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Clothing and Fashion Market Overview
Clothing is big business: at the beginning of London Fashion Week in February this year, figures released by the British Fashion Council revealed the fashion industry to be worth £26 billion to the UK’s economy, up from £21 billion in 2009. Sales in 2013 alone are estimated to have risen 4.5%, describing an upward curve that is excellent news for the country’s independent clothing retailers, whether they’re selling knitwear or evening wear, lingerie or swimwear.
Looking forward to 2015, the UK’s independent clothing retailers also have another reason to be positive about sales: they’re in vogue. The cloud currently hanging over the likes of Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury, it seems, is restricted to these behemoths of the industry, whereas independent shops in the UK are opening at an encouraging rate: the last six months have seen net openings of 432 (the result of 8,662 new independents opening and 8,268 closing).
Online sales have also been growing at their slowest rate in over a year, indicating more people are heading to their local high street rather than logging on to buy new items of clothing – whether jeans, footwear, schoolwear or sportswear.
The recent and uncharacteristically warm weather has shown, however, that both the largest retailers and the small independent clothing outlets alike rely on people needing to change their wardrobes according to the season. And given that we’re enjoying temperatures of 20 degrees towards the end of October, the usual rush for winter wear – coats, thick jumpers, knitwear etc. – has not happened. In a reverse of the usual situation, UK clothing retailers are anxiously awaiting the arrival of winter and its harsher weather.
The UK clothing industry’s trade show scene is vibrant and busy. Chief amongst these are Pure London which describes itself as the definitive fashion trade show and takes place at London Olympia in February, and MODA at the NEC in Birmingham in February and August each year. Retailers looking for more cutting-edge clothing and fashion can visit the LondonEdge shows held twice a year again in February and September. Drapers magazine contains the latest fashion and retail news and the latest fashion trends as well as international catwalk coverage.
Important UK Dates (2015)
London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 15 - 20th - 24th Feb - Spring/Summer 16 - 18th to 22nd Sept
- Pure London
- Moda - NEC Birmingham
- Off Price Show Olympia London
- Indx Menswear Solihull
FAB The Fashion Association of Britain
IFRA - Independent Footwear Retailers Association