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Jorge Sampaio of SIX Showroom

Friday, Nov 26, 2010, 4:23 PM / United Kingdom



SIX is a London based showroom specialising in design, development, production, wholesale and retail of fashion footwear collections. SIX also acts as a consultancy firm for footwear manufacturers.

Just a few days prior to the SIX showroom presentation in Paris we talk with Jorge Sampaio, brand director and a passionate footwear professional who tells us (almost) everything we need to know about shoes – from production to marketing and PR, and creative collaborations that shift the industry.

TribaSpace: How did you come to work in the fashion industry?
Jorge Sampaio: I was invited to come to London from Porto, Portugal to help open the first store for SWEAR in London in 1996.

What was the driving idea and the vision behind the SIX showroom agency?
SWEAR first and bStore later (2001) would be the platform for establishing the SIX showroom in 2001 with the intention to become the “coolest” footwear showroom around, presenting our own brands and starting a portfolio of partnerships with other designers who didn’t include footwear ranges in their collections. We started producing and part-distributing the footwear collections for Eley Kishimoto, Bernhard Willhelm, TO&CO Tokyo as early as in 2002. Soon after we started sourcing projects for other footwear lines and designers willing to develop their existing ranges or new lines, including Agent Provocateur, Berardi by Antonio Berardi, Comme des Garcons, Margaret Howell, zero + maria cornejo, Surface to Air, Acne, to name a few.

Today the SIX showroom develops, produces and part-distributes Opening Ceremony and Ksubi as well as bStore and SWEAR lines.

How has the fashion industry, specifically shoe manufacturing, evolved throughout the last few years? What were your personal highlights?
The SIX showroom is 10 years in 2011. Footwear manufacturing and distribution has evolved greatly in the last few years with traditional countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain being more open to up and coming designers, small runs and innovative projects.

A noticeable array of collaborations between established footwear brands and creative people or companies in such diverse areas as accessories designs, object design, plastic arts, bands and many other in areas not conventionally connected to footwear have changed mentalities directing interest from big as well as small retailers to the need for fresh and ‘limited’ product.

The explosion of the Internet in the ’00s (from 2000) and of the new media such as fashion blogs, style websites and the crop of network websites connecting people worldwide brought a huge demand for new exciting stories and products on a daily basis, so Web 2.0 has, in my opinion, prompted an escalating interest from all industry agents in this new generation of both products and creativity. Being able to have a new exciting product, not widely available or distributed also prompted a new concept of store, from ‘concept’ to ’speciality’ store where is more important to show less of more distinctive designers than more of the same.

Footwear production agents also played a huge part, being more receptive to new and smaller projects, making it possible for a young brand or collaborative team to produce small quantities in high quality production countries like Italy or Portugal, where image and quality have become necessary assets for their portfolios, no matter whether it is a big-volume driven project or an exclusive limited production.

Tell us a bit more about the business side. Why Paris? Do you have plans for other locations that might also be successful for the clients you represent?
The SIX showroom is travelling to Paris during mens and womens fashion weeks every season (four times a year) to showcase in a hired gallery space. After presenting in Paris for many years at trade shows such as Première Classe, Tranoi and Rendez-Vous we have decided that we wanted to export our London showroom environment to Paris. We have set up our first contemporary showroom in Paris in June 2006 for SS07 collections at Ètienne Marcel. Back then we have showcased together with Fred Perry Laurel, Siv Stoldal and Peter Jensen.

This combination of like-minded brands showing together in a mini trade show environment by appointment only has proved a success and we never looked back. After four years we now constantly show in the same locations – art galleries in Le Marais so international buyers know where we are and make sure they will be able to come to see us.
Many of the buyers would not see our collections anywhere else just because they choose Paris – although we show permanently in London and participate in all important trade shows worldwide such as Premium Berlin, (capsule) New York, Gallery Copenhagen, Project and (capsule) Las Vegas, MICAM Milan… It just shows how important Paris really is in the international fashion calendar.

Your plans and your vision for the future?
SIX wants to grow even more in the near future, we are always interested in producing exciting footwear for new brands and designers so we may introduce a new brand in AW11/12. There are also great collaborations for bStore and SWEAR in the pipeline. We are also avidly searching for new agencies and/or distributors for some of the brands in the US, South-East Asia and Scandinavia.

Six London
24/A, Savile Row
W1S 3PR London, Great Britain
T : +44 (0)207 734 0467
F : +44 (0)207 287 1742
www.sixlondon.com
For further enquiries please contact jorge (at) sixlondon.com

Natasha Binar | TribaSpace

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