On February 6 and 7, TBC, FAO and British Union pulled off their first season at the new venue in Tobacco Dock. The mysterious and previously derelict shopping mall in Wapping is a site like no other, and makes for an ideal trade show location. Yet, as the show opened, exhibitors were heard fretting about the risk of buyers feeling intimidated to enter the individual units that served as exhibitors booths. But they worried in vain — attendance was up by 25%, and orders were consequently healthy, according to the event organizers.

What caught the buyers’ eyes were some interesting new directions – the marriage of casualwear and sharp tailoring being one of them. New brand BIB & TUCKER and LEVI’S RED COLLECTION offered the most convincing collections of the sort, boasting wearability and logic mixed with grounded innovations.

Another big influence at these London shows was treated, yet organic and rustic-looking fabrics; materials like fuse finished denim and antique cord came on strongly.

In terms of dyes and colors, natural and subtle was a key theme throughout the show. Dip dyes and persimmon dyes melted into mellow hues such as eau de nil, faded terracotta, mushroom and dusky aqua.

Printwise, entire garden scenes replaced single flowers, especially at the upscale streetwear show Margin, which ran at London’s Music Rooms, also from February 6-7. New Japanese brand VAMPSTAR, a fresh addition to Margin this season, went for the psychedelic version, while TYLER preferred a more naturalistic approach with a strong graphic undertone. The gothic motive craze of the last couple of seasons has given way to a far more domestic vibe. For a/w 2005-06, designers gave skulls and demons the boot, and went back to basics with everyday object prints such as light bulbs (SYNDROME), sunglasses (I SAVED LAURENCE) and pendant clocks (DEPHECT). Political messages mingled with humorous slogans such as HICK’s pig wording the slogan "I Stink, Therefore I Ham."

At Margin, exhibitors, organizers and buyers alike were as fun-loving as ever, but focused enough to get down to serious business as well. The show is still, fittingly, marginal, but with big boys like XLARGE making an entrance, we hope that the intimate charm of the event will remain to be enjoyed for seasons to come.

— Emma Holmqvist, London Correspondent