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Occasion and formal wear Indicator, May 10 2014

What’s selling now in the world of occasion and formal wear?


  • Pennita Wilshire Owner, Pennita in Helmsley, North Yorkshire

“Business has been spiky this year. I’ve been a retailer for 25 years now and as Easter has fallen late this year, that always means a slow start to the season. Nevertheless, dresses from Frank Lyman and Joseph Ribkoff (both between £150 and £250) and John Charles (£400 to £700) are all selling strongly. We like to bring colour into the store, and this season neon yellow and pinks have been popular.”

  • Anna Taylor Managing director, Brodie Countryfare in Morayshire, Scotland

“It’s business as usual at the moment. We have a steady footfall but are up from last year overall. John Charles and Linea Raffaelli are our bestsellers, with dresses and jackets priced at £800 for a two-piece. Silver and grey are our most popular colours. When it comes to our buy, we look for a 2.5 mark-up on brands.”

  • Marilyn Evans Proprietor, Design Wardrobe in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire

“Gerry Weber Taifun and Simclan separates have been selling well. People are looking for something adaptable, little dresses and day dresses for example. Recently we had the Game of Thrones film crew in town so I had a Sale that weekend, and a new cafe that has been open for about 18 months has steadily brought business into the area.”

“Our bestsellers are Ispirato (£400 to £700), Condici (£400 to £1,000) and Zeila (from around £200 to £400). We’ve also recently brought in Frank Lyman dresses, which are glamorous, versatile and colourful, ranging from £150 to £250.”

  • Sawsan Gamgoum Owner, Flair in Towcester, Northamptonshire
  • Maggie Frost Cordelia in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

“Our best-selling brands are Luis Civit and Presen. For these brands, the average price of a popular two-piece is £600. These have been in stock since January and customers seem to enjoy coming into the store to try on garments but then go back and buy them online elsewhere, which has affected business unfortunately.”

  • Fiona Byrne Manager, Carmel’s Fashion in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland

Marc Cain

Marc Cain

“We always look for colour when we are buying in new brands. Last year we overbought so are doing much better this year on average. Luisa Cerano (£100 to £300), Marc Cain (£150 to £500) and the Gerry Weber Taifun collections (£50 to £200) are all doing well. We are selling lots of dresses and jackets in bright colours because of the weather.”

  • Stephanie Wainwright Owner, Aristocrats of Chester

“We focus on bridalwear, and Maggie Sottero is the number one seller at the moment. The fitted lace dress style is selling really well. The price for this style ranges from £850 for a lighter chiffon to £1,500 for full lace. We are quite busy for this time of year. The council has been eager to get shops up and running and a new restaurant has opened opposite, which has brought people into the area.”


  • Derek McCormack Manager and buyer, Majors in Oswestry, Shropshire

“Ted Baker is the best-selling brand right now, with the stylish Tight Lines Jacket at £325 selling strongly. We like to offer our customers a wide range of high-quality formalwear so we only focus on established brands. Our customers have loved greens and tweeds lately. Mark-up is important - we look for 2.7.”

“Boss Black and Magee are our two top-selling brands in formalwear. With Magee suits at around £350 and Boss Black at around £500, mark-up is important to us and we look for brands at 2.7. We’re slightly up on last year’s trade, by 8%. Lancaster Castle is opening again soon, so we expect lots of visitors and tourists.”

  • Nigel Broadbent Owner, Peter Charles in Lancaster
  • Richard Town Owner, Raymond Town in Shipley, West Yorkshire

“Trade is down on last year because of the way Easter fell. However, Without Prejudice and Benvenuto are the top sellers. Benvenuto’s service suits in the mix-and-match range sell the best, and these range from under £100 for trousers and between £100 and £250 for a jacket. For us, the average customer spend is £112 and we try to introduce a couple of new brands a year.”

  • Noleen Howard Manager, Ken Young International Fashions in Coleraine, Northern Ireland

Boss Black

Boss Black

“Boss Black and Strellson are bestsellers, with light blue and grey our current popular colours, and our average customer spend is around £300. We expanded on Ralph Lauren recently because the shirts, priced between £50 and £150, have been selling brilliantly. We will be facing a drop in customers during the Giro d’Italia cycling race and the North West 200 motorcycle race in May though, as the roads get closed for the occasion.”

  • Paul Bone Managing director, Bone & Carter in Lewes, East Sussex

“We’ve been performing very well since our refit six weeks ago. Customers are enjoying the fresh look and we are up by 35% from last year on trade. Gant, Profuomo and Hackett are our best-selling brands. The white Oxford shirt from Hackett at £85 is particularly popular.”

  • Malcolm Evans Manager, Signature in Aberdeen

“We had a great Easter weekend. Red and white colours were in demand last week as we visually merchandised our windows for the football. Boss Black is our most popular brand, along with Sand and Circle of Gentlemen. Dress shirts from Circle of Gentlemen at £130 are selling strongly. Business is doing well and we are up 11% on last year.”

  • Gary Tillott Manager, Goddards in King’s Lynn, Norfolk

“It’s wedding season, so mid-grey is in demand right now for our suits. Our customers are mainly buying formalwear for special occasions, fewer customers are shopping for business and work clothes. We introduce one new brand a season and give them a fair crack of three seasons before making up our mind. Ted Baker, BMB and Magee are the top sellers, and our most popular suit is the Scott by The Label one at £299.”

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