Over the past few months we’ve been out and about canvassing the opinions of people from across the fashion sector as to what success looks like in this extremely tough market.
The majority agreed that the winners will be those that can keep shoppers loyal by providing something new and exciting on each visit. And indeed those that offer brands, styles and products that customers simply can’t get anywhere else.
Given this widely held view, it has been interesting, as we launch into the buying season, to see how this has translated into what happens at the coal face.
Have the shows focused on bringing in new brands? And have the existing brands focused on giving their customers something new in terms of product or trend?
During Drapers’ recent travels we’ve seen definite change in both the way shows present brands and in how buyers spend their time during the buying season.
Certainly, at trade show White in Milan we spoke to a large number of mainly Italian brands that are gearing up for international expansion having kept to their home territory until now, and one of the key markets they are looking at is the UK. The product was good, very on-trend and suited to the UK market, but what we didn’t see was a huge number of British buyers visiting the show to snap up these brands, despite international buyers from markets such as Japan visiting in their droves.
Elsewhere, certainly in menswear, the feeling so far has been that autumn 13 will bring more of the same in terms of trends, with innovation mainly confined to detail and fabrication. The heritage trend, now done to death from catwalk to supermarket, seems to be hanging on by its braces and belt buckle, and this will not drive sales indefinitely.
Disappointingly, brands at Pitti Uomo seemed to play it safe, meeting in a ubiquitous middle ground somewhere around the preppy smart-casual territory, with formal brands moving to more casual ground and casual brands introducing formalwear to cover all their bases. There were sadly very few standouts.
Even the catwalks of London Collections: Men only had a few pieces that broke the mould, notably JW Anderson, whose frilly shorts arguably went a step too far out of most men’s comfort zones.
In Berlin, at least Bread & Butter is shaking things up with news that it is adding a dedicated womenswear hall next season, but this is a transitional season for the show with a smaller hall and less brands while the changes take effect. Buyers hedged their bets, with many of the other shows in town at the same time seeing good footfall.
Fashion is all about the next big thing, and so far no one seems to have nailed it. Let’s hope there’s still room in UK wardrobes for more of the same.