The UK fashion retail market changed out of all recognition 10 years ago with the arrival from Europe of Spanish retailers Zara and Mango and the rapid growth of Swedish young fashion chain H&M.
The impact wasn’t simply due to the arrival of stylish, affordable competitors, it was about the response that UK retailers made to that challenge. UK retail was given a wake-up call to react or roll over, and the better ones reacted. River Island sharpened up its image with a confident flagship on London’s Oxford Street, while many other chains that had neglected their branded environment began to look more design led.
The opening of the Westfield London shopping mall has seen the arrival of more European brands, searching out the same promise of success, and has prompted a new wave of imports from across the Atlantic. American fashion brands are dying in their own market. If anyone went to New York over the festive period they would have seen how far US brands have fallen, with shops full of heavily discounted stock.
US women’s contemporary retailer Anthropologie opens in London this year. Add it to the other retailers already here such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Banana Republic, and it represents an invasion as significant as the European one in the 1990s.
We need to respond as positively now as we did then.
One direct response to this US invasion is the bold launch of Topshop and Topman New York, opening next month on Broadway. It will be an inspired, innovative and very British statement, which will certainly blow the cobwebs off New York fashion.
- David Dalziel is creative director at retail design consultancy Dalziel & Pow