Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes: What Really Happens at Retail Buying Shows |

Behind the Scenes: What Really Happens at Retail Buying Shows

Some of our customers may assume that the Christmas holiday is our busiest time of the year. While Christmas indeed is occupied with selling, it is not our busiest time of the year. Our most active season is at the beginning of the new year. January through March is when the Executive’s Cutting Edge (ECE) crew is hard at work devising the next year’s styles and trends. As spring blooms, we at ECE are busy buying and building stock for all of our customers’ cutting edge closets.

What makes the spring our busiest season?

January through March is when the ECE team is busy at work spending days researching the styles of the coming year, and for years to come. This research is useful when the team travels to buying shows around the country, and it gives us an edge when picking out a diverse collection of menswear for our customers. Being at the forefront of style trends is important in the menswear business, and spring is the time to jump in and invest in strong fashion buys or to take a calculated risk on retro styles. During this season the office becomes filled to the brim with swatches, new stock, and snacks.

What is a buying show?

A buying show is a vast emporium of dress wear dreams. Every brand retailer of the 21st century has at some point utilized a buying show to display their products to the masses of business owners who frequent them. From these buying shows, business owners plan their lines for the upcoming year and take chances on brand new styles. Thousands upon thousands of brands are available to choose. Swatches are common at these buying shows, as many of the retailers do not have space for thousands of clothes options detailing every style and color.  These swatches are what the ECE team is currently using to imagine our upcoming lines and styles for 2017.

Behind the Scenes: What Really Happens at Retail Buying Shows |

Are swatches a struggle?

Swatches can be a struggle. For those of you who are not familiar with swatches, they are samples – a small piece of colored or patterned fabric commonly found in a binder or folder along with other similar examples of material. Swatches are used for imagining full-sized suits, sports coats, ties and even dress pants. Almost everything in the menswear realm has an adjoining swatch. These swatches are what the ECE team use to create their stock for the year. Swatches help the crew imagine a suit in checkered gray, or how a collection of ties will compliment a new sports coat line. Swatches are essential to the ECE team at buy shows as they offer a more focused selection perspective when creating a closet of cultivation and style. However, it is not always pleasant when dealing with swatches. Often a suit can look vastly different in its full size than its 2×2 inch fabric counterpart.  Dealing with swatches is where the experience of the ECE team comes into play. Knowing which patterns and colors fill out well into a full-sized suit, and which do not depends on experience and expertise. It is this experience and business knowledge that keep the ECE crew grounded at buy shows and not drifting off to explore the Tommy Bahama house.

What sets ECE apart from the mainstream?

Executive’s Cutting Edge is a family run business. My dad and I buy and sell all on our own, from the magazine picture to the buying show floor, all the way to the customer. This personal agenda is an important part of the ECE business and sets us apart from major big-box retailers. These retailers are also present at buying shows, but hire dedicated employees to “shop.” These employees use personal preference and research to buy at the show but are not the same employees to then implement that product in the store or eventually sell it to the customer. At ECE, we are always thinking of our customers from the first steps when buying new products. Specifically considering our regular customers in our buying choices, we are always thinking, “who would like this suit?” or “this tie is totally this guy.” Instead of the mass buying type of retailer, we are a customer focused business. I would always prefer to personally buy with a customer in mind than to relegate that duty to someone who may not know this business as intimately as I do.

The decisions we put into place during the spring gets you a new cotton sports coat this summer or that brand new wool suit in the fall.


There are a lot of clothing brands – who do we buy and why?

MAGIC in Las Vegas, one of the buying shows that ECE frequents every spring has a total of 47,000 brands all selling and showing. Naturally, that creates the question of which ones to buy. My dad and I have 30+ years in the menswear business and we have been to countless buying shows. We know some of these brands personally and have cultivated strong ties with leading members of the community. These relationships come into play at buying shows. I may get a lead on a new brand just coming up, but that lead may come from someone deeply rooted and trustworthy in this business. These insights, paired with our personal insight and knowledge allow us to know the brands who have been around and will continue to be, while also allowing us to be on the cutting edge of new fashion and style as it comes around.

We love bringing a personal, professional edge to menswear. The complex process begins in spring, January through March, and lasts the whole year long. It is the decisions we put into place during the spring that get you into that brand new wool suit in the fall, or a new cotton sports coat this summer.

Hopefully, this article allows some incite into why spring is the most crucial, exciting time for us here at Executive’s Cutting Edge. How can we help you with your personal style today? Give us a call at 919-981-6222.

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