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Menswear buyers upbeat ahead of trade show season

Menswear brands and buyers are feeling upbeat about the spring 19 season, and independents are keeping their budgets in line with last year, despite tough market conditions on the high street.

The spring 19 trade show season kicks off on 12 June at Florence exhibition Pitti Uomo. Menswear sources have told Drapers they are keeping more budget in-season to react to the weather and are generally feeling optimistic about the season ahead.

“I’m feeling confident. It’s an exciting time out there,” said Ryan Chandler, co‐owner of Meet Bernard in Greenwich, south-east London. “We sell a lot of British brands, such as Folk, YMC and PS Paul Smith, and we’re absolutely smashing it. For spring 19, we’re not extending budgets but we’re holding back about 20% to buy more in season. Year on year our figures are getting better and better. People are returning to independents for great customer service and treatment, and we are seeing that in the tills.”

Darren Hoggett, co‐owner of J&B Menswear in Norwich, is also upbeat following a solid spring last year: “Budgets will be roughly the same and we won’t be going too mad on forward booking – we traditionally play a longer season. This year, we’re really pleased with how things have gone considering the current climate.”

People are returning to independents for great customer service and treatment, and we are seeing that in the tills

Ryan Chandler, Meet Bernard

However, Debra McCann, owner of The Mercantile in London’s Spitalfields, warned that economic uncertainty and changeable weather had resulted in a high level of unpredictability in the market.

“We bought quite prudently last season and we’re keeping more budget back for in season buying, so stock wise we’re OK” she said. “But generally, as a business, the market is flatter than we’d like. We’ve traded sometimes on a par, sometimes down and sometimes up.”

She added: “We will be looking at brands that will work closely with us, but not just on product. It is about how they are monitoring their sales, the amount of point of sale [promotional material] they give, and general support by way of helping independents.”

Ben Tattersall, sales manager at agency Just Consultancies, said despite a challenging year for retail, he expects the mood to be upbeat at trade shows: “More than ever, retailers are working hard to have the right stock in the right place at the right time. To counteract challenges, we offer retailers all-year‐round stock programmes. We are feeling positive as we are seeing nice growth in several of our brands.”

Ravi Grewal, co‐owner of menswear independent Stuarts London, said in terms of trends, he was hoping to be surprised at the upcoming exhibitions: “We’ve got a broad category of brands, but I’m not looking for anything in particular. We’ve seen looser fits, sweatshirts and more 1990s-orientated product [selling well], but that’s not the core of the business. There has not been much of a summer to give us a new trend. We’ve been really reliant on the weather and no one can really predict what the summer’s going to be like.”

Hoggett said he expects the casual appeal of retro sportswear to stay popular for spring 19: “It’s not just kids buying sportswear – guys in their 30s, 40s and 50s are [buying it], and brands are adapting to this. Dark denim with a clean, casual element will be strong, but there’ll be no big shift. We’re not going to see a light denim revival, for example.”

Chandler agreed athleisure and looser styles would stay strong, and men would also become braver in their choice of colour, texture and print: “This is a trend we expect to see more of for spring 19. Outrageous patterns, Hawaiian shirts in loud, vibrant prints – the classic ‘Dad Barbeque’ shirt.”

Michael Waters, general manager of global wholesale at R.M Williams agrees. “With a new season brings new opportunity. Burnished boots are a key focus for us over the next 12 months, with a variety of seasonal and pop colours.”




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