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Buyers praise collections

Prints and colour stand out as catwalk standards rise and designers deliver commercially strong lines

UK fashion buyers have confirmed this season’s London Fashion Week (LFW) as a commercial success after designers injected fresh prints and bright pops of colour onto the cat-walk, encouraging retailers to spend.

Sebastian Manes, buying director for womenswear, accessories and kidswear at Selfridges, said the standard at LFW was the best he had seen, and the strength of the shows put London firmly on the map. “London is the new avant garde for the new generation,” he said.

Manes added: “The big thing is prints, prints and prints… There was a good mix of prints in a very elegant way, even people who have worn black for years will be tempted to wear sophisticated prints.”

Jo Hooper, head of womenswear buying at John Lewis, agreed that standards were rising. “Every year it is getting more heavyweight in terms of the shows it gets.” She said the return of Tom Ford and Alice Temperley was exciting for LFW, and singled out Temperley, Nicole Farhi and Clements Ribeiro as standout shows. She added: “I think we’re definitely in a phase of fashion where things are evolving rather than turning about completely… It’s indicative of where we are economically, with a move to refresh some looks rather than completely overhauling them. It encourages people to really invest in beautiful pieces.”

Hooper highlighted shirting, florals, prints and red as strong commercial trends for spring 12, but added: “The things that looked less user-friendly were the metallics.”
However, Ruth Chapman, chief executive of London designer indie Matches, said the metallic look could translate well in stores, along with prints.

From chalky pastels to acid brights, colour is set to be key for spring 12, something that Chap-man said would help drive sales. “Commercially, that wider audience is going to want to start putting more colour into their wardrobes, and that’s a reason to buy.”

Françoise Tessier, womenswear buyer at London designer indie Browns, singled out Christopher Kane, Erdem and Meadham Kirchhoff as the best shows. “I love the Christopher Kane coats, and my favourite colours are the oranges and pinks.” Tessier said the longer, fuller skirt would work well comm-ercially: “This length is very flattering and can be worn by all ages.”

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