping, although a skill that would keep him out of the red during the lesser fruitful months of the James Lakeland brand.
Perfecting his Italian alongside the skills and know-how needed to design womenswear James worked in showrooms all over Italy. Establishing a name for himself, he headed back to London with a vast amount of experience under his belt. It was from this point, which saw his career catapult to another level and gave him the confidence to create his own brand.
Taking a tiny showroom in New Cavendish Square with his late mother, they started making cashmere sweaters for retailers all over the UK. This led onto to leather, dresses, jackets, etc and the rest is history.
After his first trade show at Pure, the James Lakeland Brand was born. Orders came flooding in for his Italian-made women’s clothing with a focus on designing for real, yet sophisticated women. Selfridges, Harrods, Fenwicks, they all wanted his clothing.
With James’s accountancy knowledge, he took advantage of cheap yet prime London property opportunities and bought his second, larger showroom in Ogle Street in Fitzrovia. This enabled James to develop his brand, opening his first standalone shop in the trendy Kings Road. Pinner, Bushey, New Cavendish Street and St John’s Wood soon followed, as well as concessions in many of the major department stores.
In 2013, cash flow was tight. Rents were rising at an incredible rate. At this time James decided to sell the Ogle Street building. This was a huge success as property prices in Central London were at an all-time high, giving James a much needed cash injection. From here James bought the freehold in Glasgow which was to become his seventh standalone shop, taking his overall shops and concessions to over 30 worldwide. In 2015 James bought and opened the HQ of James Lakeland Limited in East Finchley where he is today. And now with the new website and selling via HSE24 Italy and soon in Dubai, together with the appointment of Sally Mirza as Chief Operating Officer, whose impressive credentials include House of Fraser, Arcadia and outlet retailer Boundary Mill and a tight sales and marketing team, things are looking good for James!
Never wanting to over expose the brand and by keeping it niche, creating organic growth has been the survival mechanism for the brand. 25 years ago the brand was turning over £50k today it is over £6 million and still a family run business.