In the UK we have our strongest ever portfolio of menswear brands and designers. From high street stores to graduates and from heritage brands to contemporary designers, talent is widely available.
For autumn 08, sharp two-button suits are selling well. Harrington blousons, and Belstaff/Barbour-style jackets are also popular and there is even colour in the wardrobe in the form of purple. One would think the industry would be buoyant and the consumer better dressed.
Yet on recent sourcing trips to Europe and within the UK, I came across something concerning. In one German city, it was possible to buy the same outfit from the same brand from three mid- to upper- indie retailers all within walking distance of each other. The result? No purchase. It’s not only Europe that is starting to be dominated by the marketing power of certain brands. It is also on our doorsteps. If we saturate the market then it will block creativity and limit customer choice.
There is a lot to be said for concept stores, such as Dover Street Market, The Shop at Bluebird or Start, all in London. The buy is a mix of established and new designers and the product offer is interesting. While the high street has understood this, it is clear there are some independents that could be more varied.
My final point is that we have allowed casual to infiltrate all occasions. We need a slight return to “dress codes” for events and parties. As for men, we would all have to take a leaf out of the women’s book and dress up to go out.
Bruce Montgomery is menswear design director at Daks, chairman of the British Menswear Guild and chairman of the Graduate Fashion Week Mentoring Panel