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Tempting trends are in short supply

Jessica Brown

‘If shoppers want trends, then they’re going to have to pay for them,’ went much of the industry conversation this week.

‘If shoppers want trends, then they’re going to have to pay for them,’ went much of the industry conversation this week. Next’s stark warning that still-rising cotton prices would put first-quarter price rises to the consumer at the top of its 5% to 8% initial guidance range, sparked off yet more debate over how best to manage price increases to the consumer. The consensus among high street chains is almost entirely to bung more bucks on trend-led items but protect basics.

That would sound sensible were there some strong fashion trends to back for spring 11. But the fact is there isn’t a clear fashion message, and this is becoming increasingly obvious from Drapers’ trawlings of next season’s preview press days, which kicked off last week.

Next itself held its preview the day before posting its third-quarter sales update, but its collections looked, and felt, incomplete. For women it backed white, 1970s boho with floral smock tops and maxi skirts, as well as looking at 1960s polka dot shifts, a pastel palette and the blouse - which has already made inroads into wardrobes this season. There was nothing wrong with the product per se but nor was there anything to truly excite.

Meanwhile, some catwalk designers, led by Phoebe Philo at Céline, are taking trends towards classic dressing - read basic styles, albeit well-tailored ones. This would be an opportunity to push prices through better fabrications were the consumer showing any interest in it as a look. Miss Average is not, and bar the odd camel knit, she is still looking for obvious design details if she is going to splash the cash. I predict a schizophrenic high street in both product and price terms next season.

That should mean an opportunity for indies though, and Drapers this week kicked off an initiative to find the most inspiring boutiques. We need your help, click here for details.

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