Independent retailers have slammed etailers for offering “crippling” discounts on new season stock, with Matchesfashion.com and My-Wardrobe.com in particular coming under fire.
Julian Blades, co-owner of Northeast designer retailer Jules B, said a recent flash promotion by My-Wardrobe, offering a 25% discount for users with a code, was “reckless” and “devaluing” the industry.
Julia Aitken, owner of womenswear boutique Stanwells, which has a store in Lymington, Hampshire, and one in Westbourne, Dorset, agreed.
“One coat in particular that we stock retails for £900 in our store but is £100 less on My-Wardrobe. The proper industry standard margin is not being adhered to and it has to stop.”
Giulio Cinque, owner of Cambridge designer retailer Giulio, told Drapers he had recently alerted 10 of his suppliers to the fact that Matchesfashion.com was offering 15% off.
“It’s crippling the bricks-and-mortar business,” he said. “The internet isn’t going away; we need to deal with the problem now.”
Matt Horstead, owner of menswear indie Dartagnan in Chichester, West Sussex, described the discounting of in-season stock by pure-play etailers as “farcical”.
“It pushes genuine businesses to the point of pulling their hair out,” he said. “If you launch a Sale at that stage of the season you are cutting your margin straight away. It’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
Barry Rapaport, co-owner of Bernard Boutique in Esher, Surrey, said: “We don’t discount out of season, but it’s becoming more difficult to monitor other sites with the increase of secret Sales.”
Many indies have threatened to drop brands if they find them regularly discounted on websites, singling out Paul Smith, Michael Kors and Vivienne Westwood as regularly being in online Sales.
No one from these brands responded to requests for comment.
But one brand owner contacted by Drapers said she had not been made aware of My-Wardrobe’s most recent flash Sale. “They are normally very respectful and ask our permission first but not in this case.”
She added: “If an online stockist was repeatedly discounting I would drop the account immediately.”
Another brand boss said: “We have closed, and we will continue to close, accounts who continually
offer aggressive discounts.”
My-Wardrobe could not be reached for comment. However, a source close to the company highlighted how competitors ran similar activity at the same time and said the flash discount initiative had only been communicated to “top-tier customers”.
No one from Matchesfashion.com responded to requests for comment.