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Memo from Musgrave: With 12 weeks left, how has 2015 treated you?

Here’s a handy reminder to cheer the spirits: three-quarters of 2015 is already behind us. What sort of year have you and your business had? What can you do over the next 12 weeks to ensure you have maximised the opportunities the year offered?

Despite the fast-changing retail scene, the Christmas period is still crucial for fashion sellers. Traders of all types ought to be gearing up the troops for the crazy assault by hopefully style-hungry punters. It helps if there’s been a spell of consistent sales momentum leading up to the end-of-year mayhem, but as our news story on page 2 reports, trading has been jerky and quirky for many Drapers readers. 

The mini-Indian summer of the past couple of weeks in some parts of the country won’t have helped sales of heavier product, but the climatic downturn of the past week will hopefully have got things back on course. As always, I have been disappointed to see so many red banners across the high street, but in our over-shopped market and financially pinched economy, a price cut still has an appeal.

Funnily enough, however, the reliable Ted Baker managed to turn in another very impressive set of figures (see page 5) without going down the discount path. Its report for the six months to mid-August contained no excuses about unfavourable weather, sporting disasters or currency movements. Sales were up by 24.5% to £226.8m, while profit before tax rose by 14.6% to £17.8m. Womenswear, which accounts for 57.7% of sales, increased by 22.5% to £130.9m, while menswear was up by 27.4% to £95.5m. Impressive stuff. It shows what can be done with a clear vision and a consistent and uncompromising belief in product and environment. Other practitioners, please note.

Last Friday, I chaired the judging panel for the Drapers Awards 2015. Luckily, there was a first-past-the-post winner in each category, so my casting vote was not required. The 11 men and women good and true (see page 3) included quite a few that were new to judging duty (we do like to shake things around occasionally). As usual, all left our gathering proclaiming how thorough the process is, how tough it is to vote for just one winner from an impressive pack in each category, and just what it means to receive this accolade. 

All the trophies will be presented at our gala black-tie bash at Old Billingsgate in the City of London on Thursday 26 November. To join the celebrations, please contact francesca.verdusco@emap.com or call her on 020 3033 2660.

The more observant among you will have noticed that November 26 is the day before Black Friday. I am sure that many in the industry will need a few drinks and a bit of fun to prepare for this annual festival of discounting. I sincerely hope the fashion sector uses Black Friday strategically rather than making it another reminder to consumers that they do not ever have to pay full price.

In complete contrast to the vulgar hurly-burly of fashion commerce, I can heartily recommend a visit to The Fabric of India exhibition, which runs at the Victoria & Albert Museum until 10 January. While not on the barnstorming scale of the V&A’s recent Bowie or McQueen events, this colourful showcase – which concentrates solely on hand-made fabrics – is a fascinating, not to say humbling, exposition of human creativity, craft and art. To get a preview of its sometimes astonishing delights, have a look at our video at drapersonline.com/fabric-of-india. 

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