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DRAPERS FASHION SUMMIT: Quality most important purchasing factor for UK consumers

Almost three quarters of UK consumers think durability of clothing is more important than fashionability, highlighting the importance of quality over pricing post the recession.

Speaking at the Drapers Fashion Summit in London, William Higham, managing director of research agency One Poll, added that over 40% of UK consumers would be willing to spend an extra 10% on a piece of clothing if it was “durable”, while 50% would do so if the item of clothing “fits well”. However, only 13% would be willing to pay extra for ethically or sustainably produced product.

But worryingly, some 63% of shoppers cut back on their fashion spend during last year’s recession, with the trend set to continue - 83% of those who had cut back said they would continue to do so.

In fact, 39% of consumers “didn’t know” if they would ever return to pre-recession spending levels, while 28% said they hoped to once the economy recovers.

Particular items that consumers are cutting back on are footwear, formal trousers and skirts, and coats, while jeans and underwear seem safe from cut backs.

While price is not the overriding concern for shoppers, two thirds said they would be more price conscious once the VAT rises come into play in January of next year. “Cheap prices” is the second most important factor for consumers when buying from a store or online, while a “good range” is the most important - over 60% favoured the latter.

Technology will continue to be important for consumers, with 10% comparing clothing prices on their mobile phones while shopping in a store, and 31% being influenced by word-of-mouth when it comes to trends - highlighting the power of social networking sites. Only 6% are influenced by photos from fashion shows.

Fast fashion retailer New Look topped the rankings for offering best value for money, with 23% of UK shoppers favouring the chain, followed by Next, Topshop and Marks & Spencer.

The research targeted consumers aged 18 years to 65 years.

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