To everyone who managed to negotiate the chaos of central London’s road closures last Sunday to arrive at Pure and/or Scoop, I salute you.
A huge cycling event, RideLondon, apparently necessitated the almost day-long closure of many roads, making moving round the capital challenging even for locals, let alone out-of-towners. I can’t help feeling the closures were way beyond what was essential but no doubt someone was consulting an extensive health and safety manual.
To compound the issue, London’s black-cab drivers clearly decided Sunday was a good day to play golf or go to the Community Shield match at Wembley. I spent 20 minutes trying to spot one for friends. Eventually, I hailed one of the few that had risked the frustrating nonsense.
By the time I got to Scoop in the late morning, it was evident that the first day of the London fair festival, for buyer attendance, was going to be slow – or slower than usual. This was confirmed when I got across from the Saatchi Gallery to Olympia (via the District Line and walking from West Kensington station, since you ask). While not exactly quiet, Pure was steady rather than mobbed.
Of course, a show should not be judged on its first day alone and by end of play on Tuesday exhibitors at both events probably thought their efforts and expense had been worthwhile. Certainly, the experience this season underlined that a clash of dates between Pure (with its 850 collections) and Scoop (which has about 250) is not good for anyone.
While some buyers like the proximity, it seems to me that three days is not enough to do either show justice – the Drapers team certainly had difficulty getting everything done to deadline. And buyers have showroom appointments to fit in too. Hopefully next August Scoop will revert to its position preceding Pure. And hopefully the cyclists will pedal off to another city.
Away from indie land, tough times on the high street have been reflected by Arcadia’s demands for increased discounts from its suppliers (see page 2). This well-worn strong-arm technique, depressingly familiar to hard-pressed manufacturers, is never used by a business that is doing well. Even Topshop, we hear, is not immune to the competitiveness of a saturated market. As any retailer will tell you, consumers have unlimited choice and are better informed and more canny than ever. That said, reducing quality of fabric and make, which some accuse Arcadia of, is the wrong approach (for further evidence, see M&S).
I have no doubt suppliers will bow to the group’s demands – they usually do, simply because there aren’t enough other clients to move to. But this squeezing is not going to help with improving conditions for the poor sods sewing the clothes together.
On the subject of working conditions, I am still intrigued about what under-25s will be paid when over-25s reach the dizzy heights of a £9-an-hour so-called living wage from 2020. On Wednesday, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills told Drapers that it had no information on what, if anything, would happen to the younger group after the next scheduled increase in October this year. How strange.
To finish with another significant figure, the past Thursday, August 6, was the 128th anniversary of the first appearance of The Drapers’ Record. Since those heady Victorian days, we have published well over 6,500 issues and since 2007 you have had the delights of our online service to enjoy too. Let us know how we are doing. Happy trading.