The fashion industry has welcomed the growing trend towards buying more in-season and short order stock despite the added risk it presents – saying it has helped businesses to ride out the unstable financial market.
Unseasonable weather and a tough economic climate have resulted in cautious buying across the UK and Ireland, and an increasing number of brands are carrying stock for retailers to buy in season.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in the market,” said Andy Tompsett, head of UK for menswear brand Merc. “It can be difficult for us as there is more risk because we are holding the stock and sometimes you don’t get it right. [But] a lot of independents avail themselves of our ’never out of stock’ service because they know they can get stock quickly.
“There is business to be had if you’re willing to carry stock.”
Gareth Jones, sales and business development consultant for Manchester-based agency Lacamanda, whose portfolio includes forward-order brand The £26m Project and short-order labels Bewley & Ritch and Jiggler Lord Berlue, said: “The retail landscape is fraught with unpredictable factors, which mean it is increasingly difficult for a retailer to work with forward order brands.
“Our business model allows retailers to place an order one day and get delivery the next. It represents smart buying, and when it works well for our customers, it works well for us.”
Forward-order brand Farah began to produce four seasons a year instead of two at the start of 2015, introducing high summer and pre-spring collections.
Business development manager Jack Parkin said: “We were being asked for it from our accounts. They needed something new to freshen up the offer and add into what they had in stock.”
Sanjay Kumar is the co-owner of high street supplier Whispering Smith, which works with around 700 retailers, etailers and brands in the UK.
He said: “It makes complete sense for a business to want to order in season and react to what’s selling. We use trend forecasting to minimise the risk to us, so we can be confident in what we’ve committed to.”
Whispering Smith is now 50:50 split between forward-order and in-season, compared with 70:30 five years ago.
Eamon Flavin, owner of two-store menswear independent Rebirth of Cool in Dublin, said: “It’s great working with brands that have no minimums for ordering so we can reorder as and when we need it. There’s no need for us to over-buy, so it takes that risk factor out of it.”