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120 years young and still going strong

This month Drapers celebrates its 120th birthday and we decided there was no better way to mark the occasion than to offer a little gift to each and every one of our readers.

That gift comes in the form of our 120 Years of Fashion book, which you'll find with this issue. It showcases and applauds the people, stores and trends that have shaped our sector over the past 12 decades.

The headline feature, and my personal favourite, is our 120 Great British Fashion Icons. With your help and the input of some well-known industry figures, we've compiled a list of 120 of the most influential individuals of the past 120 years. It was fascinating to work on, showing how far-reaching the fashion industry is and how it touches so many other sectors.

The list contains many legendary retailers, from the founders of Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Marks & Spencer to modern-day icons such as Stuart Rose, Sir Philip Green and the man credited with putting the pizzazz back into the UK high street, Sir Ralph Halpern. Among them you'll find style-setting actors, royals, stylists, musicians and even one or two politicians. Some of you believed Margaret Thatcher was a style icon - in her own slightly scary, shampoo-and-set sort of way, I guess she was.

Apart from enterprising retailers, of which there are so many, the group of individuals that provided the most fascinating insight into our sector (and from whom many of you will no doubt take great inspiration) were the designers. The UK has produced so many world-class designers, but there has perhaps been a tendency for us to take them for granted.

Take Sir Paul Smith (to give him his full title, even though he doesn't like using it himself). He has produced a global fashion brand that in terms of visual identity and quality, though not in scale, is just as impressive as, say, Ralph Lauren. Dame Vivienne Westwood (nice to see the Queen showing her appreciation for fashion's talent) is another who should be lauded alongside the likes of Versace and Roberto Cavalli for her contribution to glamorous dressing.

When the UK's designers are not producing global brands in their own right, they are helping to maintain or revive them - take a look at John Galliano at Dior, Christopher Bailey at Burberry, Matthew Williamson at Pucci and Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo (both formerly of Chloe), to name just a few.

On top of these, we have some of the most promising design talent in the world in the form of Giles Deacon, Jonathan Saunders and Gareth Pugh. All of them will be showcased at London Fashion Week - an event so often criticised for not featuring enough big names.

And yes, it is true, London has a habit of nurturing talented designers, only to watch them move to Paris, Milan or New York when they become successful. But instead of complaining about the big names we don't have, it may be more positive to celebrate the many that we do.

On a lighter note, we hope you enjoy our 120 Years of Fashion book. We hope it will help you to feel a little bit prouder of the fantastic industry in which we work.

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