This Sunday was the launch of London’s third dedicated menswear fashion week, London Collections: Men. Despite its infancy, the event has had a significant impact on fashion media and built its attendance of buyers. The favourable press suggests London may be able to contend with the two traditional menswear capitals, Milan and Paris, but the crucial measure of the event’s industry relevance can only really be assessed through commercial gain. In conversation with Business of Fashion, Christopher Raeburn said his brand had “trebled our order book in the year we’ve been showing”.
Our software tracks the online movements of brands and retailers, Christopher Raeburn included. Comparing the period of 1st July 2012 – 1st June 2013 (following the first LC:M SS13 show in June 2012) to the 11 month period prior to it, we can see that the number of Christopher Raeburn products has grown by 117% on e-commerce channels alone. The brand has been added to some important stockists in that time, with Liberty, Matches, ASOS, Browns and End Clothing all picking up the designer since the first LC:M. However, during the same time frame, Barney’s, Luisaviaroma and LN-CC have stopped carrying the brand.
Dig in further and we can see a slight shift in brand strategy during the time frame. Since July 2012, the price spread of Christopher Raeburn products arriving online was £38-£695, with an average price of £252.78. In the 11 month period prior to that, the price spread was a broader £65-£1,185, with an average price being a higher £314.73. But it seems the shift has been well received, with garments taking on average 85 days to sell out since LC:M started, compared to 117 days prior, and only 13.5% of products have seen discounting since LC:M compared to 39.6% before.
Another metric to help understand the ‘success’ of a brand showing at a fashion week is the increase in their online following. Since first showing in June 2012 Raeburn has increased his Facebook and Twitter following by 146%. He’s not the only brand to have benefitted socially; Agi & Sam’s fanbase has grown 149% in that time and Topman’s 75% with an increase of nearly 52,000 in the first nine days of January alone (around the 2nd LC:M).
The increase in profile has seen opportunities arise for both the Christopher Raeburn brand and, more recently, Agi & Sam. Christopher Raeburn paired up with Fred Perry for a collection of polo shirts carried at ASOS and End Clothing, arriving online in May, priced from £95. The ‘German Schneetarn Camo Polo’ which arrived at ASOS on the 23rd May was sold out in three of five sizes by the 16th June.
Agi & Sam’s collaboration with Topman resulted in a 25 piece collection, priced from £6 to £150. The bulk of the collection arrived on Topman’s site on the 4th June, and items are already selling out. The £50 feather print short-sleeved shirt is out of stock in four of five sizes and the £60 gold flannel skinny suit trousers have sold out in half the of the twelve sizes offered. With the average price point of the collaboration’s products being 95% higher than the average on the rest of Topman’s line, and the sell through time being 11 days compared to the mainline’s 81 days, the collaboration works well for both parties.
Collaborations have long been a part of womenswear but switched-on retailers are realising the potential in the menswear sector. David Beckham’s range for H&M is three seasons in, Mr Porter aligned with ACNE over the festive period to create a range of evening wear and Target teamed up with label Odin last year. The collaborations which carry a high street price tag are a sign that the average menswear consumer has upped their fashion awareness. Indeed, ASOS BLACK’s second collaboration with Puma shows a marked difference to their first team-work, moving away from safe colour blocking on standard sportswear shapes, to trend-led prints on edgier silhouettes. With retailers steering the brand’s product design to suit demand they detect from their consumers, we should take this as a good sign they perceive the market to be shifting. Prices have also increased on the range by up to 22% (based on t-shirt increase).
A word of warning though; for the moment, deliver these high end references to the customer with a brand name attached. Topman recently introduced their in-house designed ‘Lux’ range of suiting and evening wear. Despite its Jil Sander look, the line has seen the price on 24 of 34 products dropped since arriving mid-March. This has been done without showing the garments as reduced on their site – a sign perhaps that Topman over estimated the original demand for such design-led product without a designer reference.
As menswear takes to the spotlight globally and LC:M continues to flourish, we look forward to seeing more retailers tapping into consumers’ appetite for accessible luxury.