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Archive for June, 2011

A Look at the UK Fashion Industry

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

The UK high street fashion industry is worth an estimated £44.5 billion. In 1960 10% of household expenditure was spent on clothing and footwear. Today, thanks to discounted prices, lower production costs abroad and a flood of Chinese imports, only 6% of household expenditure is spent on keeping us fashionable. Encouragingly for the consumer, between 2001 and 2005 average clothing and footwear prices fell 14.4% whilst the cost of living has risen by 12.6%. Discounting is rife in the ultra-competitive UK fashion market. Marks & Spencer remains the market leader in the sale of high street fashion, but faces fierce competition from discount fashion specialists such as Primark and TK Maxx. Increasingly, affluent younger consumers are buying formerly exclusive high fashion brands such as; Prada (Italy), Chloe (France), Hugo Boss (Germany), Burberry (UK) and Donna Karan (U.S) to mention but a few.

The rise of cheap imports has nearly wiped out UK manufacturing. These days UK manufacturing concentrates on specialist fashion clothing or luxury products, mostly made for wealthy consumer in other developed countries. A continued trend in the fashion industry is the integration of manufacturers and retailers. The top three fashion retailers in UK; Next, Marks & Spencer and Arcadia (Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, BHS etc.), are all manufacturing and retailing their own fashion brands. Exceptions to this vertical integration are the street fashion brands of Nike, Adidas and Reebok, who prefer specialist retailers. To conclude, the UK fashion market will continue to be driven by retailers rather than manufacturers with a polarisation between discounters and full-price retailers. The full-price retailers will capitalise on young consumer demand for couture-house designs, quality materials and individual styles sold as “fast fashion” with items offered for a limited time before new styles are released. Forecasts to 2010 are for the women’s, girls and infants fashion market to grow by 23% with a 15.6% growth for the men’s and boys fashion market.