I listened to the celebratory Brexit fireworks last weekend with a growing sense of unease. It might be the end of three and a half years of political stalemate, but it is also the beginning of a new era of uncertainty.
There has been little in the way of tangible impact so far. The value of sterling remains roughly at the same level as it has been since 2016. The sky has not fallen, our computers have not crashed, and our passports are still being accepted at European borders.
But so much still rests on the next 11 months. As negotiations over a free trade agreement between the UK and European Union begin in earnest, we face the reality of new immigration rules, new customs borders, and possible new tariffs on imports and exports.
Nevertheless, as we said at the time of the Brexit referendum, the industry must hold its nerve and continue to design, produce and export Great British fashion. Our guide to the autumn 20 womenswear collections includes two exclusive shoots and our analysis of what is influencing the market, such as the drive to become more sustainable and the newfound popularity of rental services.
And as we gear up for London trade shows Pure and Scoop on 9-11 February, we speak to womenswear independents about the upcoming buying season. It seems many indies are prioritising more in-season buying, as they strive to become more reactive to trends.
I have always been struck by the resilience of good independents, which offer consistently outstanding service despite the challenges facing the high street. I encountered one such indie a couple of weekends ago when my eye was caught by a russet jumper in the window of Gerrards in Reigate, and the cheerful assistant went out of her way to get it down from the mannequin.
The Drapers Independents Awards were launched to recognise the hard work of small business owners and their teams across the UK and Ireland, who are thriving despite the political and economic challenges.
The 2020 awards open for entry this week, with core categories that recognise retailers and brands, as well as stellar store design and the industry’s rising stars. Enter now at independentawards.drapersonline.com.