Exclusivity of distribution and margins north of 3 were popular with independent menswear buyers at the seasonal IMC buying group show yesterday (Sunday August 17).
Confirming reports from larger trade events, suppliers said progressive indie retailers were more optimistic than they had been a year ago, but were still buying carefully.
“The buyers are probably doing better than they’d admit,” joked Mike Spriggs, agent for German trouser house Bruhl. “In the past three months consumers have been coming in and buying two or three pairs of trousers, rather than just one. And at the younger end of the market, there is more interest in tailoring. I am selling a lot of three-piece suits with my other German brand Benvenuto.”
“Although consumer cash remains tight, we have been seeing lots of positivity from buyers, particularly those at the better-end of the mainstream trade. We have been pleasantly surprised at the attitude towards buying for spring 15,” said Justin Morgan, who was showing the Steptronic footwear brand for the second time at the two-day IMC gathering.
“Buyers are more positive and are buying with more confidence. They are looking at the patterns of our tailoring, not the price,” confirmed Patrick Temple of Magee. “There is more interest in colour, which suits our ethos.”
“It’s not been an easy year, mainly due to the lack of footfall,” said Grant Mitchell, owner of Cooper & McKenzie in Dundee. “We did a lot better recently during graduation week when a lot more people came into the town. The exclusive brands and healthy margins we get from the IMC suppliers are very important to us independents.”
“Across Europe, innovative and progressive independents are thinking differently and are doing more buying with their strongest suppliers and that is benefiting us,” said Jochen Scheerer, export sales director of German shirt brand Olymp. “The challenge for us suppliers is to give then the innovation they say they want, while maintaining the commercial lines that give then their turnover.”
The IMC membership includes 99 menswear businesses from Scotland to the south coast and it is served by about 50 suppliers. The ideal IMC model is delivered by Dutch shirt brand Culture and the Danish trouser supplier Sunwill, which sell only through the buying group in the UK. The latest name to be added to the roster this season is Men For All Nations, a colourful Dutch casual lifestyle collection. Particularly strong in polo shirts and woven shirts, its wholesale price of around £14.50 offers a mark-up of between 3 and 3.5.
“These sorts of deals really make a difference for IMC members,” said Matthew Hansford, of Hansford of Chichester and an IMC committee member. The IMC buying show, at Whittlebury Hall near Towcester, finishes today (Monday August 18).