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Independents' bestsellers: occasionwear and formalwear

Find out what’s selling now in the world of occasionwear 



Iw820 midnight

Iw820 midnight

Dresses from Ispirato


Carole Oldknow, owner of Imagination in Tarvin, Chester

Spanish brands are a real hit with customers at the moment, especially dress and bolero sets in deep blue from Cabotine (£600) and sapphire-blue dresses from Ispirato (£545). Luis Civit, which is also a Spanish brand, is another top seller for the store. In general, we’re finding that pink items are less popular at the moment. Sales are quiet, and there’s a rising trend for buying more affordable occasionwear. Our prices range from £275 to £700 and the majority of customers are willing to spend around £500. We have run discounts over the year and will be offering up to 60% off some items in the lead up to Christmas. For next year, we’re bringing Rosa Clara, another Spanish brand, into the store.





Mother-of-the-bride outfits from Condici

Jane Kingsley, owner of Jane Young in Newark on Trent, Nottinghamshire


Mother-of-the-bride outfits from Condici (£795), Ispirato (£530) and John Charles (£795) are our top sellers in occasionwear. Our price range is from £450 to £900. There has been a slowdown in occasionwear sales, but I think it will pick up again in the New Year. We often have mothers coming along with their daughters to shop together, but that tends to happen after the holidays. At the moment, we’re offering a range of party dresses from Terani Couture (£395), Pia Michi (£225) and Mon Cheri (£519), which are perfect for Christmas in the lead-up to the festive season. We’re planning to introduce a small range of occasionwear dresses from Goat (£440-£500) for next summer.

Sawsan Gamgoum, owner of Flair Designer Wear in Towcester, Northamptonshire

Trade in general has been quite good for us, but there is definitely a shift towards more affordable occasionwear. Customers are looking to spend around £200 in a single transaction. Tops from Frank Lyman (£190), dresses from Gina Bacconi (£300) and Condici dress and jacket sets (£650) are top of customer’s wishlists. However, the biggest hit with customers are Frank Lyman 1920s-inspired flapper dresses (£200). We are not planning to go on Sale before Christmas – only in the middle of January.

Janice Williams, manager of Duet and Lan Llofft in Lampeter, Ceredigion 

Masai 164 cmyk high 01

Masai 164 cmyk high 01

The Masai Clothing Company

Sparkly evening tops from Betty Barclay (£80) are in a high demand among our customers, as are Gerry Weber tops (£50) and The Masai Clothing Company dresses (£60), which are both performing well. Overall, I don’t think the market is too bad, although there is a slowdown in interest in occasionwear and we are offering 10-20% off to encourage customers to shop with us. Most of our sales have been driven by jackets, knitwear and jumpers, which are doing especially well at this time of the year because of the unpredictable weather.  



Mw arjunj

Mw arjunj

Gary Tillott, store manager of Goddards in King’s Lynn, Norfolk

Formal shirts from Ted Baker (£69-£95) are selling very well for us at the moment. Customers are more interested in bright colours – flashy pink, purple and lilac are selling amazingly well. BMB classic suits (£200) and Remus Uomo slim-fit suits (£250) are also popular in men’s formalwear. We are not planning to offer discounts for the rest of this year, as we are doing pretty well at the moment. The main thing customers are looking for is a point of difference and our loyal customers know that we are able to bring this to them.

Simon Young, store manager of Ken Young, Coleraine

Jackets from Hugo Boss Black (£310-£350) and Strellson (£295-£355) are among our top sellers. Although the brand is a bit more expensive, suits jackets from Eduard Dressler (£450) are also performing well. Formal jackets sell the best for us at this time of the season. I don’t agree that customers are looking for more affordable formalwear – the spending power of our clientele has remained the same. However, trade isn’t as stable as it once was, and therefore we’re not introducing any new brands next season.

Alfie Hope, store manager of Capital Collection, Grimsby

Versace shirts (£190) and Vivienne Westwood charcoal V-neck jumpers (£170) are among our bestselling products. Fine knitwear is doing especially well at this time of the season and we’re finding that men are looking for brighter colours – red has been among the most popular. The market for formalwear is tough, but the spending power of our customers remains the same: if before we used to have 20 customers coming in and spending, now we have 5 people coming spending the same. People are looking on clothing as an investment. There are no discounts at the moment, but we may introduce some after Boxing Day.

Royrob hw2017press 01 0105

Royrob hw2017press 01 0105

Roy Robson

Terry Foster, owner of Casanova, Carlisle

Benvenuto suits (£375) and Roy Robson checked jackets (£225) are our top selling products. We’ve stocked Roy Robson for 10 years and Benvenuto for three – our customers are very loyal to these brands, because they suit everyone. Gant is another brand that performs well and its shirts (£85) are a particular hit among customers. There’s lot of competition out there at the moment, but we’ve had a steady year and are expecting trade to pick up in the lead-up to Christmas. We won’t be discounting before Christmas, but we may in January.  














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