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Indies confident but cautious for spring 20

Womenswear independents are cautiously optimistic about trading ahead of the spring 20 trade shows, despite concerns over Brexit and heavy discounting on the high street.

As they prepare to visit London exhibitions Pure and Scoop on 21-23 July, buyers said they were looking for smaller niche brands with a greater focus on British labels and sustainability.

“Given Brexit and the current economic climate, we’re really focusing on British brands and limiting the number of European brands that we stock,” said Sally Gott, co-founder of Winchester  womenswear boutique Sass & Edge. “We have no idea what the pound is going to do and it’s a real concern.

Gott said her budget for spring 20 was the same as last year, adding: “I’m looking for smaller brands that are a bit different this spring. Sustainability is key and we’re always on the hunt for eco-friendly brands. Our customers aren’t pushing for it yet, but they will, and we want to be ahead of the curve.”

Hayley Butler, manager of womenswear independent Cuckoo Clothing in Cambridge, has cut her budget for spring 20 following tough trading.

“Brexit, the high street and constant discounting culture are really dominating, and we can’t compete,” she said. “For spring 20, we’re saving more money for in-season orders, so we can react to trends and give customers what they want.

“It also means we have budget for repeat orders, rather than having loads of product left over at the end of the season that we have to place in the Sale. Everything for spring 20 has to have a wow factor or we won’t buy it.”

Sophie Bland, director of Tunbridge Wells-based contemporary independent Bod & Ted, said she was feeling positive and is increasing her budget for spring: “We’ve had a good season so far and are hoping it will continue.

”Last year was our best autumn ever, so we’re positive about the coming months. It helps that Cambridge is a hotspot for small indies and consumers seem to remain confident.”

Sally Longden, owner of Nottingham independent Stick & Ribbon, agreed that trading had been buoyant, but said she was cautious and reining in spending as a result.

“I’m going to spend less on spring 20 and really focus on what has been profitable for us [such as Belgium casualwear brand Essential Antwerp].

“We’ve had a really good year so far and like-for-like sales are up 30%, but we have to be cautious.

“Moving forward, I only want to work with brands that are guaranteed to succeed and sell out. I don’t want to risk taking on new brands and having to put left over stock in the Sale. My focus right now is on profitability.”

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