A Bite of the Big Apple

There's something different going on in Paris Street... <br/><br/>Alexandra Richards hotfoots it to Lorna Ruby to find out more

There’s something different going on in Paris Street… Alexandra Richards hotfoots it to Lorna Ruby to find out more

A remark Lorna Fairbrother hears most days when people come to her exciting new store in Exeter is “I thought this sort of thing only happened in New York!”  “Everyone seems to be in agreement that the city was needing something like this,” says Lorna who stocks solely Dutch and Danish designer labels. The softly-coloured sample collection clothes which hang on rails around the airy and bright shop are constantly at 70% off the retail price, often sold six months before the official release. With just one of each item in stock, Lorna Fairbrother and her partner, Rupert Bevan, offer high-end exclusivity with wallet-friendly affordability. The pair have expanded their business from being wholesalers to boutiques. Contractually bound to buy an entire collection of samples from each designer (all sized at around a UK 12), Lorna and Rupert began building a vast collection of clothes. They solved this problem by holding biannual sample sales at Darts Farm which proved to be incredibly popular. It was soon time to move the business on further.When Lorna and Rupert originally leased the unit on Paris Street in autumn 2011, it had been home to a leisurewear brand. “It was full of kids’ wetsuits and paddles,” the ceiling was black and the walls were blue. The pair, joined by Lorna’s father, worked around the clock for five days straight until the place was transformed into a perfect, more muted environment to showcase the collections.The boutique is peppered with choice bits and pieces that Lorna has sourced locally; a wooden stepladder is adorned with vintage china, accessories and flowers, and the jewellery on sale is displayed within an eclectic mix of frames. Lorna Ruby has found another guise as a gallery space for Cockwood artist, Anne Radu. “Anne came in one day and said ‘you need some art in here!’ so we visited her studio and now stock some of her paintings to brighten up the boutique.”So how does Dutch and Danish design differ from their British counterparts? “It’s less trend-based and more about layering. Every piece is very wearable and adaptable for different occasions.” Something striking about the clothes in stock is the colours - far from the often garish brights of our High Street trends, the clothes from Oxmo, Cream and the other Lorna Ruby brands are eminently wearable; neutrals and muted pinks, oranges, greens and reds adorn the rails.Lorna and Rupert go to Denmark four or five time a year for international meetings with the companies and other buyers. “All the representatives have their say in the design and colours of the collections they will receive. The Spanish always want things brighter with more embellishment and the French prefer something more pared-down and typically chic. British fashion meets them somewhere in the middle.”

Lorna Ruby, 15 Paris Street, City Centre, Exeter, EX1 2JB www.rubyfashionagency.com

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