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Third-party brands to spice up River Island womenswear

River Island is to follow in the footsteps of its high street rivals by introducing third-party womenswear brands.

The young fashion chain will launch brands including Forever Unique and Little Mistress into its Liverpool One store and online later this month, with a view to a wider roll-out.

It is also understood that River Island is in talks with concessions operator Hallett Retail, which works with Debenhams and New Look, to introduce more womenswear brands via a concessions model.

The introduction of third-party brands into womenswear follows a similar move on menswear, in which brands including Tokyo Laundry, Dissident and Spitalfield Shirt Company were added recently.

New Look introduced third-party brands in 2007, while both Next and Topshop have done so for more than five years.

According to one womenswear retail source, introducing brands is a “far less risky” way of diversifying an offer than investing in own label.

The source said: “If you bring in brands, you can bring them in on a small scale at a fairly decent margin and make arrangements to offset risk.

River Island is pretty late in bringing in brands. If you think about their competitors on the high street, most people are doing it already.”

Little Mistress will launch in River Island with up to 30 pieces, while Forever Unique will introduce 14 pieces.

Sumit Jairath, UK sales manager at Forever Unique, said: “River Island feels there is a massive gap in the market for evening dresses, going out dresses and party dresses. They don’t feel that what they are doing covers that. Their customer is definitely the type of girl who is looking for a Saturday night dress.”

A River Island spokesman said: “We are pleased to be trialling two exciting brands like Little Mistress and Forever Unique. We believe they offer something different.”

River Island also told Drapers it has widened its pricing architecture from spring 12.

Hallett Retail could not be reached for comment.

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