We hate to be doom and gloom, but the global pandemic has exacerbated the struggles already faced by emerging designers across the country. For many just coming out of university, the chance of being stocked by your first retailer has been sliced in half in the face of digital fashion. On the flip side, for those already piling up the stockists, many big-name retailers have down-sized on orders for next season, or worse, cancelled altogether. This leaves designers in their 20s strapped for cash and left with heaps of access stock; the total antithesis to the sustainable vision many have crafted since their studies. The retail world is due a shake-up, and APOC Store is looking to do just that.

The brainchild of Tracey Suen and Jules Volleberg, APOC Store was birthed out of an uncertainty to what retail would be like in a post-Covid world. “I think for everyone Covid-19 forced people to re-evaluate and question everything in their lives. For years now people have been questioning and seeing the cracks in the retail industry and thinking about what the future will be and now more than ever felt like the right time to do something new,” explains Suen. Volleberg echoes this: “With APOC Store we wanted to challenge the current retail formats/norms and explore more flexible ways of working with designers that are supportive.”

Benny Andallo

APOC Store takes its name from Anthropocene Epoch – the unofficial unit of geologic time given to the most recent period in the planet’s history when human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. It ties into the e-store’s ethos entirely. Instead of implementing a slew of buyers to select pieces from full collections of looks, the store gives full creative control to the designers – as to what they want to stock, and how much of it. Giving a firm middle finger to the wholesale model, designers can produce both one-off and made-to-order pieces instead of full-blown collections which is expensive, time-consuming and ultimately doing more harm to the planet.

“We want to give designers more freedom into what they create and sell opposed to limiting their creativity and putting together commercial selections,” says Volleberg. “We always love it when a designer surprises us with what they come up with, and in turn, we hope we can keep surprising our customers too.”

“We also understand that every designer has different capacities and resources and so for us it is about working with them not putting demands on them,” adds Suen. “This way of working is much more collaborative and means that the designer is able to produce and grow within their means.”

Ed Curtis

Notable names on the roster include the designer who loves a pint, Adam Jones; London Fashion Week darlings Bethany Williams and Liam Hodges; Thomas Harvey, who is crafting sensual menswear with MMRMS Studio; and the wacky world of Ed Curtis. “A lot of these designers are some of my personal favourites. The way we selected who we wanted to kick of APOC Store with happened very organically,” explains Volleberg. Alongside some stellar fashions is a selection of artworks from the likes of Ying Chang, Nicole Walker and Beate Karlsson. “This generation of designers and artists isn’t just making work for the sake of it, but there is a purpose to what they do which we feel has been a response to everything that has been happening politically and environmentally. We wanted to celebrate these designers and give them a platform to share their work,” says Suen.

A solely online experience, for now, APOC Store is looking to branch out and explore physical experiences where art and fashion “sit alongside one another” in the near future, say the founders. Providing a voice for a new generation of designers to experiment freely, APOC Store is set to be a beacon of hope in the retail world. Other stores take note, this is how it should be done.
Top Image: Adam Jones.

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