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What's selling now: occasionwear and formalwear

Find out what’s selling now in the world of occasionwear and formalwear


Remus uomo

Remus Uomo

Philip Buckley Manager of Denis Hope in Rochdale

We’ve found that our eveningwear trade has been slow for the past few years, but demand has really picked up recently. Three-piece dinner suits from Remus Uomo (£300) are selling really well and the blue suits (£405) from Roy Robson seem to be all that a man wants. Suits from Van Gils have also been popular. The brand has reinvented its style recently, which has helped its appeal to our customers. Also, it focuses on its relationship with indies rather than with bigger shops. Trade is slightly down on last year. There are very few independent shops left now in Rochdale but we’re looking forward to Christmas. We’re due to host a VIP night with a golf simulator, beer and food which should help drive business in the run-up to Christmas. 


Steven Buttress Owner of Buttress’s in Thurso, Caithness

Shirts from Rael Brook (£25-£45) have been selling well recently. The white dress shirts from Double Two (£25-£45) are also proving popular with our customers. Our trade tends to be seasonal, and I think that has helped drive sales of Skopes jackets (£100-£120) and waistcoats (around £50) – the checked, tweed jackets and waistcoats have been especially popular. Trade in general has been busier in the last couple of weeks, but is pretty much on par with last year. I think the poor weather recently has helped business, because we stock a lot of pieces items that appeal to customers when it’s colder. Hopefully Christmas will be busy for us – we tend to do well provided we have the right stock.

Simon Hyslop Director of Armstrongs of Worcester

The contemporary and stylish jackets from Without Prejudice (£295) have been selling well as they can be worn for both casual and smarter occasions. The two and three-piece slim-cut suits from Digel (£299-£399) prove popular with customers as well. Despite fairly flat trade recently, we have also sold well with the conventional suits from Magee (£325) as they are a more traditional style and hard-wearing for daily use to work. The mild weather hasn’t helped us – we were doing well until October and November. I think there is a general lack of consumer confidence from Brexit and the government, and that’s impacting how much people spend. Hopefully Christmas should help. We run offers for our regulars before Christmas and we hold a public sale right after Christmas Day.

Ashley Smart Company director of Mannix Menswear in York

Wilvorst dress suits (£399-£459) are a popular choice for consumers at the moment, especially black suits with contrast trim detailing. Another bestseller is Hugo Boss three-piece suits (£499-£650) especially in navy and blues – its shirts and ties also prove to be quite popular. Carl Gross stock service mix-and-match businesswear (£379-£499) has been a very strong seller, too. In general, trade is holding up. We started with a strong level in September and October, but we are concerned Black Friday might have taken the shine off slightly as pricing is put under pressure in the run-up to Christmas. Generally though, our trade is fairly comparable to last year. Spending per head is up slightly, despite the recent figures released showing a fall in retail consumer spending.



Claire Strong Owner of The Copper Tree in Usk, Monmouthshire

Ispirato has selling really well recently, particularly the matching dresses and jackets (£550-£750) and it’s the pastel colours have been really popular in the run-up to Christmas. Partywear and lace dresses from Gina Bacconi (£200) have been selling well too. The brightly coloured cobalt blue and red dresses from Joseph Ribkoff (£250-£270) are proving popular, too. Trade is really busy for us at the moment. We’ve been using social media, our website and advertisements a lot more and it has really paid off. We just had a fashion show with our Christmas stock and a lot of it has gone. Things have been so busy and hopefully they’ll remain so as we get closer to Christmas.

Frank lyman

Frank Lyman

Cindy Marritt Owner of Cindy’s in Spalding, Lincolnshire

Dresses have been selling very well across the board, especially those within the John Charles (£640) and Frank Lyman (£175) ranges. The dress and jacket combination outfits from Condici (£765) have been very popular, especially with female customers looking for outfits for weddings or for a cruise. For us, trade has not been bad at all. I have owned the shop for 37 years and can attest that we’ve had a really good autumn. We had a charity event recently raising money for Macmillan Cancer Care, which is always positive for the community. We’re feeling positive about Christmas too, given the trade we’ve had over the past weeks.



Melanie Ridgway Owner of Muse Bridal in Newport, Shropshire

Predominantly we sell bridal and mother-of-the-bride occasion wear so in terms of our bestseller it would be Carla Ruiz, which offers a modern twist on these types of dresses. The standalone dresses (£250-£500), and full-length coat and dress combos (under £400) have sold well recently. I think the reasonable price point really attracts customers to the range. Trade has been quiet for us recently, but it always tends to be this time of year. Lots of weddings happen at Christmas, but by now they have usually sorted their outfits for the day, and anyone marrying in summer tends to start shopping in January once the new lines are out.

Lyn Hayes Owner of Impeys in Leicester

Condici dresses with bolero jackets (£700-£800) have been very popular, especially the pink and navy, and ivory and navy colourways. Our customers have been purchasing a lot of dresses and jackets (£350-£400) within the newly rebranded Lizabella range too – the ivory and grey print has been an especially strong seller. Additionally, we have been selling well with  Gabriella. The more modern, A-line dresses (£395-£450) with lace sleeves and dipped hems have been exceptionally popular for customers. Occasionwear tends to be less popular at this time of the year in the run up to Christmas but it really picks up again in January as people get ready for events throughout spring. This year we have been offering up to 50% discount all week for Black Friday, and this has been working really well for us.

Jc fall'17 26393a hr

John Charles

Ann Pascoe Proprietor of Manor Fashions in Helston, Cornwall

For us, our bestseller has been Condici dresses with longer coats (£700-£800), especially the tropical-style dresses. For women looking to buy occasionwear, the John Charles and Isabella brands have also been very popular. With both brands, dresses and boleros have been popular. John Charles operates at a more premium price point (£650-£800), and Isabella is more affordablet (£280-£380). In general, trade has been quiet. Around this time of year, November and December, trade is always quiet because customers tend to buy their outfits for Christmas events before now and wait until the new year for purchasing outfits for spring weddings.




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