London designers seek to defy tough markets with luxury pieces

Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:15pm EDT
 
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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

LONDON (Reuters) - London designers are seeking to entice more demanding fashion followers with luxurious materials, rich embellishment and vivid colors, hopeful that the country's luxury industry will grow despite continuing global economic woes.

London Fashion Week, effectively a trade show that sees hundreds of buyers, journalists and celebrities descend on the British capital, is expected to result in orders worth more than 100 million pounds ($159.35 million) during its September 13-17 run.

Hoping to cash in on last year's London Olympics and the Kate Middleton factor that thrust London in the spotlight - even though the city is a smaller sister to fashion giants Milan, Paris and New York - designers are full of confidence.

Despite a noted slowdown in designer-hungry China, many brands still see huge potential there and a rebound in U.S. demand, while Japan is boosting spirits and balance sheets.

"I think the customer is still there," Mulberry Chief Executive Bruno Guillon told Reuters after the luxury label's spring/summer 2014 womenswear show.

"I think the customer is certainly focusing on quality."

In a lush garden setting in London's exclusive Claridges hotel, Mulberry models wore colorful silk floral as well as sparkly sequined dresses, leather T-shirts, dark coats with pony-skin panels and silvery jacquard coats.

The British luxury sector is forecast to almost double in size over the next five years, from 6.6 billion pounds in 2012 to 12.2 billion pounds in 2017, according to a Ledbury Research and Walpole Luxury Benchmark study published in July.   Continued...

 
Models present creations from the Peter Pilotto Spring/Summer 2014 collection during London Fashion Week September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh