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Designers fail to grasp the sense of occasion

It would seem the economic downturn is on the lips of everyone in business, and company owners are focusing on keeping costs as low as possible while maintaining their business’s profile.

So out of this doom and gloom it was a wonderful surprise to receive an invitation to an all-expenses-paid trip by leading Spanish designer and manufacturer Cabotine to the Barcelona Bridal Week show.

But when I saw the outfits on the catwalk, it seemed designers had not grasped the fact they need to not only provide a good service, but also need to balance quality with price. Customers are being more cautious and the women who buy without looking at the price tag are becoming ever more rare. Quality and price must go hand in hand.

The invitation was extended to a selection of occasionwear store owners, which enabled me to network with comparable businesses to see how they are faring in the current downturn. From my discussions, it would seem that Harrogate retailers are doing better than most, but I cannot afford to be complacent.

As well as Snooty Frox, I own Beaumont’s of Harrogate, a destination wedding store. I recently opened The Wild Plum coffee shop within Beaumont’s, because the store is not on the high street and my customers were always asking where they could get something to eat or drink. The Wild Plum is now also attracting ‘ladies who lunch’, which brings in extra footfall, but as they don’t necessarily want to buy occasionwear I have now included a range of separates aimed at this type of customer.

As a retailer, I need to stay in touch with my customers’ needs. Designers must do the same.

  • Hilary Haresign is the owner of occasionwear independent Snooty Frox in Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Readers' comments (1)

  • Well done to you. In my experience as an agent it is the retailers who continue to push the boundaries and provide a first class service to their customers who will survive this recession and be there in good position when the upturn comes. Retailers who are in the smaller towns with less overhead are in the best position to do this and when I visit Harrogate for the lingerie fair in a couple of weeks I will check out Snooty Fox.

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