With the spring 10 buying season in full swing, I emerged full of optimism from my recent two-day dash around the mainstream womenswear brand showrooms of central London.
Following a set of uplifting chats with well-known faces from the mid-market womenswear sector – including Oui UK managing director Geraldine Bennett, Nigel Hughes of APT fashion agency, which represents Passport, and Betty Barclay chief executive Stacey Booth – I began to wonder if there was a recession going on at all.
Midway through the spring 10 selling season, and these brands are waxing lyrical about their current sales. Almost everyone said that sales were at least flat on spring 09, while some
are seeing increases of as much as 20% on last spring, and a formidable 40% on autumn 09. At trade show Pure London, exhibiting brands claimed they were writing more orders in one day than they did over the whole show for the autumn 09 season. It’s amazing that, as unemployment hits 2.4 million in the UK, the highest rate in 14 years, buyers have so much confidence in their customers for this time next year.
I was keen to find out where this optimism springs from. Actually, it is pretty simple: the end consumer is still shopping. Several brands reported that their independent stockists were coming to them asking for more spring 09 stock as their orders last season were too conservative. Team that with a set of collections that have seriously upped their fashion credentials for spring 10 – colour, print and more considered use of fabric in terms of silhouettes, as well as some notable catwalk influences – and the positive mood of buyers for next season appears justified. Let’s just hope this rich vein of positivity has borne fruit by this time next year.
Laura Jackson is assistant womenswear editor at Drapers