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Comment: Why my agency picks brands with no online presence

Sales director at independent fashion and distribution agency MDA International, Hannah Jordan, explains why the company chooses to work with independent brands that do not have an online presence. 

hannah jordan

Hannah Jordan

The challenges of running an independent fashion and distribution agency have never been more exciting and questioning at the same time. With the fall and unpredictable future of the high street, the opportunity for the rise of the independent boutique is surely significant at this moment in time.

Each season, we as a fashion agency reassess our philosophy, aims and direction for the new season ahead.

One ethos that is currently in place, but becoming more and more pertinent to us, is the importance of working with collections and designers that have made a dedicated and important decision of not selling online, directly to the end consumer.

The first question we ask a brand now, is: “Do you sell online?” If the answer is yes, we walk away. We simply can’t see the virtue in working with a brand that is ultimately in competition with our independent boutique owners.

One common complaint that we hear of from business owners is that their space is often being used as a gallery: a place where shoppers can simply try on or window shop and then google their potential purchase, in the hope for introductory or discounted offers online.

This is completely incongruous to the bespoke services that an independent boutique can offer and is hugely detrimental to the future of independent businesses. 

With the challenges of footfall and business rates among others, an important area that an indie boutique can thrive is in its carefully selected brand choice – and one that can offer it exclusivity to its customers and surrounding area.

A collection that has a story and is passionate about its production and manufacturing practices and processes all help an independent to succeed.

The boutique owner’s in-depth knowledge of its clients and their individual needs, plus its ability to dress and help a shopper are all part of the beautiful crafted service that an indie can offer. This combination is surely a huge step towards helping our independents sustain an important and integral part of our high street.

So, as a fashion agency, we are having to work harder than ever to seek out these lovely bespoke collections. It’s a challenge that we wholeheartedly embrace and one that we believe will keep independents alive and kicking.

  • MDA International works with independent brands including Chiara Cocòl, La Bottega di Brunella, Mama b and THING. 

Readers' comments (3)

  • Gracious Store

    It is needless publishing this article online if you do not want to market your products online. Let those who walk into your boutique read the article.

    Online presence is good because it show cases your products to a wider community who would otherwise not have access to them. If your product is good and priced competitively people will buy it, if they like the style and quality in spite of its price.

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  • darren hoggett

    It is increasingly important for Independents to look for brands that do not sell online themselves. It is no point in being in competition with the brands you stock, because they are wholesalers and will always have the upper hand on price.

    One European brand we stock has a website, but cannot be bought by consumers in the U.K. This means we have great sell through in store and online, plus we get margin every time. Happy Days!

    If stores are to survive, if they can offer point of difference with limited distributed brands, then that has to be a good thing. If you going to offer the same as everybody else, then what's the point? So we fully respect what MDA are trying to do.

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  • It is very difficult for emerging and less established brands to put all their eggs in one basket.
    Not all independents are honorable.
    Just to survive in this competitive environment, brands are constantly advised to diversify and have an online eCommerce presence.

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