Fashion students hear how clothing label close to home is flourishing in the Big Apple

Fashion students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) spent their final educational trip in New York City hearing how a clothing label close to home is flourishing in the Big Apple.

Joules, from Market Harborough, in Leicestershire, was founded 30 years ago and for the last few years has had a New York base as it breaks the vast American market.

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The students with Dave Wood and Flo Castillo from Joules New York

The country style brand is now selling across the USA, from Washington to Atlanta and from California to Texas through stores such as Bloomingdales, Walmart and Amazon.

The students from Fashion Buying and Marketing, Fashion Design and Fashion Textile Design, were given a fascinating insight into how Joules works in the USA and heard from the people at the very top of the business, General Manager Dave Wood and Sales Director Flo Castillo at their impressive offices and showrooms on 40th Street.

Flo graduated from DMU with an Advertising and Marketing degree in 2007 saying she had a fantastic time.

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The pair revealed how the Joules brand sells its Britishness, which is a byword in the US for quality, gained popularity for its bright colours and patterns and early US sales were made through its range of rain boots.

Dave said: “Most businesses start with one product they become renowned for and ours was the rain boots. It was all about the print and the colour.”

Flo and Dave also revealed how they have to work with different markets in the US, matching their output with the US weather trends, which see long periods of heat and shorter periods of sharp winter, rather than the UK’s more typical grey, mild climate.

They also discussed how Joules has a reputation for quality at a decent price and covered the importance of social media and bloggers to help to grow the brand.

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Students in the Joules headquarters in New York

The trip to Joules followed educational visits to other big brands, Coach and fellow British label Burberry. The Fashion students are part of a 1,000-strong group of final year DMU students who have made the trip to New York through the pioneering #DMUglobal scheme.

Chantice Sharp, Fashion Design, said: “It has been really inspirational today. The whole trip has been amazing.

“I had been doing a lot of thinking recently about where I wanted to go with my career but this trip has made me realise I really want to work in fashion.”

Amber Gayle, Fashion, Textiles and Accessories student, said: “I didn’t realise Joules started in Market Harborough 30 years ago and is a Leicestershire firm.

“As soon as you walk into their showrooms and offices you can see it is a British label. We went to a New York company a couple of days ago and it has been really interesting to compare how the two of them operate.”

Achia Gay, Fashion Design, said: “I think the entire trip to New York has been amazing.

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Students during their trip to Coach New York

“This is possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us all, There is so much to see, so much to learn about in fashion and so much to compare that it has made the whole trip really interesting.”

Jun Kai Zhan and Shi Hua Ou are DMU Fashion Design students from China and it is their first ever visit to New York City.

Shi said: “It was really interesting to hear about a UK business moving to the USA and the challenges that it brings.”

Jun said: “It was a great talk and I liked that Joules is local to Leicester. The trip to New York has been excellent although everything is so big it can be a bit overwhelming.”

Posted on Wednesday 9th January 2019

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