Stavros Karelis is the Founder & Buying Director of the London concept store MACHINE-A & Buying Director of the SHOWstudio online store. Stavros is also a member of the NEWGEN womenswear and menswear committee, member of the jury panel of the IFS , the LCF MA, the Westminster MA & the RCA selection panels. Karelis has also been the guest judge for the L’Oréal Professionnel Award for the CSM MA 2019. Voted by GQ in the list of 35 most successful men under 38, Highsnobiety’s list of 15 biggest stylish influencers and most recently in BOF 500 list from 2016 until now, Stavros’ dedication to emerging talent has been such, that he constantly discovers, promotes & consults for a great number of emerging designers and helps them to get established with successful careers in the fashion industry. Stavros is also the curator of a number of projects including Copenhagen’s International Fashion Fair Special Projects Area for 2018/19 editions, as well as working as the Creative Consultant for the Onassis Foundation, where he recently curated the project SWEAT for the Athens Biennale.
Which is the main trend you forecast for the upcoming Spring/Summer 2021 season?
It is a season of ‘collective individuality’ as I like to call it. Designers and brands are focusing on their signature styles, the real DNA codes, whether that’s craftsmanship and/or special techniques and overall what they became known and loved for. There is ‘a kind reminder’ to where everything paused due to the pandemic. In that sense each designer and brand focuses on this, where the main trend that is emerging is the inclusivity, the true representation, the diversity which is what has truly been reflected on the shows and digital formats. Is really a beautiful long-awaited moment to see.
Are you changing the way to select brands and to edit the collections?
At MACHINE-A, I have always been interested in discovering emerging designers and brands, the ones that have such a strong sense of creativity ,are focused with not huge collections, as well as business acumen and understanding who their customer is or who their customer can become. At the same time I always choose products that reflect the shows of the brands in the best possible way, without trying to buy in a very ‘commercial’ way. I think our customers always like to go for the bold choices, to invest their money into pieces that are stating what the true vision of the designer is in each specific season and to search for these key items that they see on social media but are harder to find online or in retail. In that sense my buying hasn’t really changed. For me the most important factor is that retailers and online stores buy quite often similar brands. What is absolutely different is the edit. The choice. This will set you apart and create a loyal customer basis. It takes more time to build an audience like this but is the loyal one, as they shop based on their favorite brands as well as what the store has to recommend. Of course buying can become all about the sell-throughs, data analysis etc. But our job is to forecast. Fashion is about the future. And the only way to move forward successfully is to trust the talent of the emerging designers, the expertise and in depth-knowledge and vision of the leading brands such as Raf Simons and Maison Margiela and your instinct.
Have you observed any change in customer behaviours?
Absolutely. Customers at this stage need to feel ‘safe’ in the way they invest their money. What I mean by this, regardless of financial status, customers are in search of timeless items that are like an investment. At the same time the merchandising has to be strong enough to create emotions. So I think a spike in demand for bags, accessories, shoes and outerwear is quite noticeable, as these items are much more appealing to a wider demographic, easier to shop online, and they can transcend through seasons.