Winning a Queen’s Award for international trade isn’t the first time that Amaia Clothing Ltd has had a royal stamp of approval.
The children’s clothing company inspired by owner Amaia Arrieta’s native Spain has long been a favourite of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which has helped in powering the brand’s profile especially in recent years both at home and abroad.
From the beginning in 2004 when Amaia Kids opened in Chelsea, it has received regular royal patronage with word spreading among the royal families of Europe. “We have been helping to dress royal children for a while which has brought us a whiff of prestige, promoted us a good and trustworthy brand and this is another stamp of approval to show that we are doing something right.”
Yet despite this, Amaia’s is not a boutique business with an air exclusivity – she produces and sells quality beautiful, elegant, practical, top quality clothes and accessories to live a child’s life whether it involves rough play in the park or being a maid of honour at a wedding. They also reflect Amaia’s philosophy of heritage and sustainability, which she was clear on from the start.
She said: “We have always been true to our DNA. They are all made in Spain in small factories by specialist seamstresses with great love, care and attention to detail. For me it’s like having a small family because the factories we use have been with us from the start.
“From the beginning we have been advocates of slow fashion, locally sourced and locally made, using all the talent we have available. Of course, clothes can be made cheaper and our margins could be greater but that is not the point, the point for me is community, staying local and giving back.
“It’s been so hard for so many in Europe; generations have worked in textiles and the shift towards Asia and cheaper production has put many out of work and it’s a big disaster for many communities.
“So I thought it was a responsibility for us to help preserve the noble skills of traditional clothes making. When these factories are closed those skills are gone. Telling the story of how and where something is made and by whom, and the impact it has on these people is important. For our customers, it makes the clothes more than just something nice to wear and they can feel they are contributing and helping, which for me has to be part of the whole buying process.”
It has clearly worked. Over the three year assessment period for the Queen’s Award, export sales grew by 307% with the proportion of total sales achieved overseas growing from 34% to 58%.
“We have seen phenomenal growth, but then we have always been a very international business, because we have such a diverse mix of tourists visiting our store who when they go home keep buying from us and letting others know of us.”
Amaia Clothing sells through its two stores in London and Shenzhen in China, holding pop-up shops in key department stores in Japan, and increasingly online which alone generates 75% of sales, half of which are from more than 60 countries overseas.
In the coming months there are plans to open a second Chinese store in Shanghai as well as going online in the country. Amaia said: “We also really want to develop in the US and Japan in a different way, both hold big potential for us and we want to build on our good and growing reputation.”
A reputation that has been bolstered by the prestigious Queens Award: “It’s a great prize that will help us to take a big step forward. It’s an acknowledgement of all the effort and hard work and I am really hoping that it will help us develop a second phase for our company. The award gives us a point of difference”, she said.