The only international sourcing platform of its kind in the UK, Source Home & Gift opened yesterday to packed aisles and audiences with leading retailers including Argos, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis, Natural History Museum, Dunelm, Fortnum & Mason Lakeland, TalkingTables, WHSmith, Wilko, The Walt Disney Company, DFS, Barnardo’s, Clintons, Fenwick, Quiz Clothing, The National Trust, Aldi, Avon Wildlife Trust, and many more, keen to source from hundreds of Sedex audited overseas manufacturers.
Taking place until Wednesday 8th February at NEC Birmingham, Source Home & Gift has created a new platform for responsibly made homewares, furniture, gifts, toys, textiles, packaging, and stationery and greetings by artisans, producers and manufacturers from over 20 countries including Egypt, Pakistan, Ghana, Nepal, Singapore, Europe and the USA, with dedicated country pavilions from China and three Indian pavilions organised by Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts EPCH, and the Handloom Export Promotion Council HEPC.
Feedback from visitors was overwhelmingly positive. Claire Bevan, Head of Retail at Natural History Museum says, “Sourcing is the start of everything we do. Cotton must be recyclable and organic. Plush must have recyclable stuffing. FSC certificates for wood and paper. We like manufacturers who are passionate about causes like sustainability and have a roadmap. I like that Source Home & Gift require the manufacturers to have Sedex audits to exhibit as it gets that first hurdle out of the way.”
Olivia Clarke, Buyer, Seasonal Events and Gift Wrap at John Lewis, adds, “Source Home & Gift is useful. It’s much easier to see things in the UK from overseas manufacturers. We are looking to streamline our process and the number of suppliers we work with.”
On the show floor, visitors were drawn to a variety of manufacturers, especially those supporting local communities, refugees, and women entrepreneurs.
Sirohi, a sustainable brand designing beautiful products helps create steady income opportunities for 750 women artisans in India. Reflecting India’s weaving heritage, its beautiful handwoven designs made from natural materials also utilise textile and plastic waste salvaged in the local region. The jute bags featuring orange handles created from weaving recycled Reese’s sweet wrappers were a particular highlight.
Gauri Gopal Malik from Sirohi said, “While the world knows of the Indian art & craft forms and the global market is full of diverse Indian crafts, the benefit of it rarely trickles down to our artisan community and we rarely see Indian crafts and artisans getting their due value in the global map. Sirohi is here just to do that. Our vision is to take Indian heritage craft global by infusing it with quality materials with a focus on meeting the current design and functional needs of the modern home. Sirohi is here to make a dent in this world. We have big dreams, big plans, and a mission to have even bigger impact.”
Yadawee, meaning ‘handmade’ in Arabic, is a for-profit social enterprise established in 2002 to support local and refugee artisans and craftspeople to produce high-quality handicrafts while ensuring fair trade practices. The stand also showcased the work of Made51, a collaborative brand brought to life by the UN Refugee Agency. Through an innovative model built on partnerships and market access, Made51 creates opportunities for refugees to utilise their craftsmanship to earn a fair wage and build brighter futures for themselves and their families. The handcrafted Holiday Collection was being launched in the UK featuring beautiful Christmas decorations made by refugees from Afghanistan, Congo, Niger, South Sudan, Syria, Armenia, East Africa and many more.
Suzanne Ellingham, Director of Sourcing of Source Home & Gift says, “I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the first two days of Source Home & Gift. Our aim when we developed the concept to launch a new responsible sourcing show was to help and support communities and showcase how we can do things better, but I don’t think any of us really imagined the impact of hearing people’s stories and the incredible work that is being done around the world to help individuals, communities, and the planet. The feedback from some of the UK’s leading retailers in attendance has been great, I’m delighted to see how many of them are placing responsible sourcing at the very forefront of their business strategies.”
The Responsible Sourcing Stage welcomed a host of leading industry figureheads and experts providing invaluable information, resources, trend forecasting and advice.
Terrie Isaac, Head of Creative at BDA London opened Source Home & Gift’s Responsible Retail Stage on Sunday with an insight into ‘The Evolution of Trends’. She took the audience through the new approach to trend-forecasting; ever changing speeds of production and consumption demand a more considered approach. The nature of trends has been evolving for some time, becoming more linear. As we continue to live in a state of flux, and as trends continue to accelerate and consumer priorities shift, the trend forecasting process must develop in order to become more agile, and more bespoke. A one size fits all approach no longer works.
Trends are slowing down and speeding up in contrasting effects, there is still a place for 2-year forecasts, but quick response is vital, becoming less about seasons and more about product lifecycles, the balance between newness and longevity more influential than ever. “Sustainability is no longer a trend, it is now a baseline consumer expectation.” She says, “Households are more strategic, particularly in this cost-of-living crisis, although there are some dopamine buys for an instant hit, consumers are planning larger purchases ahead. The desire for social connection is stronger than ever, ‘coolness’ has a weakened grip on pop-culture and trends aren’t followed so slavishly – they come and go faster in line with social media and the rise of TikTok. Instead consumers are leaning to a softness, seeking sincerity and fun in their purchasing.”
Jack Stratten, Head of Trends at Insider Trends followed with ‘Ethical Interiors Start with Responsible Sourcing’. With the rise of the conscious consumer over the past decade, brands and retailers are going to extra mile to ensure responsible sourcing. Brands know that their commercial success is directly dependent on maintaining quality and their ability to address customer concerns regarding socio-economic requirements. “Sustainability is system thinking, not product tweaking”, says Jack. Convenience and affordability are still number one factors for consumers, but as ethical expectation becomes the norm, transparency, responsibility, and community building are key for the success of brands.
On Monday morning Gwyneth Holland, Futures Strategist at BDA London presented a trend session on Protopia and the key home trends for 2024. Protopia, a realist’s idea of progression, is central to strategic and creative thinking for spring summer 2024. She said, “The social, economic snf political issues of recent years are matched by rapid innovation, cheering communality and new visions of sustainability. While some see or global future as dystopian – irreparably damaged by greed, pollution, and bigotry – others see a utopia – forged by greater engagement with sustainability, community and self-expression. The reality lies somewhere in between – “protopia”, an active engagement with making each day a little better than the last through realistic and strategic change.”
Following the Covid-19 pandemic and growing awareness of the climate crisis more people are considering the future in their everyday actions. She said, “The future doesn’t emerge from nowhere; it is built slowly by the choices that individuals, businesses, and institutions, make everyday. Crafting a better future is in the hands of everyone.”
Highlighting next season’s must-haves she said there would be a move towards calm spaces, new-gen fabrication, crafted textures, new craftsmanship where you can feel the hand of the maker, collector’s pieces, imperfectionism, and colour with five main themes: Lodge, Colourworks, Deckhouse, Powerplant, and Monument.
Founder of JoJo Maman Bebe, Laura Tenison MBE took to the stage in the afternoon for a keynote address discussing ethical retailing and the challenges of doing well whilst doing good. Looking back over the business’s 30-year history, she said it was important to her to be a retailer rebelling against consumerism, despite many people thinking it wouldn’t be commercially viable and was a fantasy. She said; “Maintaining your ethos gets harder the bigger your company grows, but conscientious consumers are not idiots.”
“We proved the critics wrong”, she added. “As JoJo grew, so did my concern for landfill and waste. I decided we would make clothing from recycled products and fibres. Production costs were 25% higher but we didn’t tell the customers, we sucked it up.”
She highlighted the importance of building relationships with suppliers so they know you and understand your business ethos. “It meant we were making and shipping less samples as our suppliers understood us. Some have become lifelong friends.”
Now running an eco-retreat in Wales, Laura said, “I’m still passionate about good retail and ethical retailing. Retail must survive and in order for it to survive it is important to not only engage with your customers but also your teams.” In her closing address she said, “Be creative. Remain relevant in an increasingly discerning world, believe in your convictions, don’t give up on your sense of purpose in pursuit of short term profits, and believe that you can do well whilst doing good.”
Join Source Home & Gift from 5-8 February at NEC Birmingham. Visit www.source-homeandgift.com for more information and to pre-register.