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We want fashion right here, right now

Given that the weather fails to fall into neat seasons any more - we've gone from flip-flops to wellies in the past two weeks alone - it follows that fashion can't do that either. But it's not just the unpredictable climate that is forcing fashion retailers to speed up their game and refresh their offer on an almost weekly basis. Instead, it's the fact that we've bred a nation of 'new' junkies.

This is a largely media-driven phenomenon. As the information available to us increases in volume and frequency, so our desire to shop increases, and we want to see something different every time we hit the shops. While Vogue remains the monthly bible for die-hard fashion fans, most of us are getting our fashion inspiration from the weekly press (see the Grazia phenomenon for details), if not the daily or twice-daily press.

London, for instance, now has two types of free daily newspaper - Metro in the morning and thelondonpaper or London Lite in the afternoon. A huge volume of column inches in these freesheets is dedicated to telling us what celebrities were wearing last night or even this very morning, and where we can buy something similar right now. Not next week, not next month and certainly not next season - good grief, we could all be dead by then. Many of the trends deemed to be the next big thing this week probably will be.

High street retailers in the fast fashion market have equipped themselves admirably to cope with this - star performers on this front include Zara, Topshop and H&M - while online we have the likes of Asos.com doing incredibly well. And Asos can even claim some responsibility for having created this phenomenon.

Even higher-end retailers appreciate the need to keep enticing us back with the promise of something shiny and new. Online retailer Net-a-Porter is particularly good at this, updating its site with dozens of delicious new offerings each week. In the land of bricks and mortar (and indeed on their complementary online stores), uber-boutiques such as Matches and Browns do a similarly sterling job.

Now home shopping giants, such as N Brown, Littlewoods, Otto and Next Directory, are also supplementing their big books with in-season editions and rapidly changing online offers (see Analysis, page 11). Even if these retailers don't necessarily focus on the very trend-led, traditionally "fast fashion" markets, they still need to refresh their offer frequently, as customers of all ages and tastes are becoming more fashion-conscious.

What interests me is how the independents are responding and whether they should even try. Many have made the move online, including our very own Talking Shop columnist Rebecca Furbank from Anne Furbank in Cambridgeshire (page 16). This helps to keep shoppers informed with up-to-the-minute information on the latest deliveries and trends. And, of course, in-season buying is now taking up more and more of buyers' budgets. But I'd be interested to hear what other tactics our indies are employing to cater for, or indeed cure, our nation of "new" junkies.

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