Dr Pam Hogg: Stop offering customers the same thing

Dr Pam Hogg: Stop offering customers the same thing
“Choosing the right clothes can change your life, change how you feel, can give you confidence and connect you with other like minded people,

Legendary fashion designer Dr Pam Hogg has urged indies to take a chance on unknown but promising design talent in order to put the adventure back into shopping.

In an environment increasingly dominated by mass-market clothes Hogg fears individuality is being suffocated.

Hogg’s career has spanned 30 years and kicked off in London in the eighties during a time when the capital was awash with creativity.

“Those were times when buying clothes was an adventure and things that you really wanted were difficult to find,” says Hogg. “Now it is a mass market of almost everything, which is saturated with copies of original ideas and more often than not the essence is sucked right out of them making them poor imitations of no character, throwaway nothings.”

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Unaffordable rents

During a keynote speech at the Pure London exhibition in Olympia, Hogg outlined how she believes the odds are now stacked against the design talent of today because of spiralling rents.

At the start of her career Hogg was offered a unit in Hyper Hyper, a location in Kensington that nurtured young designers by offering them affordable rents.

“It is something I wish was available to the emerging talent today,” says Hogg. “This is something that seriously needs to be addressed if we are going to save our reputation in London as being the leaders of fashion.”

Breaking from the norm

Hogg believes the onus is on indies to offer their customers something new. \ “As designers and retailers alike how do we know what our customers want until we’ve offered it?” says Hogg. “If we keep on offering the same thing, that is all your customers will buy and it can get stagnant. Offer something new, an alternative to the norm.”

Indies should set aside space to champion product from an “unknown, promising talent” in order to make their shop more enticing to customers and help support up-and-coming talent, according to Hogg.

“Try not to think of it as a potential money loser,” says Hogg. “Think of it as brightening up your shop and it will also show you are a more forward thinking and adventurous than the norm.”

She adds: “I feel it is important to take a chance, what you as retailers buy reflects on everyone. If all that you buy is safe then that is what customers will wear.”

A strong identity

It is also important to stay true to your identity. Hogg says her very first designs were drawn free hand and when she received her first proper shop order she let someone else straighten up her designs to make them “normal and presentable”.

“It was a disaster as they would not accept the near perfected one because they had loved the original,” says Hogg. “They wanted the weird crazy shapes that I made, so I had to remake them all again, but that was the lesson and what stuck. Eventually if you stay true the essence of your identity becomes apparent.”

It is too often easy to rely on safety in numbers rather than trusting in your individuality.

The gift of individuality

However, it is this individuality – which Hogg labels our “greatest gift” – that made the indies of the eighties places of “pilgrimages”.

Hogg opened her first store in Newburgh Street, which runs parallel to Carnaby Street in 1987, when rents were “manageable”.

“We had customers from all around the country and they would treasure their finds,” says Hogg. “It was amazing to know my work became special memories unlike most of the cheap throwaway buys that are prevalent today.”

“Choosing the right clothes can change your life, change how you feel, can give you confidence and connect you with other like minded people,” concludes Hogg.

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