Only a couple of shows into the season and already it seems that UK buyers are making like UK shoppers and staying at home this summer.
However, the first signs from Bread & Butter Barcelona look much more positive.
Kidswear show Pitti Bimbo, which took place in Florence last week, revealed that its UK visitor numbers had dropped from 155 to 134 year on year. And at its sister show for men, Pitti Uomo, held the previous week, Brit buyers were as rare a sight as an exciting new trend.
The lack of trendsis a large part of the problem for both buyers and shoppers alike (Experian’s National Retail Footfall Index showed a fifth successive monthly decline in June, down a further 2.6%). The downturn or credit crunch, call it what you will, is clearly having a grave effect. But I can’t help but wonder how much of this fading desire to spend is down to a lack of inspirational merchandise.
There has been no radical change in trends for several seasons and anything new that does come along, such as the wide-leg jean which appeared last spring, just merges into the mix and does not actually replace anything. So skinny-leg styles are still going strong, as are straight legs and bootcuts.
One fashion store director told me recently that it is like fashion does not exist any more; anything goes. From a strictly selfish point of view, that we are not obliged to be slaves to trends and that it is OK to keep clothes for months or years even, as opposed to weeks, is a very good thing. But I am bored.
Maybe Bread & Butter Barcelona will throw up something interesting. Let’s hope the Brits are there to see it.