The successful team behind high-fashion store Jules B are taking a softer, more layered approach with their latest venture, Zen

FOLLOWING on from the success of their renowned luxury clothing store, the team behind Jules B are stepping in a much more comfortable direction with their newest venture, Zen Wardrobe. Unlike Jules B, Zen Wardrobe doesn't focus on the traditional fashion-forward brands. Instead, the collection puts the spotlight on the four fundamental aspects of comfortable styling; fit, texture, colour and accessories. The clothes are soft, comfortable and luxurious; think luxurious silk harem pants, and beautiful cashmere cardigans, perfect for everyday wear. It’s fashion, but with a focus on wearability, and luxury.

“Our clothing stores have been dressing the stylish women of the North of England for over 30 years and we’re delighted to open the doors to the new stores," says owner Rhona Blades. "We wanted to offer our customers something different, and each Zen Wardrobe store has been designed to reflect the sense of luxury that comes with each of our hand-picked brands." Situated in the desirable locations of Yarm High Street, and Acorn Road, in Jesmond, they also have an online store.

"We began the venture in response to an ever-growing demographic of female customers who sought uniquely styled items that would offer not just designer appeal, but comfort and ease of wear," says Rhona. "Jules B showcases distinctive style through a variety of hand-picked designer brands and we’re very proud of our work, so with Zen we’ve taken our expertise in careful curation and used it to focus on a more specific customer and type of dress."

Zen Wardrobe stocks a harmonious mix of different brands, from well-known designers to up-and-coming stars including 120% Lino, Ralston and Xenia Design. They are also home Zen Wardrobe Jewellery, an exclusive collection designed to complement each label.

"Some of my favourites brands are Oska, Grizas, Crea Concept and Ilse Jacobsen," says Rhona. "They capture the essence of Zen perfectly and offer a range of pieces crafted from natural fabrics – all of them designed with ease-of-wear in mind – which makes them perfect for the contemporary woman’s capsule wardrobe. The Zen woman is confident, effortlessly stylish and always on the go. She needs a capsule wardrobe that she can reach for each morning and pull fabulous looks together without requiring too much thought. The typical customer opts for comfort and often pairs her outfits with trainers, but she knows that a statement necklace will instantly elevate her look."

The collections are designed to mix and match. The Zen concept is about making your wardrobe work for you with several carefully selected pieces which you layer and co-ordinate. "Zen is not a season fad," says Rhona. "The trousers and top you bought last season can work with the look this season; you can use belts, jewellery and, in some cases, even wear the item back to front to create a different look."

Rhona and her team want to help customers simplify the process of putting together a wardrobe for all occasions. The venture has been inspired by an array of female designers in particular, who have acknowledged in recent years that what women really want when it comes to dressing is comfort and ease fused with timeless style.

"For example, Oska trousers and a top in medium weight linen will serve you well from May to September, and are great investment pieces," says Rhona. "Add a vest top for holidays; put a Grizas jacket or dress on top of your trousers and you're ready for a wedding or the races; add a pieces of colour co-ordinated jewellery and it can take you to dinner. Balance this with the right shoe creating the right silhouette and, hey ho, you’re ten years younger. Zen Wardrobe is all about making your wardrobe work for you."

Jules B was first launched by Rhona and husband Julian in Kendal 17 years ago now, but almost two decades later, they have lost none of their drive. Former winners of the prestigious Drapers award for Best Independent Fashion Retailer in Britain, they now employ more than 100 people and have a burgeoning internet business which has been crucial in boosting brand awareness further afield. But the North is where their hearts are and they remain passionate about providing the best in fashion to the women of the region.

"With both Zen and Jules B, we remain focused on bringing the most exciting and innovative brands to our customers," says Rhona. "Of course, growth is important to us, but our priority is in maintaining our high standards of curation and offering unrivalled style to our customers."

  • Zen Wardrobe, Yarm and Jesmond. Open Mon-Sat, 9.30-5.30pm