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Finalists shine out amid the gloom

Caroline Nodder

Last week it was my privilege to chair the Drapers Fashion Awards panel judging sessions to decide on this year’s winners.

Last week it was my privilege to chair the Drapers Fashion Awards panel judging sessions to decide on this year’s winners.

As a relative newcomer to the sector, it was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more about some of the top-performing companies and the teams behind them, as well as hearing the thoughts of an expert judging panel that included some of the best operators in the market today.

This year, I have to say that the old adage about the going getting tough certainly stands. The tough times have led to some really outstanding innovation within this sector.

As one of the judges said on the day, being at the top of your game in the current climate is seriously hard work. Every single day is a battle to react to sales patterns while optimising your business, and with online now playing such a major part in the fashion retail market, having an exact grasp on stock levels and locations every single minute of trading is essential.

Our finalists in this year’s Drapers Fashion Awards should all be proud to have got this far and to be excelling even in times of austerity. Some of our judging decisions last week were difficult to make, which highlights the quality of the finalists.

My team at Drapers enjoyed visiting all the indie finalists across the UK, each of which is attuned to its local market and offers an amazing standard of personal service to customers. Many are also handling national and international sales via their websites, which is taking their respective businesses to new levels. I take my hat off to all the finalists, and to the judges who devoted so much of their time to the intensive process last week. I look forward to seeing many of you on November 16 at the Grosvenor House in London, when we will reveal the winners. I can’t wait.

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