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This year, we have shaken up our list of the 100 most influential people in fashion retail: we have looked at the big hitters in each part of the market, and weighed up their performance and influence against their peers.
The list shows that, although it has undoubtedly been a difficult year, there is still a lot of innovation, growth and opportunity in the industry.
There are some notable omissions this year. While 2018 has been challenging for many, New Look, Debenhams, Clarks and French Connection have had a particularly tumultuous time.
Arcadia Group boss Sir Philip Green and Ray Kelvin, founder and chief executive of Ted Baker, also fall off this year’s list following allegations of inappropriate workplace behaviour, although the latter has launched an independent investigation.
Many of the heavyweights from last year make a deserved reappearance – JD Sports, Asos, Primark and Inditex, for example, have all had an exceptionally good 2018. Mike Ashley may be a more controversial figure to include, but his growing influence on high street retail – whether you consider it good or bad – is hard to argue with.
This year, we have introduced a section recognising the upcoming names in fashion retail, as well as the recent hires that we think will have a big influence on their businesses in 2019, and the famous faces influencing consumer trends. From the high street to online, fashion retail is evolving at a rapid pace, driving innovation at established businesses and allowing new stars to rise to the top. Read on to find out who made this year’s Power 100 list.
Click on the categories below to find out who is leading their field in this year’s Power 100.
From Mike Ashley’s growing retail empire to the international powerhouse that is Inditex, we kick off the Power 100 with the behemoths that have had the biggest influence on the high street in 2018. These retailers are aggressively opening stores, making key acquisitions and demonstrating unwavering leadership. Some have navigated the stormy waters of 2018 more successfully than others, but the industry continues to hang on their every move.
This category recognises the retailers that are driving steady growth in their mid-market businesses despite the tough trading conditions. Some are expanding in the UK and internationally, while others are introducing new product categories or focusing on improving their digital offer. They are leading in their niche part of the market, and building strong reputations for themselves and their companies.
Like their mid-market peers, these premium retailers are succeeding against the odds. Sitting at the upper end of the high street, they are producing high-quality cuts and fabrics at a premium-yet-affordable price point – capitalising on the growing backlash against cheap, throwaway fashion. Again, international expansion has been key for many of these companies in 2018, as foreign shoppers flock to premium British brands in their droves.
We look at who is winning in the race to affordability. These are the businesses offering the keenest pricing and demonstrating how to sell high volumes without compromising on style and innovation.
Clothing is increasingly big business for the supermarkets, particularly as the race to the bottom on food prices continues, eating into their margins. This is putting pressure on the high street’s value retailers to step up their game, and offer a more appealing customer experience across all channels.
The digital realm of retail is the coal face of innovation, and these 10 retailers are shaping the future of how we shop. From live-streaming to social shopping via global resale and new blends of online and offline, they are shifting the boundaries of the industry and helping to change the terms of brand-consumer interactions.
As well as the UK’s largest online players, we have included the international platforms with the biggest clout, as well as French resale site Vestiaire Collective to reflect the growth of the circular fashion economy this year.
As competition grows fierce on the high street, brands must do more to attract customers and drive sales. Unperturbed by a changing retail landscape, these brand bastions have embraced innovation to successfully adapt and diversify. Implementing digital initiatives and launching pioneering bricks-and-mortar approaches has kept these retailers ahead where others falter.
This category highlights the mix of fresh and long-standing brands that packed the biggest punch in 2018.
This year’s creative class defined 2018 with their industry-leading catwalk collections and season-defining trends. While the success of brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga shows little sign of slowing, Off-White’s Virgil Abloh proved himself the king of fashion’s dominating trends: his high-low, streetwear-inflected designs influenced everyone from the high street to high fashion brands.
And 2017’s merry-go-round of designers moving to new roles also injected this year with a slew of fresh ideas, from Burberry to Givenchy.
Where luxury goes, the rest follow, and the leaders on this list have made an impact in their own businesses and beyond – whether through product trends or business innovations. These luxury leaders are producing exceptional sales and profit growth, rapid expansion or diversification, strategic acquisitions and inspiring innovations, with a particular focus on sustainability and tech.
These footwear giants upped their game in 2018, with successful strategies that helped them to weather stormy conditions on the high street. A new partnership between Aldo and Kurt Geiger was particularly interesting, as it will underpin the former’s “aggressive” expansion.
As always, product is king, and Dune and Skechers were among the leaders in this area: their designs caught the attention of celebrities and Drapers Footwear Awards judges alike.
The retail leadership merry-go-round continued apace in 2018. These new hires will have their work cut out to maintain positive momentum or, in some cases, to dramatically turn around the fortunes of their businesses.
This section celebrates the leaders behind the up-and-coming brands, retailers and businesses making waves in the industry this year. All have enjoyed a strong year, whether they have received investment, experienced soaring sales, launched new stores or expanded into untapped markets.
All of these entrepreneurs offer a unique proposition that perfectly appeals to their target consumer, from In the Style’s celebrity-focused and trend-driven fast fashion range to Me + Em’s pared-back, affordable luxury. These are businesses on the rise.
Fashion and celebrity go hand in hand: designers rely on star power to show off their creations, and celebrities influence the high street as retailers rush to copy influential outfits. Here are this year’s biggest names.