Can Reserved make its mark in the UK?

Reserved fashion- Kate Moss fronts campaign

Reserved fashion hits the UK

With the launch of its Oxford Street flagship store and UK e-commerce platform, Polish retailer Reserved enters the UK’s notoriously competitive young fast-fashion sector. With a broad, price-competitive range and quick turnaround times for fashion products (given some of its production units are in Poland), Reserved has the potential to make an impact on the market, but in order to do so must offer a more compelling product proposition.

Instock data shows that, on a product level, Reserved is most aligned with H&M and Zara, with women’s products holding just under half of its product mix. However, its core price architecture is currently most aligned with New Look. Theoretically, this puts Reserved in a strong position – if it can offer trend-led products at a lower price, it stands a chance of making inroads into the UK’s competitive market. Its closest competitors in that space would be pureplays such as Boohoo and Asos, but Reserved has the benefit of a store presence, a strong brand-building asset, that it must leverage.

However, a majority of Reserved’s products are more basic than either H&M or Zara, and it has none of the design kudos in the UK of either brand. To compensate, Reserved has utilised visual merchandising, editorials, instore styling and its Kate Moss led marketing to imbue the brand with an impressive fashion-forward feel; but more is required from a design point of view to truly distinguish its proposition.

Reserved’s premiumly-priced Re:Design line takes classic items and re-interprets them using its Eastern European heritage, and offers the most distinctive point of view of any of its ranges. There is potential to place it more centre forward both online and instore, and incorporate its design ethos into Reserved’s core ranges, as this will give Reserved a point of distinction and establish design authority, while building brand appeal.

A womenswear category breakdown shows Reserved’s product mix is more skewed towards separates than its competitors. Top weights dominate, while dresses only hold 10% of the mix compared to ASOS’ 32.0% and Zara’s 16.8%. While a separates focus is sensible given the retailer’s young target customer base, Reserved must be careful to not lose out on A/W 17/18’s directional dress trends which will be vital to the UK’s fashion-driven shopper.

Outerwear is the other outlier, holding 10.7% of the product mix, compared to 7.8% at H&M. The unpredictability of UK’s weather has made seasoned retailers cautious of dropping outerwear early in the season, choosing instead to spread it out through the season. These small nuances, unique to the UK, are ones that Reserved must hone its strategy on.

Reserved must thus use its first few trading months to strategically adapt and find its unique voice in a saturated market. Educating customers of its price-led proposition is imperative, but few retailers can compete on a purely price basis any longer, with Primark standing out as a rare exception. Accordingly, Reserved must also fine-tune its product proportion to offer a compelling mix of trend-led items and basics, refreshed on a regular basis, to entice the picky UK shopper.

Note: All data is taken from WGSN’s retail analytics platform, Instock, and refers to the week leading up to September 9th

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