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Think positive: there’s reason to be cheerful

Eric Musgrave

Buyers at Pitti Uomo, Bread & Butter and Premium Berlin seemed to have a fresh appetite

Reasons To Be Cheerful by Ian Dury and the Blockheads ran through my head as I visited the new season’s trade shows.

Reason one is that we are in 2010, so 2009 - with all its challenges - is done and dusted. Most companies that made it through the year must have finished the period leaner and more efficient than at the end of 2008.

The severe paring back of stocks in 2009, combined with a pretty good Christmas for many, has resulted in generally clear stocks, so buyers at Pitti Uomo, Bread & Butter and Premium Berlin seemed to have a fresh appetite to lay down orders. There are still many shows to get round but the signs are positive.

Oddly, another reason for cheer is that we are in a period of stability. We must accept that the conditions that have affected our sector since the financial collapse of mid-2008 are here to stay. This is the new reality we have to deal with - so let’s get on with it.

For brands that export, the relative weakness of sterling - at a rough estimate down 20% on a year ago - means that their ranges look more attractive than ever to international buyers. Of course, raw materials and sourcing costs have risen due to the pound’s problems, but if there was ever a reason to push selling overseas, it’s now. However, while overseas buyers may be more receptive, they won’t be a pushover, so my colleagues at UK Fashion Exports are available to help. Check out www.ukft.org for details of its export-focused seminars.

And finally, let’s take cheer that many consumers at home and abroad are looking to refresh their wardrobes with (to again quote Ian Dury) New Boots And Panties - and hopefully many other products from British suppliers.

Eric Musgrave is director general designate of the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT)

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