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27 August 2019

Spotted at Jacket Required… Andrew Fei and Luke Williams, John Lewis




Jacket Required has become one of the industry’s go-to shows in recent years. As the UK’s only dedicated menswear fashion trade show, it is a must attend for buyers, designers, stylists and industry professionals looking for inspiration and the next big thing. Get the insights from John Lewis menswear buyers Andrew and Luke on the latest trends and Jacket Required SS20. 
 

What does a standard day in the office look like for you?


We both work at John Lewis, in the men’s brands buying team. So, a standard a day in the office… I think lots of people in buying would say there aren’t standard days in the office.

At the moment, we’re obviously in buying season, so we’re looking for SS20. We’re just coming to the end of that now, which means we’re currently going out to our different brands, buying different ranges, using lots of our history and our numbers to aid in that process and then also talking about what we’re going to be doing for the seasons ahead.

You never really stop, you spend a lot of time buying and then when that’s done, you go into the trading season and that’s much more about how we’re going to execute those ideas we’ve discussed with brands and how we’re going to change stores to fit the new season’s collections.

I suppose a lot of our role as well is about looking at what’s next. I think we’re lucky at the moment, in our department, to be in a position where we’re not stuck where we are, but we have the opportunity to get new brands and board and look to the future of John Lewis and the menswear department. It’s a really exciting time at the moment and it’s great to come to events like Jacket Required where you can meet lots of brands that you might not have heard of and learn about them.
 

What do you look for in a brand when you’re buying?


Sustainability at the moment! Sustainability’s big and I think a really cliché but important word is authenticity. It’s great to be sustainable, but you have to really embody what you say you are. The same thing goes, whatever your brand story; it has to be authentic and genuine.

We know our customer really well, and we also know where we like to push him a little bit further so it’s about seeing those brands that can help us do that.

Quality’s obviously important as well. Our customer expects that first and foremost; we’re not in the fast fashion world, and we don’t want to be there either.

So really, it’s about brands that can tell a story, can provide value and quality and push our customer to try something a bit different.
 

You said you know your customer really well – how do you get to know them?


That’s a really hard question! Obviously, we spend a lot of time looking at the numbers, so we can see what sells and what doesn’t. It’s also interesting to see what sells where. A jacket might be really popular in Manchester but won’t sell at all in Liverpool, for example. So, we have that in mind, when we buy for certain stores.

It’s hard to say, though, as the customer is always changing and growing, and so our processes and understanding of our customer change with that.

There’s also an element of buying what we like. To some extent, we’re similar to our customer, so the chances are if we like it, they will too. As much as it’s about looking at the numbers, it’s also an instinct in a lot of ways. Sometimes, you do just know what will sell.

To put it simply, it’s a mixture of a lot of things; what’s worked before, what the numbers tell us and what we like to wear and buy ourselves.
 

Is there anything in particular you’re looking for at the show this season?


Within the menswear department, there’s naturally a lot of sub sectors. Our niche is denim, and what we call modern leisure. From that point of view, we’re looking for the more urban, streetwear brands and something for a slightly younger customer. Looking around, there’s already some brands and collections that look like they could fit with the next season’s range.
 

What are the upcoming trends that you’re excited about?


We have been seeing a lot of camo prints in menswear, but honestly, that’s a dying trend now moving into SS20. Camo’s going to be replaced with tie dye, although I’m not the biggest fan of it. We’ll also see a lot of statement holiday shirts coming back into fashion, with bold prints and colours. And bucket hats. Bucket hats are here to stay.
 

Finally, if you could describe Jacket Required in three words, what would they be?


Comprehensive, exciting and accessible.


Jacket Required will be back for the AW20 edition on 22nd and 23rd January.
 
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