Capital’s new menswear event will usurp Pitti Uomo by kicking off the season.
The British Fashion Council’s extended London menswear showcase in June could dramatically alter buying patterns in the sector, said leading menswear buyers.
London Collections: Men will take place on June 15-17, kicking off the premium menswear buying season ahead of traditional season starter Pitti Uomo. The BFC’s move represents a bid to capture premium budgets and put British menswear firmly on the map.
Staging the show at the beginning of the season will allow buyers to consider London designers while their budgets are still healthy.
“Moving it to the start of the season makes perfect sense, because June is when buyers have their menswear hats on and when they are doing their buying,” said John Reid, owner of Bristol designer indie GarmentQuarter.
Buyers have often committed their budgets by the time the London Fashion Week menswear day comes around, said Tim Sturmheit, buyer at premium etailer Oki-ni.
He added: “Depending on the strength of the collections shown, I’d say that having it first could definitely alter the way some people do their buying.”
Luisa De Paula, buying and merchandising director at premium etailer My-Wardrobe, pointed out that putting the show first would attract more attention: “At the start of the season everyone is fresh, positive and energetic, so it is a good time to do it.”
The three-day London showcase replaces the LFW menswear day, which has traditionally taken place on LFW’s final day.
Dylan Jones, head of the BFC’s newly formed menswear committee and GQ editor, said: “Menswear is now a huge part of the UK fashion business and we couldn’t expand the men’s day any further because it is trapped in the middle of the womenswear calendar.”
Jones will oversee plans for London Collections: Men. He told Drapers that extending the event reflected the strength of the British menswear market.
“This isn’t about some sort of vanity parade or PR stunt,” he said. “It’s born out of a genuine need and a genuine desire to have an event like this in the UK.”
The BFC has confirmed designers Christopher Bailey and Tom Ford will be involved, while reports suggest that Richard James, Margaret Howell, Aquascutum, Topman and Gieves & Hawkes are already on board. Designer etailer Mr Porter will be one of the event’s sponsors.
All of the buyers agreed with Jones that the decision to launch the showcase was indicative of the strength of the UK menswear market at the moment.
“Menswear is such a growing market and men are starting to spend more and more money on clothes. There are some great menswear-only brands out there,” said Sturmheit.
“British style is revered the world over,” added De Paula. “We should have the big brands, the Savile Row brands, the young designers, but we should also have the contemporary street brands and retailers that give British menswear the extra spin.”