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About the Company/Outfits                                                                                                            

  • Tell me about Dance Sport International Limited (DSI) and what you specialise in?

Dance Sport International Limited (DSI London) was created in the early 1980s when my business partner Malcom Hearn launched a dance school behind Peggy Spencer’s (MBE) shop. Records and books were sold during the day and as evening approached, the store was transformed to a dance class. At the end of each session, the room was converted back to a store for the following day.

At the time, we started video recording our dance competitions as well as providing dance lectures. This led to the launch of the media aspect of our business. Shortly after, we also branched out to create our shoe range.

Having a competitive dance background myself and working as a Managing Director at Choice London, I made a decision to join DSI London in 2001. Upon my appointment, I brought my fashion and retail expertise to DSI London and this lead to the creation of our fashion collection which complemented other aspect of our business.

Fortunately, our fashion side of the business has thrived since we started.

  • What would you say have been the key ingredients of sustenance over 33 years?

The key ingredients to 33 years of success are passion, resources and energy. Without these components a business would find it difficult to succeed and progress.  Having the right team, with the right attitude and outlook makes the difference.

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  • I understand one of DSI’s most successful ventures to date has been the introduction of its Juvenile & Junior range for Boy’s & Girl’s. Tell me more about that and how it came about?

When the idea of the Juvenile & Junior range for Boy’s & Girl’s was proposed, I initially underestimated the amount of success it would amass. After further thought, I realised this aspect of the business would become successful by (i) making dance non-elitist and providing accessibility through a genuine need to help those who are interested in the art of dance. As a business, we decided to keep the outfit prices relatively affordable (between £100-£150), as we realised that if prices remained reasonable, it would encourage more to dance.

Furthermore from a business perspective, DSI London decided to launch the Juvenile & Junior range for Boy’s & Girl’s because it was a good idea for market branding. As a business, we thought if we introduced this range to kids from an early age, this would be a trusted brand which the kids could use throughout their dance course and also when they grow older; thus gaining familiarity with the brand.

At DSI we believe dance is advantageous from a societal perspective. We believe dance has a positive influence on the younger generation as (i) a form of exercise which combats weight issues (ii) it is age independent and anyone can start dancing as early as the age of 2 (iii) it provides a disciplined mind-set.

  • Dr Schwanzer I am aware you have an in depth knowledge and a wealth of experience on the fashion side of your industry. How has this been implemented within DSI?

I have a very good team of “fashion gurus” who I work with. We work with Vicky Gill and  my team includes Theresa Hewlitt and Holly Bullar and as a whole, my team are very committed and drive the company forward. The key to a successful team is being open minded enough to find the right individuals and providing them with the right opportunities to express themselves and their creativity.

The skill I bring to the team is my specialism in creating fabrics and colours used for our collection. I am very passionate about creating fabrics that are not yet on the market and 97% of the fabrics produced for our collection are custom made.

At DSI, we are into producing performance wear, whereby the fabric we use is a cross between swim wear and haute couture. The most expensive garments are still based on one meter of lycra to give the performer  a secure feeling ensuring a “safe fit”. All around and specifically the embellishments and rhinestones are haute couture.

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  • I can see the amount of detail that goes into each outfit. On average, how long does it take to create each outfit?

Our production cycle is as follows:

  • We create a design;
  • pass to the pattern maker;
  • The style is cut out from the fabric;
  •  Sewn;
  • Sent to the dancers for fitting.
  • Passed to the decoration department for final embellishement

The time it takes to create each outfit varies. On average, a Latin dance dress would take around 30 hour to produce, whilst a ballroom outfit could take 40 hours; although these are estimates and could be considerably less or more, depending on how much detail would be required to go into each outfit.

The whole process of production from start to end could take 2 weeks to complete. Whilst creating outfits for TV shows, in some instances we receive requests to create an outfit within 3 days which is a very tight deadline we have to meet.

The audience, appreciate the beauty of each outfits and we commend DSI for providing such excellent work on a weekly timeframe.

  • What happens to these outfits after they are worn?

The post production cycle of each outfit is very exciting and varied. In an ideal world, we would hope someone sees our outfit and buys it.

As we produce outfits for shows across Europe (i.e Norway, Sweden, Costa Rica, France, Austria) asides the UK’s strictly come dancing show, our outfits get visibility and could end up being purchased in any of these countries

There is also a P & O Strictly Come Dancing theme cruise, whereby our customers can rent our outfits for the weekend. This usually costs between £300-£400.

http://www.pocruises.com/find-and-book/strictly-come-dancing/

From my experience, I have noticed that most outfits find an end destination with a professional dancer.

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Media/Public coverage

  • How did DSI become the main supplier of outfits for the BBC one show “Strictly Come Dancing”? 

Whilst dancing, I had a chance to compete against others, creating the opportunity to meet Camilla Sacre-Dallerup and other talented dancers, therefore opening up the medium to work with the BBC.

I truly believe that to want something and to have the passion for it are good, however what differentiates and creates success is the question “are you prepared to pay the price?”.

A strong team is imperative alongside the determination of the team to make things happen. To achieve this, a business would require extra ordinary individuals to propel the success of the business.

When the opportunity arose for DSI to supply outfits for Strictly Come Dancing, we made an extra ordinary commitment to ensure we push ourselves to exceed expectation for each show. In achieving this, I have managed relationships with my team as well as Vicky Gill, an extra ordinary talent who I have worked with for 21 years and exudes immense passion and energy.

  • I am aware Strictly Come Dancing is also a big show in the US. Do you supply outfits on both shows?

DSI do not currently supply outfits to the US, as we have numerous shows we supply to across Europe. I truly believe in the principle never promise what you cannot fulfil and for this reason, as we have a lot DSI is currently covering across Europe, we do not have the US in the pipeline for now.

  • I am sure you might have received a few calls from the fashion industry or celebrities requesting outfits for red carpet events. I am also aware these outfits cannot be worn to such events, due to the fabric used. Are red carpet events an area DSI would consider branching out to in future?

At DSI we receive quite a demand for our outfits, especially for red carpet charity events. For example, at the Dance Charity UK event, we provide some outfits free of charge, which are then auctioned. We also offer the opportunity for those who win the auction to visit our showroom and have a tour of how the production process works.

The Future

  • What does the future hold for DSI? What great things do you expect the market to look out for?

I anticipate that DSI would remain a solid fashion house. There seems to be a lot of new ventures coming up. For example, at the moment, we are supplying quite a lot of outfits to West end shows and other celebrities.

We would continue to provide a great quality service and anticipate being involved in the outfit production of more dance shows across Europe.

I honestly believe in as much as the catwalks and big fashion houses influence our production, there is a reverse effect as designers who are viewers of the Strictly Come Dancing show, are influenced by the outfits from the show. I would like to see more of our outfits inspire collections.

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