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Colour and prints lift Irish gloom

Hot colours and bold prints in Irish designers’ spring 09 collections injected some enthusiasm into a depressed independent retail community at Dublin Fashion Week.

Pinks and corals dominated the palette along with turquoise and splashes of yellow. Quirky prints on silk chiffon and metallic jacquards also made an appearance. Dress lengths were longer than in past seasons, mostly hitting the knee.

Retailers in the Republic of Ireland said they had experienced a slow summer because of the dismal weather and downbeat economic news which, when combined, made many customers nervous to spend.

Tracey Tucker, owner of Dublin designer independent Costume, said: “The weather has been a problem for everyone. Customers came in to buy spring merchandise early in the season and some have not had a chance to get it out of the cupboard yet, which didn’t put them in the mood to buy again later on. It has also made them disinterested in the summer Sale.”

The one bright spot in the market was occasionwear, a key driver of the independent sector in the RoI. Here, retailers said that sales were holding up well, although customers were now budgeting more carefully on outfits.

As a result, designers were looking to hit key retail price points in dress collections for spring 09 merchandise.

Joanna Hynes, designer and owner of the eponymous womenswear brand, said she was working to a wholesale price that would bring her dresses in at €495 (£398) at retail. She explained: “This seems to be where the volume is for stockists at the moment. Above that price their customers really think about why they would want to pay the extra. Increasingly my retailers are saying that customers are coming in with a budget in mind for what they will spend on the event and this is where the ceiling seems to be for dresses.”

Designer Deborah Veale agreed. “Buyers are very focused for spring 09,” she said. “If you are not offering the right price and a unique point of view then you will suffer. We are finding that we are sitting in a good place at the top end of the mid-market where a dress retails for €400 (£325). Every brand is becoming aware that their end consumer has a tighter budget.”

Colette O’Brien, owner of Madison in Foxrock in Dublin, said: “This spring has not been easy, it has made me cautious about buying for spring 09. I am not actively looking for something new. But the colours that are on offer inspire confidence as they are commercial.”

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