Nominations for Drapers and Pure’s list of the UK’s top 50 inspiring indies are flooding in, ahead of its publication in our Inspiring Independents supplement. Here are a few of those already voted for.
What makes for an inspiring indie? Is it an exclusive brand mix? Great service? A luxurious interior? In fact, it’s all of the above - and more.
The UK and Republic of Ireland boast some truly inspiring indies and Drapers will identify the 50 most inspiring - as voted by you, our readers. In February, Drapers and trade show Pure will publish a supplement called Inspiring Independents, which will champion the country’s best-in-class boutiques.
Nominations are already flooding in, with indies being chosen for their brand mix, service, store interior and, above all, for offering a point of difference.
Tell us about the indies you admire. Nominations must have fewer than 11 stores and be a multi-brand, bricks-and-mortar retailer. From a shortlist of 50, we will contact those indies and ask them to list their favourite five peers. This information will be used to rank the final 50.
The results will be unveiled at the opening of Pure on February 13, at a party in London. The supplement will be published with the February 18 issue.
Email your nominations and your reasons now to firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna in London, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Hertfordshire
Owner: Anna Parks
Since opening its first store in 1997, contemporary womenswear indie Anna has managed to consistently expand its customer base, opening new stores across the country. This indie inspires with its “inimitable style and understanding of fashion”, which is evident in any of its seven shops. With national and international labels introduced each season and its relaxed atmosphere, it’s no surprise that Anna’s fans continue to grow in number.
Brands include Anya Hindmarch, Ash, By Malene Birger, Halston Heritage, Joseph
Courtyard Boutique in Guildford
Owner: Julia Jaconelli
Designer womenswear indie Courtyard Boutique has been nominated for being “exceptionally inspiring”, according to one fan, as well as for its mix of known, established brands and young British designers. Customers are encouraged to try new styles, taking advantage of the shop’s “extremely professional and friendly styling” advice.
Brands include Diane von Furstenberg, Irwin & Jordan, Lanvin, Luella, Matthew Williamson, Tibi
The Dressing Room in St Albans
Owner: Deryane Tadd
This contemporary womenswear boutique has been nominated for its ever-changing mix of established and niche brands and, as one fan says, “non-intimidating price ranges”. The store aims to be a one-stop shop for the fashion needs of customers who are after aspirational pieces at affordable prices. The Dressing Room has introduced a loyalty card scheme and organises regular events to mark the arrival of collections and ensure it stays at the forefront of its customers’ minds.
Brands include American Vintage, ChloBo, Designer Remix Collection, Hudson, Melissa
Present in Shoreditch, east London
Owner: Steve Davies
According to the owners of this contemporary menswear indie, an inspiring indie mustn’t only represent the local area, but must also stand out from the rest of the indies in that area. Present has been nominated for the fresh brands it carries and the exclusive lines it creates with its suppliers, such as footwear brand Trickers.
Brands include Alife, Billionaire Boys Club, Cire Trudon, Comme des Garçons, Mismo, Play
Sarah Coggles in York
Owner: Mark Bage
Inspired not only by current fashion trends but also by music, street style, architecture and film-making, this menswear and womenswear contemporary indie has more than 200 designer names under one roof, while its online store offers shoppers an alternative view on trends and fashion styles through selected music videos and reviews of art events.
Brands include Acne, APC, Comme des Garçons, McQ, PPQ, Religion
Sloanes Boutique in Petworth, West Sussex
Owner: Charlie Kirk-Elmy
This contemporary womenswear boutique has been nominated thanks to a brand mix that prioritises fit and quality. The shop’s laidback, relaxed atmosphere - with a big plasma TV and comfortable sofas - makes it a destination shop for families who enjoy the “welcoming and warm” atmosphere while browsing, without feeling “pressure to buy”, says one fan.
Brands include Jasmine di Milo, MiH Jeans, Sportmax
Snooty Frox in Harrogate
Owner: Hilary Haresign
Snooty Frox has been nominated for its “memorable” shopping experience, which allows customers to book in advance for champagne breakfasts, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea at the shop’s own licensed coffee shop.
The independent womenswear boutique is also known particularly for occasionwear as well as stocking more than 50 exclusive designer collections.
Brands include Condici, Linea Raffaelli, Mascara, Zandra Rhodes
Unorthodox in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
Owner: Kat Jones
Contemporary menswear and womenswear indie Unorthodox has been nominated for its “brave” buying - the owner is not afraid to “take a punt on local designers”, says one fan. Its mix of fashion, jewellery and cosmetics make Unorthodox the only “shop of its kind” in the town.
Brands include Barry M, Death Kitty, Max C, Monsalina Chic, Ishka, Red Rock, Stargazer, Worn Free Wellgosh in Leicester
Owner: Pete Turner
This Leicester contemporary menswear shop has been nominated by its fans for stocking “the coolest brands for well over the last 20 years”. Wellgosh has also been credited for being “always exciting, groundbreaking and a pleasure to shop in”.
Brands include Carhartt, Pointer, Stussy, Undefeated, Vans
Wysteria Lane in Shrewsbury
Owner: Michelle Jamie
Located in a Tudor mansion in Shrewsbury, this lifestyle independent was described as a “browsers and shoppers’ paradise” by one fan.
Spread over four floors, the store has more than half a dozen rooms, each of which houses its own eclectic combination of clothing, footwear, homewares and gifts. Wysteria Lane also boasts its own resident jewellery designers, who are on hand to create bespoke pieces for clients, and a personal shopper and wardrobe makeovers are also available.
Brands include B Young, Kath Kidston, Saint Tropez, Sugarhill Boutique
Proud to be on board
Pure is proud to be working with Drapers on Inspiring Independents.
It’s been a tough couple of years for indies, but thousands of the very best are still trading - and innovating, improving and expanding.
We on the Pure team are always excited to visit an inspiring indie. There is no better shopping experience than one that is in a well laid-out store, staffed by a friendly and knowledgeable team and full of exciting products.
An amazing visual merchandising display is always great to see too. It doesn’t need to be on a ‘Selfridges window’ scale - it can just be products displayed in a really clever way. Something that gets a customer into your store, or gets them to stop and look at products while inside.
The UK high street is unique. Retail guru Mary Portas recently said: “Innovation, quality and entrepreneurship are British traits - you only have to look at the fashion designers we produce. We’re not about massive global brands, but the ‘nation of shopkeepers’ cliche is true.”
So true. And Pure is proud to welcome some 16,000 of these shopkeepers every February and August to our show. They come to be inspired, source the best product and pick up advice from the industry’s best.
Indies have always been huge supporters of Pure, so we’re excited that we can now support this initiative. Whoever comes top, they will have got there through votes from their peers. What can be more flattering than that?
Sarah Lawrence, event director, Pure