The sun was shining brightly in Florence this week as Pitti Immagine Uomo brought together the British, Irish and international menswear pack.
Appropriately, the weather - while it lasted - seemed to reflect the mood of many of the brands and buyers converging on the Fortezza da Basso, the striking venue for the fair.
Although memories of last year’s tough trading, particularly the crazy trading patterns from late November, are still fresh in the mind, it is a new year and a new season and fashion folk are genetically programmed to be upbeat. Certainly the majority of the people Drapers spoke to in Florence are ready to make the best of the opportunities 2015 presents.
Until very recently, the January Pitti Uomo was the kick-off to the autumn/winter selling season, but that honour now falls to London Collections: Men. While I would still like to see more buyers attending among the hordes of bloggers and minor celebs, there is no doubt that the now four-day programme of activities centred on last weekend brought a good buzz and some definite energy to the sector. It’s a shame London’s weather didn’t match that of Florence.
The big talking points at the early days of the Italian show were mainly the ongoing ramifications of Black Friday and what it did to Christmas trading, plus the odd situation with multi-brand chain USC. I was pleased to hear from several readers that they liked my view that Black Friday is, in essence, a barmy idea, but everyone agrees that most retailers and brands will be back on the discounting bandwagon in November this year. One retailer, who reluctantly joined in on November 28, told me that all the activity was akin to a grab on the consumers’ wallets on the last payday before Christmas. That’s as may be, but the figures we have seen since back up my general theory that this was only money that would have been spent - possibly without discounting - later in December.
As I write, we still have no clarity on what is happening with USC, the Sports Direct-owned casualwear chain. The 90-strong chain has been struggling for some time (long before Mike Ashley acquired it in 2011) and what we have now, it seems to me, is a pre-pack administration in the making. It is obvious that Sports Direct could fund the business for a long time, but it has chosen not to and we will no doubt see a slimmed-down chain spring from the wreckage of the admin.
The intriguing point - and everyone is being resolutely silent on the subject - is how negotiations between USC and two of its largest creditors, Diesel and G-Star, will pan out. (Unconfirmed) press reports suggest that Diesel’s demand for its multimillion bill to be paid prompted the administration.
Drapers understands that brands in general will be given information on the future of the business this week after the magazine goes to press. We’ll see if that proves to be correct. If it does, our subscribers will be able to read all about it online as quickly as we can write it up.
On the subject of online communication, I am delighted to announce that the Drapers app is now available for download. Joining the weekly magazine, our desktop site Drapersonline.com and our mobile option, our nifty free-to-subscribers application (available for iPhone and Android devices) is the latest way for us to get news, views, opinions and business intelligence out to our readers. This seems a very good time to remind subscribers that they get a lot more for their money than just the weekly magazine. Make the most of Drapers.
- For more information on the Drapers app visit Drapersonline.com/app