Charlotte Simone is flipping the retail model

A woman in a black fur coat outside

Charlotte Beecham, the London member and designer behind Charlotte Simone and its famed coats, talks rethinking her business model to go streamlined and sustainable

By Aleah Aberdeen    All images courtesy of Charlotte Simone    Wednesday 7 October, 2020   Short read

Charlotte Beecham, the 31-year-old designer and founder of Charlotte Simone, undoubtedly has set the bar for this season’s coats. And this time, her distinctive dusty pastels and shaggy faux fur have made a return in a much more sustainable way. 

Founded back in 2015, the affordable luxury expanded to reach the likes of Alexa Chung, Kendall Jenner, and various other notable trendsetters. But in the wake of COVID-19, Charlotte Simone has said goodbye to its usual retail model of traditional wholesale and is instead offering limited-run, curated collections for one week only. 

Here, Beecham explains the reasons behind this shift, her inspiration, and what embracing sustainable models really means for the fashion industry.
What’s your brand ethos? Has it changed much since first founding the business? 
‘The heart of the brand is always true to playful designs in signature happy shades, presented through a considered and curated collection. We want to build a community where people are looking for real treasures in their wardrobes.’

Your most recent collection was inspired by the Swinging Sixties. How do you usually source inspiration? 
‘I love to people-watch. I always keep a little notepad in my purse where I jot down ideas. The Swinging Sixties was a youth-driven, cultural revolution in London and the bright, bold designs were one of a kind. I wanted to incorporate this idea and also shoot the campaign in and around London. My constants are colour and my grandma’s wardrobe. Other than that, I let my imagination wander.’
A woman in a pink fur coat
A woman holding a handbag over her head
A woman sitting on a table in a cafe in a fur coat
In the wake of COVID-19, the fashion industry, among many others, has had to adapt fast. Did this propel you to relaunch your business or has sustainability always been on the cards?
‘It certainly propelled me – I had to make immediate and necessary changes to future-proof the business. Working with a number of London-based artisans for both sampling and materials supports local businesses in the capital, but also reduces the brands’ shipping impact, which evidently is now a huge factor to consider. The fashion industry moves at such a pace that it’s often difficult to pause and think about your direction, but the pandemic was a silver lining for Charlotte Simone. We moved forward in a way that is authentic to the brand and we feel really proud of that.’

How will the new format work? 
‘We design what we believe is the ultimate capsule. For Autumn Drop 1, we present a curated 10-piece collection of the best autumn/ winter accessories from a long, mid and short coat, a mini bag, a bucket hat and a selection of scarves. We have edited and pre-bought the collection for our customer already. Each piece is a limited run of one to 100 made and available to buy from our website for one week only.’
A woman outside in a fur coat
By prioritising ethical methods such as small-scale production, do you think your brand will still have the reach it had prior to these changes? 
‘Yes, I hope so. By stepping away from wholesale, we may not have the same immediate product visibility, but as a brand with an authentic DNA that creates exciting capsule collections, I think the long-lasting message is stronger in the long run. And creatively designs can’t be diluted, which tends to happen with mass production.’ 

What does the future of fashion look like in this constantly changing environment? 
‘I personally believe in investing in quality products – items you will cherish and love for years to come. For a long time, I have prioritised buying better products and certainly buying less. I hope that people will invest in the best they can afford at that time, and repair and rewear their items for years to come.’
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