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Menswear indies blame the weather for turbulent sales

Unpredictable weather has led to mixed trading at menswear independents in the past few weeks, as they gear up for Pitti Uomo in Florence this month.

Of the retailers polled by Drapers, many said the promise of an early summer in April meant that lightweight items such as shorts and T-shirts had sold well for a while. But they added that cold and wet weather in May curbed further sales.

Tim Keating, co-owner of Liverpool-based independent Drome, summed up the general mood in the sector. "Trading has not been amazing, but it has not been dreadful - it's about the same as last year," he said. "April was very warm and the early good weather convinced people to skip jackets and move straight to T-shirts."

Retailers said polo shirts were proving popular with shoppers, but formalwear was also selling steadily at some stores, mainly due to summer occasions such as weddings, school proms and sporting events.

Menswear sales at department store Williams & Griffin in Colchester were up by 23%, but buyer Charlie Peel said he hoped to see some new trends at Pitti Uomo.

"There are a few new colours around this season which are selling well on polos and tops - even orange is starting to do OK. But menswear hasn't moved on for the past few summers and we need something different," he said.

He added that the retailer was increasing the proportion of spend on casualwear by up to 20%.

Paul Slater, managing director at menswear chain Slaters, said that although trading was up a little it was difficult to draw a true comparison with last year because the 2006 football World Cup kept many male shoppers indoors.

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