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Why the fashion industry should be united in praise of independence

Someone once said to me that editing a collection of the world’s most coveted fashion brands under one roof can only truly be done by an independent retailer.

The great department stores and multiples give it a good go, he told me, but they lack the independence of a boutique that would allow them to put their necks on the line and back an unknown, yet brilliant, name.

I’m sure many talented department store buyers would - and should - disagree but, as an industry, we must surely be united in believing how crucial the independent sector is to fashion.

We certainly support this view at Drapers and, as such, are proud to unveil our 2013 list of the Top 100 Inspiring Independents. Since November, we’ve been inundated with nominations from brands, agents, retailers and consumers. The 100 indies with the most votes were then asked to rank each other.

This year’s number one certainly deserves the top spot. Run by an inspiring woman, this exemplary independent continues to drive exclusivity, offer unrivalled customer service and deliver a great multichannel experience that enables it to fend off the competition and ensure healthy sales.

But it is not alone. Every retailer on this list deserves its place for doing what independents do best: understanding their customers and creating a targeted shopping experience for them in a way that no one else can.

We all know 2013 will be far from easy, but we should raise a glass to each independent retailer on this list - and beyond. Without them, after all, the fashion industry would be rather dull.



Readers' comments (5)

  • I actually think the future for the discerning shopper at all levels is with indies. Goodbye Republic. Who'll be next?

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  • Great list with some really inspirational stores in all sectors of the market. Cruise is a surprise on the list though, not sure how it can be classed as an Indie and surely its discount strategy is more damaging to their market sector than inspiring?

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  • Where is Philip Browne in this list? What he has achieved in the uber conservative city of Norwich over the last 25 years is nothing short of a minor miracle. This store was and still is a revelation for the area and how it can be overlooked - consistently - by Drapers is a mystery even Poirot couldn't solve.

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  • The big brands are only interested in Independents if they do large quantity. If you don't fall in that category, then you won't get the support as they want numbers - quantity over quality. The lowest common denominator will always win out in their eyes, ruling out the quality independents. Pity.

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  • Thanks for all your comments. Remember that the annual Inspiring Independents list is put together by you, the industry, and not by Drapers. We ask the industry (brands, suppliers, multiples, indies - everyone) to nominate their most inspiring independents. The 100 with the most votes are then asked to rank each other. So, if you feel an indie should be represented next year, vote for them.

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