Racism and returns scandals, LK Bennett renaissance, and womenswear buying guide in August’s Drapers

The Drapers Interview this month is with Darren Topp, now in his second stint as CEO of LK Bennett, which has just turned in its best results ever. He tells us how, after a CVA and under new ownership, he is putting the premium womenswear brand back on the front foot.

Drapers first investigated racism in the fashion retail in 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, when many fashion brands and retailers grandstanded new diversity, equity and inclusion policies. Three years on, our research reveals a disturbing reality: that racism remains rife in the leadership and management of the industry – and despite claims to be more inclusive, the boards of the listed companies in the sector are still overwhelmingly under-representative of the wider population.

Geraldine Moodley, adviser and trainer in diversity, equity and inclusion, explains what business leaders need to do more to effect meaningful change that enables and embraces all talents.

Drapers’ ongoing Reset Fashion Retail campaign, which is helping the industry in the areas of business rates, retail rents and high street regeneration, identified three years ago £9.6bn of government funding available to revive town centres in England. We revisit some of the recipients of the money to find out how it has been spent, and also highlight the new grants and loans available to support high streets.

Experts estimate that as much as 10% of fashion items returned to retailers are not made available for resale – and in the worst-case scenarios are incinerated, sent to landfill or shipped to other countries, such as Ghana. We explore what can be done to reduce the environmental – and financial – impact of returns.


Independent fashion retailers up and down the country are battling a perfect storm of rising prices, consumer caution, and Brexit tariffs and delays. We find out how they are mitigating the worst effects of the slowdown.

This month’s Inspiring Independent is Finale, whose dedication to comfort and style in women’s footwear is putting the customers and visitors in the historic Northumbrian town of Corbridge in good stead.

After the rejection of Marks & Spencer’s plans to demolish its offices and store at Marble Arch and develop a new building by minister Michael Gove last month, property and retail experts tell us the prospects for Oxford Street as a whole are in peril as the large department store model is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

Rosanna Mainassy, sales and product director of Steve Madden Europe, explains how she landed her dream job and what is next for the women’s footwear brand.

As the spring/summer 24 buying season continues, Drapers visits Pure London, Scoop and Just Around the Corner in the capital, and Indx Woman in Solihull to seek out the best product and test the mood of the market. We also bring you the top three fabric trends from Première Vision Paris.


PLUS: Hotter Shoes takeover, designer labels go under, Lounge Underwear starts store roll-out, Primark, Matalan, PrettyLittleThing, Superdry and Gucci.

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