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It has not been an easy 12 months for independent fashion retailers and the brands they stock. Repeated lockdowns across the UK cut off many independents’ main – or indeed, only – route to market almost overnight. How consumers shop, and what they buy, has changed dramatically.

However, the independent sector is resilient and innovative. Businesses have adapted at speed by diverting their attention online, developing social media platforms into a vital sales channel and doubling down on exceptional customer service.

Independent retailers and brands have also gone above and beyond to help their local communities, whether it be though fundraising efforts, helping customers shop safely or simply being a friendly face in turbulent times.

The independent sector has a bright future ahead. The pandemic has reminded consumers of the advantages of both shopping locally and supporting smaller businesses, while shifts in buying habits bring opportunities as well as challenges.

As the sector builds a new future, the Drapers Independents Awards 2021 will celebrate the fashion retailers and brands that have innovated to survive, supported their local communities, and built stronger businesses under the toughest of circumstances.

There are 18 awards, including new categories Best Use of Social Media, the Innovator Award and the Covid Community Champion Award.

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