Jacket Required – Peregrine
“This is our fourth consecutive year – eight seasons. And it’s just got better and better as its got known.” It was a conversation topic and solid event endorsement that was to be almost universally repeated during the two days of the event from the brands in attendance.
JR has established itself as the de facto UK menswear tradeshow for premium, mid-tier, street and new designers. And it’s great seeing its focus paying off with the respect of the buying community. There was that ‘money can’t buy’ buzz of expectation in the air and not a tumbleweed in sight.
I asked Tom what JR meant to his business. “It’s a hundred percent about business development. The first couple of seasons we weren’t getting much attention. The tipping point was getting the right kind of agents. Agents on the road make a big difference.” Sounds like bread and butter, but tradeshow halls are often full of great product not promoted owing to the poor choice of agent.
The sage aspect of trade show participation as a brand is that while you may be lucky, a first-timer whose range caught the eye (the uncomplicated layout of JR is such that a conscientious buyer should easily discover new designs and brands), being there is the culmination of all the pre-event marketing and publicity that allowed you the privilege of being remembered to be seen and responded to. Not lucky per se. The event is the punctuation point to cement that, not the start of the relationship.
In that regard, Tom reminds me: “We have about a month. If there’s no follow up, it goes cold, and the buyers will spend their budgets elsewhere. Most decisions by key buyers will be made already. Eighty percent spent on big brands, the remainder to disperse among other brands.” It’s an interesting perspective on the buying pie. What piece is left and for who? With such a focused UK event, it’s many of the smaller UK boutiques buying at JR, with international agents prospecting for brands to take abroad (many from Italy and France apparently) and a sprinkling of international buyers – the next major challenge for this event.
Jacket Required is often the first showing of any of the new (AW) collections for the brands. Peregrine Clothing has an eye-catching ‘Bampton Wool Jacket’ sported by Tom, made from 100 per cent Melton wool with a Moreno wool shawl collar that I really admired – manly and sporty.
An interesting Wool Chukka Boot collaboration remind us that this company has a stoic connection to brand UK it is actively promoting. Hainsworth sourced Melton wool is used on a shoe collaboration with the Northampton-based Saunders shoe manufacturer, to great effect – three great brands for the price of one.
There are traditional field coats with innovative design, Peacoat variations with combined fabrics on collar and lapels, John Hanley sourced Donegal Tweed and groovy thousands and islands speckled Aron sweaters for good measure. Good to keep it in the family. I caught up with Tom at the end of the show and he said they had a very positive response, had taken orders and were very hopeful of some key new accounts opening. Just the small matter of closing them and holding onto them. A cinch.
By Paul Markevicius