Historically, during times of a recession, because let’s face it, we are in one, buyers tend to become more conservative about how much they are buying. They tend to stick to brands and products that have sold well or sold through in the past, and are more reserved about their orders.
However, this recession is proving unlike any other. This year, at Coterie and Magic, two annual trade fairs, offering contemporary brands, brands were both happy to continue seeing in-person events post-lockdown, and according to them, the buyers were, well, buying.
“The boutiques we work with are doing very well,” said Julian Medina, a representative for Sunrise brands, to FashionUnited. “Some of them are doubling down on brands that are tried and true. The boutiques that drive our business for brands, including Joie, Current/Elliot, and Equipment, are doing very well. We are seeing buyers ordering more because they are going after brands that are tried and true. We work with a lot of specialty stores that want the more independent or emerging brands, so they aren’t stale.”
Tradeshows doing well despite inflation
Medina also added that he feels specialty retailers are doing so well right now because people want fashion with a more personalized touch. While the big department stores still have a large market share, customers are looking for products that will feel more individual, rather than mass market or commercial.
Although buyers are not being more conservative about their orders, brands are seeing the effects of inflation and supply chain issues. Denim brand Driftwood says they have had to increase their cost by 20 percent over the past year-and-a-half due to supply chain issues. Although the company does own its factories, the factories are still charging the company more. Be that as it may, they have been met with almost no resistance from customers.
“Our customers have had no negative response to the price increases,” said Randi Goldman, vice president of sales at Driftwood, to FashionUnited. “Where we used to retail at 128 to 148 dollars on average, we are now 138 to 198 dollars on average, but our business is still up. We are not a department store brand, so we don’t see markdowns. I will say there are fewer buyers in the market, but our price increase isn’t hurting us.”
Goldman also said that after expanding their offerings, the buyers she did see were buying more, but they are buying closer to delivery dates. Buyers are waiting closer to their quarterly reports so they can have an idea of how their business is doing before they buy.
Lisa Fink, senior national sales manager of Mavi, told FashionUnited that despite some of the challenges in the broader economy, Mavi’s business is on an upswing. “Mavi is a premium brand, but we’re value premium,” she said. “We retail on average at 128 dollars, and this Coterie show is the most responsive buyers have been since pre-COVID-19. Attendance at the show is up, and buyers are buying. We have been able to find a price point that helps our profit margins and increases the margins for the buyers too. Everyone is expecting prices to increase with inflation, and we are still reasonably priced, so our business is still succeeding.”
While consumers are being hit by inflation, premium brands and specialty stores are still performing well. Increased prices didn’t rain on Magic and Coterie’s parade, as the tradeshows made a successful comeback and left brands pleased with buyers response.