Newness and inspiring product across the full breadth of the children’s sector have been the focus during a successful first day at Bubble. The children’s clothing and lifestyle show – which is taking place today and tomorrow at North London’s Business Design Centre – confirmed its position as a truly international event, having welcomed visitors from all over the globe within the first few hours of opening its doors.
“I’ve done a lot of international business here at Bubble,” says Mark Collins, UK sales manager at footwear label Bobux. “This is the show that attracts the buyers who matter, from the department store buyers to the strong London independents to the global accounts that I wouldn’t pick up if I wasn’t here.”
The influx of new arrivals in particular made for a vibrant first day at the industry’s key trade event. Buyers took the opportunity to be inspired by new collections, holding back budget for never-seen-before labels that caught their attention at the show.
“I come here to be inspired,” says Olivia Whale, owner of Carmarthenshire-based retailer Baba Mooche. “I’ve seen brands that I would not otherwise have been aware of, which is the exact reason I come to the show. I’ve been attending Bubble since I launched my business two years ago, and it has always been an exciting and positive experience of new ideas.”
In particular this season, buyers sought new ideas in the non-clothing sectors of interiors, giftware and children’s accessories.
“I’ve definitely got the impression that retailers are looking to create a lifestyle concept in store,” says Tabara D’Diaye, founder of new exhibitor La Basketry, which offers handcrafted baskets ethically sourced from female artisans in Senegal. “Independents are really picking up on the potential of creating a destination store which gives them a unique identity, and the add-on potential of non-clothing collections within the children’s sector.”
It’s a viewpoint shared by Sarah Oliver, who debuted at Bubble with Cradle & Tonic, a luxurious collection of natural candles created for us during pregnancy, birth and the first few months of nursing and soothing.
“The baby shower market is absolutely huge in the UK, and it’s growing by the year,” says Oliver. “The feedback from retailers here at Bubble has definitely been that niche, add-on collections are an essential purchase to create an inspiring in-store offer that merchandises well, and appeals across the children’s and giftware sectors alike.”
Interiors were another key focus at the show, with homewares labels reporting a positive reaction from retailers looking for inspiring nursery product.
“I came to Bubble hoping to see two, key UK buyers, and they have both visited the stand already,” says Mette Mariager, director at debuting Danish furniture label That’s Mine. “The lines that have caught buyers attention have been the Fairytale and Bandit lines, and of course our wooden swing, which has already performed phenomenally despite being a brand new launch.”
“We always discover new business here, which is what keeps us coming back to the show, and once again we have enjoyed a successful first day with the launch of our new spring line.”
Established exhibitors welcomed the influx of newness, describing Bubble as an inspirational hub of within the children’s sector.
“We’ve exhibited at Bubble since the very beginning but, every season, there’s a fresh feel to the show,” says Jacqueline Love, wholesale manager at stalwart label Rachel Riley. “We always discover new business here, which is what keeps us coming back to the show, and once again we have enjoyed a successful first day with the launch of our new spring line.”
Above and beyond the order-writing, Bubble brought together like-minded industry professionals within one accessible trade hub.
“This is my first time exhibiting at Bubble despite being well-established in the industry, and it’s nice to be part of something bigger,” says Nicky Goodman, owner of Little Icon Agency, which represents Gro Company, Pacific Rainbow, Sense Organics and Donsje. “Having previously operated out of a showroom, I decided to try Bubble and have been pleasantly surprised with the passing trade I would not otherwise have been aware of, and the opportunity to network throughout the industry.”
Bubble brought new season product to life with its engaging seminar programme, lively panel discussions and Rising Star Awards, which this season saw Barn of Monkeys named as the Rising Star of 2017.
“The brand is organic, ethical and sustainable, but its main appeal is its distinct design and range of colours, which offer a wealth of merchandising potential,” says Rising Star judge and editor of trade title CWB Magazine Laura Turner. “We loved the colour stories of Earth, Air and Water and the striking silhouettes which will make for a vibrant addition to the childrenswear industry for s/s 18 and beyond.”
Fellow Rising Star judge and independent retailer Kirsty Cunningham agreed that Barn of Monkeys was one of many inspiring additions to the line-up at this edition of Bubble London.
“I started coming to Bubble with my business partner when we first opened our store four years ago,” says Cunningham, who co-owns children’s footwear and accessories independent Windmill in Crouch End, North London. “It’s our favourite show because it’s inspirational, but also a friendly and laidback place to network with suppliers and fellow retailers. This has been a fantastic edition of the show, and we are leaving with a lot of new ideas which will help us to take the business to the next level, particularly as we are launching online within the next few months. We don’t want to be inundated with returns so the product has to be right, and we have found what we were looking for at Bubble London.”
Bubble will open its doors again at 9.30am today. Register for your free ticket here.