To be successful, independents have to do more than give top-class service and offer exciting collections.
Big brands are part of the mix, but where the independent can thrive is by finding and buying the emerging stars of the future. Our customers shop with us because they want exclusivity and difference. If we don’t appreciate this then all we are doing is going head to head with the big online retailers and department stores, a battle we are going to lose.
I see brands as having a life cycle. When I find a new, emerging brand I give it a lot of support and quickly build a good working relationship.
I invest time and effort promoting the product and, if I’ve found a winner, end up with a loyal and enthusiastic customer following.
New fashion brands want to make it into the big time. If a brand does manage to work through its growing pains, then its increased overheads are going to demand an ever-expanding order book.
Any hot brand will sell to the big retailers because the independent sector cannot provide the volume it craves. But my customers simply don’t want to find my rails loaded with collections they see in the local department store or online. For me this is the final signal to leave that brand to the big boys and move on.
- Janine O’Keefe, Owner of premium womenswear indie Okeefe in Esher, Surrey