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London's events offer capital gains

Grey, brown, dirty - we had weather to match the autumn 07 colour palette in London this week. But unlike the weather, there was plenty to get excited about in the collections seen at the two main events in the capital, Pure and London Fashion Week. And there were some splashes of colour to be found for those who wanted it.

There's no doubt that many retailers and buyers are still sporting bruises from the bashing they received at the beginning of the autumn 06 season. Going out and buying more coats and outerwear when they had scarcely got shot of the last lot would not have been a prospect to relish - particularly when there was little progression in terms of shades and trends.

That said, it's in this sort of environment that independents, in particular, can really steal a march over the high street chains and make their product offer stand out (for some advice on merchandising dark neutrals to maximum effect, see our news analysis on page 13). The indies know their customers, by their first name in many cases, and know what product they will buy come what may, be it dresses, skinny legs (still going strong), knitwear or coats.

Buyers at Pure, however, were split on the subject of coats. Some were keeping the faith, reasoning that if the product was desirable enough (and there was certainly plenty of scope for differentiation in terms of quirky detailing and fabric - tweed and leather for instance), then customers would buy regardless of whether they truly felt they needed yet another one. I'd go along with that theory, given that there were several samples on the rails at Olympia that I would have paid good money for right now.

Other buyers were understandably steering clear of outerwear and sticking with knitwear. There were plenty of choices, from chunky coat alternatives to super-fine options for layering, as you will discover in our show reports this week.

Whichever path they chose, there was one trend that seemed to unite most buyers at Pure, and that was to hold back a larger part of their budgets for short-order product. It's a very wise move. Gambling your entire budget on how you think the weather might shape up nine months from now can be a very risky business, no matter how confident you are in your product choices and how well you think you know your customers.

On the subject of getting to know people, I'm very much looking forward to acquainting myself with the readers of this magazine. This is my first week in the editor's seat at Drapers and I'm just getting comfortable. But I have already had the opportunity to meet some of you and am looking forward to visiting Moda UK in Birmingham to get to know more readers.

I'd also like to hear from any readers who have comments to make on the magazine or who would like to let me know what they want to read in Drapers. You'll find me on lauretta.roberts@emap.com. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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