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Occasionwear Indicator, July 27, 2015

Find out what’s selling now in the world of occasionwear and men’s formalwear.


Yvonne Rawson, owner of Chameleon in Bournemouth

“Dress and jacket combinations have been very popular this spring, with bestselling brands being Ian Stuart (£1,200), John Charles (£750) and Luis Civit (£650). We’re up 17% on last year. I think many young couples bought new homes and postponed weddings while interest rates have been low, but this year they’ve settled and are getting married, so people are in greater need for occasionwear for weddings.”

Morag Thain Beagrie, owner of Dressage of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

“January to May are our bestselling months as it’s the start of the wedding season. A couple of weeks ago we introduced our 50% off summer Sale, which is helping to boost trade. Dress and jacket duos from John Charles (£650 to £795) and Mascara (£230) are selling very well, as are dresses from Irresistible (£535).”

Catherine Nelson, owner of Kay Nelson in Liverpool

“As our store is in Liverpool, we benefited from the July races at Aintree and to celebrate 63 years of being in business this year we’ve offered our loyal regular customer special offers. Dresses and jackets are popular from Condici (£700), Ispirato (£500) and Gina Bacconi (£300). We are also currently in Sale which started at the beginning of July, offering 50% off.”

Trina Dods, owner of Mary’s of Enfield in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire

“This spring John Charles lace appliqué dresses with mesh sleeves and beading (£700 to £900) have been in demand, as have dress and jacket sets from Condici (£750 to £825 for crêpe and £950 to £1,000 for silk). Ian Stuart has proved popular since we introduced the label for autumn 14, in particular its dresses (£1,200 to £1,300). Over the past couple of years similar stores in the area have closed down, such as Eleni’s in Dunstable, and that coupled with a better general feeling regarding spending has helped push trading up 15% on last year.”

Pennita Wilshire, owner of Pennita in Helmsley, North Yorkshire

“This season has been a bit of a flop for occasionwear with more people seeking a casual approach to wedding styles. The mainstream brands have been successful with dresses from Joseph Ribkoff (£200 to £250), Frank Lyman (£200 to £250) and Tia (£150 to £200) selling particularly well. We are fractionally down on last year, but we’re looking to introduce new casual brands for autumn 15, although no names are confirmed just yet.”

Marian Merron, co-owner of Marian’s of Perth

“Dress and jacket sets are selling well for us this season, with Izabella (£285), Tia (£237) and Michaela Louisa (£150 to £199) proving most popular. There seems to be a feeling of cautiousness amongst consumers who are watching what they spend, so in the last 18 to 24 months we have brought in less expensive brands such as Izabella and Daisy May (£199 to £250 for a dress and jacket set) to offer more of a mix of price points.”

Laura Thomas, owner of L’Armoire in Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire

“For spring 15 we introduced Irresistible and Linea Raffaelli, both of which have become bestsellers, with their dress and jacket sets proving very popular (around £600 for both brands). Dresses and jackets from Joseph Ribkoff (£350 to £400) are also selling very well. Trading is up 14% on last year as we’re working hard to build our occasionwear range. New brands like Irresistible and Linea Raffaelli have higher price points, which has helped boost trading.”


Nicholas Locke-Hart, manager of Country House in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

Eton shirts have been selling really well (from £120), as have Carl Gross jackets (£399 to £495) and Corneliani suits (from £1,000). Trade has been a lot better so far this year. People just seem to be spending a lot more than they were, I think due to general greater consumer confidence.”

Nigel Broadbent, owner of Peter Charles in Lancaster

“We have been selling a lot of suits by Boss Black (£499) and Magee (£350), as well as cotton jackets by Brax (£180), which our customers like due to their versatility, as they can be worn with both formalwear and casualwear. Trade has been a bit up and down as the weather didn’t pick up until quite late this season and for us business is very weather-dependent.”

Samantha Houseden, manager of Robert Goddard in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

“Mix-and-match suits from Scott by The Label (£180) have sold really well, as have Ted Baker suits (£370 to £400) and shirts from Olymp (£55). Sales are up 7% on last year, which we put down to the fact that we try to give good customer service and attract lots of new customers by word of mouth. Also, there aren’t many other shops like ours in the town, so we’re a real destination store for locals.”

Peter Kaye, manager of the Ashworth & Bird concession in De Gruchy, St Helier, Jersey

Boss suits (£325 to £424) and jackets (£216) have been really popular, as well as suits from Roy Robson (£213) and Ted Baker Endurance (£191). We are 7% up compared to this time last year as I think the customer is feeling slightly more positive.”

Stuart Hall, manager of Casanova Menswear in Carlisle

“Blue suits from Van Kollem have been selling really well (£275 to £375), as have checked suits by Seven 7 Square (£275 to £375). We don’t start our summer Sale until the end of August, because we think it makes more sense to begin in August once the spring 15 stock is becoming less popular and the autumn 15 stock has arrived.”

William Coe, owner of Coes of Ipswich, Suffolk

“The top three bestsellers at the moment are Gurteen jackets (£150), Seidensticker shirts (£59.95 to £65) and Meyer trousers (£79.95). All of these brands are doing well as they offer high-quality fabric, good detailing and a good fit.”

Philip Buckley, manager of Denis Hope in Rochdale, Lancashire

“Currently suits from Roy Robson (£395), Remus Uomo (£295) and Boss Black (£550) are our bestsellers, with royal blue being the most popular colour. Our sales have been very good recently, because of the many occasions throughout summer, particularly weddings, proms and the races.”

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