Hello again. The last time I was here - from 2000 to 2006 - I oversaw more than 300 issues of Drapers (or Drapers Record as it was until 12 October, 2002).
About 350 editions of the magazine have appeared since I’ve been away and Drapers has extended its communication platform to its very vibrant website. Even for magazine junkies like myself, our site is worth a closer look. You may be surprised to learn that there is lots of information on there that never reaches the printed page. If you are not already a regular user, I recommend a voyage of exploration aroundwww.drapersonline.com.
During my leave of absence the ubiquitous omnichannel approach to publishing has been mirrored by the extraordinary boom in online retailing at a pace it would have been hard to predict back in 2006. The attitude to shopping displayed by my teenage children has been an education to me. In most instances, the internet is the first place they look to make a purchase, a concept that still feels alien to me, certainly when it comes to selecting and buying clothes, footwear and accessories. Somehow, despite my reservations, I don’t think the internet is going to lose its appeal any time soon and I am fascinated by the prospects for the online channels to market. At Drapers we will keep you informed about what’s working and what’s not.
The other huge change in fashion and everywhere else during my seven-year hiatus has been in the economy. Since I started my journalistic career - funnily enough, as a junior reporter on Drapers Record in January 1980 - I have seen numerous downturns and tough times, but never one that has been so austere for so long. Too many of us may have been living in a credit-fuelled fool’s paradise for too long, but the new reality is here to stay. Our intention at Drapers is to constantly bring you examples of best practice in the fashion business because we all know that many companies are still prospering despite the financial strictures.
Some companies are not performing well, however, and their inherent weaknesses are being magnified by the downturn. When I took over as editorial chief of this publication in spring 2000, the future of Marks & Spencer was a hot topic and, well, would you believe it, it still is today. Back then, Luc Vandevelde, a Belgian with a track record in food retail, was charged with performing the turnaround miracle. He lasted four years. Today Marc Bolland, a Dutchman with a track record in food retail, has the unenviable responsibility of reviving M&S in inauspicious trading conditions. He has been there for three years already. In a few weeks Drapers will be watching the arrival of M&S’s new autumn collection, of which so much has been promised, with great interest.
So, seven years on, much has changed but so much about the industry has remained the same. Our intention at Drapers is to continue to be your first stop for fashion business news, views, insight, comment and community, whether online, in the magazine and through our various Drapers events, conferences, roundtables and awards.
I am really looking forward to being in contact with you all again. It’s very good to be back.