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Occasion and formal wear Indicator, February 7 2015

What’s selling now in the world of occasion and formal wear?


Maggie Robin Owner of Bear Necessities in Auchterarder, Perthshire

“The good weather helped us this year, as it hardly snowed. We started our Sale a couple of weeks before Christmas and ended it in the last week of January. At full price, dresses and jackets by John Charles (£650 to £850), Ian Stuart (£1,000 to £1,400) and Condici (£675 to £800) are our bestsellers.”

Caroline Reeds Manager of Anne Wilkinson in Retford, Nottinghamshire

“Dresses and jackets from John Charles (£500 to £800), Condici (£600 to £800) and Zeila (£300 to £500) are our most popular items
at the moment. Our Sale, which we started in late December and finished in late January, has gone well. Early deliveries of spring 15 collections in early January also helped.”

Caroline Oldknow Owner of Imagination in Chester

“Nowadays people don’t dress up as much as they did before 2009, when the recession really started to bite. Fashion has become far more casual. There aren’t many weddings in the winter so trading is usually slow until February. Even so, jackets and dress from Ispirato, John Charles and Luis Civit (£500 to £800 for all three brands) are in demand.”

Allison Jayne Owner of Allison Jayne in Castle Gardens, Swansea

“We had a very busy January. Being a long-established business, our name is very well-known and word of mouth really does help. Our bestsellers are dresses and jackets by Ian Stuart (£400 to £1,500), John Charles (£400 to £1,500) and Condici (£400 to £1,500). We have an outlet store (also called Allison Jayne) five miles away in Mumbles, where we offer up to 70% discounts, so we don’t have a Sale in this store. Our website really helps footfall, with people researching online first.”

Margaret Lawther Owner of Le Femme in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

“Our best time is from February to June - wedding season. In terms of sales, we’re in the same place as last year, which isn’t brilliant. Due to the recession people are more focused on basics and shop on a budget. That being said, our most popular items are dresses and jackets by John Charles (£500 to £800), Veni Infantino by Ronald Joyce (£500 to £800) and Cabotine (£500 to £800).”

Diane Holland Owner of Peep-In in Chadderton, Oldham

“December is quiet for us. Our regulars shop with us in October or November, but for Christmas go to bigger cities like Manchester six miles away. Joseph Ribkoff dresses, tops and trousers (£155 to £350), Gina Bacconi dresses and hats (£150 to £400) and Ella Boo dresses and jackets (£150 to £350) are selling best.”


Steven Buttress Owner of Buttress’s in Thurso, Highlands

“I think more traditional men come into our shop; they like Scott by the Label suits (£250) and Oakman trousers (£50), which have proven popular this week. As opposed to the alternative of buying suits online, where fit and sizing can throw up problems, in store customers get a chance to feel the product and don’t have the hassle of sorting out returns.”

Mark Jones Owner of Mr Jones in Swansea

“Remus Uomo suits (£240) and Van Buck ties (£35) have been our top sellers this week. We like to do things in the wider community, such as last September when we supplied Swansea City football team and the rest of the club with about 100 Roy Robson suits and Remus Uomo shirts.”

Oliver Tookman Owner of Robert Goddard in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

“Trade this week is consistent with the same time last year and customer loyalty is the main reason. We tend to stick to brands that grant us a quicker return on our profit, like suits from Ted Baker (£400) and Scott by the Label (£170). Olymp shirts (£50) are also consistently good sellers.”

Anthony Sedgwick Owner of Black’s in Newcastle-under-Lyme

“We had a really good Christmas, with lots of customers looking for occasionwear, partywear and gifts. As a result sales are up 34%, with Roy Robson (£299 to £499), Tommy Hilfiger (£410) and Without Prejudice (£465) all strong sellers.”

Nick Lockhart Owner of Country House in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

“Customers have been responding well to Corneliani (£895) and Carl Gross (£495) suits, which have been some of our bestsellers for over 15 years. I only introduce new brands when I feel the need, for example we introduced shirt brand Sand (£35 to £50) for autumn 14, which has been selling very well. We’re quite old school here. The men come in and we do extra tailoring alterations for free.”

Brian Smith Owner of Leaf Clothing in Newcastle

“We don’t have a website because we offer a personal service in store, which people love, especially when it comes to formal menswear. Our staff are very well trained and people love to know that. We like to introduce new brands like tweed Gibson London three-piece suits (£2,950), which we launched for autumn 14, along with our more established sellers like Remus Uomo suits (£295) and Pure shirts (£69.99).”

Andrew Braund Owner of Jonathan Hawkes in Exeter

“We started our Sale just before Christmas because a lot of department stores began discounting in very early December. People love the idea of a bargain. I think it’s a bit of a national sport at the moment. We introduced Meyer (£95) trousers for autumn 14, which have been selling very well. Our other top sellers this week (at full price) are Remus Uomo (£200) and Holland Esquire (£195) suits.”

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