A major fashion event set to be staged in Birmingham has been postponed as retailers fear the recession will leave it a flop.
Organisers behind this year’s Style In The City say it would be “inappropriate and insensitive” to ask cash-strapped consumers to splash money on the latest fashion trends at a time when many retailers are folding and thousands of people are being made redundant.
The event, which was scheduled to take place in April and was to include activities across the city including celebrity-studded catwalk shows, will now be delayed five months and instead take place in September.
A spokeswoman for Brand Events, the company behind the three-day event which was held for the first time last year attracting more than 10,000 people to the city, insisted that the postponement was not due to a problem with sponsorship.
She said sponsors, including troubled car manufacturer Jaguar, as well as retailing giants Harvey Nichols, the Bull Ring, Mailbox, Selfridges, Pavilions and House of Fraser, were still “100 per cent behind the event” and had given their full backing to the decision.
The said the decision comes after a lengthy consultation with key stakeholders, including members of the board of Retail Birmingham, which represents more than 1,000 stores in the city.
She also reassured those who have already snapped up tickets for the event, which cost from £25 to £65 and went on sale in December, could either have a refund or use the tickets on the revised dates from September 24 to 26.
She said tickets had so far sold well, although could not confirm how many had been sold, and said poor sales were not the reason for the change in date.
“Being sensitive to the general economic climate and the mood of consumers, it seems a bit inappropriate to go ahead with the event in April when it’s not a good time for retailers and consumers are being made redundant,” she added.
“In this current economic climate it’s essential that we make the most of every single marketing initiative we are working on.
“We are hoping that people will feel more positive in September and the economic outlook will be a bit brighter.
“In a year where every penny counts, we believe this extra breathing space and strategic timing will give us the platform we need to make this year’s event bigger and better than ever.”
Kevin Breese, general manager of Harvey Nichols and a spokesman for Retail Birmingham, added: “The autumn/winter season is absolutely critical in Birmingham, especially now that it comes at the same time as our annual Style Birmingham awards, which are like our retail equivalent of the Oscars.
“It really is the one time of the year when all eyes are on fashion. We fully support the move to September and are confident that this is the right decision.”
Last year’s inaugural event proved a run-away success, with chiefs at Marketing Birmingham attributing it to helping generate the £4.4 billion spent by the 32 million people who visited the city during 2008.
Attracting celebrities such as Kelly Osbourne, TV fashion gurus Trinny and Susannah, and Solihull-born Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond, it was praised for helping to project Birmingham on fashion’s international map.
The change to this year’s event will also see the deadline for a competition to find the Midlands Designer of the Future being extended to July 1. For more details visit www.styleinthecityevent.co.uk