LONDON — T.S. Eliot wrote that April was the cruelest month, but for his fellow Brits, it’s most certainly going to be January.
Next month will be the moment of truth for British high street retailers — when the winners and losers emerge, retail experts here said.
Nick Hood, a partner at the insolvency firm Begbies Traynor, made headlines here when he predicted 10 to 15 national and regional chains would go bust by mid-January.
In an interview, Hood stood by that forecast and said fashion chains “would not be exempt” from collapse. However, he declined to name names.
“Fashion retailers are inherently fragile businesses,” he said. “I wonder if the clothing ranges that retailers committed to six to nine months ago are right for a changed, more austere mood.”
With consumers cutting back in general, he said an oft-overlooked demographic — middle-class men and women who were living off savings, such as retired people — are putting the brakes on spending because they don’t want to appear extravagant or because they don’t have the cash.
“What we are living through is the financial equivalent of 9/11,” Hood said. “It is something that no one alive today has ever been through, and it will change consumers’ mood and behavior for years to come.”
According to preliminary figures from Experian FootFall, shopper numbers were down on average 8.7 percent for the weekend of Dec. 20 to 21 in the U.K., despite deep discounting across the board from luxury outlets to high street chains.
Hood said the most vulnerable retailers in the New Year will be those with high levels of borrowing — and chains that have expanded too quickly.
Already Britain has seen its share of retail casualties: Woolworths; The Officers Club, the discount men’s wear chain, and MFI, the mass market furniture company, all went bust in the last month. Whittard of Chelsea, the Baugur Group-owned retail chain selling tea, coffee and crockery, was on the brink of administration (the U.K. equivalent of bankruptcy), according to British press reports.
Earlier this year, brands including Biba, Hardy Amies, Ghost and Marchpole, the clothing manufacturer and owner of the Jean-Charles de Castelbajac label, all went into administration.
Ghost was rescued by the U.K. retail entrepreneur Touker Suleyman, and Hardy Amies was purchased by the private investment fund Fung Capital.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews