Menswear Buyer article January ’16


The last of the turkey has been inventively turned into some new kind of fricassee; unwanted presents tucked away into this years re-gifting box; and New Year resolutions already broken so drink may as well be taken. Yes, it’s early January.

Looking back on 2015, for Simon Carter, it was a good year. My first full year with Prominent, as principal licensees, was a success. Switching licensees is like getting divorced and remarried on the same day. Just twice as stressful. But I felt very proud when I saw my own Savile Row showroom for the first time. Really very grown up.

Another highlight was my shoe range. Originally a co-branded license range sold in Singapore and Malaysia, we brought a trial order for our own stores and it sold out. Three repeats later, and a much enlarged A/W range, and shoes account for up to 10% of sales at retail. I’m taking this a stage further, and starting to wholesale the shoes for A/W16.

So what did Father Christmas bring? Well he brought a good Black Friday, for a start. Having decided in 2014 that it was a passing fad, rather like The Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey dismissing electricity, we were caught with our pants down. So for 2015, we went very targeted, deep, and precise with 70% off 7 styles for 7 days. It worked. Sales both in store, and on line, were 30% up.

Christmas itself was ok. Some bits very good, one or two not.. I invested in our website this year rather than open another store, and was gratified to see a 24% uplift. Two other stores achieved similar; but Brighton was slow. However, all have had a good start post Boxing Day. Indeed the first few days of the sale felt more like Christmas than Christmas itself.

This is the new face of festive retailing. There’s been a fundamental shift in attitude towards buying loved ones presents. A decade ago, if your other half wanted a Simon Carter watch for Christmas, you’d have gone out and bought it, full price. Wrapped it with a bow, and made someone happy.

Now, the conversation is more likely to go ‘let’s wait until the sale. I’ll buy it for you after Christmas’. This makes for an increasingly unpredictable December. If I have one prediction for 2016, it is that the customer will be continue to set our agenda. Be ready to respond.

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