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Cold winds blow on womenswear sales

A lack of novelty from brands and the cool spring weather has resulted in sluggish trading across the womenswear market this month, businesses have told Drapers.

Michael Shalders, director at womenswear agency and distributor Love Brands, said: “May has been very slow. A lot of department stores have become a one-trick pony; they are in danger of becoming bland and one-dimensional. They are not offering anything exciting.

“Our edgiest brand Nü [a contemporary womenswear label from Denmark] is also our fastest selling. You have to give shoppers something to get excited about.”

One high street supplier agreed: “Womenswear is sluggish on the whole as no one is offering anything different. Multiples are using the same design mechanisms from the same trend boards and so are producing the same products.”

Joanna Davies, owner of premium womenswear independent Black White Denim in Wilmslow, Cheshire, said: “We are having a really quiet May. It’s totally a weather thing; it’s not the climate for buying summer clothes, sadly, and it’s taking its toll this month.”

Chris O’Dea, owner of premium men’s, women’s and kidswear indie OD’s in St Helen’s, Merseyside, said: “We are up on menswear and kids’, but womenswear has been tough; it is the most challenging part of our business.

“We’ve turned our women’s business into the corner shop: if you want milk, tea and sugar – the basics – come to us. If you want the super-duper ingredients go to Selfridges.”

Emma Woodward, owner of womenswear business Aspire Style, which has stores in Coventry, Solihull, Warwick, Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, said independents need to offer a point of difference to high street multiples.

“You have to try and offer something different and unique to get shoppers spending. You have to work harder for it; that’s why we work with brands like Fever London and Emily and Fin to create exclusive collections.”

She also sounded a positive note about sales over the coming months: “The start of the year was really tough and we were getting a bit worried, but the brighter weather has helped to things pick up.”


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