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In the Company of Men

Representatives from four menswear brands assess the mood at Pitti Uomo

GARETH JONES, UK NATIONAL SALES MANAGER, HENRI-LLOYD

- Is the turnout from the UK what you expected?

They haven't come in the same numbers as last summer. I think they feel the show is less relevant. There are a lot of Italian-focused labels, and some UK buyers would rather go to Bread & Butter to look for new brands.

- Which of the trends you've seen at Pitti will be picked up by UK buyers?

Buyers are looking more at colour - greens, yellows and even oranges are doing well. Some retailers are telling us they are selling more yellow polos than navy ones.

- What do the brands at Pitti need to do to attract more UK buyers?

We're trying to create more of a lifestyle-focused range. We create looks on the stand to help retailers see how to buy into the range. Pitti needs a few more labels that are core for UK buyers, such as Hugo Boss and Paul Smith.

- What do you expect retailers to spend for spring 08 compared with last year?

They really cut back over the past two seasons, but they have at least the same money to spend for spring 08. However, they are more discerning about what they spend on, and are looking hard at labels' performances. They only spend on core labels.

- Will you show at Pitti next season and, if so, why?

Yes. At Pitti, we sit next to good brands and the show is great for our profile. We always meet our biggest customers at the show.

MIKE MCHUGH, GLOBAL SALES MANAGER, GLOVERALL

- Is the turnout from the UK what you expected?

We've had some good UK visitors, including Liberty, Selfridges and Psyche. The organisers moved us at the last minute after we'd sent out invites and marketing, but it's in a better position and we've had a good show.

- Which of the trends you've seen at Pitti will be picked up by UK buyers?

The military look is still around and that's always been our heritage, so we've extended our range into more fashionable, lightweight styles.

- What do the brands at Pitti need to do to attract more UK buyers?

You have to do new things with your brand to survive in this industry, so we're trying to expand the offer to embrace a broader range of customer, who is also a bit younger.

- What do you expect retailers to spend for spring 08 compared with last year?

The UK market is difficult and it's a real struggle for indies, but most of the ones we've seen seem to have good budgets. Big brands ask for big orders, which makes it difficult for smaller indies, but we can supply them with smaller orders.

- Will you show at Pitti next season and, if so, why?

We will come next season. It's great for new markets such as the US and Russia. We'll also do Bread & Butter Barcelona and CPH in Copenhagen.

MICHAEL JORGESEN, UK HEAD OF MENSWEAR, SAND

- Is the turnout from the UK what you expected?

I wasn't expecting a lot of UK visitors. It's fashionable to go to Bread & Butter at the moment. If your core brand is Hugo Boss, you need to see what they're doing before you do the rest of your buying, and it's not at Pitti.

- Which of the trends you've seen at Pitti will be picked up by UK buyers?

The trends haven't moved on much from last year, but I don't think many retailers are particularly open to new trends.

- What do the brands at Pitti need to do to attract more UK buyers?

We always move the collection along, but we don't want to change our offer too much. You have to stick to what you do best. If trading is difficult then retailers don't want to buy new things, no matter how hard we try.

- What do you expect retailers to spend for spring 08 compared with last year?

There has been a 20% rise in sales this autumn across our stockists. The retailers we have seen still seem willing to commit to forward order like they did last year.

- Will you show at Pitti next season and, if so, why?

We plan to come next year and we're happy with the show and location. But we'd still see the same buyers in our offices and showrooms whether we come to the show or not.

DOUGLAS HOOD, COMMERCIAL MANAGER, WILLIAM HUNT

- Is the turnout from the UK what you expected?

The turnout is about on a par with last year, but there are no surprises. We've seen buyers from Selfridges, Bentalls, John Lewis and a few indies, including Flannels. We picked up some new business so we're happy.

- Which of the trends you've seen at Pitti will be picked up by UK buyers?

There's not much change from last summer, and a lot of the trends are quite Italian, with shorter, more fitted jackets and tighter trousers. That won't really work in the UK, which has a little more of a casual feel on tailoring.

- What do the brands at Pitti need to do to attract more UK buyers?

I don't think brands can do much more. This show is a shop window, so you should come and look no matter what. There is some great stuff here, but if the retailers don't want something new then it's tough.

- What do you expect retailers to spend for spring 08 compared with last year?

A lot of retailers have had a hard time. I don't think their spending will be much different to last year.

- Will you show at Pitti next season and, if so, why?

We were moved to the main block along with a lot of the British brands. We're happy with how we've done in this location.

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