Crowds of enthusiastic buyers headed to the first day of the menswear trade show in London on Thursday, as the event’s shift in dates met with a mixed response.
The 12th edition kicked off with a healthy queue of buyers forming at the venue entrance early on despite the bitter January weather, eager to get into the Truman Brewery venue in east London and see what the two-day event had to offer for autumn 17.
This vibrant atmosphere carried through the day – exhibitors were enthusiastic about the quality of buyers present and retailers happy to see a strong mix of both new and existing brands.
It was clear a slightly smaller number of exhibitors were showing this time around, although this resulted in a more spacious and less cramped feel to many of the halls.
The talking point for many this season was the shift in dates, moving a week earlier for autumn 17.
“It’s hard not to cross cover with anything so fixing a date that pleases everyone can be hard,” said co-founder Mark Batista about the date move. “We’ve just had the Paris trade shows, next week is the Copenhagen shows and right now we’re crossing over one day with the New York shows. But after all that it would be too late to show. We decided that the earlier we do the show the better, then buyers haven’t spent all their budgets and we can get them here earlier in the season,” he added. “If we see a similar gap in July we may well bring the show forward then too.”
Overall, this was meet with a positive response, as both buyers and exhibitors decided that it is a case of “the earlier, the better”. However, there were concerns that the new Thursday and Friday dates, rather than mid-week days of recent editions, could put off some buyers. This was particularly in relation to independent stores, as Fridays are an important trading day. This was also more of an issue this season, as the show’s second day kicks off the first payday weekend of 2017.
Views from the show
Phil Hazel, founder, The Liquor Store
I think the earlier the show, the better, so I’m happy it’s a bit earlier. I did Paris and then could come straight here and get all the trips out the way early in the season. But Friday isn’t ideal. I have to be in the shop on Friday so I will only be doing one day at the trade show. Having the show mid week did make it easier, although the second day is always a lot quieter.
Debra McCann, founder, The Mercantile
The show is nice and vibrant and the music gives it a bit of a buzz. We’re always looking for newness and there are some good brands here. We’re very close, just over the road, so we’ve been able to nip in and then prepare for the weekend in store as well. It’s payday weekend, though, and it might be difficult for some of the northern indies to come down and get back in time for the weekend. The early show doesn’t quite suit us, as we’re still busy from Christmas really, so later in the season could have been better.
Paul Bonnett, key account manager, Original Penguin
The show has been reasonably busy on the first morning, with international and UK buyers, both from key accounts and new ones. We have also had people writing orders, which is not the norm for this show, but is very positive. The early show is good in terms of our deadlines, from a product point of view. The high street is tough at the moment – the UK is in a funny place, and buyers are more cautious, but I think that’s been coming a while, not just because of Brexit. It’s been tough for a while.
Andy Tompsett, head of UK, Merc
We’re delighted so far. The buyers are excellent quality here and we’ve seen the likes of House of Fraser and Next. We’ve also seen a big Czech department store and a few indies. People are mainly here from the UK, but we have seen more internationals. That’s what we need right now – now is the time to sell British brands. We’ve been coming here about 11 years, and the offer now is more edited and more focused. Having the show early is much better for us as the season starts in December really, and we’d like to have orders done by Chinese New Year. I’m a bit worried about tomorrow for traffic at the show, as Friday is payday, and it’ll be the first real time indies have been able to take money since Christmas so people might stay away.
Phil Taylor, men’s sales manager, J Brand
This is J Brand’s first time at Jacket Required and it’s very much a marketing exercise. We’ve done men’s for a long time but are more known for women’s jeans, which is the core of the business. For the last couple of years there was no men’s sales manager, so we’re partly here to show face. We weren’t expecting to make orders but we actually have, which is good. The quality of brands coming here is good.
Dylan Chanda, brand manager, Hymn
It’s still early on, but it’s been very good already. This is always one of the busier trade shows for us. We were away for a couple of seasons, focusing on European trade shows, but we think it’s important to come back and speak to the UK customers. We have a nice spot this season, and we’ve had a lot of traffic. We see indies and multiples here, but it’s especially good for indies. There are always new indies popping up across the country and here is a good place to meet them. This show is much smaller than the European shows, but that makes it feel more intimate. It’s still big enough to attract the key buyers from Europe and that’s important to us.
Adam Rushworth, sales agent, Nicce
The show has been good – this is always the best show for us. We do shows in Berlin and Las Vegas, but this is the best fit for our brand. You get good UK buyers here, mainly from indies, and mainly people we already know. The market has taken a bit of a dip, and I do think that the amount indies buy here has dropped off, but conversely the big stores are spending more.
Owen Dallimore, UK country manager, Element
The show seems smaller in terms of brands this time around. It being earlier is good for us as it gives us a bit more ease with deadlines – it’s less pressured. That being said, I don’t think it’s a good idea that the show is on a Friday. People want to go home for the weekend. So far we’ve seen exactly the right buyers as well, and a lot of our key UK accounts.
Tim Ruffle, sales agent, Sixth June
There’s been a decent flow of people so far. Autumn shows are always busy. We are concerned about traffic on Friday as people will probably be getting out of London for the weekend, and it’s hard for indies to leave their stores at such a key time for sales.