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A brand new route to customers?

Caroline Nodder

One of the most interesting aspects of covering a sector like fashion is watching for emerging trends, and something I’ve noticed over the past few months is to do with brands.

One of the most interesting aspects of covering a sector like fashion is watching for emerging trends, and something I’ve noticed over the past few months is to do with brands.

There seems to be a move among retailers and brands to broaden their appeal outside their narrow historical customer base by introducing additional niche brands, whether own label or third party. This might be through a branded concession specialist like Hallett Retail – which has worked recently with Oasis, House of Fraser and Debenhams – or through launching in-house brand extensions aimed at a particular consumer – think Hobbs with NW3 and Hobbs Unlimited. This week, French Connection launched new brand Tegan, and even department stores have been getting in on the act – John Lewis recently launched a premium menswear own label, John Lewis British.

There has also been a move by retailers to launch brands online – New Look and Tesco are both leaders in that area, having brought in third-party brands to broaden their offers.

All these launches have enabled those involved to target parts of the market that are bucking the downturn. They also help to differentiate the offer and signpost to the target consumers that this is for them. And in some cases – for example Ben Sherman’s addition of the premium Plectrum sub-brand – a new launch can alter perceptions of the overall brand, premiumising it and enabling a rise in prices.

The trend within branding itself is also interesting, with less being more when it comes to the new labels, moving away from overt on-product branding a la Superdry.

All this certainly seems to be helping with sales at the businesses involved but it will be interesting to see how the trend develops over time. 

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