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German labels look to regain past glories

Jessica Brown

Last week I made the somewhat controversial point that no brands were doing anything innovative enough to excite the over-35s womenswear market. Was I wrong? In some
cases perhaps, but in others I remain resolute.

The German mainstream womenswear brands, which have dominated the UK over-40s sector for decades, are having to reinvent themselves to survive. Several have fallen victim to large debt burdens (read Escada) and countless others to the shift in consumer attitude towards more contemporary fashion.

Traditional indies are shifting their buy towards more contemporary collections from other parts of Europe, simply because today’s over-40s women have a totally different attitude and fashion education to those of 15 years ago.

Contemporary labels from Scandinavia, Spain and the UK are all gaining from Germany’s slow reaction to changing trends. Fortunately, the German brands still have superior customer service and great re-engineering skills. This week, Drapers takes a look at the changing shape of this market.

The team was also pleased to see a lot more trend input for many of the spring 10 collections when we toured brands’ London showrooms last week and sales certainly appear to be healthier than perhaps would have been expected.

Meanwhile, Alexon Group, which is the closest UK equivalent to the German branded sector, is undergoing a much-needed revamp to embrace more youthful-minded older shoppers.

At the heart of all of these strategies is great product. Without that, you’re just not in business.

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