Following the departure of TBC and The Park, the London trade show scene for streetwear and young fashion has been far from overcrowded. The existing Margin and Pure Spirit fairs, however, continued to deliver powerful showcases.

Moving on from last season’s disappointing format execution, Pure’s young fashion showcase, Pure Spirit (Aug. 2-4), was back in good form and visitor numbers were up by 9% compared to the S/S ’09 edition (no actual figures have been released).

Staying true to its inherent DNA that revolves around young and feminine womenswear, the exhibiting line-up of labels thrived in the light and airy exhibition set-up. Typifying the Spirit offer, a considerable chunk of the brands served up collections awash with prints and girly detailing. A clear sense of escapism was apparent, making an obvious departure from last fall’s dark and broody expression. One of the most willing contenders of the season’s happy-go-lucky movement was Olga de Polga. ”We’ve always focused on print and color, but this season we took these components to the extreme to lighten up the gloom. Frida Khalo’s vivid and eclectic style served as the inspiration for the collection,” said Jade Weaver, co-designer of Olga de Polga.

Spurring the dreamlike, romantic mood further, the kawaii-esque label Darimeya based its spring offering on fairytales. A series of printed baby doll dresses in satin packed a punch, complementing the ever-present selection of cute knitted separates. Equally covetable yet more simple in style, the London label Jam is carving out a distinctive niche for itself with its confident cuts and recognizable use of details that include colorful covered buttons and floral trims.

Adding to the strong S/S ’10 offerings, Original Penguin showed both classic sportswear as well as its more fashion-driven vintage range that encompassed everything from tees and shrunken cardigans to jersey dresses and denim hot pants. New for the season were casual shoes and bags for women.

Over at the intimate and inherently charming show that is Margin (Aug. 2-3), a fusion of ’80s disco and Dynasty glam existed alongside a more crisp and fresh alternative. Incorporating sequins with gusto, the punk-inspired label Misfit presented a black hoodie smothered entirely in sequins, each applied by hand. “It didn’t come cheap but we had to make at least one,” enthused Lena Jansen about the collection’s ultimate showpiece.

Going down a more utilitarian path, the London label Arms carried on with its raison d’etre, namely to provide practical yet satisfyingly quirky clothing for studio based boys and girls. Newcomer Germaine Minette, meanwhile, catered to men exclusively. The label’s finely tuned spring collection spanned the entire menswear spectrum, where suits sat comfortably next to cotton shorts and checked runner vests, all of which would impress the modern Dandy with a sense of fun.

Being the all-encompassing showcase that it is, Margin didn’t exclude denim from the mix. This season, Oak made a welcome return to the show, nestled next to the premium denim player, Trousers London. On the footwear front, Finnish shoe brand St.Vacant served up bespoke styles for men and women that are ergonomical but far from dowdy. To put it in designer Janne Lax’s words, it’s an aesthetic that is ”timeless but in a peculiar way.” Come to think of it, that may well go to describe what works best in London right now.

Although the event seemed more quiet than usual (no figures were released), visitors which did come through the door were high caliber and included buyers from Beams, United Arrows, Elephant, Bread & Honey, House of Fraser, Fenwicks, Top Man and Asos.

—Emma Holmqvist