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AIS Menswear Spring 09

The AIS buying group’s menswear show in Solihull last week saw the middle market ease into a relaxed look.

The AIS menswear show in Solihull last week saw the independent department store buying group showcase its most lifestyle-focused show ever.

The addition of new exhibitors including outdoor brand Berghaus, Dutch casual trouser label Traffic and Danish lifestyle brand Cottonfield, served to highlight the trend for a move away from traditional formalwear to a more relaxed and dressed down look in the middle market sector. With many of the formalwear brands offering an increasingly comprehensive stock service, buyers are saving their formalwear budget for buying nearer the season.

Meanwhile activewear-focused brands including Berghaus, Musto and Craghoppers have developed more “pub-friendly” ranges with a wider appeal their main technical product.

Formalwear-focused brands such as Gurteen were offering a much wider offer of unstructured cotton jackets, all pigment-dyed and washed out for a more relaxed look.

Meanwhile, Brook Taverner typified another trend at the show which saw slimmer style silhouettes make headway in the core men’s market with bolder fabric choices and more fashionable detailing for those buyers looking to appeal to a more youthful customer, as well as its core shopper looking to reference key fashion trends.

Ovearall, the collections contained more colour, especially on shirting. Although this was mainly via lighter shades of blue, pink, red and green, and cappuccino colours, there were also some bold check styles using reds.

A profusion of linen at previous shows gave way to a greater focus on lightweight cotton, and cotton-linen mixes.

All in all there was plenty of interest for visitors at the three-day show, and the mood was surprisingly upbeat, with most retailers saying that trade – although not great – was holding up against the impact of the credit crunch.

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