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Comment: Looking beyond the retail blues

Christmas trading results have provided a little relief amid the January blues.

Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, which is said to be the gloomiest day of the year, has come and gone. That’s not to say that the weather, Christmas shopping debts, Brexit, the impending US presidential inauguration, counting the days until the next holiday and (lack of) motivation to get back to exercise won’t contribute to more January blues – but, apparently, the worst of that mix is over.

However, it seems clouds did not cover all of fashion retail during the Christmas trading season –  some UK retailers reported an uplift in sales, perhaps as tourists took advantage of sterling’s weakness. In addition, the high street experienced a rise in footfall and reported sales up 22% from last year at £725m, payment provider Worldpay has said.

SuperGroup, the subject of this week’s Drapers Interview with chief executive Euan Sutherland, reported a 20.6% increase in revenues year on year during the Christmas period. His advice – to maximise opportunities that are specific to your brand, to hire the right people with the best experience, and to find inspiration outside the fashion industry – has clearly worked. It provides some good new year’s resolutions for the industry, too.

Similarly retaining momentum is the athleisure trend. With last week’s  grand opening for athletic brand Lululemon on Regent Street and introduction of Jack Wills Sporting Goods – the chain’s first collection of activewear – plus a Sweaty Betty flagship set to open in the spring, it shows no sign of slowing down. Who will be next to offer tank tops in technical fabrics and sweat-wicking socks?

It is also the peak of the menswear buying season. We have reported from the London Fashion Week Men’s catwalks as buyers weigh in on their top picks, and from a freezing Florence, which welcomed 24,300 buyers to menswear trade show Pitti Uomo and kicked off the trade show season. Finally, our exclusive menswear preview of the new autumn 17 collections shot in east London – which contains no trace of Lycra leggings – features updated classics, and includes textured tailored coats along with transitional layers such as the “shacket”. And what the photo shoot also shows is that the “blues” can also be brilliant.



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