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This week in history...

Miss Selfridge overhauled its business, the industry experienced a franchising boom, and the Tory government’s style of dress was scrutinised.

13 years ago…

Miss Selfridge overhauled all areas of its business, including retail identity, marketing and merchandise, reported the September 28 1996 issue of Drapers.

The womenswear chain’s move was part of a shift towards a lifestyle rather than club-based approach. The change came as managing director Chris Stephenson left to join US multimedia group House of Blues, after just two months in the job.

Stephenson said his departure had “nothing to do with Miss Selfridge”, but the loss of the business’s most senior manager came at a difficult time with the changes underway.

The decision to pursue a lifestyle direction followed a review by owner Sears, which found that the chain was one of the group’s weakest fascias.

Also this week, US sportswear brand Nike announced plans for significant European retail expansion, which would include standalone stores under the Niketown fascia in London, Milan, Paris and Berlin.

Footwear chain Dolcis meanwhile unveiled a radical new image at its store in the Shires centre, Leicester. The British Shoe-owned chain unveiled a relaxed, Parisian feel, and stressed the new look also included improved product quality and fashionability.

27 years ago…

A franchising boom made the headlines in Drapers’ September 25 1982 issue, as unprecedented numbers of retailers announced plans to focus future developments within the franchise sector.

Edward Young, chairman of the British Franchise Association, said it was inundated with enquiries from prospective franchisees. Among the retailers looking to expand their business via the franchise route was Benetton, which wanted to add to its 22 franchised units, and Monsoon, which was due to open a pilot franchise store in York in October.

Joseph Ettedgui, owner of the Joseph, Kenzo and Chinese Laundry stores in London, also identified franchising as a route for future growth.

Elsewhere this week, actor Telly Savalas was the star guest at the Jermyn Street Roaring Twenties Festival, organised by Jermyn Street Association. A picture showed Savalas, star of TV’s Kojak, looking on after a cluster of balloons became caught in a canopy.

A sports influence was a big fashion story, with a fashion spread picking out some top pieces for spring 1983.

50 years ago…

Clothing manufacturers accused retailers of shirking their responsibility to deal with complaints about product, instead directing customers to suppliers, according to Drapers on September 26 1959.

They also suggested that retailers told customers they would get a “better deal” by taking the complaint to the manufacturer.

The Drapers Chamber of Trade condemned the practice, saying retailers should try to resolve any grievance themselves.

A cabinet reshuffle gave Cloth and Clothes magazine (later incorporated into Drapers) the opportunity to cast a critical eye over the clothes of members of the Tory Government.

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who had “the air of a gentleman squire”, was praised for his immaculate style and “country air”, while new Minister of Labour Edward Heath impressed with a “nicely cut” striped worsted hand-made suit.

However, of foreign secretary Selwyn Lloyd the magazine said “his trousers need hoisting”, and Alec Douglas-Home seemingly had “no great interest in clothes”.

88 years ago….

Portsmouth traders scored a notable victory in the September 24 1921 issue of Drapers, after joining forces to refuse to pay new rates to the Ministry of Labour.

The retailers said the rates were too high, and took the case to the local court, which ruled in favour of the retailers. Drapers predicted that more organised protests would follow in other parts of the country, and criticised the expense of the rates, which were intended to fund trade boards at the Ministry of Labour.

Two picture stories this week showed the glamorous side of the industry. The first showed models at Alexander’s in Bradford showing off Paris gowns, while the second gave readers a glimpse inside the millinery showroom at Harrods, “which is much admired for its spaciousness and artistic appointments”. 

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