During the recent celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, some of her great-grandchildren were the protagonists of a multitude of videos and memes that went around the world, but Amaia Arrieta (49 years old) saw it from a more personal perspective. Both Princess Carlota and Prince Luis, two of the three children of the Dukes of Cambridge, wore garments by Amaia Kids, a brand created by Arrieta, a London resident from San Sebastian. And although the firm noted a significant spike in interest after the Jubilee, this is something the Gipuzkoan designer has been used to for a long time.
It all started in 2013, when someone from the British royal family visited the Amaia Kids store in London, in the Chelsea neighborhood, to buy a gift for the newborn Prince George, thinking that the clothes suited Kate Middleton’s taste. . A few weeks later, the Duchess of Cambridge herself appeared at the store with her mother Carole hers. She “she told us that she had just had a baby and asked us to help her choose things. It seemed very fresh to me ”, he recalls to EL PAÍS Arrieta. But that did not stay in a single and punctual meeting. “They buy from collections, but we also tailor them,” explains the businesswoman. “They have to take many different factors into account, and there are times when it’s easier to make clothes for them,” she adds. Later, yes, the brand sells versions of these garments, which takes away exclusivity from the way the princes dress. “They are a couple who, as much as possible, try to give their children a normal life and spend time with them. They are doing very well and have their feet on the ground”, concludes the designer.
Amaia Kids was born in the British capital 18 years ago, when Arrieta, who was working in finance at the time, was expecting her first child. She “She worked in investment banking, and she put in a lot of hours. She stopped working in the City, but she needed to do something. During those first months I bought all the baby things in San Sebastián, and when I returned to London my friends from other countries told me that they really liked everything. One of them suggested that I hold a sale at home, and I replied that I wouldn’t even do a home-style sale. tupperware”, he remembers laughing today.
Finally, she ended up listening to her friends, and visiting children’s fashion fairs in Valencia, identifying Spanish brands to sell in the United Kingdom. She later launched herself into designing her own collections. “I started because I couldn’t find what I was looking for. In London she had very expensive things or the other extreme. Our brand offers quality but at reasonable prices. Burberry or Bonpoint are 50% more expensive”.
Amaia Kids is the pioneer firm of boom Spanish fashion for children around the world. Along with other London firms of Spanish origin and classic style such as La Coqueta or Pepa & Co confirm that the Made in Spain children’s fashion is an international benchmark. Its collections are designed in London, but the garments are entirely made in Spain, in workshops in Bilbao, Madrid and Andalusia. The central idea is to adapt the Spanish style to the tastes of other countries, lengthening the bottoms or using different colors. “It is a very traditional process. They are small workshops run by ladies with a lot of experience. I see them as a treasure that must be perpetuated, part of our heritage that must be protected. We underestimate ourselves, and there is no need to go anywhere else. The six employees of your company, as well as collaborators freelancing, They are women and mothers. “We are very flexible. It is important because there is a lot of untapped women’s talent, ”says Arrieta. Among her clients are also Sienna Miller, Adele, Liv Tyler, Kate Hudson, Naomi Campbell, Victoria Beckham or Meghan Markle.
Despite the success, the company has hit a rough patch. Arrieta confesses that the impact of Brexit was so great that he then considered throwing in the towel: “It has been very hard. We import and export a lot and the rules were not clear at all. It felt like the year 2000 at the turn of the millennium, but then in the end nothing happened and this time it did. The transport companies charged the maximum rates and tariffs. We had to pay and then claim. Our knitted collection arrived months late, already for the sales. I have fought, I have complained and all of us, little by little, have been learning. This summer season is the first in which we are calmer. Now the rates for European clients are paid by us. Our margins went down, but it compensates us, ”he explains.
Lately, though, it’s all good news for her. On July 12, Buckingham Palace awarded him an award in the International Trade category for UK companies (Queen’s Awards for Enterprise); In her case, the award —given to her by Carlos from England— was for the increase in her sales abroad in the last three years. The brands awarded by Elizabeth II can use this seal real on their products and labels for five years. “He has been a joy and a source of pride, he has given us a lot of prestige,” she says. To decide what to wear for the occasion, Arrieta asked protocol experts from the environment of the British royal family. “I decided to wear a yellow dress, and when I arrived 85% of the guests were gentlemen in dark suits. I thought who had ordered me to dress in that color, although in the end I received many compliments”, she comments.
The brand has a store in Japan, another in London, and has just opened a second in China. In September they will begin to sell in Spain through El Corte Inglés. “We have worked very hard and we have been constant in our style and the margins we get”, explains the woman from San Sebastián about the factors of her success. “As my grandmother says, whoever has a store should attend to it, and if not, sell it.”