From virtual fashion shows to store closures, COVID-19 has wrought massive changes on the fashion industry. Instead of trying to continue using pre-pandemic retail models, Tracey Suen and Jules Volleberg have decided to adapt. Their site, APOC Store, steps back from wholesale retail and puts the power back in designers’ hands.
For many of us, imagining such a model might be hard at first. But as i-D notes in their article about the store, it’s really like a luxury DEPOP. The creators call this a “curated marketplace for young luxury designers,” and those designers choose what work to offer and how that work is presented.
This freedom would never be possible in the traditional wholesale market, especially for emerging designers. In a wholesale market, the goal is often to mass-produce for large retailers. If the orders that are made don’t match the customer demand, if everything isn’t sold, then the responsibility is back on the designers. Everything is sent back which can, Suen says, “be really damaging” for a young creative and means that “often there’s lots of dead stock, which is incredibly wasteful.”
APOC avoids this issue by encouraging designers to work on a pre-order and made-to-order basis, and to embrace their individual aesthetics. The founders say that the team wants “to be a platform where designers can express themselves creatively, without any commercial restrictions,” and that they hope to help “create a sense of community” that designers don’t often find when working with big retailers.
Suen and Volleberg feel that the words “anthropocene” and “epoch” summarize the current moment, which is why they mashed them up into “APOC.” Though the name does not stand for “a person of color,” as some, understandably, assume, diversity is a core tenet of the store. The founders attempt to bring a global perspective and unite the worlds of fashion, design, and art in a way that most commercial retail has failed to do. The designers working with the store recognize their commitment to this ethos and share their belief in the importance of collaboration. Jawara Alleyne, a recent graduate of Central Saint Martins, says it particularly well: “when fashion moves forward, it’s never…just one person…it’s usually a collection of different people with different points of view who are pushing things forward in their own way.”