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Drapers Debate: Was London Fashion Week right to play safe?

This year’s London Fashion Week has seen designers evolve concepts rather than recreate them. Drapers asks whether they were right to play it safe?

Victoria Gallagher

YES - Victoria Gallagher, news reporter

This season’s London Fashion Week has provided buyers with commercial collections that they can buy into, safe in the knowledge that consumers will be happy to splash the cash. Surely this is the name of the game – if designers serve up collections that can sell, it is a win-win situation for designers, buyers and retailers.

The public love things they recognise and often consumers can be very scared of change, particularly when the economy is so uncertain. Consumers are unlikely to buy into trends they don’t think will be here to stay, and are looking for investment pieces rather than whimsical buys.

Also in keeping similar aspects to collections and just tweaking them slightly it creates a niche for certain designers at LFW. People love Mary Katrantzou for her prints and no one would want her to change that just because she has done prints before.

If you know a recipe works why would you want to change it and risk it going wrong? In the current climate, designers cannot afford to create a collection that doesn’t cater to the audiences’ appetite and if a certain trend has their shoppers hungry for more, then that is what they should be serving up.


NO - Catherine Neilan, news editor

In all walks of life, London is seen as the cutting edge place to be and fashion is the apex of that philosophy. London Fashion Week has built its reputation as the platform to showcase brave new designs, pushing forward and offering revolutions in originality where other fashion weeks demonstrate at best evolutions.

But what has happened this year? Where is the great, daring new look? The designs we are seeing are just iterations of the same look that not only has graced the catwalks, but more importantly, the high streets, for many months.

What the retailers need now more than anything is inspiration – something new to get the shoppers in and the tills singing. If the collections on show this week are any guide, we’ll be seeing more of the same on the high street that we’ve had in the last year. More prints, more bright block colours, more sports luxe wear on the models means there is no need for a radical wardrobe update.  

But it’s not simply about translating it onto wearable styles - although the bottom line has, necessarily, the final word on whether designers made the right call with this risk-averse season. The excitement when the industry stumbles across a new look or a new designer acts as a virtuous circle, encouraging and inspiring others to create daring new designs.  Let’s hope those new looks are being readied for February.

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