FASHION PUBLISHING INSIGHTS: THE GLASS PINEAPPLE
Established by Alexandra Pett, current writer and former finance lawyer, The Glass Pineapple is a London-based online platform dedicated to exposing emerging fashion designers and independent labels from around the world through news, interviews, features and catwalk reports from London Fashion Week, Fashion Scout and global fashion events. Based on the concept of blending publishing and e-commerce, the business is set to add a marketplace, where a curated selection of designers will be able to sell their collections, and an app providing early-stage creatives with insight and networks to grow their brands later this year. Read on as we discuss with the founder and CEO taking the next step and expanding her platform, preparing for launch and working to achieve the company’s future goals.
You used to be lawyer, and you are now a thriller writer. Could you please elaborate on how your background and life- and career journey led you establish The Glass Pineapple?
Maybe it started having to wear a suit every day as a lawyer; awful. Being a lawyer was certainly interesting and useful but a bad fit for my personality – I used to get called “insubordinate” for daring to have an opinion and “headstrong/stubborn” for knowing my own mind. Of course, those are pretty good qualities for an entrepreneur and a writer.
I started TGP because of this intense curiosity about the non-mainstream part of the industry – and an instinct that there must be more on offer other than just generic high-street pieces or designer fashion that costs a lot. Gradually, I started to find all of these amazing brands and labels, some emerging some established but off the radar. It seemed mad that they were so hard to find and so difficult to buy from. So, I started the site and the Instagram.
As it has grown, it’s also become more important to push a message of inclusivity and acceptance too. I’m not a size zero, not even close, and I always felt slightly excluded from really immersing myself in fashion as a result – like it wasn’t allowed. I’m also not some bright young thing in my 20s. But fashion is this fluid force that in reality has never really been about conforming and looking “acceptable” in terms of trends or social media. It should be about experimentation, joy, rebelliousness, creativity and innovation. You don’t need to be a specific size, skin color, age or demographic to do that. So, TGP is also a bit of a mission statement: pro kindness, inclusivity, creativity and self-expression; anti the negative, mean, destructive, excluding elements of the status quo.
What made you decide to expand your platform to include an e-commerce? Could you please discuss for us this process? Did you attract any sponsorships?
TGP has been supporting emerging designers via content and coverage for years now, so it was a natural transition. I started seeing comments on the Instagram like “where can I buy this,” so there was obviously a need. Plus, I’d started speaking to designers who said that they found it almost impossible to get stocked on big websites, and that with the some of the existing alternatives percentages and conditions could be quite difficult to work with.
The process is still going on right now – converting the existing site and finalizing the designers we want to work with for the initial launch.
No sponsorships; we haven’t tried that. If we did, it would have to be carefully chosen.
Emerging-designer focused businesses thrive in London, and, in my opinion, this is a very competitive industry. Who do you identify as competition and what is setting you apart?
There are a number of great businesses also supporting emerging talent, from Wolf & Badger to Young British Designers and Not Just A Label, even FarFetch. I think we’re different in that we’ve come up through the fashion shows/creative side of things, as opposed to being a store first and foremost, and we’re plugged in to graduate work and supporting early stage creatives. We’re also trying to structure our buying process to be more adaptable to the limitations that emerging designers have in terms of production, and more creative in terms of helping them to build a broad profile.
What is the one thing you look for in a designer to feature their collections?
I don’t think I can narrow it down to just one! I look for quality – above all that matters, from the workmanship through to the origins of the fabrics and the way an item is presented. If I can have a second thing, it would be innovation or creativity – that way of designing that makes your heart beat a bit faster, when you see a piece someone has created; that makes you feel like you have to have it, because you just haven’t seen anything like it before.
Having covered fashion weeks and interviewed many talents, what is the common characteristic of young designers’ launch collections?
Creativity. New designers are mostly untouched by expectations and pressures, and they’re really designing from the heart. Whether that takes them into concepts and themes or qualities like sustainability, it’s so authentic and genuine. It’s like fashion in its purest form.
I think that the product is really important today. However, how you do you still convince someone to invest in a piece designed by an emerging designer rather than by an established one?
Practically speaking, by giving them as much information and inspiration as possible combined with the support of a reliable platform. The idea of TGP is that you have all these exciting unknown brands and labels, but you get the kind of sophisticated buying experience you’d have with a mainstream retailer.
I also think pricing is important – yes, you might have to pay a bit more for an emerging designer, but it can still be affordable. “Emerging designer” doesn’t necessarily mean conceptual and madly expensive.
Emerging designers are laying maximum importance in working towards making the
industry more ethical and transparent. What does your experience tell you?
There’s really no justification for something like using fur anymore – it’s so outdated and unimaginative and once you know the process involved in getting it…just no. New designers who are exploring fabrics, textures, techniques and processes that are kinder to the environment, more ethical, responsibly sourced and pushing creative boundaries are so exciting for me. And there are lots of them: Molly Goddard, Faustine Steinmetz, Marta Jakubowski and Hannah Weiland (Shrimps) are some really innovative emerging names, and they sent that letter to CSM students last year asking up and coming designers not to use fur. That was great, as these are awesome designers overturning the established thinking that only the final aesthetic matters.
Fashion as an industry has so much potential for positive change – it doesn’t have to continue to indulge the wasteful, cruel, overpriced, irresponsible, shadier aspects.
What should we expect upon launch?
A place to buy – and explore – fashion from emerging designers and labels you may not have heard of. We’re keen to give our shoppers as much info as possible to make buying decisions, from online changing rooms to images and video, and we’re also hoping to produce lots of creative assets too. Working with up-and-coming stylists, photographers, filmmakers and designers, we want to build up stories around each label we stock using editorial images, video interviews, film and audio. The aim is to encourage our customers to learn more about the brand, engage with it and support it, as well as wearing and loving it.
In addition, we’re looking at ways we can support the industry. So, we’re developing an app that will bring together early-stage creatives for whom it can be difficult to get ahead in fashion and provide them with advice, connections, insight and networks. Plus, we’re hoping to launch a competition for graduate fashion designers and we’ll produce the winning collection as a capsule line and sell it on the site.
What is your ultimate goal for The Glass Pineapple?
Building a community that gives people access to exciting, innovative fashion at affordable prices; promotes positive, inclusive messages; and gives back to the parts of the industry where it’s really needed.