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UK fashion’s power is sum of its parts

Jessica Brown

Is the rise of “Primarni” and the value sector really to blame for the state of the independent market? According to retail guru Mary Portas, the explosion of cheap fast-fashion multiples has done just that, killing off the traditional seasonal nature of fashion and undermining the importance of quality and service to shopper experience.

To scapegoat Primark for the woes of indies is to oversimplify the issue. What makes our high street great is the fact it has an eclectic mix of retailers serving up a varied shopping experience.

Before Primark, how many of the UK’s 15- to 25-year-olds shopping on a budget could have enjoyed fashion to the level they do now? This is a retailer that has educated a broader audience about trends and these are the quality shoppers of the future. Some of them will eventually migrate upmarket and evolve into indie shoppers.

While some indies have sadly disappeared during the recession, thousands of profitable boutiques with loyal customers continue to build on their strengths. Judging the mix of multiple and indie retailer entries for the Drapers Awards 2009 over the past few weeks has made me certain of that. Visit to make sure you join in the celebrations on November 18.

Also this week, you’ll find a special supplement attached to Drapers celebrating all that is great about British fashion. Although times are tough, this year has ushered in the birthdays of some of the industry’s biggest institutions – indies and Primark included. Now is the time to champion and not criticise the diversity of our market.
We hope you will join us in doing that.

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