As the autumn 10 buying season moves towards a close, it’s been interesting to observe the wholesale industry’s counter strategy, jostling for position to seduce cautious retailers into spending in these recessionary conditions.
Certainly the autumn 10 womenswear trends were consistent across brands, as rock chic glamour themes added a younger edge; leather stud-drenched dresses, biker jackets and jodhpurs embraced gothic embellishment; dresses were shorter and seductive; and fur provided opulent cosiness.
The retailer wanted newness, a point of difference and luxury; the industry raised its game like never before to provide a wow factor that challenged all age barriers. Even the mainstream market got on board, with dramatically younger looks. Those that provided an injection of jewel colours into a season that was more about texture got the edge, with increases in sales where budgets were generally flat. Buyers were not afraid to spend if the product was important to them and if it was backed by good, solid past performances from the brand.
The theory that new brands were needed to keep shoppers interested was further challenged as retailers found success mostly with their current brand portfolio. This meant that new business potential was limited.
This volatile climate is challenging and squeezing all frontiers; wholesalers are trying to maintain market share but with reduced margins and yet increased risk; retailers must be more creative in increasing their budgets while consumer traffic through the door is reduced. The change in the market will stretch us all going forward. The focus has now shifted onto how to give customers more from less.
Geraldine Bennett is managing director of Oui Group UK