In the sweltering heat of one of London’s hottest days of the year, the spring 20 edition of menswear trade show Jacket Required was judged by exhibitors and buyers alike to be relatively quiet.
The menswear trade show took place on 24-25 July at the Old Truman Brewery in London’s East End and got off to a muted start on day one, as a slow stream of visitors made their way through the stands.
Footfall picked up over the course of the day, and there was more of a buzz throughout the afternoon. On the second day, when temperatures outside soared, the show was quiet once more, although exhibitors were content with the calibre of buyers. Across the two days buyers from top-tier retailers, including Fenwick, Asos, Urban Outfitters, as well as a strong showing from UK independents, including Psyche, were spotted in the aisles.
There were several notable new brands showing at Jacket this season: new contemporary menswear brand YSC was a particular highlight with its sophisticated, British- and Italian-made designs. New exhibitors praised the show as a good opportunity to tap into the UK market and meet new buyers.
Jacket Required introduced a new data focus this season, through a collaboration with shopping app Mallzee, which sent out previews of collections from brands to consumers, to gauge responses. Popular items in different regions were flagged with tags on the stands, clearly highlighting the products to buyers.
However, the show as a whole felt smaller than previous seasons and big-name brands such as Gloverall, Ben Sherman and Grenson were all absent. Jacket Required is traditionally characterised by urban and streetwear brands, but this season the offer as a whole was relatively mainstream – a factor that was picked up on by several exhibitors.
Overall, spring 20 was another muted show for Jacket Required and, while it retains popularity with a core group of brands and buyers, the dominance the show once had over the sector seems to be waning. Perhaps a shake-up is needed.
The mood of the show
Attila Babos, head of menswear design at vintage-inspired label Collectif “This is our first time [exhibiting at Jacket], as we’ve come to launch our menswear collection and want to attract new customers.
“It’s definitely quite quiet, but I reckon we’ll come back next year. I’m not sure if it’s because of the weather, Brexit or trading in general, but we were at Pure last week and it was quiet there, too.
“We had some good conversations though, and I hope that will generate sales later down the line.”
Julie Featherstone, director of Manchester-based brand Dead Legacy “I’ve been here the last four years and this season is quiet in comparison. I’ve secured a few new customers from the US and Middle East, so it’s still been worth [exhibiting]; I’ve also seen quite a few discounting brands and some big-name retailers, which is good for exposure.
“Trading is going well for us, but Brexit is definitely an issue. Buyers and customers are both holding back on spending and buyers aren’t taking risks like they used to – they’re only investing in well-known brands that sell well.”
Oliver Theaker, UK footwear sales manager, Pentland Brands “We’ve had some decent buyers to the stand, such as [multi-brand retailer] Goodhood and [menswear independent] Psyche, so I don’t mind that it’s not that busy. We’ve also seen Asos, an existing client of ours.
“Trade shows aren’t what they used to be, though – there’s considerably less footfall and they’re never crazy busy, and people don’t write orders there any more. We still manage to generate some decent business from that and it’s good exposure for our brands, so we’ll definitely continue to attend.”
Jamie Emery, accounts manager, UK heritage brand Peregrine: “There hasn’t just been fewer visitors, but fewer buyers, too. This is the only trade show that we do, and we’ve been exhibiting [at Jacket] for years – it’s good for meeting new and existing clients alike.
“Last year we met an interesting retailer from Paris and this year we’ve met buyers from the UK, EU and the Middle East, from companies of all sizes. They’re particularly interested in our sustainability collection, which is launching for spring 20, as that’s a great focus for the industry right now.”
Barbara Santos, sales manager at Portuguese footwear brand Atlanta Mocassin: “It’s our first time at Jacket because we’re expanding our menswear collection across the UK. The UK is our second-best performing market online, so – despite Brexit – we feel there’s demand for our product and think it will do well.
“We decided to attend [Jacket] to get our brand out there and also with the hope of meeting some new clients, especially big retailers. We’ve had a steady flow of people to the stand, but we’re stuck in the corner and aren’t that visible, so we wouldn’t want to be here next year.”
Jake Burton, area sales representative, Unify Brand Partnership: “We mainly come to Jacket to meet existing clients. Buyers’ budgets are tight, and they like to see everything from all of our brands, and this is a convenient way to do that.
“The people we like to attract are buyers willing to take a risk and invest in brands that stand out. Jacket is good for us, as our brands are all doing unique things and are pretty big on sustainability, which helps drive business – here [at Jacket] and in general.”
Eva Bertoletti, sales manager, Italian streetwear brand UPDFQ: “We’re an Italian brand launching in the UK, so we thought Jacket would be a good way for us to showcase the brand and get our name out there.
“We’ve done quite well so far in securing some good contacts, so we can’t complain, but we haven’t seen that many buyers. Those that we have seen have been from the UK and international, like Dubai, but we haven’t secured any orders.
“Trading is going well for us though, but we expect it will be hard to crack the UK market in the beginning. We hope [Jacket] will help raise awareness and boost our profile here.”