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Pure London buyers  shrug off downturn

The mood among visitors to the womenswear trade show last week was one of optimism for spring 10

Retailers and brands at Pure London have heralded the trade show a success and said a positive mood had been set for the spring 10 season.

The contemporary womenswear event, which took place over three days at London’s Olympia, pulled in a record amount of visitors on its first day.

Pure London was set to break the record number of attendees notched up at the previous autumn edition in February as Drapers went to press.

The 26th Pure London featured catwalk shows, trend predictions and business seminars from Drapers, trend-forecasting website WGSN and the Ethical Fashion Forum, giving retailers and brands tips on how to trade successfully through the downturn.

Jeni Pearce, owner of mainstream womenswear indie Out of Town in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, said: “It’s a good show, with a great buzz and plenty of good product. I have seen a number of interesting collections and I certainly didn’t expect people to be this upbeat.”

She added that, while for some retailers recent months had been tough, the positive feeling at the show reflected that others had been less hard hit by the recession.

Designer Olivia Rubin said she had lowered price points across her contemporary brand’s collection from spring 10 and that the event remained “a great place to pick up new independents”.

She welcomed the addition of new contemporary labels at the show, including younger brands in young  fashion area Spirit. The sentiment was also echoed by buyers.

Carole Shuff, owner of Shuff’s Separates in Worsley, Manchester, which stocks brands including Joseph Ribkoff, said: “The show has been brilliant and we loved the Spirit area. Even though it is not targeted towards our customer we came out of there buzzing. We have seen great stock and we will go home inspired. We have picked up three new brands which we didn’t think we would do. We haven’t been shocked by the prices; this is the second recession season so we had anticipated rises.”

Feeling positive

Sally Monk, owner of Boho Chic in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, whose brands include American Vintage, thought price rises were minimal. “The show has been quite good,” she said. “I have picked up some new brands. I don’t think prices have gone up particularly.”

Mark Ashton, agent for young fashion brand Ichi, said buyers were responding well to anything “visual”. Ichi has upped its price points by 6% for spring 10, but Ashton said that was minimal compared with some rival brands which had been forced to put up prices up by 16% to 18%. He added that the look of the show helped create excitement around brands.

Joe Szopa, UK sales manager at Only, part of Danish brand house Bestseller’s portfolio, said he was focusing on trying to attract new accounts and that the show had been “positive”. He said: “We have seen some existing accounts but not many, but it’s more about representing the brand and attracting those customers who would not necessarily buy it”.

Bronagh O’Sullivan, sales executive at Part Two (part of Danish group IC Companys, which also owns the InWear and Jackpot brands) said it had reduced prices but that buyers were still “playing it safe”. She added: “They are still conscious of price.” Part Two lowered prices by 5% for spring 10 and had picked up half a dozen new accounts by lunchtime on the first day of the show.

Other brands were more cautious about the outlook despite welcoming the strong footfall, suggesting retailers were being more savvy about what
they bought.

Sandra Hepworth, sales manager at Medici Group, which owns brands including Medici and Ana Nonza, said: “Buyers are coming and looking first. They are cautious.”

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