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Editor's Comment: Take inspiration from our best independents

Keely Stocker

At the end of last week, we took some time out to celebrate the best independent fashion retailers and brands across the UK and Ireland at the Drapers Independents Awards judging day. 

There was a lot of debate over who should take home the prestigious awards at the event on September 14. What impressed me the most this year was the consistently high quality of the entries, including some new names.

The fashion industry should take note of its best independents, as they can provide inspiration on so many levels. Offering some of the best customer service in the fashion industry, indies know how to keep their customers happy – and keep them coming back. The initiatives put in place to ensure a personal service is given to each and every customer is really impressive.

For many, this approach is built on a bricks-and-mortar foundation, but it does not alter when it comes to the online proposition. Despite the challenges of trading online without economies of scale, many indies are replicating the values of good old-fashioned customer service across all channels.

Good independents really understand their customers’ lifestyles and interests and bring them into the every part of the overall business strategy. They become local influencers and host an array of initiatives, such as coffee mornings, evening drinks receptions and local activities to become a core part of the their community. This keeps them always at the forefront of their customers’ minds.

In the best indies, the passion and personality of the owner shines through in every decision, and the focus on the customer is consistent. Innovation, whether in the form of events or quirky social media campaigns, keeps engagement high and builds a strong brand.

Experiential retail and store design is another area in which indies often excel. Creating a destination store that is constantly updating and exciting creates a real store identity. They may be smaller than the high street chains, but that does not mean they have less of an impact. Independent shops celebrate their own quirky identities in a very unique way.

The judging day was a great opportunity to take a step back and look at the businesses that are changing the landscape of fashion. They are innovative, inspiring and exciting. After all, that is what independent retailing is all about.

To book your place at this year’s Drapers Independents Awards, which will be held at The Brewery, Chiswell Street, London EC1Y 4SA on September 14, email felipe.ramirez@emap.com, call 020 3033 4342 or visit independentawards.drapersonline.com

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