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A boost in store for fashion retailers?

Popular culture has a habit of translating into consumer spending patterns and with a couple of fashion-themed films hitting cinema screens recently, clothing retailers will be hoping this interest in all things sartorial will translate into a welcome boost to sales. By Helen Dickinson


A boost in store for fashion retailers?

And while the recessionary conditions might prevent everyone from rushing out to buy the couture of the silver screen right now, it looks like there are plenty of other High Street options to keep fashionistas happy this winter.

I've seen quite a few newspapers and magazines extolling the virtues of this autumn's High Street

/"> fashion ranges lately, particularly with relation the forthcoming designer collaborations which are currently - or will soon be - appearing on the racks of a number of retailers.

I seem to recall this trend for linking up with big name designers started half a decade or so ago, when H&M teamed up with Karl Lagerfeld to offer a range at a fraction of the price of his couture creations, which sold out in just two days.

H&M has since followed this success with a series of tie-ins with top designers such as Stella McCartney, Matthew Williamson and Roberto Cavalli, while this November sees the turn of luxury footwear retailer Jimmy Choo.

Elsewhere on the High Street this autumn there are a number of other retailers which are getting in on the designer double act. The list of collaborations reads a bit like a who's who of the fashion industry and includes ranges by Jil Sander for Uniqlo, Giles Deacon for New Look, Pierre Hardy for Gap, Christopher Kane for Topshop and Roksanda Ilincic at Whistles.

But despite the press coverage these have attracted, this is more than just a means of creating fashion column inches. If there one thing the recession has created it's the requirement that retailers increasingly find more ways of innovating to give customers a reason to step through their doors - and then like what they see once they get in there.

These collaborations are a good way of fulfilling one of the golden rules of retailing: giving the customer what they want. And for many fashion conscious consumers, the opportunity to bag a bit of designer chic at more purse-friendly price will be a very appealing prospect right now.

Regardless of the wider economic picture, something that never changes for a retailer - particularly in the fast-moving fashion sector - is the need to ensure that its offer continually ticks all the right boxes.

That means knowing target audiences extremely well and having the right products to back this up, at the right time. It's no coincidence that the style of Coco Chanel - the subject of one of the aforementioned fashion-themed movies - has been evident in the ranges of many retailers recently.

In the midst of these times of tough trading there are still success stories and strong performers to be found, despite consumer confidence and spending being lower than retailers would hope for. And this is surely a sign that they are getting those golden rules right.

Helen Dickinson is Head of Retail at KPMG

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