The new labels would sit alongside the existing 100-plus roster of brands, which includes Gurteen, Brook Taverner, BMB Clothing and Marlboro Classics.
Marc O’Polo showed at AIS for the first time for spring 07. Island said he wanted to attract similar labels with more of a fashion element. “There is increasing competition at the lower end of the market and our menswear members see more opportunities to move towards the more fashionable, higher end branded merchandise,” he said.
However, one branded supplier said there were limits to how far upmarket AIS might be able to move. “We only deal with two or three individual stores among the AIS group, because mostly they do not work at our level in the market,” he said. “As far as we are concerned, it would be difficult to have that kind of discussion because we deal with things on a site-by-site basis with exclusive distribution.”
AIS operates as a buying group with members from independent department store retailers. As well as organising shows and exhibitions for its members, to which non-members can also gain access on selected days, it also offers buying function services for retailers.
The next AIS show will take place at Sheward House in Shirley, near Solihull in the West Midlands, on January 29 2008.