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Doing the legwork will pay dividends

Autumn 07 trends exhibited at the womenswear shows in Paris and Dusseldorf last weekend were exciting and commercial - which all points to the potential for a really positive season. There are some fantastic offerings out there, with perhaps the only drawback being that womenswear retailers will have to be strategic in their buying and merchandising to ensure that they can introduce enough colour into their offer.

One retailer told me that the key to getting the season right was providing enough co lour interest in tops successfully to merchandise the key trends in-store.

Not quite so positive was the dwindling number of UK and Irish retailers out and about to make the most of the shows' buying opportunities. Brands exhibiting at CPD in Dusseldorf and Pret a Porter and Who's Next in Paris all anecdotally reported a downturn in visitor numbers from these shores. This is not good news, because a confident travelling fashion retail community is likely to be a healthy retail community.

Retailers who decided not to make the trip, particularly to Paris - which can easily be done as a day trip by many - missed out on the opportunity to discover some fresh and interesting brands. Many are set up to export to the UK and Republic of Ireland markets and could seriously sex up a retailer's offer.

Designers have woken up at last to the need to produce more commercial looks, and have offered them in spades.

There is a fantastic array of wearable dresses, tunics and tops out there, so it seems a shame, that the retail community in the UK and RoI seems to have chosen this time to go into hibernation.

Well, it's time to wake up and make the most of the rest of the show and buying season. It's not too late to get out there. Take inspiration from our show reports on pages 28 and 43, and get on the road.

Why not start by visiting Pure this weekend, and Moda the week after, if they are right for your markets? And you could follow this by going off piste from your regular rounds of the UK showrooms to take in a few new agencies.

Your legwork will definitely pay off. Even if you do not come up with any new brands, taking in the sights will provide fresh ideas and a better perspective on the potential for the coming season.

Sometimes you need to take a look just to confirm you are heading in the right direction. With the fashion retail sector moving at an ever-faster pace, knowledge is power - but you can only get the knowledge by being out and about in the marketplace.

This weekend the Drapers team will be at Pure and young fashion events TBC, The Park and Margin, before diving straight into London Fashion Week. Joining us will be our new editor, Lauretta Roberts, who officially starts on Monday. I know you will give her a warm welcome.

The autumn buying season is not the easiest of schedules, but it is worth the effort. We hope to see you all there.

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