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Indies shake off Brexit nerves but still feel the heat

More unseasonable weather disrupts independents’ sales, as Brexit nerves recede

The Brexit vote has still had no visible impact on trade for many independent fashion retailers, but a record-breaking hot spell in mid-September has stalled sales of new season collections.

“The weather is having a really big impact on big-ticket items such as the heavier coats we sell,” said Chris Roche, buyer at Cirencester independent Ciren Jeans.

“This has led to the niche brands struggling so far this season. So it’s really down to the bigger brands, such as Lyle & Scott and Levis, so pick up the slack. With Brexit, we haven’t seen an impact yet but we expect to have a better picture of the knock-on effects by next summer.”

Matt Horstead, owner of Dartagnan in Chichester

Matt Horstead, owner of Dartagnan in Chichester

Matt Horstead, owner of Dartagnan in Chichester

Matt Horstead, owner of Chichester menswear store Dartagnan, said the Brexit vote is “off the agenda” with him and his customers at the moment.

However, he agreed that there may be a long-term effect on pricing as a result of volatile currency markets, which could take hold next season.

In the meantime, he reported: “This heat is not conducive to selling winter clothing and that’s causing us real issues.

“We took a delivery from one outerwear brand 30 days ago and I don’t think we’ve sold one item yet. And now the supplier wants paying, so you can see how that leaves us in a difficult position.

“But we have some brands that are going well. Stone Island and Dsquared to name two.”

Kashif Qazi, owner of Romford denim specialist Utter Nutter, said: “On the whole we’re not buying heavy product at the moment, we’re sticking to mid-season ranges.

“We’re not going to start selling things like knitwear until November and then brand it as a Christmas range. But for now we’re sticking to brands that will 100% sell – Diesel will always be a key name for us.”

Darren Hoggett, co-founder of Norwich’s J&B Menswear, called traditional seasonal buying strategies “absurd”.

“We’ve always held off for the new season until late September, which has worked well for us.”

But Liz Jefferson, founder and director of West Sussex clothing boutique Doodie Stark, disagreed.

“We really go all out on social media and let our customers know the autumn/winter stock, such as our gilets and coats, are in,” she told Drapers. “A lot of customers buy early with investment pieces such as boots.”

As for Brexit, she believes the British are doing what they do best: “Everyone’s just getting on with it.”


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