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Buying designer clothing online

Today, the high street seems to be shrinking all the time. Major retailers are closing down branches and selling stock cheaply in order to maintain their share of the market. Mergers like that between Waterstones and Foyles are par for the course in the high street as the biggest fish swallow up their smaller rivals not to build a retail empire but to maintain their shrinking market share. There are some industries though that still thrive in retail units rather than web pages including clothing firms. Major brands like Primark and Superdry continue to grow their business and upstarts like Boux Avenue are also doing well on the high street but you don’t need to leave your home to get your hands on the best clothing.

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Online fashion retailers

There’s evidence that online fashion retailers are also seeing major growth in the UK market. Farfetch is a great example. They offer luxury designer fashion for men and women that uses inventory tracking technology so that customers never see “out of stock” written next to the item they want to buy, but even they’re looking away from the web and towards the high street as they plan to open stores to showcase their brand, why else would they have bought one of London's favourite boutiques, Browns?

Online v high street

In the high street, you can pick clothing off the peg and try it on. That will always be the advantage physical stores have over their digital counterparts. But they have too many restrictions. They can’t stock every design in every size so customers can’t always get the clothing they like in the size they need. People don’t conform to set body shapes and those with larger than average physics don’t want to hide away which is why clothing retailers like Jacamo have sprung up. They have ten stores in the UK but they do the majority of their business online.

Money off online

Buying online has lots of advantages. Although you can’t take the clothing home with you like you can when you buy from a store, you’ll get your clothes quickly enough with next day delivery if you’re really in need. Convenience isn’t why we use the web. We buy online because we don’t have time to go to the shops. We buy online because we can research who we’re buying from. London-based womenswear label Baukjen is a great example of this. Lots of clothing chains would rather not disclose where their clothes are produced. A quick look at Baukjen’s website shows they’re making their clothing ethically by using factories in Europe rather than sweatshops in third world countries. They also offer Baukjen vouchers for money off, which let’s face it is the main reason consumers shop online rather than the high street.

What’s the future look like?

If you believe people like Farfetch’s CEO José Neves, online shopping and physical shops will fuse. Both need each other according to him. The future will feature “…a seamless merge of a fantastic physical experience with powerful, yet subtle technology.” Using the digital experience to enhance the shopping experience makes a lot of sense but until then, online retailers will still have the edge over clothing shops because they can offer more choice of sizes and designs and all at a lower price point.

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