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London Fashion Week needs to bring in the buyers

This fashion lark is an expensive business. The British fashion industry is worth about £21bn to the UK economy.

But as the old adage goes, you’ve got to spend money to make money, and there’s no time in the season that brings this into sharper focus than what is termed - sometimes with joyful excitement but usually with abject horror - ‘fashion month’.

The impression we often get is of a nomadic troupe of well-heeled buyers and journos touring the globe to decide what ‘fashions’ they like. This travelling circus pops up in Paris, Milan, New York and London, and sometimes takes in destinations as far-flung as Rio, Sydney, Berlin and Miami. It’s a hectic and relentless schedule, during which buyers could be away from their desks for weeks on end.

But no-one can afford to take off a couple of months to swan about on the front rows - they’ve all got jobs to do and it’s eye-wateringly expensive to hop from hotel to hotel, let alone pack all the designer outfits needed to keep up with the Joneses. Decisions have to be made and events cut from the schedule. And as the circus comes to London this week, we have to consider how we stack up against the other members of the ‘big four’ shows.

While this week’s Style Council reveals that some luxury buyers have made the trip, we also found some were giving London a miss in favour of other cities. Sara Villareal, owner of Shanghai-based indie The Villa, only visits one city per season. She says: “Due to the nature of our brand portfolio, we usually focus on New York,” adding that her buy “is difficult to accomplish in London because most of the American brands don’t show there”. Jacky Yencken, director and buyer at Australian mini-chain Belinda, explains that “all the labels we buy that show at London Fashion Week show in Paris. We cut London out so we are able to shorten our stay overseas”.

In the past few years the British Fashion Council has taken its London Showrooms concept on the road to LA, New York and Hong Kong in search of new stockists, but perhaps the home line-up needs greater consideration to really draw in the international buyers.

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