Two things have always struck me as odd about the way fashion stores add new product. One is that they load up on sarongs and bikinis while the March rain is still soaking us, or load up on knits while Indian summer temperates make us wilt at the very sight of that newly installed autumnal scene in a store window.
And the other is that they still seem quite surprised when they have to discount rails of unsold merchandise when the weather stubbornly doesn’t play ball with their delivery scehedules.
Of course the industry is much better at reacting fast and making sure the right product is in-store at the right time than it used to be. But however many subscriptions retailers have to weather forecasting services and however many factories are on red alert for fast trend turnaround, it’s still hard to get the product dropping just at the point when shoppers suddenly decide to buy item X in bulk.
Knits make up one of the biggest problem categories. They’re one of the areas that really suffer when Indian summers mean those high temperatures feel like they’ll never end, even though the kids are have been back at school for weeks.
Perhaps that’s why shopping for knitwear in September is such a drag – halfway house options like summer weights in muted, autumnal colours never seem that convincing as a big sales story.
Which is why the resort/cruise/pre-summer collections are always worth watching for knit ideas. These collections hit stores just at the point that temperatures are plunging and we all remember that last year’s sweaters have more bobbles or moth holes than we can really get away with.
So what’s on the agenda for the pre-summer 2018 season that’s actually going o be in-store round about this autumn? Well, these knits are no shrinking violets and if you want sedate, ladylike, refined, you might as well stop reading now.
Novelty knits comes with detailed, scenes, statement motifs, power graphics, faces, cartoon designs and much more. It’s all about not taking knits seriously for a look that feeds easily into the increasing casualisation of everyday dressing but, when tweaked just-so, can also add an edge to after-dark options. Hot tip: keep it fun.
Slouch at will
Nothing neat about these slouchy sweaters. The watchword is volume, maybe a touch of asymmetry and a too-cool-to-care air that means details like sleeves that hang down past the wrists are big news. We all know statement sleeves have been a big fashion success story lately but on the knit front they could royally piss off many people who would buy these sweaters. As an ex-colleague said recently “I hate fashion sleeves, you can’t cook in them”. So let’s hope a reality check will be on the menu too here.
Technicolour dream knits
Stripes, craft details and colour panels push the focus onto the pre-season’s big colour stories as designers take their inspiration Joseph and his coat of many colours. A hand knitter’s dream, it’s an interesting option for the perennial coatigan. But multicolours also work well for retro influenced knits (think 70s or 40s) as well as elevated sweaters with luxe look that could be a cool choice for wintry occasionwear when teamed with sequin or silky skirts and palazzos.