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Womenswear indies prioritise in-season buys

Independent womenswear retailers have restricted their forward-order budgets for autumn 20 trade shows to allow for more reactive in-season buying. 

As the autumn 20 editions of London trade shows Pure and Scoop kick off this weekend, independents told Drapers they were saving budget for in-season purchases. 

“We’re going to do far less forward ordering and more in-season buying,” said Vanessa Stephenson, owner of Bumble Bee boutique in Jesmond, Newcastle. “I’m only doing about a third of my forward ordering budget compared with last year. I want to be working on a week-to-week basis of [analysing] what’s selling.”

Stephenson said she had to deepen her January Sales “more than [she] would have liked”, blaming having too much stock rather than customer response, and hopes in-season buying can help to rectify the issue. 

Penny Rawson, owner of womenswear independent The Edit in Manchester, echoed the sentiment: “We’ve moved from a lot of forward-order to more flexible in-season brands, to make sure that we can buy what we need and have the option to buy on-trend pieces.

“We’re finding that’s driving quite a high percentage of our sales,” she added. “The internet is changing things. It has become more about immediacy because of the agility of Boohoo and Missguided.”

Another womenswear independent owner said the necessity to have different brands from those of high street mutiples was increasing: “We had a brand that was doing really well, but then it went into Fenwick and so we decided to stop working with them. We have to be unique and different.”

Meanwhile, Sally Gott, co-founder of Sass & Edge in Winchester, said she was concerned over potential tariffs on European brands: “Many of our best selling brands are European. Going forward this is a slight concern, but it’s a cost we’re going to have to absorb as we can’t lose our best-selling brands. Ideally, we will be looking at more British brands, but it’s difficult, especially when you have a certain price point in mind.” 

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