House of Fraser’s menswear buyer tells Marie Davies how the market has changed since he started his career.
When did your interest in fashion start?
I always knew I wanted to work in fashion from a young age. I had two older sisters so it was always something that was around me. At first I thought about being a designer and having my own brand but, after doing a foundation degree at the London College of Fashion, I realised there were other areas I was better suited to.
What led you to House of Fraser?
I had a friend who was working at House of Fraser and I began working there in buying administration after finishing my foundation degree. I progressed in my roles and moved briefly to Burton at Arcadia before taking up a senior menswear role at House of Fraser.
What brands are doing well for you at the moment?
We’re having a big roll-out with Diesel, G-Star, Original Penguin and Lyle & Scott. Original Penguin and Lyle & Scott are bang on trend for spring 11 and they are accessible for lots of ages. Younger guys like them as they are cool brands and older guys like them as they are easy to wear; everyone needs a polo or some V-neck knitwear.
What changes have you seen in the menswear market over the years?
Men are much more conscious about what they look like and the grooming aspect has really stepped up. I don’t think menswear was hit as hard by the recession because men always, and continue to, buy when they need something. Men are much more brand loyal as well; if there is a brand they like, they will stick to it.
How has the buying strategy changed at House of Fraser over recent years?
Online has had a huge impact, bringing us a much broader customer base. A retail store may have a certain customer demographic but online it is so diverse. Also, the buying season going from two seasons to four, which has been a good thing to freshen up the look in stores more regularly.
What do you like best about being a buyer?
Like most people, I love seeing the trends coming through and going to all the shows, particularly the Milan catwalks. Buying is so varied, from looking at store layouts through to marketing, press and promotional activity. Every day is different.
What menswear trends are you putting your money on for spring 11?
Polo shirts are still key; we are still backing the double-denim trend and we’ve bought back into chinos. They were a bit slow for spring 10, but we’ve backed them for spring 11. Customers should be ready for them now.
Which brand are you always excited to see in store?
Paul Smith. The shopfits are always different and exciting and the range is always bright and colourful.
Who in your opinion has a great shop-in-shop format?
Ralph Lauren. You can be in any department store in the world and you can recognise a Ralph shopfit straight away.
Who are your favourite designers?
Tom Ford and Vivienne Westwood.
And your favourite store?
Liberty in London.
What was the last item you bought?
Vivienne Westwood jeans with a drop crotch.
Which is your favourite trade show?
Bread & Butter.
Kevin Rogers is men’s branded fashion buyer at House of Fraser