Nicola Mitchell - Accessories & Bags Buyer

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Nicola Mitchell - Accessories & Bags Buyer

When did you start at Pavers?

I started on my birthday, 28th October and on my first day I flew out to China! I didn’t know anything about the company I just flew out!

What's your favourite style of handbag?

Hobo bag. The slightly sloppy bag that goes over the shoulder. I have to be careful that I don’t put too many of them in our range as we haven’t sold that many as yet but it’s something that we haven’t done an awful lot of.

So tell us about your favourite styles in your collection?

My first one is a hobo and it’s my favourite. It’s a bag within a bag and it will be out about October time. The next one is a grey croc print with a silver zip. The front is plain and it has two zip compartments. I’ve got a good feeling about grey; we seem to be selling a lot more grey. I think it’s a transitional colour from summer to winter. It goes with lots and black can be very heavy. This final one I’ve picked is a black tote with plaited handles and I picked it because I’ve had a lot of people saying they want it and it will be going into the Bellissimo range. 

What are the key trends for A/W?

Definitely different fabrics. There’s a lot of suede and croc and plaited handles. Without those added extras some would be very plain. I’m always very mindful that the Pavers Lady probably prefers just a nice twist than high fashion. We’ve just done a true “how many handbags we can fit in the stores” which has never been done before. It’s always slightly open to change because a store may take bits of Bellissimo out. Some have too much space for handbags and may benefit more from using that as shoe space and vice versa. I’ve done a couple of statement purses because you might buy a bright red purse when you have a black bag and I think that looks really nice.


What’s your favourite season?

I don’t think I have a favourite. I like the one I’m in because I’m excited about the new styles coming out. I think something we’ve missed is that in summer we only did one beach bag that matched a hat and it sold really well. On the high street the bigger retailers did the straw beach bags and also straw cross body bags so I think we missed an opportunity but I found a supplier at the Canton fair (In China) and I have a few samples so I’m quite hopeful about that for next year.

What do you love most about the job?

Going out and finding new ideas and samples. To be honest I just really like the job. I like that I’m almost my own boss to a certain extent and you use the information you have to choose different things and new things and move things on and it’s constantly changing so you don’t get bored. This range now feels really old to me because it’s what I sampled when I started in October so now I’m moving onto Spring/Summer17! I find myself constantly looking at older women and their handbags for ideas and they must think I’m going to steal their bags! It’s amazing when you look at bags, the potential is huge! Each woman has at least one handbag.


Where have you worked before?

I’ve bought for Grattan and Freeman catalogue and previous to that I started off at Dorothy Perkins. I stopped buying to have children and did a few other things then went back to it after. I did a degree called Clothing Studies which doesn’t exist anymore at Manchester Polytechnic which is now Manchester Met. That’s where I started then I went travelling for a bit and then I got my first job at Dorothy Perkins.


What’s at the top of your shopping list for A/W?

A long pair of boots. I want a black pair of high-ish boots that I can wear to work but not too high. I didn’t manage to get myself a nice pair last year.


What style do you think will be popular for the Pavers customer this A/W?

I saw a lot of tote bags when I was out with suppliers but so far our reactions on tote bags haven’t been as good as I’d hoped but we shall see. I think you buy a different bag in the winter to the summer.


What is the buying process?

We get to the point where we’re about half way through the season and see what are your winners and what are your losers then take that to start to build the next range so that becomes my building block. You have your continuity lines that you know have done well and you plan to carry those through then you look at what trends you think are going forward colour wise so for me they’re the basic building blocks. From then I’ll go see the suppliers and they’ll show me lots of different shapes and styles and fabrics etc. then I’ll start sampling from those so end August/beginning September I’ll place my orders for next spring/summer. I’ll think to myself “right last year we had 20% totes but we only sold 15% of them then I’ll make sure I do less next season” unless I think they’re going to be popular in the next season. Things do change though as trends change.


What was it that made you get into fashion?

I always wanted to get involved in fashion but I wasn’t artistic enough to do fashion design then I found this degree that teaches you about production and marketing and once I did that I wanted to get into buying.


What is your biggest ever fashion faux pas?

Oh no! It’s a bit embarrassing. Many years ago when I was at college I made a dress and it was a long navy pinafore so it was a nautical theme and I put a blue and white stripe insert on the neckline and I bought a proper sailor hat with the turn up front and wore that outfit out. That was me thinking I was really fashionable!