Quality buyers. Positive mood. Lacklustre attendance. Sunday, the first day of Moda at the NEC, echoed almost exactly the experience at Pure London and Scoop International in the capital last weekend.
After a slow start, buyer traffic picked up in the middle of the day, but tailed off noticeably as the afternoon wore on.
Despite this, exhibitors across the five areas of the event reported that retailers were generally optimistic about buying for spring 16, partly because early deliveries for autumn 15 had been selling well.
“A lot of shops have had a bad gig in the first half of the year because of the weather. There has been no high summer season in the Midlands and the north because they have not had the good weather the south has enjoyed,” said Glasgow-based agent Michael Black, who was showing his separates brand Latte in Moda Woman.
“But we have already delivered 75% of our autumn orders and it is selling through. If you have the right product, you can still do good business.”
Rachel Kelly, merchandiser for ethical label Braintree Clothing, said: “Despite having a tough spring/summer 15, buyers seem confident; they are upping their budgets.”
Barry Waterman on occasionwear specialist John Charles reported a distinct uplift in the wedding and special occasion market, which is strong sector for Moda.
“We have about 200 stockists and almost across the board people are talking about having increased turnover in the past six months,” he said. “Since the Tories got back in, things have stabilised and there is definitely confidence coming through. It’s the best we’ve known since 2011, when the downturn hit our sector.”
In Moda Gent, Dave Seed, owner of Hellewells in Preston, told Drapers a similar story: “In the first half of the year we have had our best time for five years. At long last business seems to be coming back.
“We are benefitting from other menswear independents in our area closing, but also as a business we are product-driven, not brand-driven, which is not a disadvantage in the online age.”
On the Viyella-Rocola stand in the menswear section, sales director Neal Dawson noted buyers’ desire for something new and interesting to be offered to them regularly: “We are getting good sell-throughs on our early deliveries, but rather than repeating them, buyers are asking us what have we got that’s new. They want something noticeably ‘different’, which is encouraging us to be bolder in our product development.”
Fashionable tailoring brand Remus Uomo, which has about 350 stockists in the UK, told a similar story. “There is positivity about, rather than doom and gloom,” said operations manager Mark McKinley.
“We are getting repeats already on our early autumn deliveries, especially on interesting cloths like subtle checks.”
Over in the footwear hall, Solillas commercial director Jonathan Matthew said: “Moda is our first show outside London and it’s been good so far. We’ve been able to meet new indies, which is important as we’re probably still seen as a bit of a London brand.”
But he added: “By comparison we were constantly writing orders at Pure, which was the busiest and most commercial show for us so far.”
In Moda lingerie and swimwear, Steve Hudson, managing director of Drapers Award-winning fuller-cup brand Curvy Kate, reported its best start to a Moda show on Sunday: “We’ve moved to the central lingerie plaza for the first time and we’ve seen some really good traffic from quality accounts. We’ve already written orders. Moda is our most important UK show and we’re definitely here to meet new business.”
Suzanne Mark, owner of lingerie boutique Straps of Gourock, Ayrshire, said: “Moda was the first show I came to when I opened my store two years ago. I always find there’s a good mix of new brands. I have already written orders today (Sunday) but it does seem a bit quiet. I think it will get busier tomorrow.”
Moda, comprising Woman, Lingerie & Swimwear, Accessories, Gent and Footwear sections, runs until Tuesday in Halls 16-20 at the NEC, Birmingham.