Purple will make the leap from trade show to menswear shop floors for autumn 08, according to early sales reports.
Steve Cochrane, managing director of independent department store Psyche in Middlesbrough, said: “Purple is already a big colour and is going to get bigger. Lilac is popular now, but it’s going to be full-on purple for autumn.”
On tailoring, classic looks have fared better than more fashion-forward styles and while a slimmer silhouette dominates, it is not as slim as predicted. William Hunt sales manager Dougie Hood said: “Buyers are playing it safe. With the economy the way it is, people don’t want to spend money on styles that will shortly be out of fashion.”
Classic buyers have focused on quality and luxury for the coming season. Aquascutum sales manager Michael Whitby-Grubb said: “Buyers are looking for an investment, a quality product that will last longer than one season. We’ve had exceptional sales on our luxury overcoats. Price tags of £500 to £700 haven’t been a problem.”
However, buyers have shied away from velvet, one of the key looks seen at menswear show Pitti Uomo in Florence. Hood said: “A lot of catwalks showed it, but if people are buying velvet it’s not from me.”
Navy has been a surprise hit, with many brands taken aback by its popularity. Trevor Hartley, owner of classic independent Hartleys Menswear in Guildford, Surrey, said: “We’ve ordered more for next season. At the moment I have more grey left than blue.”
City-boy pinstripes and three-piece suits have also sold well. While there is no escape from two-button designs, single-button options are becoming more prevalent. Jason Gerrard, managing director of Geko Fashion Marketing, responsible for brands including Bäumler and Without Prejudice, said single-button styles command 30% of total tailoring sales.
Anecdotally, the feeling among classic menswear brands is that indies are trading up on their offers. Corneliani UK sales manager Gerry Dixon said: “The middle market is clobbered. Everyone is trying to raise their game and move higher-end.”
However, most buyers have spent cautiously for autumn 08, holding back up to 30% of their budgets in preparation for a late-season rush. Hood said: “Buyers are definitely holding budget. I’m keeping pretty stocked up because I know what will happen.”