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Autumn 14: Agents focus

Drapers catches up with leading fashion agents to get the lowdown on autumn 14.

Zone Two, London

Chris Akrimi

Chris Akrimi

Chris Akrimi, sales director

  • Top brands Scotch & Soda, Maison Scotch, Amsterdams Blauw, Samsøe & Samsøe, Descente, Bill + Mar.
  • New brands Atelier Scotch, the seventh sub-brand from Scotch & Soda, which focuses on a contemporary tailoring-inspired collection.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

2013 was difficult for many of our partners but spring 14 has had a more positive start in store. Although cautious, autumn 14 orders are up and there has been no resistance to increased budgets. Buyers are more buoyant. Contingency budgets have been released, which means there is an appetite for new product.

What brands have sold best?

Scotch & Soda has had a great response. Balancing great quality to price ratio, it serves as a key brand for many retailers. In addition, Descente’s focused outerwear-driven collection has secured a key share of the technical fashion market, which is having a resurgence.

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

With menswear shifting to more luxury and tailoring, Pitti Uomo has more relevance than ever. On a more casual front, Jacket Required hit the mark and is proving a key show for UK-centric buyers.

What do you like most about your job?

All aspects of brand building: sales, PR, marketing and client support and working with a variety of market segments and categories.

Red Alert, Manchester

Dan Griffiths

Dan Griffiths

Dan Griffiths, director

  • Top brands Luke, Franklin & Marshall, Money, Supremebeing, Neon Rose, Motel. 
  • New brands This season we’ve taken on Love - a fantastic in-season womenswear label that is getting a great reaction.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

Retailers are even more focused on their core brands. They know what they need for the forthcoming season. Buyers seem upbeat, it’s good to see smiles on their faces again.

What brands have sold best?

Luke had the best sell-through for autumn 13. For autumn 14, we are 30% up on last year.  Our fastest-growing brand with independents is Money. The best growth in multiples is with Franklin & Marshall. Short-order labels Neon Rose and Motel have been the bestsellers in womenswear for spring 14.

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

Pitti Uomo was the show for menswear, because it is a good indicator as to where the market is going. Pure London was a success for our fast-fashion brands - on womenswear it’s all about in-season buying.

Can you tell us something surprising we might not know about your team?

We had our first intra-company marriage last year between fast fashion sales manager Francesca Millea (née Stamp) and sales agent Thomas Millea. Also, our longest-serving employee Jordan Eckersley is a helicopter pilot.

Northern Lights, Manchester

Tom Summerfield

Tom Summerfield

Tom Summerfield, director

  • Top brands Original Penguin, Marshall Artist, Anerkjendt, Farah Vintage, Humör, Armor Lux.
  • New brands We’ve added YO to our portfolio this season. It’s being seeded in some nice stores.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

Orders have been stronger, but this is more to do with the brands we’re carrying and the stage of their growth phase. This season people have been coming to the showroom with cautious optimism, but a slow January and February has dampened the mood.

What brands have sold best?

We’ve sold a lot of jackets and coats this season because I think customers, and in turn buyers, have realised there is better value in well-priced, practical outerwear.

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

Jacket Required was very good with Marshall Artist, Armor Lux and Anerkjendt. Being a Manchester agency it’s always a good chance to catch up with our southern clients.

If you could represent one brand past or present, which would it be?

We feel as if we have a good brand mix but if I had to pick one, Chester Perry [the first clothing label designed by Stone Island founder Massimo Osti] circa 1975.

Chiltern Street Studio, London

Denise Tavernier

Denise Tavernier

Denise Tavernier, sales director

  • Top brands Laurence Doligé, Bloodless Fur, Ida, James Jeans, Odd Molly, Bellerose, Rose & Rose, Rabens Saloner, Penelope Chilvers.
  • New brands Diega, &Daughter, Bonne Maison, Emma Go.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

Madly busy with orders coming in similar or slightly up on the last autumn season. Buyers are much more positive and spring 14 sales have started off really well. We are getting lots of reorders.

What brands have sold best?

&Daughter has a different point of view to other knitwear brands, with a great story and heritage. Although we’ve only had the Laurence Doligé range for 10 days, we opened a substantial number of doors with it. The collection is beautiful, combining commerciality with strong and interesting design.

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

We don’t take our brands to trade shows in the UK, because we find that all of the customers come into the showroom.

Which of your brands do you wear the most?

Laurence Doligé, Rabens Saloner and Bellerose.

Index London

Kevin Stone

Kevin Stone

Kevin Stone, co-founder

  • Top brands Esemplare, Baracuta, Golden Fleece by Spiewak, Griffin, Notch London, Kuro Denim, Salvatore Piccolo, Real Stars Are Rare by Paul Weller, Wearfore.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

It’s been great. We’ve had some fantastic stores through the showroom and buyers love the brand line-up, so this has led to some very positive results. This bodes well for spring 15. Buyers have, all in all, been positive.

What brands have sold best?

One trend that was very clear was the appetite for outerwear among the buyers, from our brands Spiewak, Baracuta and Esemplare.

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

We attended Pitti Uomo, Bread & Butter, Seek and Tranoï Homme in Paris. Attending trade shows is a fashion blood transfusion; it kicks off the season and is essential for networking and meeting with international colleagues.

Can you tell us something surprising about the Index team?

Two out of the three of us have represented our country at sport.

FOS Fashion Marketing, London

Chris Foster-Orr

Chris Foster-Orr

Chris Foster-Orr, managing director

  • Top brands Repeat, Mac, Apanage, Tramontana.
  • New brands  Dtlm, the sister brand to Repeat.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

Satisfactory overall, with some brands better than others against last year. It was a real mixed bag. Some [retailers] are doing extremely well and are confident about their future and placing great orders.  Others were less confident and have reined in their budgets somewhat. Ireland was more downbeat this season with the country’s slow economic recovery seemingly dragging down the retailers’ mood. Indeed, some Irish retailers were in despair. The days of the Celtic Tiger seem but a dream.

What brands have sold best?

Repeat and its more directional, trend-led sister brand Dtlm were the stars of the season with a year-on-year growth far and away beyond any realistic expectation. Mac grew yet again as it has done for the 14 years we’ve had it. Apanage, our biggest turnover brand, also made a healthy increase with, interestingly, more growth on the separates collection than on the dress collection. I feel a trend shift here. 

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

Without a doubt Panorama in Berlin was key for us. We had some very important leads and turned these into live accounts.

If you could represent any brand past or present, which would it be? 

I used to be in retail myself many years ago (I miss it by the way) and one brand that I used to absolutely love was Sara Sturgeon [a British designer from the late 1980s]. It used to sell like crazy. If it was around today I would kill to represent it. If you’re reading this Sara, give me a call…

Palladio, London

Ian Campbell-Smith

Ian Campbell-Smith

Ian Campbell-Smith, director

  • Top brands Vilagallo, Marie Sixtine, DL1961, Rails, Rino & Pelle, Ottod’Ame, Twin-Set, Avoca Anthology.
  • New brand Rails.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

As in recent seasons we’ve seen business increase steadily. Buyers are confident again, but perceived value is paramount.

What brands have sold best?

Collections that offer a point of difference or brands that focus on a specific category.

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

Having done three UK shows - Pure London, Scoop and Moda - Scoop continues to be our most successful show.

What do you like most about being an agent?

Working with customers, some of whom we’ve worked with for 25 years. And at the same time being part of a brand’s success.

MDA International, Hadlow Down, East Sussex

Hannah Jordan

Hannah Jordan

Hannah Jordan, sales director

  • Top brands Lauren Vidal, Angels Never Die, Myrine, Indi, Cold.
  • New brands We’ve been overwhelmed by the reaction to our new brand from Italy, Mama B.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

We’ve found that, on the whole, our customers have been upbeat and positive.

They are buying with confidence into collections with proven sell-throughs. Our customers are all looking for colour in the winter collections. Gone are the days where customers want a sea of black and grey in their shops. They are looking for soft, easy-to-wear yet uplifting colours such as baby blues, soft taupes and creams. Prints and interesting textures are an important focus as well.

What brands have sold best?

All of our collections have a strong and loyal following, which has been apparent again this season.

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

This year our focus was on our pop-up showrooms based in central London and Manchester.

What do you like most about being an agent?

It’s an incredibly diverse job. What we love most is being with our customers and working through the collections.
We also love searching and finding new and exciting collections that we can introduce our customers to.

Sewn Agency, London

Lis Eriksson

Lis Eriksson

Lis Eriksson, brand manager

  • Top brands Hide, Libertine-Libertine, Rascals, TRIWA.
  • New brands Hestra gloves, Garment Project footwear, TTYA womenswear and This is Welcome.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

Our order books will be up on autumn 13. Where sell-through has been strong, buyers have not been scared to up orders, although not excessively. Buyers are positive; it’s an autumn season, which is always easier in the UK.

What brands have sold best?

Libertine-Libertine, both men’s and women’s, has been strong. We’ve had a great response to Hestra. After collaborating with Norse Projects for years it is expanding in the UK, which is exciting.

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

We always do well at Capsule in Paris for men’s and women’s, but I feel happy about Jacket Required.  

If you could represent one brand past or present, which would it be?

I love Adidas. As far as sportswear brands go for women, it does the best job. 

Concrete Studio, London

Russell Pickett

Russell Pickett

Russell Pickett, commercial director and partner

  • Top brands Natural Selection, SNCL, Common People, Stutterheim, Côte&Ciel.
  • New brands The White Briefs.

How has this selling season been?

Buyers are more keen to find brands and products that offer something different to the norm and this is positive to see from UK indies in particular, who I feel have been a bit safe for too long. I think there is greater economic confidence, so the mood is very positive in menswear and I’m not the first to say that.

How have autumn 14 sales been?

If I had to choose two that are really hot right now, it would have to be Stutterheim, for its story, quality and sophisticated simplicity, and Côte&Ciel for its unique design language, fabrication and creative direction.

What trade shows were most worthwhile?

Although you wouldn’t call it a trade show, I’d have to say that London Collections: Men was extremely good for our business on all fronts, changing perceptions, press and marketing opportunities and, of course, a very early window for the buyers to see the most important thing - the product. As a showroom we are trying to rely less on trade shows, because the collective distribution strategy across our brand portfolio benefits much more from a showroom environment.

If you could represent one brand past or present, which would it be?

I will always have the utmost respect for Stüssy, a truly iconic brand that broke streetwear as we know it today and is still going strong after 30 years. But, purely on a personal level, I would love to get my hands on the archive of Destroy by John Richmond. The early stuff from when it was born in 1987 to the mid-1990s, not the rebirth in the mid-2000s.


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