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Buyers wise up to power of brands

Every journalist is driven by the thrill of the chase. The discovery of new stuff is Drapers’ quarry, whether we’re chasing a retail opening, scoping next season’s trends, or pounding the pavement in pursuit of the latest looks.

But despite our best intentions, new trends are not always what sells and with credit crunch economics informing most of our business decisions, the power of the brand has loomed back into the fray.

While we fashion folk would love to believe we’re surrounded by a population of Beckhams, eager to latch on to a hot trend, even the more fashion-informed men only take a punt on a trend if their favourite brand says it’s OK and then only after their coolest mate has taken the plunge.

The most successful menswear and young fashion buyers have been wise to this for seasons. Rather than relentlessly chase trend-led sales these retailers have built their businesses supporting brands that sell and have an easy to identify design personality.

Take G-Star, which never strays too far from its military/utility handwriting. Here is a business whose anchor style, the articulated-knee Elwood jean, has appeared every season (albeit with a few tweaks) since the brand’s launch, yet remains a best-selling item for G-Star stockists.

Retailers now need to weigh up their brand winners and losers. Now is the time to make some tough decisions around lesser performing brands. Work out what it is about the winning collections that turns customers on. If those brands are ticking all the right boxes when it comes to marketing, deliveries and payment, then back them with your buying budget.

Khabi Mirza is fashion and features editor for Drapers

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