Drapers Independents Awards 2022

The owners of independent fashion retailers across the UK and Ireland, and the brands and agent that supply them, have proved their resilience and ability to adapt to changing consumer behaviour over the two years since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

The focus now is on how to do business better – becoming more responsible, sustainable and digitally savvy, while still providing customers with top-quality, beautifully designed product. In 2022, the Drapers Independents Awards will celebrate the best in independent fashion retailing through this lens. After two years of intermittent lockdowns, the awards will recognise 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 this year, including categories for menswear, womenswear and kidswear retailers and brands. New for 2022, we have introduced a category for pureplay multi-brand independent retailers, which operate without a bricks-and-mortar store. We have also added the Sustainability Award, recognising the growing number of brands and retailers that focus on sustainable fashion.

Please refer to the definitions of independent retailer/brand/agent here to check you are eligible to enter the Drapers Independents Awards, as well as reading the individual category criteria. 

This award recognises an independent multi-brand fashion retailer that provides consistently exceptional customer experience. It is open to retailers operating in all parts of the fashion market, including womenswear, menswear, kidswear, lingerie and occasionwear.

Judges will be looking for initiatives that have proved truly transformative and demonstrably improved standards of service, with examples of how retailers go above and beyond for their customers.

This entry must focus specifically on what has been done over the past 12 months, as well as demonstrating a generally high level of customer experience. 

Please note a mystery shopper will visit your store.

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This category is judged in two ways: first, you must submit an entry in order to be considered.

If your entry is eligible, a mystery shopper from an independent third-party company will visit your primary store and provide a report and score to the panel judges. Those retailers with the top scores will have their written entries analysed by our judges, who will take both into account in their decision-making.

Judges will consider whether this business has made an exceptional effort over the past 12 months to provide the best possible customer service.

They will be looking to see that retailers have gone above and beyond to meet customers’ needs, and want to see evidence of innovation when it comes to customer service.

Please note a mystery shopper will visit your store.

This award is open to independent multi-brand retailers with at least one bricks-and-mortar store, and a transactional website.

Judges will be looking for proven financial success across both channels; great use of design, online content and social media; a strong multichannel buying strategy; excellent usability and web traffic, signs of resilience and agility during the pandemic, great customer service; a strong brand mix; efficient handling of stock and logistics; and expertise in integrating all aspects of the multichannel operation.

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  • Do you offer good customer service across all platforms?
  • Do you offer a brand mix appropriate to your customer?
  • What does the website add to the offer? Does the site suitably reflect the business and brand portfolio in terms of design/content?
  • Does your business have a strong business plan and potential for future growth?
  • Does it stand out from the competition?
  • How has the business reacted to the pandemic and its impact?

If your wholesale brand has been trading for between one and three years, and is stocked by independent retailers in the UK and/or Ireland, this is the category for you. It is open to brands operating in all parts of the fashion market, including womenswear, menswear, kidswear, lingerie and occasionwear.

You will be judged on a range of factors, including design, response to the pandemic, margin offered, stock service (if applicable), after-sales service, overall customer service, future growth plans and commercial direction.

Judges want to see a clear business plan, great value and great quality product range and fantastic customer service.

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  • Have you been operating for between one and three years?
  • What is the brand’s USP? What makes you stand out from the competition?
  • Do you work with your independent stockists for mutual benefit?
  • How have you worked with independents through the pandemic?
  • Does your business have a strong business plan and potential for future growth?
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If your multi-brand independent retailer has been trading for between one and three years, this is the category for you. It is open to retailers operating in all parts of the fashion market, including womenswear, menswear, kidswear, lingerie and occasionwear.

The judges will be looking for a strong business plan, a unique and compelling selling proposition, and signs of resilience and agility during the pandemic. The look of the shop, your brand mix, commitment to customer service, marketing initiatives and communication to customers will all be considered.

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  • Have you been operating for between one and three years?
  • How has the business reacted to the pandemic and its impact?
  • Do you offer a brand mix appropriate to your customer?
  • Is the shop environment and website (if there is one) appropriate to this market?
  • Does your business have a strong business plan and potential for future growth?
  • Does it stand out from the competition?
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This award is open to independent multi-brand retailers that operate solely through a transactional website.

Judges will be looking for proven financial success; great use of design, online content and social media; a strong buying strategy; excellent usability and web traffic, signs of resilience and agility during the pandemic; great customer service; a strong brand mix; and efficient handling of stock and logistics.

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  • Do you offer good customer service?
  • Do you offer a brand mix appropriate to your customer?
  • Does the site suitably reflect the business and brand portfolio in terms of design/content?
  • Does your business have a strong business plan and potential for future growth?
  • Does it stand out from the competition?
  • How has the business reacted to the pandemic and its impact?

This award recognises an independent multi-brand retailer with outstanding store design and visual merchandising. It is open to retailers operating in all parts of the fashion market, including womenswear, menswear, kidswear, lingerie and occasionwear.

The winning entry will demonstrate flair, creativity and an excellent use of display units to create a stunning interior design and provide presentation of product appropriate to the store’s style and clientele. It will also demonstrate inventive visual merchandising.

Use of technology and external window displays will be considered, as well as the overall cost of the fit-out and the value it represents.

Please note that only one store can be entered for each business.

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  • Is the design and/or visual merchandising visually creative, eye-catching and appropriate to its target customer?
  • Does it showcase the product in an appropriate way that helps to drive sales?
  • Is the concept innovative – have we seen these ideas before?
  • Does the design make you stand out from the competition?
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This category is open to all independent fashion retailers operating in the UK and Ireland. Judges will be looking for a business that can demonstrate a strong understanding and creative approach to social media that spans multiple platforms. They will also be looking for retailers that have improved their social media strategies and introduced new initiatives as a result of the pandemic.

Whether through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok or any other social channel, the business should demonstrate how social channels have been harnessed to drive sales and build brand awareness over the past 12 months.

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  • Creativity and originality
  • Sales, traffic and brand awareness resulting from the social media activity
  • Relevance to target audience

Independent retailers are the beating heart of local high streets. Forced to shop closer to home because of the pandemic and social restrictions, consumers are relearning the value of supporting small, local businesses. This award will recognise efforts to give back to local communities, such as charity fundraising, launching new services for the community, and going the extra mile for local customers.

This award is open to anyone that is a champion of their community – an individual, member of staff, team or business, as long as they work in the independent fashion retail sector.

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  • Has this person, team or retailer gone above and beyond to support their local community over the past 12 months? What have they done?
  • What impact has this had on the community?

How to nominate:

If you would like to nominate someone you consider to be a community champion, please email laura.dalton@emap.com and include details of the person, their store and why you think they are eligible for this award.

This award is open to any kidswear brand stocked by independent retailers in the UK and/or Ireland.

You will be judged on a range of factors, including design, response to the pandemic, margin offered, stock service (if applicable), after-sales service, most improved line and most commercial direction.

Judges want to see a clear business plan, excellent value and great-quality product range and fantastic customer service.

Please note that entries submitted without supporting financial information may be excluded from the awards – all information supplied is confidential.

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  • Have you listed your main stockists – and are these independent retailers in the UK/Ireland?
  • What is the brand’s USP? What makes you stand out from the competition?
  • Do you work with your independent stockists for mutual benefit?
  • How has the brand worked with independents through the pandemic?

This award is open to independent multi-brand kidswear retailers in the UK and Ireland with a brick and mortar presence (no pureplays).

Judges will be looking for a strong edit of key childrenswear brands appropriate to the target customer, high standards of service, an in-store environment (and online offer, if applicable) that complements the brands on offer, signs of resilience and agility during the pandemic, a strong business plan and buying strategy that ensures the business remains at the top of its game, and evidence of financial success.

The business can either sell only kidswear or a mix of kidswear and other categories, but should be able to demonstrate that childrenswear makes up considerably more than half of sales.

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  • Do you offer a brand mix appropriate to your customer?
  • Is the shop environment and website (if there is one) appropriate to this market?
  • Does your business have a strong business plan and potential for future growth?
  • Does it stand out from the competition?
  • How has the business reacted to the pandemic and its impact?

This special award will be chosen by Drapers. Nominations for potential recipients should be emailed to laura.dalton@emap.com

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This award is open to any wholesale menswear brand stocked by independent retailers in the UK and/or Ireland.

You will be judged on a range of factors, including design, response to the pandemic, margin offered, stock service (if applicable), after-sales service, overall customer service, future growth plans and commercial direction.

Judges want to see a clear business plan, excellent value and great-quality product range and fantastic customer service.

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  • Have you listed your main stockists – and are these independent retailers in the UK/Ireland?
  • What is the brand’s USP? What makes you stand out from the competition?
  • Do you work with your independent stockists for mutual benefit?
  • How has the brand worked with independents through the pandemic?

This award is open to independent multi-brand menswear retailers in the UK and Ireland with a brick and mortar presence (no pureplays).  

Judges will be looking for a strong edit of key menswear brands appropriate to the target customer, high standards of service, signs of resilience and agility during the pandemic, an in-store environment (and online offer, if applicable) that complements the brands on offer, a strong business plan and buying strategy that ensures the business remains at the top of its game, and evidence of financial success.

The business can either sell only menswear or a mix of menswear and other categories, but should be able to demonstrate that menswear makes up considerably more than half of sales.

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  • Do you offer a brand mix appropriate to your customer?
  • Is the shop environment and website (if there is one) appropriate to this market?
  • Does the business have a strong business plan and potential for future growth?
  • Does it stand out from the competition?
  • How has the business reacted to the pandemic and its impact?

With this award, Drapers aims to celebrate the talent and hard work of the industry’s up-and-coming stars. This award is open to anyone working within the industry – from owners and buyers to store staff, sales agents and brand representatives.

This person must have made a demonstrable impact on their business in the past 12 months, and show huge promise. They must have joined the business within last three years.

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  • Has this person gone above and beyond to support their business? What impact have they had?
  • Have they made a significant impact on their business, the industry and/or local community?
  • Do they show significant promise?

How to nominate:

If you would like to nominate someone you consider to be a rising star, please email laura.dalton@emap.com and include details of the person, their employer or business, and why you think they are eligible for this award.

This award is open to multi-brand independent retailers, and the brands that service them. Judges will be looking for evidence that sustainability is at the heart of the brand, or makes up an important part of the brand mix. This could include – but is not limited to – increasing the proportion of sustainable/recycled materials used in ranges; embracing circularity through recycling/rental/resale schemes; enhancing transparency and traceability in the supply chain; and promoting social justice and equality.

Judges will consider progress against internal sustainability goals over the past 12 months. Please ensure your entry contains specific examples.

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  • What has the business done to become more sustainable over the past 12 months?
  • What impact has this had?
  • How embedded is sustainability within the strategy?

This award is open to any wholesale womenswear brand stocked by independent retailers in the UK and/or Ireland.

You will be judged on a range of factors, including design, response to the pandemic, margin offered, stock service (if applicable), after-sales service, overall customer service, future growth plans and commercial direction.

Judges want to see a clear business plan, excellent value and great-quality product range and fantastic customer service.

This item is not available
  • Have you listed your main stockists – and are these independent retailers in the UK/Ireland?
  • What is the brand’s USP? What makes you stand out from the competition?
  • Do you work with your independent stockists for mutual benefit?
  • How has the brand worked with independents through the pandemic?
Sponsored by:

This award is open to independent multi-brand womenswear retailers in the UK and Ireland with a brick and mortar presence (no pureplays).  

Judges will be looking for a strong edit of key womenswear brands appropriate to the target customer, high standards of service, signs of resilience and agility during the pandemic, an in-store environment (and online offer, if applicable) that complements the brands on offer, a strong business plan and buying strategy that ensures the business remains at the top of its game, and evidence of financial success.

The business can either sell only womenswear or a mix of womenswear and other categories, but should be able to demonstrate that womenswear makes up considerably more than half of sales.

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  • Do you offer a brand mix appropriate to your customer?
  • Is the shop environment and website (if there is one) appropriate to this market?
  • Does the business have a strong business plan and potential for future growth?
  • Does it stand out from the competition?
  • How has the business reacted to the pandemic and its impact?
Sponsored by: