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Top Drawer

September 27, 2009

A week after I’d recovered from standing {and not to mention smiling} for 96 hours straight, I popped along to have a look at Top Drawer at Olympia, London. Its usually a nice little show, with a good eclectic mix of product, mostly geared towards homewares, accessories, jewellery, cards and gifts.

Now I fully admit I’m rather hard to please when it comes to jewellery (as the OH would undoubtedly testify to!), but years of industry brainwashing have certainly left their mark, and so I was rather unimpressed {if not depressed} by much of the jewellery on show. However, I was delighted to discover Ridley and Dowse; a small company from Brighton, UK. They’ve taken the current trend for nature inspired jewellery (think Alex Monroe’s lovely but ubiquitous sparrows etc) and turned it on its head to produce a great range of contemporary jewellery using non-traditional materials such as stainless steel. Just lovely!

ridley+dowse kitty

One can usually rely on Top Drawer to offer a whole raft of glorious homewares and accessories, and this year was no different. Following a rather simliar nature theme, the 1st prize has to go to Lulu and Nat, whom make the most covetable bedlinen and soft furnishings.  Already a favourite with trend hungry department stores such as Liberty, Descamps has a serious rival!

Top drawer - Lulu and nat embroidered butterfly

Top Drawer is probably the one show in the UK  at which you can find a decent selection of cards and paper gifts. I was delighted to discover Rosehip, a UK company who are producing the loveliest cards and accessories from recycled card and paper. I was particuarly taken with their Angel paper doll banner ribbon, out in time for Christmas ~ oh so cute!

Top Drawer Rosehip - Angel Ribbon


Besides the obvious advantages of identifying at emerging trends and all that (old habits really do die hard), I’d actually gone to Top Drawer to check out the show itself and not the product offer. I was considering exhibiting in February, and wanted to interrogate the sales team  (ha! I should have known better) with regard to what was happening with their smart jewellery show, Collections. This was a show that ran in tandem with Top Drawer at Earls Court for two years, and featured names such as Stephen Webster as the main draw. Clearly it was less than successful as Clarion Events (the people behind Top Drawer & Collections) have now decided to absorb Collections into Top Drawer, as a distinct section of designer jewellery within the show.  This concerns me for several reasons: One: Its a tiny section (with approximately 20 stands at most). Two: This ‘premium’ section also has to sit alongside the general jewellery offer – which also includes wholesalers and that may well confuse buyers.  Three:  Your brand is also vying for the buyers attention with a whole host of other product types, which your buyer may well have just blown her jewellery budget on. So I think I may well visit and see how the show works before I make a committment that will cost me an arm and a leg (not to mention my bank managers goodwill!), as it seems a little ill though out at present. But here’s hoping they prove me wrong!

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