My Fashion Life

Drapers talks to Scoop Founder, Karen Radley about her Fashion Life

Fashion retail is in Karen Radley's DNA: her first Saturday job at the age of 15 was working in London the London stores of fashion retailer Quorum, which was acquired by her late father, World War II veteran and fashion retail entrepreneur Alfred Radley, in 1969.

In 2004, Radley founded her eponymous fashion agency, representing leading labels including DKNY, Missoni, Blumarine, Paul & Joe, Chantal Thomass, Versace and Fendi. She closed the agency seven years later to focus her attention on twice-yearly premium womenswear trade show Scoop, which celebrates its 13th anniversary this year.

As founder and managing director, Radley curates the brand list, focusing on emerging international designers and lifestyle labels that all "have something different to offer the UK fashion market". She also oversees the themes of each show. The most recent edition, for autumn/winter 24 in February, was inspired by the "quintessential Britishness" of Lewis Carroll's children's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The upcoming edition of Scoop will bring more than 250 SS25 womenswear collections to London's Olympia West venue on 14-16 July.

Radley lives in St John's Wood, north-west London, with Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Perry (above right), who often accompanies her on visits to UK womenswear independents such as The Dressing Room in St Albans and The Mercantile in east London. She shares the memories that shape her fashion life.

What is the first thing you do in the morning? 

I'm a morning person and like to start the day by taking my dog, Perry, out early for a walk.


What is your coffee order? 

A flat white.


What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe? 

A vintage Ossie Clark dress.

How would you describe your style?
Eclectic, fun and colourful.

What is your first memory of going shopping for clothes? 

My mother was always in despair with me as I had my own mind and knew what I wanted from the age of 12. So from the age of 14, she would send me off to go shopping on my own -[1970s young fashion retailers] Snob, Miss Selfridge and Way-In were always on my radar.


What is your shopping strategy nowadays? 

I only buy from my designers at the [Scoop] show or in store - usually when I am travelling. [My most recent purchase was the] Faure Le Page handbag from Galeries Lafayette in Paris.

What do you do to switch off from work?
I have bought a place in the [Suffolk] countryside, and go there to recharge and escape the city.

Who in the fashion retail industry inspires you?

I can only look back and say the era of [1960s and 1970s fashion brands and designers] Biba, Bus Stop, Ossie Clark, Mary Quant, Bill Gibb and Thea Porter.


What's the last book you read? 

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.


What is the best advice you have ever been given? 

[Fashion designer and Quorum founder] Alice Pollock once said to me: "If you want anyone to do something, show them you would be prepared to do it yourself."