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Menswear shoppers may be Open to change – but are trade show organisers?

As the sunny weather disappears and the kids go back to school, a new season begins.

Off the back of a good summer (minus the bank holiday blip) retailers are optimistic and looking forward to a strong autumn, with new stock already selling well. No doubt the sudden downpours this week will encourage customers to stock up on jumpers and jackets as they accept that the summer is over. However, this week the focus has been firmly on the menswear market.

The opening of JD Sports Fashion’s menswear concept Open in Stevenage will have the industry watching to see if it can have an impact on the market. While Open plans to take on the likes of River Island and Topman, industry opinion is that retailers such as H&M and Blue Inc should be the ones looking to see if they have a new rival in town. The business does have big - and rapid - expansion plans, with the UK roll-out beginning immediately with 12 to 15 stores planned before Christmas and a transactional website launching next month.

What’s also interesting is that Open customers will be able to take advantage of a click-and-collect delivery option, which will be rolled out across the entire JD portfolio. In a Drapers report earlier this year Carl Moore, operations director of logistics firm Clipper, said that for some of its retail customers, as much as 60% of online orders are click-and-collect, proving the return on investment this can bring. With the methods of click-and-collect increasing (including lockers, pods and in store) as well as its popularity, it’s a smart move for JD to allow Open customers to pick up their purchases from its hundreds of stores.

Turning to the branded market, the biggest news this week has come from Bread & Butter founder Karl-Heinz Müller. After announcing back in July that B&B was going to Barcelona in January, just six weeks later Müller has reversed his decision and confirmed the show will remain in Berlin. While it is always admirable for any individual to hold their hands up and admit they have made a mistake, what is surprising about Müller’s original plan is that he had not first checked industry opinion, admitting in his statement this week: “In numerous talks with the decision makers of our fashion industry it became clear that in the current market situation they would prefer to stick to the established format.” Surely these opinions should have been sought before the move was announced, rather than learning of them in response to the change?

Perhaps Müller did not fully consider the draw of other Berlin shows such as Panorama, Seek and Premium, some of which have already seen brands abandon Bread & Butter to join them in recent seasons. In what is already a tightly packed January (Bread & Butter Barcelona would have had to take place before both Pitti Uomo and London Collections: Men), buyers are screaming out for show organisers to streamline the schedule, rather than complicate matters more. With travel budgets tight, would many have bothered with Barcelona, given what Berlin could still offer?

The difficult balance of scheduling was seen during the recent Copenhagen shows, after CIFF moved dates to become earlier than Vision and Gallery, meaning the shows took place over a total of six days. The confusion and inconvenience meant buyers were forced to limit their time or miss shows altogether, which surely isn’t a good thing for anyone. After several seasons of friction, LCM and Pitti Uomo have managed to schedule their datelines so as not to overlap in January 2015. If only Müller’s U-turn on his recent decision signalled a new world of collaboration for the 2015 season…

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