For over 30 years now, Top Drawer has been showcasing British and international suppliers on a biannual basis, ahead of major shopping seasons (Christmas and Summer). Aiming to connect buyers and sellers, Top Drawer carefully selects each supplier, specialising in one of the following categories: Gift, Fashion, Stationery, Children’s, Wellbeing and Home. Top Drawer aims to provide buyers (representatives of small to large retailers including Fenwicks, Selfridges and Liberty) with the latest in consumer trends to fill their shelves for the upcoming shopping season. Due to the reputation and prestige (in some cases) of the buyers attending, the event needs to provide a compelling choice of products of the highest quality and appeal.
So, what were this season’s trends? What are these irresistible items that we’ll be powerless against come Christmas? Well, there was a predominant theme of retrophilia affecting most of the categories with the exception of wellbeing. From British heritage products to the trendy ‘shabby chic’ style old country home ‘comfort’ theme, it was a stark contrast to the ultra modern, polished styles we would have seen a couple of years ago. One major hit was the Victorianesque vintage illustration style that is being printed on pretty much everything. From cushions to posters, cards, diaries and most other gift/stationary/household items, it was challenging to find items without black and white botanical/anatomical drawings etched into them.
The second major trend was in the wellness section and seemed to affect every other seller. The trend is to do with organic ingredients and essential oils of the highest quality, manifested mainly through candles and bath & body products. Whilst the trend is pertinent, it would appear that too many suppliers have jumped on the bandwagon for this one. With some minor variations, all of the brands on offer boasted indistinguishable attributes including essential oils extracted from organically grown British flowers, manufactured in a small farm in Devon. The products looked and smelt the same, and were all retailing for £15-25, essentially targeting the same buyer.
All in all, the trade show was interesting and, to a certain extent, insightful. But whilst its important to keep up with the latest trends in order to provide consumers with new compelling reasons to keep buying, it would have been nice to see more diversity in terms of product offering. I hope to see more risk taking in the near future, with manufacturers attempting to capture consumers on more levels rather than going for the safer – me too option. After all, it is the pioneers that redefine the way consumers act, not the followers.