Unsuprisingly, the Sunday Times reports today that the fashion retail sector which is experiencing an upsurge is the middle market. Buyers are trading down from Harvey Nicks and trading up from M&S and Primart.
Many of the brands in this not-too-expensive, not-too-cheap niche are small compared with the retail giants. What sets them apart is a focus on quality, design and a commitment to producing fashion you might want to keep. In a tough economic climate, these values chime with the way we want to live now, and they are good for business. Jigsaw reported a substantial sales rise this year and is about to launch an e-commerce site. Banana Republic isn’t having a summer sale — because there is no left-over stock. Reiss and All Saints are expanding rapidly, and Jaeger posted a profit of £82m last year.One of the most exciting fashion relaunches will also be in the middle market. I’ve had a sneak peek at the first collection by the former Topshop guru Jane Shepherdson for Whistles, and it is full of grown-up, gorgeous, covetable clothes.
A black jacket I bought at Whistles two and a half years ago for £175 has several years more life in it, in terms of both quality and style. I was looking in L.K. Bennett the other day, and the small number of pieces they have started to get in for Autumn look very promising, as do the shoes.