Discovered: Boutiques Beating the Crisis

Posted by: Rebecca Bosanquet

Times are hard in fashion retailing with consumer spending down and even the economic heavyweights of Europe displaying weak consumer spending. 2012 was the worst year since 2008 in the UK, with almost 4,000 stores closing down. It was also the year that saw sales of high street giant H&M down in its biggest market: Germany. This situation has been the final straw for several high street retailers with 52 long-standing high street retailers in the UK alone recently going bust, including Peacocks, Jane Norman and Ethel Austin. The outlook looks bleak for independent fashion retailers when even high street fashion giants are on their last legs.

Ethel Austin

It’s not all bad news however, there have been survivors in this fight for fashion survival and the survivors have done so for a very good reason. These are the boutiques that have consistently wowed with a certain Je ne sais quoi.

The North of England is one of the areas hit hardest by the crisis. We are bringing you this inspiring guide by examining the strengths apparent in the surviving boutiques.

The first boutique on our tour is: HAVETOLOVE  

(1-3 Hawthorn Road, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 4DE)


It’s not hard to see all there is to love about Havetolove, which was recently featured in Vogue’s 100 Best Shops Outside of London. It’s one of those places that makes you glad to be a woman just to escape to this fantasy luxury boudoir world complete with personalized service and pink retro deco.

Havetolove boutiqueHavetolove boutique

Shopping here is an indulgent delight fit for a princess and I haven’t even mentioned the fact that they stock super-chic brands such as French label Manoush yet.


Havetolove has triumphed throughout the crisis because of their:

  • Up–to-date stunning product range with the latest handpicked designs
  • Amazing in-store deco and an outstanding e-shop experience
  • Excellent personalized service and a ‘personal boutique feel’

The second stop on our tour of mind blowing boutiques is: VAN MILDERT

(19-21 Elvet Bridge,Durham City, DH1 3AA)

We are in the historic city of Durham, home to a UNESCO world heritage site and Britain’s best loved Cathedral (below).

Durham cathedral

On the Elvet Bridge just a stones throwaway from Durham Cathedral is the Van Mildert boutique a breath-taking space housed in an old 17th century Gaol. This boutique not only survived the crisis, it also managed to expand to nearby cities Harrogate, Hull, Sheffield, Glasgow, Darlington and York. It has also won numerous awards over the years and continues to have a strong and increasingly broad clientele.

Van Mildert

It was the first store outside of London to offer the designs of names such as Dries Van Noten, Comme Des Garçon and Helmut Lang. However Van Mildert’s long longstanding success goes way beyond this.

Comme des Garçons

Van Mildert‘s success in becoming a lifestyle concept and brand name
synonymous with all that is new and exciting in the fashion world can
be attributed to the space it dedicates to:

  • Latest collections from the hottest names in high end designer fashion
  • Local designers, sculptors and artists to exhibit their work

And the last visit is to: COGGLES

(York 91-93 Low Petergate  York, North Yorkshire YO1 7HY)

Coggles Store

We conclude with Coggles, an award winning boutique, which started out as a market stall and is now one of the UK’s leading independent retailers. The shop offers over 200 designer collections from established and emerging designers, as well as a fresh and inspiring space for music and books in a beautifully restored medieval building.

Fun Fact: Coggles was actually named after the mistress of the founder’s husband when she found out he was having an affair.

Coggles Store

Coggles has triumphed right from its early days for several reasons,
but primarily because of its:

  • Clean and uncluttered visual merchandising throughout store and windows.
  • Smiling, and welcoming yet pressure free service.
  • Inspiring online store with UK’s largest street style archive and new shots added weekly.
  • Speedy stock renewal with 40% of store content always new and meticulously handpicked

Now all you need to do is go see these inspiring retail spaces for yourself! Enjoy!

What’s your favorite shopping spot?


2 thoughts on “Discovered: Boutiques Beating the Crisis

  1. These smaller boutiques have more character, diversity of products, and put more revenue back into the local community. Hopefully, more ethically and environmentally sound in their product sourcing. And putting more character back into high street fashion, rather than everyone looking like Topshop bores… ! YEAH

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s