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Indies and brands must work together

It’s a sad day for our industry when quality brands are struggling and branded retailers fall into administration. It seems that every week I receive another call from a young brand looking for help. Is there a future for the independent branded market?

The major problem is the shrinking of the independent market. There is increased competition from the high street. Retailers like Topshop and River Island and value chains like Primark have all improved their offers. At the same time, the growth of etail has seen the likes of Asos grabbing an increasing share of the market.

But I also suspect the problem is self-inflicted by indies who are not supporting new brands, and the brands they do stock are not producing exciting enough new product.

I recently visited Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre and was shocked by how many retailers stocked the same brands. I can’t see the point of competing retailers having the same products.

Being independent means you have to stand out from the crowd and offer different products not available through larger multiples. Indies must be brave and stock new, exciting lines alongside existing brands that are performing well.

Brands also need to support independents and provide exciting exclusive product. At the last Drapers Fashion Summit, major high street retail executives were encouraging brands to produce more exciting product. Indies and brands need to develop stronger relationships with each other to survive. If we keep on our current path and don’t support indies, it will lead to the death of up-and-coming brands that are the lifeblood of our industry.

Roger Wade founded streetwear brand Boxfresh, and now runs brand consultancy Brands Incorporated

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