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Independents' bestsellers: 2016's most popular brands

Drapers asks independents across the UK for their bestselling brands of 2016.

Drapers contacted independent fashion retailers from around the UK to ask what their most popular brands of the year were and find out their thoughts on 2016 as a whole.



maxmara resized

maxmara resized

Weekend Max Mara

Emma Fletcher, buyer at Cavells, Oakham

Weekend Max Mara (dresses from £140 to £180) has been a bestseller for us throughout the year. During spring and summer, Brax jeans (£89.95) and 120% Lino linen dresses (£200) were very much in demand. Colourful striped knitwear from Jumper1234 (£160) and knitwear from Marc Cain (£150-£180) were a hit during the autumn. For the next summer season, we are planning to introduce a new brand: Riani (from £105). Most of our customers are over 40 and they are looking to buy classic, simple and elegant pieces. I don’t think that this year has been particularly tough for independent retailers. We had a good season with excellent sales, especially on Black Friday.  


Masai163 1 cmyk

Masai163 1 cmyk

Masai tunics 

Sheila Burton, owner of Anna Perena in Glossop, Derbyshire

Loose tunics from Danish brand The Masai Clothing Company (£70), Capri Clothing (£65) and Yest (£60) were among our bestselling products in 2016. Those brands use natural fabrics, which my customers are looking for. Black has been the most favoured colour, as it’s always on trend. This year, we’ve found customers were more careful in their decision-making, looking for clothing they can wear again and again and usually spending around £70 per transaction. Sales have slightly improved since last year, but are still not as strong as they used to be. Regular customers buy product as soon as it arrives, but others prefer to wait for discounts. We have introduced Mes Soeurs et Moi this year. Its woollen dresses (£95-£135) have been popular. 

Isabel Wilkie, manager of The Lingerie Lounge, Blackpool

Plunge bras from Fantasie (£40), Elomi (£38) and Freya (£30) were the bestsellers in 2016. Customers were mostly interested in simpler styles and natural colours, and I noticed satin was the most popular material. Overall, the year was challenging – it is hard for us to compete with bigger stores or department stores. There is definitely more interest in online shopping and we’re planning to launch an online store in the next 18 months. We are also planning to expand our range of brands, introducing beachwear from Forever Unique (£100-£170) and bras from Sapphire (£40). 

Diane Holland, owner of Peep In, Oldham

Off-the-shoulder tops and dresses were a huge trend this year. Joseph Ribkoff (£190) and Gina Bacconi (£190) tops in this style were in high demand. Throughout the autumn, jumpers from Marble (£60-£65) performed particularly well. Nowadays, customers are not willing to spend a lot and are looking for something they can wear again and again. The winter has been difficult for us, because we were competing with Black Friday offers. We just can’t compete with the big boys. 




Glamorous dresses

 Jo Diggle, head of creative at Fabric Boutique, Manchester

Party dresses from Glamorous (£40) and sequinned tops from Lucy & Co (£30) were our best selling products of the year. Pleated metallic A-line skirts (around £40) from those brands were one of the year’s biggest trends. In general, we found customers were going for more minimalistic styles in a monochrome palette- prints were not particularly popular this year. It was a challenging year and people were dressing down more. We’re introducing a couple of new brands for 2017, including Daisy Street (dresses from £20).








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363016 420 flat fv 1

Patterend shirts from Gant 

Andrew Hobbs, owner of Jeremy Hobbs in Cobham, Surrey

Patterned shirts and knitwear from Gant (£95-£105) have been a standout product for us and shirts from Tommy Hilfiger (£79-£99) and Hackett (£95-£105) have also sold well. Small gingham check shirts have worked well. This year, we brought in Claudio Lugli, whose slightly wild party shirts (£89-99) have sold well, particularly the Marilyn Monroe print. We would love to bring in more ranges from the brand next year, to keep our product selection fresh. Brexit had no impact on sales, although customers were more curious about British brands. 

Iain Crabtree, menswear manager of Hoopers in Harrogate

Our selection of bestselling brands hasn’t changed much since last year. Plain shirts from Ralph Lauren (£85), Hugo Boss Black (£90) and Gant (£85) are always a popular choice – they’re always on trend and customers always need them. Dark blue Armani Jeans jeans (£115) and blue sports jackets from Ralph Lauren (£195) were popular in the autumn. We’ve had a really good year, and a great increase in sales. Although the volume of customers we’ve had has decreased, those who did come in store were willing to spend more. I think there has been a trend for buying British brands over the past couple of years, although it’s not related to Brexit and is mainly driven by tourists.


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1587 35 1

Belts from Robert Charles 

Russell Jones, owner of Robinsons of Bawtry, Doncaster

Robert Charles patchwork multicoloured belts in brown and blue (£70-£100) were our biggest hit this year. Small leather goods from Mulberry, such as wallets (£275-£325), were also very popular. Cufflinks (£50) and ties (£90-£95) from Hugo Boss Black were another bestselling product of 2016. Customers are more clued up on pricing these days. They tell us they check prices online and then compare in-store ones in order to get a better deal. October was a good month but November was mediocre. Brexit was irrelevant for shoppers but for retailers it has made a huge difference. The exchange rates has impacted on how we buy and deal with suppliers. We used to operate an online store, but it was a terrible experience. We struggled with the volume of returns as customers tend to order multiple sizes. 

Nick Reaver, owner of Resonate Menswear, Birmingham

Blazers from Remus Uomo (£170) and Florentino (£250) sold well throughout the year. John Smedley jumpers (£130) were another big hit – they’re very good everyday basics. Classic suits with a bit of fashion twist from Remus Uomo (£300) always sell well. Trade after the Brexit was very challenging and in fact, it was a difficult year overall. Customers are looking for better deals.

Darren Pang, manager and buyer of Hemingway, Guildford

Streetwear was particularly popular this year, especially sweatshirts (£145) and jackets (£300-£500) from Stone Island. T-shirts from Armani (£55-£65) and Moschino (£55-£60) sold amazingly well during the year. Moschino is a new brand for us, but it has sold well. The winter has been mild, which hasn’t helped trade. However, despite the economic challenges, I don’t think customers are looking for more affordable options. If the product is right, they will buy it.

John White, co-owner of Badger, Brighton

Chelsea boots from Blundstone (£120) were an absolute bestseller for us this year, especially the brown version. Classic loafers from Bass (£125) in black and brown also sold well because they’re perfect for work and the brand’s quail hunter boots (£165) in light tan were unexpectedly popular. Hiking boots (£140) and desert boots (£130) from Sorel have also performed well. Most of the guys here in Brighton are wearing trainers and even if they’re not, they prefer to visit bigger retailers to buy something cheaper. It is hard to compete with big chains. We have started to stock Toms (£30) recently and hopefully they will be popular next summer. 





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