How new retail start-ups are incubating in UK?

In an exclusive conversation, James Buckley-Thorp sheds light on his expansion plans of Rupert and Buckley.
James Buckley-Thorp

James Buckley-Thorp, the founder of the multi-million pound clothing brand, Rupert and Buckley, has officially announced that he has launched the UK's first retail startup entrepreneurs network in London, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow and Cardiff with an aim to create a relaxed environment for fellow entreprenures to make friends, share ideas. In an email interview, James Buckley-Thorp shed light on his clothing brand and his new initiative.

Tell us about the retail network that you have formed? What it is aim at?

We all go through challenges starting a retail business. We're on a mission to building the largest community of retail business owners who want to create an online store, look for investment or get their products into high-street stores. There is no pitching, presentation or formal business networking. Our aim is to create a relaxed environment for us to make friends, share ideas and create natural connections. As of now we have 83 members on board with us which is growing with each passing day.

Since leaving Rupert and Buckley in 2016, what do you now do?
Since leaving Rupert and Buckley as CEO in 2016, I have gone on to mentor and grow retail startups. I have since set up Hive Retail which can be found at - Hive Retail operates out of London, and we work with retail startups, helping them raise investment, get their products in stores and much more! It really is wonderful to have helped and worked with hundreds of startups since leaving Rupert and Buckley.

Also tell us about current distribution of Rupert and Buckley in UK and overseas market?

Rupert and Buckley is currently being distributed in America, Europe and Asia. We are still looking for more distributors to carry the Rupert and Buckley brand specifically in India; however we are confidant to find some great potential distributor agents very soon. We are very excited to have been born out of Europe, and excited to be entering the American and the Asian markets. We have big followings in America and Asia anyway due to sales from our online website, so having a physical presence in these markets is very important to us and our customers.

Expansion plans in evolving markets such as India and other Asia Pacific nations?

 Our expansion plans when we look outside of Europe, are very clear. We are looking at entering countries where we have done a lot of online business. This includes America and Asia. Therefore, it is about us finding the right distribution agents to take the brand successfully into these markets. We can confirm that we are already in 7 states in America now. So our global plans are working fast.

Kindly shed light on current retail categories and best selling price points?

 Our retail categories are casual smart, comfy and fun. You can wear one of our shirts with some chinos for a job interview. Or you can buy some of the comfy luxury products such as our sweatpants and loose fitted t-shirts, to hang around in the house. We sell shirts, t-shirts, jumpers, pullovers, chinos, sweatpants, socks, jackets, raincoats, dresses, skirts, long sleeve t-shirts, blazers and many more. One of the company missions is to make sure that the products are affordable and therefore our fashion is highly affordable.

According to you what are the global trends as far as fashion consumption is concerned?

We find right now to be in a 80’s comeback. We are seeing bright vibrant manufactured colours being mixed and paired with traditional outfits. London right now is all about lose fitting garments, 80’s inspiration and if you are super cool, something vintage from the 80’s will really make you stand out. Right now, we are having a lot of fun with fashion. Fashion right now is escapism. I believe the younger generation are very displeased with politics right now, so all forms of enjoyment and detachment are being explored. This includes fashion where people are turning to, to escape the trauma from politics right now.

According to you what are the main retailing challenges in mature markets like UK vs emerging markets?

The UK has a very strong retail history and platform. It does make for a wonderful place to start a clothing brand that has a strong vision and mission. However, when we compare the the UK to emerging markets such as India, we see different challenges. Where India’s physical retail sector is thriving, the UK’s is declining. The UK is learning how to balance the popular growth of commerce as well as it’s historical physical retail stores. The UK is incredibly advanced and new and emerging technology usually starts here. With this we are given a great tool to see what will become globally popular. I think what we will see is a retail tech market emerge, which will pave way for established markets like the UK and will inevitably help emerging markets like India to grow quicker and more aggressively.

How do you predict the future of fast fashion globally?

The future has never looked so bright for fashion. Although the ways in which we are obtaining fashion is changing, we are buying more and experimenting more with fashion than we ever have done. People are becoming more and more conscious about the environment and for this reason we as clothing manufacturers can take these concerns and make sure that not only the clothing items themselves are ethical both during production but for the environment, but also how they are distributed around the world and to different stores. This is the fashion worlds focus right now. In my opinion, the fashion world is leading the way when it comes to sustainability.




James Buckley-Thorp