“Symonds Pearmain: a whirl of wantable graphics dealt out in sporty-casual mode. [They] really know how to pull off a compelling look—all stripes and checks, occasionally gilded with gold leather curlicues.”
Vogue, February 2018
Switchplane first met the fashion designer behind the label, Anthony Symonds, in March 2018; Anthony had previously worked as a designer under John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood, and has launched the Symonds Pearmain brand in conjunction with stylist Max Pearmain. Symonds Pearmain first debuted at London Fashion Week in Spring 2017 and was described as London’s “buzziest new brand”.
Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, Anthony approached us wanting to turn his work into a tangible business with a formal commercial presence in the form of an ecommerce website. Previously, his numbered, certified pieces were only sold via an art gallery.
His main wishlist was for:
Given the sector, aesthetics were naturally a very important element to consider. Having looked at other retail fashion sites, Anthony decided that the design should be lean, clean, clear, minimalist, and informed by necessity; the interface with the product should be intuitive and it should be easy to complete the checkout process both on desktop and mobile devices. The products should feel special and curated, and sold articles should remain on the site to help portray the gallery feel.
This minimal style is something that is not achievable through off-the-shelf packages like Shopify, which Anthony had also considered; everything at Switchplane is custom-built, enabling greater flexibility and control over the design and functionality of the site. Switchplane are thus able to provide the level of quality that we want to provide, rather than being shaped by the possibilities dictated by a third party.
“E-comm will give us a lot of control over what we produce and how we propose it to our customers, which will ultimately allow for a much more nuanced commercial dialogue.”
Anthony Symonds, as quoted in Vogue, 5 October 2018
With a Minimum Viable Product goal in place for the website, over a series of Sprints consisting of numerous ‘Show and Tell’ and ‘Story Refinement’ sessions with both Anthony and Edward Quarmby's creative direction, we continuously improved on website features and fine-tuned the exacting design aesthetic to ensure that it met the required specifications. This included changes to layouts of product shots, headers and footers, the number of products showing per line, scrollability, and filtering of categories. We built these pages in HTML to start with in order to finalise the overall look, reducing the need to reorganise back end code once built.
As the development of the site progressed further, whilst we were still aiming at a stripped back look and only including the vital elements, it became clear that extra features were necessary compared to the original brief planned for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) launch, such as the abilities to request notification when a product returns to stock, to filter by clothing type and area in the site, to generate a certificate of authenticity, and to add video to the About section. This was in addition to the expected work relating to SagePay integration for taking payments, and the subsequent confirmation emails.
The way Switchplane works using Agile Scrum project management methodology allows us to accommodate these new ideas and changes in the scope of a project on an iterative Sprint-by-Sprint basis; the ‘unknowns’ needn’t be defined at the start of the project, but can be explored as the work unfolds. We then make gradual, incremental progress, working towards the key MVP goals for the project.
The Symonds Pearmain website enables fashion conscious shoppers to purchase the unique products, and view past collections and brand archival pieces. Behind the scenes, Symonds Pearmain is notified of sales, stock levels are automatically reduced, certificates of authenticity are generated, and certain notification features are switched on if stock is below a certain level. Stock can easily be sorted by administrators via the content management system.
Through close collaboration between Switchplane, Anthony, and Ed and with regular feedback as part of our Agile Scrum project management process, the end result is a lean and minimalistic shopping experience for users; the website facilitates the product, rather than overshadowing it. Different media and ways of accessing the website were considered from the outset, so it is fully responsive and usable on a wide range of devices and platforms. Everything included on the website was carefully judged on its merit before earning its pixel space.
“It's a convincing story, and the clean, streamlined shopping tool is an even more convincing way to shop. Go forth.”
Vogue, 5 October 2018
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