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How Whistles Reemerged as One of the Most Exciting Contemporary Brands in Fashion

How Whistles Reemerged as One of the Most Exciting Contemporary Brands in Fashion
2008 was not an easy year for many in the fashion industry -- least of all, perhaps, for Jane Shepherdson. The former Topshop brand director, once described as "the most powerful woman on the high street," had just become chief executive of (and a substantial investor in) a fading British brand called Whistles. Days before the brand was scheduled to unveil its relaunch, Lehman Brothers collapsed. "It was terrible," Shepherdson recalls. "The whole year was just really, really stressful -- I lost about a stone." It's clear that things are not so terrible for Shepherdson now. To say that it's a busy time at Whistles is an understatement. We asked Shepherdson about how Whistles survived -- and reinvented itself -- during those tough early years, its plans for international expansion and its hopes for a show at New York Fashion Week. You started at Whistles seemingly at the worst possible time -- right before the Lehman collapse. Yes, it was terrible. What was the turning point? No, it isn't.

http://fashionista.com/2014/05/whistles-ceo-jane-shepherdson

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Whistles conquers the 'middle market' of British womenswear While Marks & Spencer announced a 6.8% drop of general sales last month, another corner of the British high street has been quietly flourishing. Whistles, the clothing brand set up by Lucille Lewin in the 1980s, announced this week that it had bought back the majority of its shares from the Icelandic government, a move which has underlined its growing strength. Whistles, which has been independent since parting ways with the retail group Mosaic in 2008, has gone from strength to strength despite a tough economic climate.

Jane Shepherdson Chief Executive at Whistles, Jane Shepherdson is the figurehead of our brand. Originally from Bristol, she studied in London and worked as Brand Director at Topshop. With an uncanny ability to know what women want to wear, she has been working her magic at Whistles since 2008. Here, we find out a bit more about her world. Can you describe what you do at Whistles? The most important part of my role is to establish the direction, the aesthetic, and what the brand stands for. Jane Shepherdson at Whistles: peep-peep show BY Sally Williams | 13 September 2008 The fashion chain Whistles seemed to have run out of puff, but with Jane Shepherdson - the woman who breathed fresh life into Topshop as its brand director - it is dancing to a lively new tune, says Sally Williams. Fashion by Clare Richardson

Whistles - Fashion Designer Encyclopedia - women, suits, shoes, style, new, body, history, footwear, collection Established: by Lucille Lewin, in George Street, London, 1976. Lewin studied fine art in South Africa, moved to the U.S., sold furniture in Cambridge, Massachusetts; joined Conran Group, London; worked for Harvey Nichols as a buyer, until 1976. Company History: In-house range of clothes introduced, 1985; stores in the UK and in-store boutiques at Harrods, Selfridges, and Fenwicks, all in London; began exporting to U.S., to Nordstrom, Big Drop, and Charivari; opened two stores in Japan; introduced acessories line; sought location for first U.S. store, 2000. Awards: Design Led Retail award, 1994. Company Address: 12 Saint Christopher's Place, London W1M 5HB, England. Articles

Jane Shepherdson, Chief Executive Officer, Whistles LONDON, United Kingdom — Perhaps it’s not surprising that, in her spare time, Jane Shepherdson does flying trapeze in Hoxton, smack in the heart of achingly hip East London. Right from her earliest days in the fashion industry, Shepherdson has been known for taking risks and having her finger on the pulse of what’s cool. After getting her start as an assistant buyer at Topshop, back in 1984, Shepherdson spent twenty years working her way up the ladder to become Topshop’s brand director, effectively overseeing the retail, product, finance, HR and property departments of a company that, under her leadership, was transformed into a globally recognised brand, emblematic of the dynamic nature of British high street fashion. But in 2006, one week after Topshop boss Sir Phillip Green announced a now-defunct fashion collaboration with Kate Moss, Shepherdson abruptly resigned. Shepherdson’s next move was closely watched.

Whistles Continues Global Expansion with Department Store Strategy LONDON, United Kingdom — British contemporary fashion label Whistles is set to launch in the United States with a shop-in-shop, opening today, on the second floor of the Bloomingdale’s flagship on New York’s 59th Street. The move is part of a broader expansion strategy, kicked-off two and half years ago, that has seen the company partner with a number of premium department stores to dip its toes into international markets, including France, Germany, Russia and China. Since chief executive Jane Shepherdson, who made her name at Topshop, took the helm at the then-ailing middle-market womenswear retailer, Whistles has undergone a successful reboot, becoming known for its modern silhouettes and casual but on-trend pieces at affordable price points. “We had decided that we would test the brand within a premium department store in all of the territories that we felt appropriate,” Shepherdson explained. Whistles Spring/Summer 2014 campaign | Source: Whistles

Jane Shepherdson, Chief Executive Officer, Whistles LONDON, United Kingdom — Perhaps it’s not surprising that, in her spare time, Jane Shepherdson does flying trapeze in Hoxton, smack in the heart of achingly hip East London. Right from her earliest days in the fashion industry, Shepherdson has been known for taking risks and having her finger on the pulse of what’s cool. After getting her start as an assistant buyer at Topshop, back in 1984, Shepherdson spent twenty years working her way up the ladder to become Topshop’s brand director, effectively overseeing the retail, product, finance, HR and property departments of a company that, under her leadership, was transformed into a globally recognised brand, emblematic of the dynamic nature of British high street fashion. But in 2006, one week after Topshop boss Sir Phillip Green announced a now-defunct fashion collaboration with Kate Moss, Shepherdson abruptly resigned. Shepherdson’s next move was closely watched. BoF: Let’s start with the results.

Fashion retailer’s radical change of clothes Whistles’ existing customers were not happy with her decision to overhaul the company’s collection of dowdy dresses. However, the move did attract younger shoppers. And Whistles’ latest results show the strategy has paid off. Underlying UK sales rose 20pc and the company returned to the black with pre-tax profits of £1.1m. Whistles spring/summer 2015 – in pictures The show notes promised “an exploration of textures, surface and fabrics” but the takeaway from Whistles’s spring/summer 2015 collection was that jumpsuits - a signature look from Jane Shepherdson’s brand - have migrated to menswear. There were silk pyjamas for him too, a statement of intent, perhaps, that the men’s collection was not an afterthought for this rapidly evolving brand. Palm print and a dilated riff on Broderie anglaise gave the womenswear a strong holiday vibe, with severe cut-out sections, abstract tailoring and flatform espadrilles adding to a sense of inflated proportions. This was a collection that felt fun and slightly inebriated, like a night on the rum.

Store List <div class="browser-compatibility-alert"><p class="browser-error">Your browser's Javascript functionality is turned off. Please turn it on so that you can experience the full capabilities of this site.</p></div> Store list 9 Things we Learned from Whistles CEO Jane Shepherdson As part of our Fashion Means Business blog series in celebration of the launch of our Fashion Business School, we asked CEO of Whistles Jane Shepherdson CBE to give us some of her wisdom to help all you LCF students on your way to fashion business greatness! And she definitely didn’t disappoint, here are 9 things we learned… 1. The UK does fashion brilliantly “I’ve spent my entire life basically taking the creativity and talent of our British design and turning it into something commercial. Fashion is a huge industry and one of the great things about it is that it’s something we, in the UK, are really really good at!

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