Having recently returned from the AW20 buy trip, we caught up with Harrolds Contemporary Menswear Buyer Marco Zappatore to talk strategy, newness and what’s in store for the upcoming season.
1. What do you look for in new and emerging designers?
I look for a new and refreshing story, something with an interesting background and with a very well-thought out process. Products that cater a wide demographic and focus on quality.
2. What’s your buy strategy going into showroom bookings?
After a thorough analysis of the season that was and some data crunching (probably the biggest part of my job), I keep myself informed on what brands are doing by reading selected publications like Business of Fashion (BoF), and are in constant conversation with industry professionals to know which way the market is moving.
The strategy varies from season to season and is localised for each store based on what has worked the season prior, what was missing and the sales. But the real processing of strategy happens when we are finally on European soil and able to see and touch the final product that will land in the stores six months later.
At the end of each trip once we have a clearer view of all categories, colours and fabrics that will be a trend for the upcoming season, we can finally start to plan and prepare our vision and share it with the rest of the business in order to have a seamless line of communication to push the merchandise.
3. What new brands are you most excited to bring on for AW20?
Definitely Maison Margiela! I’m so excited to bring back such an important brand to our heritage stable (joining the likes of Dior and Burberry), which has been under Galliano for a few season now. He has respected the codes of the Maison adding his indisputable touch to it.
The real processing of strategy happens when we are finally on European soil and able to see and touch the final product that will land in the store six months later.
4. Who were you most impressed by for AW20?
I was very impressed by A-Cold-Wall on how they completely transformed the collection from streetwear-oriented to a more refined contemporary staple wardrobe. The offer was a lot more streamlined with beautiful knitwear and casual overshirts.
5. What trends can we expect to see for AW20?
The main trend for AW20 menswear is knitwear, there was not a single brand who hasn’t developed in this category. We have seen hoodies and sweatshirt slowly fade, replaced by more refined tops in different fabrications, patches, applique, embroideries and shapes. Also, maxi cardigans used as jackets.
Another story that I’ve observed from showroom to showroom is the Nomadic man, the life of a traveller with super functional outerwear.
6. What trends are you happy to say goodbye to for AW20?
I’m happy to say goodbye to the chunky sneakers trend and the logomania craze!
7. What’s your favourite trend at the moment?
My favourite trend at the moment is relaxed overshirts, it’s just such a versatile and easy layering piece and can be worn in a very elegant way when styled correctly.
I’m currently wearing the Valentino V Logo khaki shirt, but I have my eyes on a beautiful Acne Studios checked shirt that will be arriving in store soon.
8. Unlike other Australian retailers, Harrolds aligns with the European seasonal calendar in line with the majority of our designers. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?
We actually have an advantage as the delivery window usually opens at the beginning of our summer and winter, unlike in the northern hemisphere where the customer shops in advance, preparing for the season that will be. So when we start receiving summer collections, for example, Europe is still in winter, therefore we are the first to receive and wear the latest product, straight off the runway. This ultimately gives us the opportunity to trade the product with the right climate.
Often though, we still see heavier, more “wintery” product within summer collections, as this suits the needs of the European client. This can sometimes be challenging when buying for the Australian market, however having a large portion of our clientele frequently traveling either for business or leisure means we trade it all year around.
9. How have you adapted your buy strategy to the changing landscape of luxury? Specifically, the emerging younger generation and increasing accessibility of luxury.
We always strive for newness and innovation but it is crucial to maintain a balance between that; our core business and in-demand product. Cutting on entry-level and logo-oriented product could help restore the perception around higher price product, and with the help of Harrolds Online, we can create different curated channels that target specific buyers.
10. For some seasons now, Harrolds has focused on a “localised” strategy where brands and products are bought into for each store to suit the specific needs of the store’s clientele. What role did this strategy play in AW20?
The work on localised strategy never ends. This is something we work very closely with our teams in store to perfect. During the season we monitor our data to see how our clientele is responding to the buy, moving garments around if we find one store is performing better than another in a category or brand, continually refining our offering. At the end of the season, we meet with teams and discuss highlights and lowlights, client feedback and overall trends per store. With the launch of Harrolds Online in sight, being able to capitalise on such in-depth live data will be crucial in order to ensure this strategy is further developed and curated.
11. What brands will be exited for AW20?
As we see a drastic drop in streetwear demand, we have decided to refine our offering and take a break from Off-White, Heron Preston and GCDS.
12. What impact has the launch of Harrolds Online played in AW20 collections? Any online exclusive brands?
As Harrolds Online will ship nationwide and to New Zealand, it has opened us up astronomically and become a direct window to the world. Because of this, we need to make sure that each brand gets represented at their best. This gave us the opportunity to be bolder for AW20 and curate a more various offer as we are not limited by physical space anymore.
13. Have you bought into any exclusive products or limited edition drops?
I’m really trying to keep this under wraps, but what I can say is that Harrolds will be amongst only 14 retailers worldwide and the only store in Oceania to exclusively house a special collaboration between two iconic names in fashion and rap music, dropping in September.
We will also be the exclusive Australian home of a very luxurious and renowned line of jewellery… watch this space!
14. Any other highlights you can share with us?
AW20 is a reiteration of the message of change and authenticity we spoke about this season. More and more brands are going back to their original codes and becoming more creative instead of focusing on commercial product, helping restore the true perception of luxury.
Fall Winter 2020 collections will begin dropping in stores from May.