The timing of the announcement of Drapers Independent Fashion Awards 2018 this week, against the backdrop of a 98% fall in profit before tax at John Lewis, provides an interesting insight into the shifting tastes of UK consumers.

Shoppers appear to be rebelling against the typically more faceless, impersonal and commoditised shopping experiences offered by some of the market’s leading high street chains and brands. 

Instead, the increasing demand for personal, experiential shopping and a differentiated product range offers ongoing opportunities for indie brands and retailers to grow their market share.

Many independent retailers are succeeding by offering a more relevant stock range tailored for a customer base they have taken the time to get to understand, often on a personal basis. They have also been providing a genuine, differentiated in-store experience long before the larger chains adopted this as a marketing ploy to drive footfall.

Equally, independent brands are continuing to enjoy success by offering the authenticity the modern consumer craves, as well as driving key trends in 2018 around sustainable sourcing, plus-size and gender neutral apparel ranges.

At face value the high street has looked a challenging environment in recent months, but the conditions are actually providing excellent opportunities for independents who are genuinely differentiated. 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners this year!