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Optimism reigns among Bread & Butter visitors

Young fashion brands and retailers were in a mood of optimistic resilience as young fashion trade show Bread & Butter kicked off this week in Berlin.

The show, which ran from January 20-22 at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, got off to a steady start as Drapers went to press.

The show location, which was open to the elements last season, was closed up with a fabric wall and despite freezing temperatures outside, the fair was bustling with buyers and enthusiastic exhibitors.

Retailers and brands in the young fashion sector told Drapers that the trading outlook for 2010 was positive, with the strong Christmas sales momentum having set an upbeat tone for the year.

“Autumn 10 is going to be absolutely amazing,” said Julian Dunkerton, founder of young fashion brand Superdry. “People pay far too much attention to external events. Every year there’s a recession, a World Cup, an election, or something else - and that’s life. Is it going to affect trade materially? No.”

He added: “I don’t think the young fashion market will keep the momentum we saw over Christmas, but I do think it will see single-digit growth through the year.”

Andy Woodward, manager of young fashion indie Smiths in Scunthorpe, which sells brands including Lyle & Scott and Duck And Cover, said: “I think business for us will be steady until the election and then, dependent on the result, we may well see a little kick in business after that.

“As long as unemployment doesn’t spiral out of control, we should be fine.”

Retailers told Drapers that brands had been spurred on by the recession to deliver strong autumn 10 collections.

David Weeks, director of buying at Edinburgh-based young fashion indie Xile, said: “Where 2010 is concerned, we are feeling buoyant.

I’ve set my budgets and have placed my orders with most of the big brands, which are churning out good autumn product at good price points.” He cited G-Star and Lyle & Scott as having stand-out collections for autumn 10.

Paul Drew, Asos menswear branded buyer for denim, sport and street, said: “Shoppers are spending cautiously but they are still spending; they still have money. They are not necessarily looking to buy exciting things, but are leaning towards more essential and basic items.”

He forecast that basic jerseys, T-shirts and sweats would “come to the fore” and that knitwear - including chunky knits, Fair Isle and Nordic-style items - would have been backed by the brands.

However, some retailers were more cautious about 2010. Nick Preston, brand manager at branded young fashion chain Republic, backed Fenchurch and Firetrap for autumn 10. He said: “Trade has been very good over Christmas but it will get tougher. Customers know what they want to pay for product.”

He added: “Unless you know what the customer wants, you haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance. The key will be to keep putting feelers out and be ready to capitalise on sales when the customer bites.”

Some retailers stepped up their game in the recession to gain a competitive edge.

Mark Ashton, UK sales agent for Danish women’s young fashion brand Ichi, said: “Things have changed post-recession. The multiples are working so quickly and now lead times are four weeks and fresh styles are the key. 2010 will be amazing if you’re quick.”

Alfie Hope, partner at Jazz Clothing in Grimsby, North Lincolnshire, which sells G-Star and Fred Perry, said: “For autumn we’ll reduce our spend and buy extra from the flash collections brands offer during the season.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Wise words from Nick Preston. Now is the time to be nimble and respond as quickly as possible to what the customer is feeling. They will be fairly cautious but undoubtedly buy in to that must-have feel-good item which ticks the box on price and quality.

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