ROGER SAUL, the man who originally founded Mulberry in 1971, has returned to fashion after being forced out of the British label in 2002. The businessman this weekend opened a designer shopping emporium in Somerset in a bid to create what Saul hopes will be a new retail experience.
"The selling point is really the environment in which the emporium is set," Saul told us. "There's a beautiful garden, we'll be hosting pop-up restaurants, and the shops are individually brilliant. Then of course there's the Wellness Centre, where you can relax. Shoppers here will get a very high quality experience, we want to make sure you're being treated the very best. It'll be like shopping in a full-price designer shop, but you'll be getting a secret bargain too."
Historic site Kilver Court will comprise stores such as Mulberry, Myla, Peddlers, Margaret Howell, Isabella Oliver, Emma Bridgewater and MiH Jeans, each carrying discounts of up to 30 per cent. The outlet's opening was celebrated this weekend with a designer sale - an event Saul plans to repeat in November.
"It's all a bit step-by-step at the moment, but we have plans to open a 20-room hotel here too," said Saul. "This is very much about regeneration. Somerset and Dorset is a desert area for designer shopping. It's very difficult to find designer clothes around here, andthere's such a strong customer-base for it. There is a huge catchment of private schools here, and a large number of people who commute up to London."
Since leaving Mulberry in 2002, Saul has kept himself busy - restoring his farm, historic car racing around Europe and working with Prince Charles on the first ever eco car event, which took place in London. His experience running Mulberry has inevitably proved invaluable in his latest project.
"I couldn't have done this without it," he explained. "It's like Mulberry but ten times over, the logistics I mean. It's much bigger project than I imagined. I suppose this is my fashion return yes, but it's really more about regeneration, where things are going next and thinking about what shoppers want. I think they want to buy carefully, eat well and live well. It's all been a fascinating experiment."
|Mulberry spring/summer 2011, one of the labels available at Kilver Court © GoRunway.com|