Having previously owned a boutique specialising in contemporary mid price range designers in the UK, I never quite understood why a sector that fills such an important gap between the high street and the high end has never done well in the UK – remember mywardrobe.com?
In search of a plausible answer, my thoughts were always focused on understanding the difference between how British women vs American and European women shop.
The British are immensely proud of a lifestyle that is guarded and non flashy. As a rule of thumb, being openly fond of fashion is considered vain and shallow.
Generally speaking, in British culture, buying cheaper fashion is seen as a virtue and hence the British are fiercely protective of their high street and most certainly not fazed by picking fashion from its less exclusive offerings.
Their French and European counterparts however, tend to place more value at the opposite end of the scale. Buy less, but buy the best.
Then a phenomenal idea came out of America: contemporary fashion. This meaning, new talented designers creating fashion that is superior in quality to say, Topshop or Zara, yet not priced at the top end of the market. European designers followed and the Scandinavian ones mastered it. On paper, it all sounded logical, so logical indeed, that the market became completely flooded by contemporary labels.
In a response to the imbalance between supply and demand – and the associated lack of sales, American contemporary labels joined in the discount festival that is America’s market. Tibi, Helmut Lang, Rebecca Taylor, Theory, Vince, Velvet by Graham and Spencer, etc.. all started offering discounts on their websites half way through the seasons, leaving their European stockists – where traditionally only two sales a year happen, unable to sell these brands for full retail price. And so the discount merry go around thrived – great for us, the consumers, but unsustainable for any business not the size of net-a-porter and the likes.
Now in the days of BREXIT, American labels face a dim future in the UK.
With the pound weaker each day – meaning higher costs for transportation, logistics and import duties. If cashmere from the LA’s 360 Sweater label starts costing the same as one from Chinti and Parker, I know which one the consumer will pick.
So, if you are fond of this marvellous and much under appreciated sector of the fashion market, I advise you to stock up on these labels now, because come SS17, these labels are unlikely to be as accessible.
You can thank me later.