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Menswear market steady in the face of uncertainty

The UK menswear market is remaining stable in an increasingly uncertain economy, across the value, mid-market and premium sectors.

At the spring 17 edition of menswear trade show Jacket Required, which took place in East London this week (July 28-29), footfall may have been quiet compared with previous seasons but exhibitors were positive about the quality of buyers in attendance and the mood of the wider market.

“Menswear in general is strong for us right now,” said Nichola Morgan, senior account manager for denim brand Cheap Monday, which sells both menswear and womenswear. “Menswear has caught up for us. There are some really great, interesting, premium menswear stores out there and they are having a good time despite the current climate.”

Kestin Hare, founder of the eponymous retailer and brand, said Brexit is having a positive impact: “There’s a lot of uncertainty out there, but it’s not all bad. Since the pound weakened, our brand looks more affordable for our European stockists, and while things are tough in the UK for indies they are looking towards UK brands as they know where they stand in terms of currency.”

Ladi Alexander creative director of streetwear brand Marbek, which was showing at Jacket Required for the first time this season, said business was steady: “It has been good for us. We’re having some good traction from cool stores and we’ve had a great response from buyers. Things might be tough out there but we’re brand building and we’re in a solid place.”

“When times are tough you can’t sit in a cupboard,” said Andy Tompsett, head of UK for menswear label Merc. “When times are challenging, you have to get out there and get inspired. We have seen some great quality retailers at Jacket Required and, more importantly, we were writing orders.”

Meanwhile, in the value market, menswear will be the main driver for growth over the next five years, retail research firm Verdict Retail reported, forecasting growth of 29.2% by 2021.

Kate Ormrod, senior analyst at Verdict Retail, said H&M and New Look have gained market share but must work to drive loyalty from shoppers: “Menswear has taken a back seat over the past decade as value retailers have been focusing on enhancing womenswear offers.”

She added: “Focusing solely on price will not satisfy value clothing shoppers. Retailers will lose favour if they opt to downgrade the quality of fabric and fit of their clothes to protect margins and offset rising inflationary pressures caused by the weak pound following Britain’s decision to leave the EU.”

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