September 15, 2008 / 5:10 PM / 10 years ago

Buyers ignore credit crunch at London Fashion Week

LONDON (Reuters) - Turmoil on the financial markets hasn’t made small buyers timid at London Fashion Week.

Actress Joely Richardson (L) watches Julien Macdonald's spring/summer 2009 show at London Fashion Week September 15, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

A brief tour of the exhibition stands found a number of smaller retailers and at least one big online fashion sales company on the hunt for bags, shoes, jewelry and clothing with money to spend and customers to satisfy.

Although news on Monday that big U.S. investment bank Lehman brothers has filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States and that fellow U.S. financial powerhouse Merrill Lynch may be the focus of a takeover, Samantha Rolfe has not adjusted buying plans for her shop “Concrete Catwalk” in the Essex stockbroker belt near London.

Among the popular bags, jewelry, shoes and hats stands, Rolfe told Reuters she had not adjusted her buying patterns in expectation of a slowing economy, but said she had considered her options for next season in February if sales at her shop began to slow.

“It would have to be for the Autumn/winter season come January/February ... that’s when I would have to buy smaller quantities and stick to minimum orders,” Rolfe said.


Louise Benisty, who was buying for her Hertfordshire shop Lulu & Fred, said the emphasis for many customers at the moment tended to be on jewelry and accessories, which can perk up an old favorite and reinvigorate a wardrobe.

“Accessories are easier to sell right now, bags, shoes. They (customers) won’t have to change their outfits.”

London Fashion Week has 52 catwalk shows over six days and more than 200 designer labels at its exhibitions. It expects 5,000 visitors, buyers and journalists over six days from Sept 14-19.

Among the bigger buyers, ASOS — which bills itself as an online fashion store and says it plans to become the fashion equivalent of books, DVDs and consumer electricals Internet pioneer — had at least three buyers touring the exhibition on Monday.

ASOS buyer for independent designers and high street (main street) fashions, Jo Hunt, told Reuters that her company was powering ahead despite news of consumers tightening their belts and economic forecasters talking recession.

“We’re sticking to our budgets,” she said, although she said that perhaps the emphasis at the moment leaned towards statement jewelry.

Italian buyer Chicchi Ginepri, who has three shops in Milan said she has not seen a reduction in sales, despite conceding there was a worsening economic climate in Italy.

“It’s equal ... the same as last season,” she said.

Her biggest problem was that she came up with nothing at New York Fashion Week and hopes that London can help her replenish stocks with the bags and sweaters she is hunting for.

“London is Europe and Europe is...” said Ginepri, giving two thumbs up.

Editing by Peter Millership

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