Penthouse Conversations: building a fashion brand

The second event inside London City Island’s stylish new Penthouse was an insightful discussion on the inception and development of a brand

On the top floor of Corson House at London City Island, the second in a series of six Penthouse Conversations proved as fascinating as the first. The panel included creative director of Thomas Pink, Dean Gomilsek-Cole; CEO of Mulo shoes, Tobias Cox; founder of London City Island’s Hum Yoga Studio, Oriana Shepherd; and Tilly Wood, the eponymous founder of AJA Botanicals by Tilly. Moderating the panel once more was Brummell executive editor Peter Howarth, dressed fittingly in a Thomas Pink shirt, signature Mulo espadrilles and a spritz of After Midnight from AJA Botanicals.

The entrepreneurs on the panel recounted stories behind their respective business endeavours and, in turn, their outstanding products. Cox, for instance, spoke about how his creative spirit suffered while working in London’s corporate environment. This culminated in him booking a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, where he constantly saw people wearing alpargatas, (similar to espadrilles). He found himself unable to shake an idea about revolutionising the shoe – a sustainable and durable version of the espadrille fit for a greater range of occasions. He committed himself to the concept.

Though he sailed back across the Atlantic and returned to London, his one-way ticket to Buenos Aires had in fact been a one-way ticket to the life he now enjoys, an entrepreneurial one. He shared tales from the dawn of Mulo shoes with the Penthouse audience, who only had to look at Howarth’s cushioned, orange espadrilles to recognise the relationship between the quality of Mulo products and the story that inspired them. 

This relationship between the quality of a brand and a personal mission was not particular to Cox. Since opening Hum Yoga a year ago, Oriana Shepherd has been applying her knowledge of singing bowls and sound frequencies, the benefits of which she witnessed for several years while coaching yoga and working in palliative care. Using them to amplify the positive effects of yoga, she is on a mission to nurture the physical and mental wellness of her community – the busy entrepreneurs, creatives and young professionals who are her neighbours on London City Island.

The talk was hosted by Brummell magazine's Peter Howarth with a panel including Tilly Wood, Dean Gomilsek-Cole, Oriana Shepherd and Toby Cox

Also looking to create a sense of calm in the day, the products at AJA Botanicals are centred around natural ingredients. This is an approach Wood also applies to food and healthcare, a path she discovered through her work as a model. And while his counterparts’ brands all emerged out of personal stories, Gomilsek-Cole spoke about the passion he has for Thomas Pink, and recovering the success the brand once enjoyed by refocusing it for a more casually dressed post-pandemic society. 

EcoWorld Ballymore’s London City Island was once again a perfect location for an evening of discussion. Its atmospheric beauty is loved by those who live and work there, as resident Shepherd confirmed. There are still four more intriguing Penthouse Conversations to follow, so come and discover it for yourself.

Hum Yoga's Oriana Shepherd and Toby Cox of Mulo

Penthouse Conversations brought together experts for thoughtful discussions of subjects including music and wine. See more on London City Island’s Instagram – @londoncityislandlife and on Eventbrite.