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Charles Simon

Drapers talks to independents to get the view from the front line.

What is the biggest issue facing womenswear at the moment and how are you combating it?
The strength of the dollar and euro against the pound has made buying very expensive, so I have had to put prices up. The women’s market is harder so we’ve gone out of daywear and more into occasionwear, because there is a big market for it.

What becomes your focus after Christmas party dress sales end?
We don’t have a huge Christmas business. Weddings are mainly in May, June and July, so we work towards then.

Are you still in Sale?
We have got a few pieces left, but not a lot. We will keep the Sale on another week as we are still selling. It’s going to get colder and if coats are cheap enough then people will buy them.

When will your spring product come out?
I have had a lot of eveningwear delivered already and had a pleasant reaction. We have had a lot of florals.

How are you managing in the downturn?

With difficulty. We are not selling as much but the dresses are still expensive. We are just making sure our margin holds.
Your business specialises in glitz and glam.

With the impact of a recession, will the trend for that change?
I don’t think it will. There will always be a function or a party.

Charles Simon is owner of occasionwear indie Donna in Cockfosters, north London

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