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Jacket Required's muted farewell to east London

Autumn 20 was a subdued season, but a new layout and shifted brand focus hinted at the wider changes to come for Jacket Required. 

Menswear trade show Jacket Required waved a stilted goodbye to east London at its autumn 20 edition, as it announced plans for a new venue, and shifted its focus to premium brands and sustainability.

It took place on 22-23 January at the Old Truman Brewery, which the show has called home since it started in 2011. This season, there was a reworked layout and new, focused “showrooms” specifically highlighting sustainable and streetwear brands.

The refreshed look included newly introduced tall white walls between the exhibitors, and was well received by participants for giving a more curated feel to the show and encouraging visitors to explore the areas not immediately visible from the room entrances. However, several brand owners pointed out that the show seemed much smaller than in previous seasons. The event was one whole level smaller than in previous seasons, with the removal of the ground-floor showroom, and there was a high amount of empty space between the aisles.

There were also jokes among visitors that the towering walls concealed how sparsely attended the show was – and while there was a steady trickle of buyers, the overall sense was of a very quiet edition. Some brands complained of the disappointing footfall – particularly in the sustainable showroom, which featured some strong brands such as Raeburn, Toms and Revolution, but remained quiet across the show.

Nevertheless, it remains an important event for networking and meeting with customers, brands were generally content with the calibre of buyers and the potential to strike up new business. Buyers from key retailers such as Asos and Urban Outfitters were among those visiting.

In previous seasons, Jacket Required has suffered from a dissonant brand mix, and for autumn 20 the selection was generally more cohesive – although some of the more exuberant, luxury streetwear brands seemed at odds with the overall premium aesthetic.

On the move

While this season’s edition failed to ignite overwhelming enthusiasm, talk revolved around the announcement that for spring 21, Jacket will be leaving the Old Truman Brewery and heading to the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, as it aims to shift the focus of the show further towards the premium market – aligning it with womenswear show Scoop, a stablemate of Jacket owner Hyve. While Hyve could not confirm the move was permanent, the show is set to stay at the Saatchi Gallery for “the foreseeable future”.

The news was met with curiosity by exhibitors – while some praised the move for its potential to provide a much-needed shake-up for the show, others were concerned by the practicalities of hosting the menswear show so soon after Scoop.

Following a lacklustre autumn 20, brands and buyers alike will be hoping that the new location returns Jacket Required to its former vibrancy. With the lure of Pitti Uomo in Florence and thriving shows in Paris and Copenhagen, there is no doubt that change is needed to ensure that Jacket Required remains a relevant destination for the menswear market.


Mood of the show

Andrew Townsin, group commercial director, Pantherella

This is the first time we’ve shown at Jacket. Our collection is evolving and starting to attract a younger audience, so we need to talk to retailers we perhaps haven’t talked to in the past. Our primary objective was to make sure we’re on people’s radars. It’s not necessarily about writing orders, and we’ve had lots of dialogue. The first part of [day one] was better than anticipated. We’ve mostly spoken to indies as the department stores see us in the showroom. There have been a few people on the stand who want to open online stores, but we control our distribution carefully, so we’re a little bit cautious.

Dan Bromley, UK managing director, Björn Borg

We haven’t exhibited much over the past few years, but we feel Jacket is a good fit for the brand. The adjacencies and layout are all very premium. This is definitely the one to be at in the UK. Our purpose in being here is to meet independents, and we’ve had quite a few business cards. We connect with them here and then meet at the showroom. It could always be busier, but from our perspective it’s working well.

Eurig Lewis, owner of independent Jackie James in Carmarthen, Wales

It is my first time at Jacket Required. My shop is more gentry than a lot of the streetwear brands here but there are a few brands of interest, such as Saint James and RM Williams. Sometimes you need to get out and have a look for something new.

Alexander Stoakes, retail marketing manager EMEA, Toms

It has been very quiet. We’re disappointed. In the past we would write a significant number of orders but we only had one on the first (usually the busiest) day. It is tiny this season, it could still be great for smaller brands but it is tricky justifying the expense.

Marc Querol, agent at Double H, representing Saint James

We are quite pleased with the show. We haven’t received any orders, but we’ve had some interesting conversations with possible accounts. I prefer the new layout as buyers need to wander around the show to find out which brands are where. I’m not sure about the move to the Saatchi Gallery, as the layout there is quite confusing.

Adam Ball, agent at A2B Agencies, representing Luke

We’ve met some new customers and written orders so it has been a good show for us. It is tiny compared with how it used to be. The shows in general need a shake up – maybe the move to Saatchi will be a good thing.

Neil Kirkby, head of sales, Cheaney

It has been a solid show. It is a bit edgier than Pitti, so we see people who would think that traditionally we wouldn’t be right for them.

Mike Edwards, managing director of Global Brand Sales, representing Lotto

We had some good meetings with new and existing customers. It was busier in the morning then tailed off in the afternoon but we’re pleased. The new layout really freshen the show up.

Pete Royston, sales director, skate-brand house Shiner

We’re based in Bristol so we use this show as a showroom. We see a lot of our existing accounts like Asos and Urban Outfitters here – we don’t pick up new accounts. I’m not sure about the move to the Saatchi Gallery. A lot of people come to do appointments in east london then pop into the show, and without that footfall it could be tough. We might just do our own showroom next season instead.


Jacket Required's muted farewell to east London

Readers' comments (1)

  • What Jacket needs to think is - Would it be needed if it didn't exist? Moving is not really the answer here.

    Most buyers in London generally prefer showroom buys with a few beers. A much better experience then walking round a building reminiscing about how good the trade used to be.

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