Buyers turned their focus to seeking out newness at this season’s edition of sourcing trade show Fashion SVP
At this season’s edition of sourcing show Fashion SVP on 15-16 January at Olympia London, buyers were on the hunt for new and exciting product. Sustainability and the changing relationship between retailers and suppliers were the hot topics of discussion in the halls.
More than 150 apparel producers, up from 102 last season, exhibited at the show, coming from 21 countries – among them textile manufacturers from Portugal, Turkey, Bangladesh, China and the UK.
Buyers from high street retailers and brands such as Marks & Spencer, Whistles, Boden, Lipsy, Lyle & Scott and the Arcadia Group were spotted at the show, as well as those from supermarket fashion brands such as Sainsbury’s Tu and Asda’s George.
However, some of the exhibitors Drapers spoke to said they had mainly seen smaller designers and start-up businesses this season.
“This is our first time at the show and we came to test the waters for our proposition,” said Randell Sergeant, designer at Greenwich-based outerwear specialist Serran. “We’ve mainly seen smaller names and start-ups. Buyers have been excited about the fact we produce in the UK because of the quality and design we can offer.”
Nelson Salgado, head of commercial at Portuguese manufacturer Wonder Routine, added: “We can’t complain – it’s been a good show. We’re well known for our kidswear, but we came to the show to find UK customers specialising in adultwear. The UK customer is fashion conscious, wants new trends all the time and cares about quality.”
Buzz Carter, event director at Fashion SVP, told Drapers suppliers and retailers are having to work ever more closely to meet consumers’ demands for new, exciting product: “In many large retailers, sourcing and buying departments are almost merging and they are working much closer together than ever before. Customers want trends to be changing all the time, so buyers are now sourcing new product almost constantly, which wouldn’t have been the case five or six years ago.”
This season’s edition of the show was home to a new section dedicated to knitwear, which featured more than 40 producers of jersey, casuals, traditional knits and knitted accessories. A denim area, which was first introduced last season, was also doubled in size for the January edition.
Carter added: “We have to be constantly thinking about what buyers want. Until now, we have been mainly focused on the middle-to-upper market, but adding a dedicated knitwear section with producers able to fulfil large orders allows us to attract some of the volume players.”
Sustainability also proved a key talking point among buyers at the show.
“There has been a lot of demand for recycled polyester,” said Clare Roberts, head of sales at activewear specialist 7Active. “The interest has started with bigger brands and is now moving down the value chain because customers are really aware of their plastic consumption now.”
Rizwan Khan, marketing manager at Bangladesh-based mill MekoTex, agreed: “Sustainability is a concern. We’ve been having lots of conversations about Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) cotton.
New Look’s head of buying, Jo Byrne, discussed the changing relationship between suppliers and retailers as part of Fashion SVP’s seminar programme. Byrne stressed the importance of trust between the two parties, and warned that retailers are no longer king.
“The relationship between retailers and suppliers is becoming more and more important,” she said. “Gone are the days when buyers were king, and we were wined and dined all over the world. Now we must question who needs whom more – do retailers need suppliers more or do suppliers need retailers? In the early days of my career I worked with a supplier called The Red Orange Clothing Company – the founders of that business now run Boohoo. Suppliers don’t need retailers to get their product in their market in the same way. As retailers, we need to adjust and ask what we want from the relationship. To achieve our goals, we need to work together and focus on what we’re both good at. Value for money and quality will become paramount as customers continue to ask, ‘Do I really need it?’ before they purchase.”