Some of the UK’s leading fashion agents tell us their expectations for the rest of 2015, from the trends they’re backing to the changing buying habits of independent retailers.
Sales director of contemporary agency
Zone Two UK
Brands include Amsterdams Blauw, Descente Dual-ism Project, Maison Scotch, Scotch & Soda, Scotch R’Belle, Scotch Shrunk
In general the market seems to be stabilising after some turbulent years for retail. The forward orders commitment and conversations had over the past few weeks at trade shows indicate an appetite from stockists to increase their brand offer in 2015. No longer can retailers rely on established brands where distribution, retail and online sales are saturated.
With online shopping at many retailers now a streamlined, engaging and even personalised experience, in-store retail has fallen behind. In 2015, we are expecting clients to overhaul the in-store experience - offering a service level, engagement and knowledge of shoppers that’s in line with digital flagships and mobile. While market share is limited and economic factors have a direct impact, there will be positive but small growth in 2015.
Menswear will offer denim trends as a core centrepiece. Textures, geometric prints and technical sportswear will cross over to tailoring as part of the luxe sport theme. After many years of offering heritage outdoor brands there seems to be a strong sailing theme entering the market, which is fresh and offers a point of difference. In addition, iconic and recognisable branding will feature heavily across all categories.
Womenswear in 2015 is all about a little bit of shake; models are shimmering down the catwalks with heavily fringed outfits. Towards the end of the year we will see a twist on a bohemian-inspired trend - expect a hint of glitz and glam with gold and silver embroidery for an evening boho feel.
Owner of womenswear agency Clamor
Brands include Eva Tralala, Lien & Giel, Simclan
So autumn 15 has arrived. In my showroom I have some wonderful, vibrant colours to offer my customers, which always lift the spirits. Skirts are definitely making a comeback.
Such was the demand at the August spring 15 edition of Pure that I have now taken a London showroom for this coming sales period, as well as being in Manchester. I will be attending Pure
London, Moda in Birmingham and, for the first time, Indx in Shirley, Solihull.
The drop in fuel prices will encourage women to spend on themselves. My wholesale prices have also benefitted from the euro suffering. I’m feeling very positive about the coming retail and wholesale season, despite snow being on the ground as the first spring product is delivered.
Owner of womenswear agency M&L Harris
Brands include Autumn Cashmere, Blauer, Current/Elliott, D’Exterior, Equipment, Joie, Manoush, MW Matthew Williamson, Paul & Joe, Paule Ka, See by Chloé, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, Tara Jarmon
The autumn 14 season was difficult. The unseasonably warm weather forced department stores to discount in early November, making it hard for independents to compete. We think it will be a tough season ahead for autumn 15. Clients will be cautious with their budgets and focus on new and innovative merchandise to attract business.
The prevailing retail trend is for online businesses to increase their merchandise mix to differentiate themselves in the highly competitive market. As the UK high street is going from strength to strength, independents will need to entice customers with new, unique collections. As there is now more supply than demand, our agency is constantly looking for fresh, exciting, on-trend collections. For autumn 15 we have taken on Paul & Joe, Courrèges and Parosh among others, and are working on collaborations with other showrooms across Europe, such as Brama and InStyle.
Managing director of contemporary agency
Brands include Oscar Jacobson, Rosebud
This will be a changing yet consistent year. Quality and subtlety have to be key to the [independent’s] offer with plenty of fantastic product to add interest to core brand product. For independents to thrive they have to show product that is sufficiently strong in design and quality to create a difference from the increasingly impressive offer from vertical retailers, who are competing at all sectors.
The Scandinavian design aesthetic is still very strong and I’m confident that brands such as Oscar Jacobson (one of Stockholm’s best-selling menswear brands) will continue to grow in the UK.
Director of young fashion agency
Brands include AKA, Bellfield, Friend or Faux, Jovonna, Ichi, Mi-Pac, Native Youth, Nicce, Rains, Sneaky Brand, Wåven
I’m forever the optimist that with the recent downsizing and disappearance of a couple of major high street branded chains, the independents, who for too long have been affected by competition from the aforementioned chain stores’ aggressive business practices coupled with the growth of the internet giants, may now have a much-needed lease of life as they again find themselves the first choice for local shoppers. I genuinely hope my prediction for 2015 becomes a reality for the original purveyors of branded fashion in our exciting and ever-evolving industry.
Richard Wheelhouse & Iain Leighton
UK agents for German trouser brand Meyer
The year has got off to a flying start with extremely positive Florence [Pitti Uomo] and Berlin trade shows [Panorama], both having strong visitor numbers and optimistic attitudes towards 2015. Early orders are particularly encouraging. Going forward, we feel the trend is moving towards a better-quality garment. The Meyer and [the more contemporary] MMX ranges reflect this, with luxury fabrics and trousers with stunning trims and details. A strong stock support system is essential to the modern retailer to maximise customer sales, and both Meyer and MMX have expanded their stock service offer again, after another record sales season. They now include modern fits and the latest five-pocket styles. Early indications for 2015 are very promising.
Jane Wilson & Denise Tavernier
Managing director & commercial director of contemporary agency Chiltern Street Studio
Brands include All Things Fabulous, Antik Batik, Bellerose, Hod, James Jeans, Laurence Doligé, Leon & Harper, Mes Demoiselles, Nice Things, Nobody, Odd Molly, Rabens Saloner, Rose & Rose
We are feeling very positive about trade in 2015. Our retailers for the most part had a great spring 14 and have bought accordingly for spring 15. They have adjusted their buying patterns to reflect the weather, with more budget apportioned to spring than previously and our brands are able to deliver autumn product earlier to optimise full- price sales. Most of our retailers held their nerve and didn’t indulge in over-enthusiastic discounting, which was reflected in positive margins. Having managed their stock well they are in a good position for the year ahead. We are introducing seven new brands - Nice Things, Lennon Courtney, Non Sense, All Things Fabulous, Kirei and short-order labels Hod & Hope [a T-shirt line by Hod] and Straw Bag.
Owner of premium menswear agency
Michael Spriggs Agencies
Brands include Benvenuto, Brühl, Fynch-Hatton, Miguel Bellido, Soxks
There is a definite feel for retailers looking for products with a point of difference that offer good value and high quality. Bridge brands, like our own Fynch-Hatton, have made inroads because they offer all of those things and are commercial.
We feel there will also be a resurgence in smart, clean looks, as the scruffy look declines. Certainly, we are benefitting from this within our Benvenuto collection, with soft, tailored jersey jackets that can be worn with smart casual trousers or clean smart denim.
So far, this season we have also had a great response to our down parka from Fynch-Hatton, and it seems Pitti Uomo was promoting this look too. Brühl has new ideas also, and is promoting some new fashion styles that we have had a good start with.
Like all agents, we have lost some of our old customers over recent years, but have more than made up the business with new accounts from retailers who used to buy purely ‘labels’, but now set more store by quality, value, exclusivity and the margin they can achieve. We think and hope this trend will
In suits, so many retailers have in recent years reduced their stock holding that I feel some may be caught out when the upturn comes, with the new softer styles and slim silhouettes in demand. We are finding that good suit retailers are spread further afield, but have become centres of excellence and are acting as magnets for retailers who have stuck with the category through tough times.
Director of contemporary agency Palladio
Brands include Bobbl, Chaser, De’Hart, DL 1961, Hartford, John & Pearl, Ivories, Ottod’Ame, Marie Sixtine, Rails, Rino & Pelle, Twin-Set, Villagallo
Despite the difficult season we are quietly optimistic for the coming sales campaign so expect another improvement on last year in our contemporary market.
The key retail trends will be localisation and an enhancement of the shopping experience, whether this is in store or online. There will be an increase in personalisation and enriching the shopping experience, whether that be simply monogramming items to personalise them, carrying more limited but more special items or running marketing promotions specific to a customer.
As Selfridges correctly marks the importance of the prevalence of fashion-conscious older shoppers, there is at the same time the important group of Generation Y shoppers that grew up in the internet age who are now starting to make their presence felt. They expect much more immediate and satisfying results from their shopping experience.
Director of womenswear agency Innocenza
Brands include Gestuz, Ilse Jacobsen Hornbaek, Munthe, Norr 11
In the contemporary/premium womenswear sector we operate in, we will continue to see more buyers looking for exclusive, standout product, and brands with strong marketing assets that will help them cement their unique point of difference in a still very tough market. In response to this we are excited to add Munthe to our portfolio, which ticks all those boxes. From our early Gestuz autumn 15 appointments, we have seen the trend ‘hero’ pieces and unique leather designs being selected, which will later feature in VIP dressing as we have seen recently with Olivia Palermo and Taylor Swift. This had a major impact on sell-through.
We also operate in the lifestyle market with Ilse Jacobsen Hornbaek, who is becoming a strong player here. Where she offers a complete lifestyle concept including rainwear, ready-to-wear and beauty, we see buyers wanting to explore all categories, as it gives them a special and new story to tell. For the brand it opens up opportunities to explore concept shop-in-shop areas for greater visibility in our partners’ stores.”
Mainstream fashion agent
Brands include Amanda Christensen, John White Shoes, Jupiter
I believe it will be another tough selling season for autumn 15. The mild weather we had last autumn didn’t help heavy knitwear and outerwear sales. However, overall Christmas trading was very good.
Everyone is having to work harder each season to keep their market share and there is a lot of great product being produced and strong competition in every sector. I also think having a good never-out-of-stock programme for repeats is becoming increasingly important as forward-buying budgets are getting squeezed. Although business remains tough, there is still a lot of positivity out there. My one fashion prediction is the return of men wearing ties and accessories.
Director of MDA International, which specialises in European brands
Brands include Anverdie, La Bottega di Brunella, Lauren Vidal, Mame B, Myrine Antwerp
Here at MDA we are feeling positive about the year ahead. Without a doubt times have been challenging, but the need for clothes with a point of difference has never been so important. The high street, with its constant discounting and competitive prices, means we as agents have had to adapt and think in an alternative way. Small independent labels, produced in their own countries, offering beautiful natural fabrics and colours with exceptional quality, are key to us.
Independents that can offer something different combined with an engaging experience will thrive.
Brands include Christina Félix
This year will be about cautious optimism, from both fashion buyers and the end consumer. Their concerns are mostly around the talking-up of the economy that we are seeing. The economic growth is still tenuous, so that is impacting the consumer’s willingness to spend, and therefore how much the buyer will commit to. Buyers are being just as exacting as they have been throughout the past few years. Independents will continue to need to broaden the ranges they have, and also introduce new ranges, to ensure their product offer is fresh.
I represent Portuguese women’s coat brand Christina Félix. It has done really well in Ireland, where it launched for autumn 13 and has since opened 70 accounts. We will be showing at the autumn 15 edition of Pure London and I expect it to do well in the UK.