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Menswear buyers back core brands

With menswear order books all but closed for spring 09, brands have reported a strong selling season despite the economic climate, with buyers investing in dependable brands and focusing on colour and fabrication rather than trends.

Nick Drogman, UK sales manager at German lifestyle brand Marc O’Polo, told Drapers that colour was one of the most important facets of his spring 09 collection. “Our first delivery is all about strong colours and people have bought into that,” he explained. “The nautical colours, soft reds, cream and navy have done well for us, while our March drop focuses on lemon and pale pinks, and a washed-out khaki, chocolate and white colourway.”

Jason Gerrard, managing director of Geko Fashion Marketing, whose brands include Bäumler and Without Prejudice, agreed that colour is spring 09’s key ingredient. “On tailoring particularly, the season is defined less by silhouette and more by colour. Designs are still classic, but petrol blue, Indian blues and ink blues have done phenomenally well.”

Buyers are also veering towards premium fabrics in a bid to distance themselves from high street tailoring. Anton Llewellyn, managing director of Social Brands, which distributes Tiger of Sweden, said: “When people feel there is a recession looming they can’t afford to look like they don’t have money, which means moving towards a smarter look. Engineered fabrics are important, anything with a surface effect is popular, as are sports treatments on tailoring. People are trading up and buying better fabrics.”

The uncertain climate also means buyers are investing in tried and tested brands. Louis Copeland, owner of menswear indie Louis Copeland in Dublin, said the Republic of Ireland is feeling the pinch and he is putting more of his money into his best-selling brands. “We are noticing our customers are more cautious with their shopping. We will experiment less next season and concentrate on our more successful suiting brands.”

However, Jason Ody, owner and buyer of Wolverhampton indie Le Monde, will not be putting all his brands in one basket. “It is dangerous to buy too safely,” he said. “You have to do 80% of your buy on the core brands that you know, and 20% on the brands that are new to freshen up your store. “It is important to keep your shop interesting and push it into different areas or your customers will get bored.”

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