Drapers: Winner Of The Inspiring Independents 2020

Article: Drapers Online [www.drapersonline.com]

To support independents through this difficult time, and celebrate their survival and success stories, we decided to transform this year’s Drapers Independents Awards into a celebration of Inspiring Independents. This list of 100 independents from across the UK and Ireland was picked by you, our readers, through an online nomination process, as well as by the Drapers team. It is designed to shine a spotlight on the amazing resilience of this sector, rather than provide a comprehensive list of all good independents in the country – of which there are thousands.

None of the independents featured have escaped the travails of Covid-19, but they are all surviving and many are thriving, thanks to their hard work, carefully edited brand mix, unparalleled customer service and ability to adapt during a crisis. For many, closing their stores cut off their main or only route to market almost overnight. Efforts had to be quickly diverted to online, and those without transactional websites scrambled to launch ecommerce for the first time. Social media became an essential channel for selling and connecting with customers during lockdown, and indie proprietors have become much savvier – for example, by stepping in front of the camera, talking through collections and offering styling expertise online.

And of course, independents continued to excel in customer service even when stores were closed. Many hand delivered online orders locally, and offered socially distanced click and collect. Stuarts London opened in west London’s Shepherd’s Bush in 1967 and later became known for supplying alternative 1980s trends for moped-riding, parka-clad Mods. It now offers a mix of heritage brands such as Barbour, and contemporary labels including Norse Projects. The retailer offers a slick, omnichannel experience thanks to its transactional website and app, and picked up Drapers’ accolade for Independent Retailer of the Year 2015. They are one of the select winners of the Inspiring Independents 2020!

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