Fashion firm ASOS has bucked the downtrend by a combination of savvy marketing and internet knowhow
I saw the director of mail-order fashion company Asos interviewed on the Beeb the other day. This was on account of the company managing to double its profits while all around are losing their shirts.
Interestingly, a couple of the reasons are - to my mind - a tad depressing, if commercially sound. Firstly, Asos banks on celebrity-led fashion. Log onto the website and you can search for fashion inspired by your fave celeb, such as Agness Deyn, or - God help us - Amy Winehouse. Harem pants and big shoulders abound.
Secondly, it is aiming very firmly at the youth market, where fashion purchasing is apparently still burgeoning. While those of us in the 33-55 age bracket (nice and wide, though, isn't it?) are increasingly hanging onto our fashion cash to pay for luxuries like mortgages, college fees and pension funds, young people have no such burdens and after paying for rents and pot noodles can spend their dosh on one of Asos's weeny skirts.
Above all, however, Asos has cottoned on to the value-add that it can give its customers over the interwebs. Not only can you get to see the clothes, you can choose 'catwalk' mode to see how they look in motion, from the front, back and sides. Size ranges are wide, starting at 4 or 6 for the midgets and rising to 20 for those of more ample build. Let's face it, this is unbelievably useful, especially for those who can't face crowded shops or communal changing rooms.
Clearly the firm is onto a winner, as it has just signed up Mango, Hackett, Gant and Mini Boden for expansion in the coming year.
Having had a pootle round the website, the clothes are indeed mostly unwearable by anyone over 12, but as ever, there are some pearls - you just have to look carefully. This cute skirt by Karen Millen would be mine if I had the £99 to drop on it, while the range of raincoats is also very pretty. Dresses are a waste of space for anyone who doesn't care for pelmet-pussies, but the knitwear range is very good and the trouser and jean sections have some nice bits, including these '70s' jeans by Oasis that actually come up to your waist.
Worth a look anyway, and even more so if, in the course of their expansion, they ever decide to cater to grown-up girls.