Musings


Menswear Buyer Article For December ’16

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I’m writing this at the end of Cyber Monday. Who knew, a few innocent years ago, that the end of November would be dominated by Black Friday, and now this. What next? Online Tuesday? Web Wednesday? We’ve been drawn into a discount arms race; a race to the bottom where full price trading seems ridiculously old fashioned.

Once again, we launched our very focused ‘seven items, for seven days, at 70% off’, and it was well received. But two years is enough and I’m already thoughtful about how I’ll match my figures next year. There’s a weariness out there, and persuading the ‘just about managing’ to spend is only going to get harder in post Brexit Trumptown.

I don’t want to finish my year’s column on a down, as there have been plenty of good things happen at Carter World this year. Notably, opening my first store in South Africa; moving to concession at House of Fraser with startlingly good results, and concluding my Indian deal that sees the first store of many open there in April. My UK stores have fared reasonably well, and all should finish with modest growth on last year.

So what of 2017? As I gaze into my Swarovski Crystal ball, I have a controversial prediction. And it’s this….Capital Fatigue.

As a Londoner, it pains me to say this, but I predict that the capital’s best days may be behind it. London has become a hard city in every sense of the word; hard to get into (thanks, Southern Rail); hard to afford to live here; hard to get anything done (plumber, anyone? Decorator?); hard to get around; hard to make friends if you’re newly arrived. And, my friends with children will attest, hard to get your child into a school that isn’t riddled with knife and gun crime. There’s also a hard edge: people are less friendly, more concerned in coping with the hardness than in reaching out to others.

I predict that the next decade will see the rise of regional. I was in Manchester hosting a press dinner last week, and I was blown away by the vibrant, positive energy. The pride, too, and the ‘can do’ attitude. None of the weary cynicism we wear in London as a protective shield.

Regeneration has always been creative led, whether it’s on the King’s Road in the 1960s, or East London in the 2000s. That creativity is spreading fast, out of London. Some is state led; think of Tate Liverpool, or the Turner in Margate, or the BBC at Salford.. Every town on the Kent coast seems to have a creative quarter. Even Croydon, once derided, now has more tech start ups than silicon roundabout.

This is a positive thing. The more we can spread the good things about London’s success, the better that must be for all of us.

Image by Malcolm Bell


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