Brexit jitters and unseasonal weather has made strategy very difficult for buyers, prompting many to play it safe for spring 17, UK agents have reported.
“If there is a decline in the economy buyers may well revert back to major brands,” said Marc Alexander Agencies director Mark Hickling.
“It would be a shame because over the last couple of years a slowdown in the bigger names has meant some of the smaller guys, like Holland Esquire and Circle of Gentlemen, have been able to do some really good stuff.”
Dan Griffiths, director at Red Alert Agency, which sells men’s and women’s streetwear brand Gym King, agrees that buyers “are not taking risks any more”.
“At Pitti Uomo in Florence this month the buying market was flat,” he said. “Buyers are very much concentrating on the stable brands, so they’ll go along to trade shows to see what’s new but not really to buy.”
He added: “A lot of people are going for in-season brands and stock brands, as they are less willing to take that six-to-12-month punt on future trends.”
However, Apt Collections co-founder and director Nigel Hughes, who sells womenswear brands Claudia Strater and Picadilly, said retailers need to inject something new to encourage shoppers to spend.
“Everyone knows it’s been difficult. Everything’s collided, with the EU referendum and the weather. But people are looking forward to getting new brands in. There’s a real sense this season that you can’t afford to look old. It’s all about the new, so that’s opening people’s minds to new things.”
Kam Harris, director of Brand National, whose brands include Schott NYC and Twist & Tango, said a resolution to the Brexit question should settle the nerves of shoppers.
“Now that people know they’re going to be happier to return to the shops,” she said. “Everyone’s pretty positive. We’ve got a few brands that are doing particularly well. For denim Trist is going really well at the moment, and on the footwear side Anonymous is looking very good.”
Just Consultancies co-founder Juls Dawson is also feeling optimistic for spring 17.
“Obviously the torrential rain and not knowing what’s going to happen with currency markets have meant it’s been a challenging season,” he said.
“But I’m seeing people enter the buying season for spring 2017 in a positive mood. Despite the result of the EU referendum eventually things will calm down again and people will be more willing to spend.”