At last the Sale season is over and we can return to normality, at least for a week or so. Then it's back into full-scale production for autumn 07 and sampling for spring 08. I've already got some trade shows on the phone demanding returned order forms and deposits.
It seems to me that the way the fashion industry works is so flawed and so lumpy that it is difficult to ever stop and think about what would be best for those in the industry - the retailers, designers, suppliers and workers. It's a bit like that old joke about the couple stopping a farmer to ask for directions. He thinks about things for a while and then tells them: "Well, if I were you, I wouldn't start from here."
So what would I do if I could wave a magic wand and change things? Well, I've banged on before about how ridiculous the seasons are. Delivering winter clothes in mid-July and summer clothes in December makes no sense. I realise that creating more collections and having staged delivery can make a difference, and this is something we are addressing. But honestly, it's like stocking up on lettuces in winter and steak pies in summer. It also means that the autumn selling season is getting increasingly shorter and it is harder than ever for retailers to sell profitably at full margins.
What else would I do? Well, I'd cut down the number of trade shows. There are far too many. Our show in Paris - Vendome - has gone from one to three locations in two seasons. Add in all the other shows and locations and it's no wonder buyers are confused and exhausted. I would also cut the shows down from four to three days. This would give designers and buyers more time between cities and would enable them to use their time better.
And what about London? It seems to me from all the positive press this season that a man who is tired of London Fashion Week is tired of life. But I don't think it is that simple. First, just because Marc Jacobs does a show doesn't mean that UK fashion is alive and well. It simply means that a US fashion designer has decided to do a show because he is opening a shop in London. The question is whether he will be here next season and the season after that.
This focus on bringing in one big foreign designer a season is actually detrimental because it takes away the true focus, which should be on emerging British designers.
More importantly, people should remember that the catwalk is not the only way. Many designers focus on selling through showrooms and trade shows. Most designers I spoke to felt that LFW was worse for sales this year and that they had done better through showrooms. And just because attendance is up it doesn't mean those people are buyers or that they are buying.
I also felt that the standard of some of the exhibitors this season was far too low, and this is becoming a problem in other cities as well.
And there you go. I've run out of space already, and I haven't even had a chance to talk about banks, private equity, the high street stealing designs, shoplifting, shoddy service or any of my many other bugbears. I guess I'll just have to carry on my grumpy middle-aged man routine next time.
- Simon Beales is managing director of Brighton independent designer womenswear store Simultane and wholesale label Sarah Arnett.