Show report: The word from Just Around The Corner London
Despite the deepening cost-of-living crisis, the mood remained upbeat from exhibitors at the Just Around The Corner (JATC) trade show at The Truman Brewery on Brick Lane in East London on 8-9 February 2023, no doubt buoyed by attendance numbers hitting almost 1,200 buyers by the close of the final day, and by buyers generally feeling positive.
Show organiser Juls Dawson, said: “The mood of the show from exhibitors and buyers alike was upbeat overall, despite several that I spoke to reporting a tough January trade wise.
“There was also currently an underlying feeling towards buyers playing it safe and looking for sharper price points given the cost-of-living crisis, and with our brand mix we are a show perfectly positioned to satisfy this trend.”
Here’s what some of JATC’s exhibitors had to say on the afternoon of day two:
James Ellard, Sales Executive, JUST Consultancies, showing Ed Hardy and Fila
We’ve seen some familiar faces and some new faces as well, so the show has been really good for us. We’ve had a few buyers who were pre-booked for appointments on the stand, but also some coming on that we weren’t expecting, so it’s been a real mix of different key accounts and independents from up and down the country. On day two we had buyers from Fenwick, Urban Outfitters, Mainline and Shmooz from Dunfermline in Scotland.
We’ve written a few orders and we’ve got more buyers booked to come in our showroom over the coming weeks. We will be selling Ed Hardy right up until the end of February. It’s a brand that has been brought back in to the market from its 90s and early 2000s heyday, bang on with the whole Y2K trend that’s going on right now across men’s and women’s.
Cargo trousers, especially in the baggier fit, are really key. Tattoo prints are also really on trend at the moment, so with Ed Hardy being a famous tattoo artist it’s great for the license holder to be able to use his original artwork on clothing. Feedback on the T-shirts, sweats and hoodies has been strong, especially across the vintage and acid washes. The embroidered jeans have been well received too, the baggier the better, and the retro women’s bleach wash flares have gone down well.
Some of the retailers we’ve spoken to have said they had one of the best Christmases they’ve had business-wise in the last five to 10 years, especially bricks and mortar stores who saw quite a big uptake in the last two weeks before Christmas where people weren’t so confident in ordering online because of the postal strikes. It forced more people to go in to stores. We’ve not seen that for some time, because it all went crazy online during the Covid pandemic and lockdowns.
With all that’s going on in terms of the cost-of-living crisis, I’d say buyers have perhaps been more cautious for AW23, buying into what they know well and maybe not trying as many new things as they normally would.
However, it was all doom and gloom in the media at the start of winter and I don’t think it panned out as bad as it was made out. We don’t know what’s going to be happening in the world when we deliver AW23 in July and August, but everyone is still trading and we’re still here showing, so that’s half the battle.
Rachel Mangan, Sales Manager, DK Company, selling b.young and Pulz
The show has been really good – we didn’t stop writing orders on day one. It’s been really positive, there’s been a good feel to it and we’ve opened quite a few new accounts. There’s been a lot of Scottish customers which has been quite surprising, but great as sometimes it’s a bit tricky to get up to see them. On the whole we’ve seen everyone we expected to see and we’ve opened some new accounts.
I think the autumn/winter season has been difficult for a lot of customers, but we’ve still written some good orders here. We’ve only just starting selling b.young and Pulz for AW23 and the books will be open until the end of March.
We’ve got an amazing knitwear collection with b.young, with the ‘Onema’ ribbed style, which will retail at £49, proving very popular with the buyers. There’s also a sleeveless version with a zipped neck which comes in loads of colours.
Denim is key for Pulz and we’ve got a never-out-of-stock programme which is doing really well. Skinny jeans have dropped off a bit, we’re now selling more straight leg and wide leg jeans, and also flares and boot cuts – an area which is increasingly growing and I think will be big for autumn/winter.
We’ve been doing the JATC show since the start and it’s just growing and growing, so we will 100% be back next time. The Manchester show was also amazing. It was busier for me as that’s my area, though in general the London show has probably been busier for us.
David Smith, Sales Manager, Level One Showroom, showing Kaffe, Compañía Fantástica, Molliolli, Grace & Mila and FRNCH
We’ve had two very good days. Normally the last day can drag a bit, but we’ve been writing orders on all of our stands. Kaffe, Compañía Fantástica, Grace & Mila and FRNCH have all done very well. Molliolli is a bit more premium, so it doesn’t have the same synergy with all of the retail customers walking the show, but several people have liked it and written orders for that too. It’s a faux fur collection which retails for £250-£300, so a bit above the other brands.
I’d say we’ve seen the retailers we expected to, and we’ve opened four new accounts for Kaffe and five for Compañía Fantástica, so it’s new business as well – which is why we come to shows. We started doing JATC for AW22, so this is our third time. We’ve seen it grow in size and get busier. The first one we did was in a smaller venue and the footfall wasn’t as strong, but this has been a really good show.
I’d be a liar if I said all of our customers had a fantastic autumn/winter season, but I think generally they had a good season – it was just lot of peaks and troughs, in line with all what was going on in the country.
Our orders for AW23 are slightly up on AW22 – which was our biggest season since we started in 2014. When Brexit hit, we converted all of our brands to a distribution model, so we custom clear and duty pay every single brand, which makes us quite an easy showroom to buy from. Previously we had customers maybe buying two brands from us, but now it’s more like four because we’ve cut the red tape.
Mark Bloom, Founder and Owner, Komodo
The show has been pretty good for us. We’ve seen most of our regulars and a few new customers. It comes in waves, like all trade shows. Our regulars seem happy, their sell-throughs have been good and they’re ordering more. We could drag them all to the showroom, but this is definitely a better environment and retailers note what other buyers are picking up. Seeing other retailers shopping at the same time adds a bit of momentum.
We’re in the sustainable section of the show. There’s obviously now a lot more interest in sustainability in the industry as a whole, with retailers increasingly getting quizzed by their consumers. For a retailer to transition and give a more coherent offer of what you can honestly call sustainable brands – because there are a lot that are playing games a bit and greenwashing - this is good place to come.
Komodo began in 1988 and grew out of the London street fashion and acid house scene. We really got going at shows like MAB and the London Show, which was originally in Kensington and then in Islington. That’s where we really grew up as a brand.
My background was backpacking as I’d spent two and half years travelling around the world – mostly in Asia – finding my way. It was really that experience that led me back to Asia when I started the business.
Back in those days, we didn’t call it sustainability, people would point fingers and laugh and call us hippies and ravers, and other four letter words! I didn’t have a fashion training background, I came from a travelling around the world background. I really just wanted to be independent.
Back in 1988 the trade shows were dominated by the mighty denim brands, like Levi’s, Pepe and Big Stuff, who all had huge stands. We came in as an ethnic, bohemian and ‘ravey’ alternative. It was good timing, especially as backpacking was becoming more of a thing with kids wanting to take a gap year and go off travelling to places like Thailand. We fitted in with that.
Working out of Nepal and Bali, where everything was handmade and crafted, I became very interested in hemp fibre and natural dyes. I also became more and more concerned about the pollution that was coming out of fabric making and dying, so I saw it as a direction to do something about it. I was also very interested in patchwork clothing, which these days is called recycling and upcycling! I’ve been doing it for years. In fact, I started my business with patchwork jean jackets made in the East End of London, which I sold out of the back of my car on Oxford Street to Philip Green, who was my first big punter. I also supplied Julian Dunkerton’s Cult Clothing store with Komodo, before he turned the business into Superdry.
Even some of the stuff we’re selling today is very similar to what we originally did, just slightly toned down and better made in improved shapes. When you break the product down, in terms of how we produce the yarn and do the dying, and how we put it together – it’s the same concept. We’re very strong with knitwear for winter out of Kathmandu, which people love. With our products, there’s a lot things that our retailers can talk to their customers about, and it’s always good to have a conversation starter.
Ward Mann, UK Sales Agent at Ward Mann Agencies, showing DK Company brands Blend, Casual Friday and FQ1924
Day one of the show was fantastic for us, and day two was busy in the morning but a bit quieter in the afternoon. Overall, we are very pleased. We’ve seen the retailers we expected to see, and some new ones as well, and we’ve written in the region of 15-20 orders over the two days.
We’ve opened six new accounts altogether at the show, with the strongest brand for new customers being Casual Friday. It’s contemporary, well priced, good value for money and good mark up at 3x wholesale price.
Margin is an important thing for our customers and we also offer a 3x mark up with FQ1924, which is a quite a new brand from DK Company. It’s a bit more of a classic brand for a slightly older and more discerning customer, and this is only our third season with it. It’s to compete with the likes of Gant, with equal quality but offering a higher mark up.
You’d have thought that retailers may be treading with a little bit more caution with all that’s going on, but we’ve had a very positive response – more positive than this time last year, so it’s bucked the trend a little bit.
We spoke to one online retailer this morning and he said he had the best January he has had for a few years, which is good news, and most of our independents are trading like-for-like in comparison to last year.
The mood for AW23 is quite positive. From our point of view, we’re lucky in that we’ve been able to hold our prices. There’s been no increases, so the customer is getting the same deal as they got last year which they are very pleased about as a lot of brands have had to increase prices.
Chris Dent, UK agent, CED Sales and Marketing, showing ACBC
The brand is based in Milan, founded in 2017, and it’s the first Italian footwear company to be B Corp certified for its sustainable process. It’s animal-free as they use bio-based uppers, the outsoles are made from recycled rubber and the footbeds are made from cork. They are also lined with organic cotton. ACBC stands for ‘Anything Can Be Changed’.
I’ve been looking after Red Wing in the UK for 22 years, and that’s totally sustainable because the boots last 20-odd years! But I took this on board in August last year having found it in a local store while I was on holiday in Tuscany. I tried a pair on and bought them there and then. What attracted me to the brand was the jute and hemp laces on the upper – so immediately you know what you’re getting. They looked good and were really comfortable and I thought there would be a market for them in the UK, especially with the strong sustainability angle. I got the brand’s contact details from the store, emailed the brand’s owners, and they came back to me within three hours.
This is my first full season with it, hence me trying this show. It’s not been as busy as I’d hoped for, but to have a show like this in London is important for the trade. It has to be supported by the retailers, and it has to be supported by the brands – and the brands are here.
We’re in the sustainable section, and that’s where we hang our hat because it’s the company’s DNA. There’s definitely been interest in what we do, but whether they need to put a dedicated footwear area in the show is perhaps a discussion worth having. I think there should be as it would bring in more footwear brands and footwear buyers. At the moment, footwear is a bit spread out within the show and it may be better to bring it all together, but that’s for Juls to decide – not me.
As well as the latest ACBC collection, we’re also showing a new collaboration we have with Missoni, and also one with travel bag company Piquadro. We’re doing travel footwear for them. ACBC shoes retail for around £150, but the Missoni Sport collaboration shoes go from £299 up to £525 for the AW23 weave options. They are a bit special.
Read our Show Report from JATC Manchester here.
TheIndustry.fashion has created Buyer's Previews for AW23 to inspire and support buyers during the trade show seasons, read and download Menswear here and read and download Womenswear here.