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Indies come out fighting for spring 12

Caroline Nodder

This week has been one of those bad news weeks which our industry would rather forget.

Most national news channels at one point or other ran a sensationalist ‘death of retail’ style story, following a spate of companies going into administration - Jane Norman being the prime example, although it was subsequently snapped up by Edinburgh Woollen Mill.

The climate of fear spawned by such a week is at best unproductive and at worst damaging to a sector that is working harder than ever to get through this downturn. But certainly, the results of our survey on p3 this week show that young fashion buyers from the UK’s indies are reining in their budgets for spring 12 in the run-up to trade show Bread & Butter Berlin next week.

This is undoubtedly fuelled in part by current trading concerns, in addition to young fashion being hit by a drop in the availability of disposable income among students, many of whom are struggling with the high cost of further education and a hostile jobs market.

Interestingly, it also highlights how the environment has led to a change in the way buyers are operating. In-season buying is on the up, as the availability of short order is now sufficient to allow buyers the luxury of waiting to see what is selling, and what are the hot trends, before they commit fully.

Our survey also showed a rise in indies seeking out new brands when they visit shows like B&B, and this is interesting too. Up until now, we have been hearing from the sector that recessionary times lead retailers to pare back to the brands that sell well and play it safe. But the results of our poll suggest that with most of the high street on Sale extra early, indie buyers are now keen to focus on new, smaller niche brands to give them a point of difference. Tough times come and go but these changes in buying behaviour may well be here to stay.

One thing’s for sure, fashion retailers won’t go down without a fight.

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