18-20 February 2018, NEC Birmingham

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Gent buyers commit to forward order

Buyers in the menswar sector have revealed their plans to commit to forward ordering as the industry prepares for this season’s Moda Gent. Despite the increased popularity of mid-season topping up, the business model of forward-ordering at trade shows is still the favoured approach for indies, who cite convenience, trend-spotting and focused buying as the key advantages of trade shows.

“Moda Gent is our dedicated buying trip,” says Phil Atkinson, director at menswear independent Eric Spencer in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. “Being able to see more brands under one roof allows us to be completely focused on buying, and there is also the chance to spot trends and fashions more easily, as well as doing business with some companies that we may otherwise never have seen.”

Fellow independent retailer Brian Linnett, owner of My Guy Clothing in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, agrees that viewing collections in a trade show environment has a definite advantage over individual appointments with key labels.

“It’s an opportunity for us to see brands that don’t always have local representation,” says Linnett. “It’s especially useful having footwear companies showcased alongside clothing as separate trips out of the shop are not always possible.”

Retailers across the country also revealed that the opportunity to meet other industry professionals face-to-face could not be underestimated, particularly at a time when mid-season ordering is often completed via a website.

“Moda Gent is a good chance to meet up with other people in the industry who may have moved onto another brand,” says Phil Darlaston, proprietor of Philip James in Hinckley, Leicestershire. “I also enjoy meeting up with fellow retailers to exchange ideas. We actually do around 40 per cent of our buying at Moda Gent, because it offers us that flexibility to compare collections at the start of the season within a good, accessible location which has strong transport links.”

For those retailers who have seen the industry evolve over the years meanwhile, the trade show prevails as the essential model of seasonal buying.

“Trade shows are essential working days and a discipline to attend,” maintains industry veteran Robert Nash, director at Geo Heaphy & Sons in Redditch, Worcestershire. “I was taken to my first trade show by my father when I was 12 years old and, 60 years on, I still feel that it is essential to see menswear ranges – and not just those from our regular suppliers – to get a feel for the direction of the new season.”

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