Much has been said about the rise of online multi-channel retail, now a driving force in all areas of consumer buying habits – especially fashion. The drawback that this channel has for clothing retailers is the amount of returns that have to be processed – something that would hardly be the case with big-ticket items.
Value retailers such as Primark and Pep & Co have deliberately avoided building online platforms because their narrow margins would not make the whole fulfilment process, or returns burden, financially viable.
What value retailers do need, however, is to keep ahead of trends using design input, coupled with short lead times and fast turnaround to attract, and satisfy, their fashion-conscious customers. Other value retailers, such as Peacocks, are all performing strongly in a very uncertain market, while premium brand performance can be inconsistent with high overheads and a large share of overseas markets. Indeed, these markets can be unreliable or precarious. At the same time, it has become increasingly acceptable (even trendy) to buy value brands, which is a growing consumer trend.
Expanding retailers can offer long-term career opportunities to Design Manager level and beyond, which many smaller (and struggling) brands cannot. Many premium brands risk their high street positioning as they lose market share to fast fashion counterparts that are design driven. So designers should welcome the challenge that fast fashion at value prices can offer. Only the most commercially minded designers would be able to add value, and a highly progressive career can be developed via this route.
Finally, many value retailers have an eye on international expansion. Look no further than the huge success of Inditex and H&M. International experience is something that more and more employers are looking for, particularly as the online platform is becoming increasingly competitive and accessible globally. Experience with an international retailer or brand can often give candidates the edge on their CV – not to mention valuable life experience.
If you would like to have an informal discussion, please contact Sarah Sykes here about the roles we are currently working on.