LONDON — As London Fashion Week has gathered steam, the number of international buyers in town has been increasing steadily — and so have budgets.
Liberty is planning a 20 percent increase in its budgets for London, and Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president and fashion director at Hudson’s Bay Co. in Canada, called the shows here “essential to the international fashion circuit. London is a hotbed of creativity and innovation. We buy a significant number of collections here.”
Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction for Holt Renfrew, said London Fashion Week is now a “must” for women’s and men’s each season, not only for the runway shows and presentations, but for the innovative retail concepts that enrich the fashion capital. “We always hold open-to-buy dollars for London,” Atkin said. “I loved the new femininity that emerged this season.”
Tancrède de Lalun, general merchandise manager of women’s and men’s apparel at Printemps in Paris, said the store is “definitely increasing” its London budget because of labels such as Erdem, Christopher Kane and Peter Pilotto. “We have actually already started increasing our budget this fall and will carry on next spring.” Printemps is currently hosting a “Londonmania” promotion at its Boulevard Haussmann flagship.
Here’s what buyers had to say about the five-day showcase that wrapped up Tuesday:
Linda Fargo, senior vice president fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman:
Trends: “While there were numerous unique signatures, there were some unifying trends to key into: abundant floral references, the importance of shirt dressing, pastel palettes, innovative lace treatment, airiness, longer lengths and sculptural volume in layered shapes.”
Favorite collections: “Standouts for us were Peter Pilotto, Tom Ford, Christopher Kane and Erdem. Anya Hindmarch continues to spoil us with her whimsical and fantastical presentations, and L’Wren Scott’s collection inspired by 16th century Japanese culture was beautifully done.”
Sound off: “London has become a not-to-miss on our fashion schedules. This season, many of the young designers impressed us with their craftsmanship and originality.…There was a great sense of organization to the calendar, and full-on support of emerging talent. Traffic was our only complaint, but it was all worth the wait.”
Justin O’Shea, buying director at Mytheresa.com:
Trends: “I don’t think there’s anything particularly new that we’re seeing from London, but it is separating itself as a slightly more adventurous city in terms of Christopher Kane, Peter Pilotto and Erdem, with their interesting use of silhouettes. The flying cape details at Erdem and Peter Pilotto had all the couture skirt details. London is definitely separating itself from New York especially.”
Favorite collections: Erdem. “It was a moment that everyone just looked at each other and said: ‘That is absolutely beautiful’” as well as Christopher Kane.
Sound off: “I’ll tell you what the problem was: planning a world triathlete series on the Sunday during fashion week. I don’t know why Boris [Johnson] was doing that. It was impossible to get to shows.”
Marigay McKee, chief merchant at Harrods:
Trends: “The monochrome trend for next season will be huge. It was splendid at Erdem and ethereal and beautiful at Simone Rocha. Perspex heels, bags and necklaces are big news and lace was everywhere; I love that celebration of underwear as outerwear.”
Favorite collections: “We are definitely spending more on Christopher Kane, Victoria Beckham, Mouret and Erdem, and we will be adding Simone Rocha to the mix. Burberry is transformational, they really got it right; it was pure femininity without the frills”
Sound off: “London was much more commercial. It’s still about creativity and eccentricity, but designers are becoming more commercial and in a very modern way. The venues are getting bigger to accommodate people coming from Asia and the U.S. who previously might have skipped the week. On the downside, unless you have a very skilled driver, it can be tricky to get across London to the different venues.”
Paula Reed, fashion director at Harvey Nichols:
Trends: “There was an elegant femininity on many of the catwalks but it wasn’t corseted or trussed-up, there was an ease. It was ladylike but modern.”
Favorite collections: “I love the way that J.W. Anderson is maturing, we’ve stocked him for three seasons and we’re slowly building a base. The pastels at Burberry were beautiful and those double-faced coats were the kind of thing that wardrobes are built around. Emilia Wickstead nailed it with her elegant summer dresses — it really feels like she’s at a tipping point. We don’t currently stock her, but we will be looking to start doing business together. Kane has lost none of his creativity. Peter Pilotto and Mary Katrantzou were also standouts.
Sound off: “The venues! I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a lather trying to get to the shows, they were too scattered. We weren’t helped by the triathlon [which closed down parts of London].”
Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction for Holt Renfrew:
Trends: “Japanese influences; a sugared-almond, garden-party palette, plus white; lace pencil skirts; knitwear and cardigans, and I loved the romance of the below-the-knee garden skirt.”
Favorite collections: Tom Ford, Burberry, Peter Pilotto, Erdem and Christopher Kane.
Sound off: “Tom Ford got his mojo back: Talk about sexy, sexy, sexy!”
Carmen Borgonovo, fashion director of My-wardrobe.com:
Trends: “Elegant femininity, minimalism, pastels and sugar almond colors. My must-have item for spring 2014 has to be culottes.”
Favorite collections: Meadham Kirchhoff, Emilia Wickstead, 1205, Simone Rocha and Huishan Zhang.
Sound off: “Over the last couple of years, we have seen the London designers really grow. The level of craftsmanship and innovation on the catwalks this season has been outstanding.”
Rhian Grimstead, women’s wear buyer at Liberty:
Trends: “Two trends that were obvious throughout the shows were coming from feminine shapes and floral prints. Compared to New York Fashion Week, where brands were still channeling dark and sporty aesthetics, London Fashion Week was full of pastels, color, floral prints and feminine silhouettes.”
Favorite collections: Roksanda Ilincic: “Her clever use of Neoprene to ensure her ladylike structures remained modern was a great twist.” Christopher Kane: “His craftsmanship in the petal and embellished details were a work of art.” Jonathan Saunders: “His use of pretty pastels offset against the masculine shapes, such as the baby-blue silk track pants, were a refreshing move on from his much-loved dress shapes coveted by so many other designers this season.”
Sound off: “London Fashion Week could be a day longer in order to be able to spend a small amount of time speaking to new designers.”
Michael Mok, divisional merchandising manager at Joyce:
Trends: “Lots of florals, transparency and lace.”
Favorite collections: Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou.
Sound off: “London Fashion Week is getting bigger and bigger, but this season it has seemed harder to find new designers. The traffic and weather have been messing with us, and the Topshop venue was difficult to get to and from. It would be better if most shows were nearer to Somerset House.”
Yukiko Yuzawa, buyer/Concento division director at H.P. France, Tokyo:
Trends: “The use of Neoprene, vinyl and cocoon shapes is continuing, and I’ve seen lots of skirts with wide openings, like those at Simone Rocha.”
Favorite collections: J.W. Anderson, bags by Amélie Pichard, Claire Barrow and Nasir Mazhar.
Sound off: “We have secured at least 40 percent of our total budget for London designers, and I have been impressed with the organization of the week, but London Fashion Week is too short. It needs to be longer.”
Tancrède de Lalun, general merchandise manager of women’s and men’s apparel at Printemps, Paris:
Trends: “It’s been a superfeminine season, not boyish at all, with a lot of pastel colors, transparency, flowers still, but more skirts this time — not just dresses. The mood is easy and natural, very fresh, which is also in line with hair and makeup. The skirt is definitely back. Another key item is the sweatshirt.”
Favorite collections: Christopher Kane, Burberry, J.W. Anderson.
Sound off: “There is an amazing energy coming from London. There has always been a lot of youth there, but what we have been seeing over the past three seasons is a lot of young designers turning into proper brands. They are growing, building their collections, delivering on time. And so, of course, there is competition for exclusive pieces.”
Sarah Andelman, purchasing manager and creative director at Colette:
Favorite collections: “I loved the Christopher Kane and Erdem shows and collections. They both push the limits, they have incredible skills for new techniques, to introduce new ideas. For me they’re ‘real designers,’ making clothes immediately desirable. I also liked a lot the first looks by Mary Katrantzou with the shoe prints.”
Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue:
Trends: “The new generation of designers appears to be fascinated with fabric innovation, form and architectural shapes. The athleticism trend continues with springtime versions of sporty blouson jackets and luxe sweatshirts. As in New York, the longer length in skirts and dresses looked newest. There are plays on transparency, with lace insets, chiffon layers and tulle overlays. Many of the fabrics are infused with an element of high shine.”
Favorite collections: J.W. Anderson, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Peter Pilotto, Simone Rocha and Thomas Tait.
Sound off: “Brimming over with creativity, London never disappoints in terms of delivering top-caliber design talent. There is much business to be done in this town.”
Suzanne Timmins, senior vice president and fashion director at Hudson’s Bay Co.:
Trends: “There was a strong trend towards sculptural details, such as pleats, folds, layers and asymmetry. Lace was almost in every collection, as was crystal embellishment. Key items include zip bombers; longer, fuller skirts; slipdresses, and luxe sweatshirts.”
Favorite collections: Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Kane, Erdem, Simone Rocha and Roksanda Ilincic.
Sound off: “The venues are too far apart, and the traffic is insane!”
Sebastian Manes, buying and merchandising director at Selfridges:
Trends: “See-through plastic fabrics and shoes using this material as well.”
Favorite collections: Erdem, Christopher Kane, Antonio Berardi and the shoes at Roksanda Ilincic.
Sound off: “The only challenge was the traffic, but I think that is true in all of the cities.”