The Boutique Star Awards is the industry’s most exciting competition, created by the only trade magazine in the UK dedicated to independent fashion and lifestyle retailers and their suppliers.
You don’t need us to tell you how tough the past few years have been for indies, brands and agents. From the pandemic and Brexit to the cost of living crisis, the Boutique Star Awards 2023 will celebrate those resilient small business superstars who continue to adapt with new ways of thinking, working and behaving.
The competition is open to all multi-brand independent retailers operating at least one bricks-and-mortar store in the UK or Ireland as well as wholesale fashion and lifestyle suppliers including brands, agents and distributors.
This year there are 17 awards up for grabs, with categories for womenswear and lifestyle retailers and brands.
Entering will give you the chance to be recognised at national level as an industry leader. Those making the shortlist will see their business profile catapulted to new heights while the winners will also receive a winners’ logo and gold star trophy.
The Boutique Star Awards first launched in 2019 with a celebratory winners’ party taking place at The Deck inside London’s iconic National Theatre. Winners included Young Ideas for Womenswear Independent of the Year and Independent Group of the Year, Henmores took home the prize for Multi-Channel Independent of the Year and Tilletts won Social Media Channel of the Year.
After taking a two-year hiatus during the pandemic, the awards returned in 2022 with more categories, entries and finalists. The winners were announced at a ceremony in London’s iconic May Fair Hotel attended by 130 industry insiders. Winners included Biscuit Clothing and Living for Womenswear Independent of the Year, The Pantry for Independent Group of the Year and Chloe James Lifestyle for Social Media Strategy of the Year.
For 2023 the awards will return to the May Fair Hotel on Thursday 9 November. Guests will be treated to welcome drinks before sitting down for a three-course feast with wine in its Crystal Room. Following an awards ceremony and crowning of the ultimate winners, the party will continue into the night with a DJ and dance party. Tickets go on sale soon – E: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Boutique Star Awards recognise the independent retail sector’s most outstanding stores, brands, suppliers and individuals. It is the industry’s most exciting competition, created by the only trade publication in the UK that is dedicated to independent fashion and lifestyle retailers. Entering the competition will give you the chance to be recognised at a national level as an industry leader as well as increasing moral among your team. Those making the shortlist will see their business profile raised among peers and suppliers. Meanwhile, winners will receive a gold star trophy alongside a winner’s email signature logo and website banner for all to see in honour of their excellence!
There are so many reasons to enter the Boutique Star Awards. Securing a place on the short-list will add kudos to your brand, service and product offering while raising your industry profile. You’ll receive free money-can’t-buy marketing opportunities while increasing morale and rewarding your team (and yourself) for your outstanding efforts as a business. Plus, it’s free and you’ve got nothing to lose. So, what are you waiting for?
The deadline for entries is Friday 28 July 2023 at 00:00 GMT.
You will receive an email confirming that your entry has been received. If you don’t receive this notification, please check your junk folder before re-submitting.
If you have any technical problems completing your entry please email: email@example.com
Entries open online on Monday 20 March and will close on 31 July 2023. Indies and suppliers will be asked to write a synopsis of their business and provide supporting evidence – including images – to be in with a chance of winning. There’s no charge for entering and you can enter as many categories as you are eligible for.
Entries will undergo a preliminary round of judging based on the content submitted, and the shortlist for each category will be announced in August.
A judging panel will meet in London to discuss the finalists and decide on the ultimate winners. Last year’s competition judges included Young Ideas CEO Anne Wright, former Selfridges’ buyer and brand consultancy founder Wizz Selvey, fashion agency owner Sally Dawes, Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre and Boutique magazine editor Gemma Ward (2023 judging panel to be announced soon)
Finalists will be invited to purchase tickets to the winners’ party. There the winner of each category will be revealed, and attendees can enjoy an evening of celebrations.
Recognising independent multi-brand fashion retailers, the winner of this award will stock a carefully curated range of products that perfectly suits its target customer base while offering an outstanding customer service and shopping experience. Entrants will be required to outline a solid business plan, buying strategy and future growth plan as well as signs they’ve remained agile since the pandemic. The winner of this award will be a great all-rounder with a good social media presence and inspiring e-commerce business. Retailers entering this award can stock several product categories but womenswear, menswear or childrenswear must command its largest percentage of sales. Entrants must operate at least one bricks-and-mortar store in the UK or Ireland.
Celebrating the country’s leading independent fashion/lifestyle retail groups, entrants for this award must operate more than one multi-brand bricks-and-mortar store in the UK or Ireland. The winner will be an outstanding retail group with commercial success across each of its stores as well as online. Judges will be looking for a great buying strategy and business plan with brands that are perfectly tailored for its target customer base. The winner will offer an excellent shopping experience and customer service and demonstrate how this is cohesive across all of its stores and website. Retailers must also show how they have overcome recent challenges and remained agile with a growth plan since the pandemic. Indie groups entering this award can carry any category including womenswear, menswear and lifestyle products.
Rewarding an independent fashion or lifestyle retailer with outstanding visual merchandising, the winner of this award will demonstrate creative excellence in all areas of their bricks-and-mortar store. Entries should outline how they use VM to enhance the overall shopping experience, generating sales and attracting in-store footfall with inventive store windows and visually enticing shop floor displays. The winning store will have VM as an integral part of its strategy and will regularly produce creative and innovative displays that appeal to its target market. Retailers entering this award must stock several brands and only one store can be entered per business/ group.
This award is to recognise independent fashion and lifestyle retailers running an outstanding social media channel. The winning retailer will be outshining its competitors on social media across one or several platforms. Its social media content will be perfectly tailored for its target customer base, with posts, images and videos that attract followers and spark engagement. The winner will need to demonstrate how it uses social media to boost sales as well as offering a community for its customers. It will also be one step ahead of other indies, jumping onto new social media trends in a fast and effective way. Multi-brand independent retailers carrying womenswear, menswear, fashion accessories or lifestyle products can enter this award.
Open to multi-brand independent retailers that opened after January 2022, this award will celebrate the industry’s most promising start-ups. The winner will have a solid business plan and USP in place alongside a carefully curated range of products that perfectly suits its target customer base. Judges will be looking for a new indie retailer already armed with a strong buying strategy and future growth plan. The new business will need to demonstrate success despite the challenges of the past 12 months. Multi-brand independent retailers carrying womenswear, menswear, fashion accessories or lifestyle products can enter this award.
New for 2023, this award will celebrate independent fashion/ lifestyle retailers making positive steps towards operating more sustainably and/or ethically. The winner will be able to demonstrate that they stock a selection of brands that are sustainable and/or ethical and appeal to its customer base. The retailer can be at any stage on its journey to becoming more sustainable/ ethical (or it could have had sustainability as its focus from the beginning). Judges will be looking for indies that are considering as many aspects of operating more ethically/ sustainably as possible, including opting for as many ‘green’ suppliers as possible (products, packaging, energy, banking etc) as well as recycling, minimising waste, reducing their carbon footprint and helping shoppers consume more responsibly. Entries should also outline their environmental commitments and action plan for a more sustainable future. Retailers entering this award can stock categories including womenswear, menswear, childrenswear and lifestyle.
Following the challenges of the past three years, the ‘shop local’ message has been gaining a lot of traction across the nation. This award is to recognise the independent retailer owners and teams who are going an extra mile to give back to their local community. The winning independent retailer of this award will be at the heart of their village, town or city. Entries should demonstrate how they have created a strong identity among the local population whether that’s for the shop itself or the people behind it. This could have been achieved through in-store events, charity fundraisers, involvement in local groups, introducing innovative services or by going above and beyond for people in their community. The judging panel will be looking for retailers that bring something extra special to the area, whether they’re supporting local causes, delivering an outstanding public service or bringing people together in a positive way. Retailers entering this award can stock categories including womenswear, menswear, childrenswear and lifestyle.
Aiming to highlight the country’s best independent fashion brands, this award will recognise Britain’s leading womenswear, menswear and accessories labels. Entrants will need to outline a solid business plan, customer service offering, growth strategy and strong sell-through rates. The winner will be operating a profitable business offering a high quality range of products that appeal to its target market while providing an excellent service to its independent stockists including high margins and aftercare support. This award is open to all independent fashion brands based in the UK.
The International Brand of the Year award gives recognition to the best independent fashion brands based outside of the UK. Judges will be looking for a solid business plan, customer service offering, growth strategy and strong sell-through rates. The winner will be running a profitable business offering covetable products that appeal to its target market while providing an excellent service to its independent stockists including high margins and aftercare support. This award is open to all independent fashion brands based outside of the UK.
Open to UK-based fashion agencies working with multi-brand independent retailers, this accolade recognises to the industry’s leading suppliers. The winner will have an exciting range of commercial brands on its roster with strong sell-through rates, curated with its target customer in mind. Entrants should demonstrate that they are running a profitable business that offers excellent customer service, healthy margins and year-round support for independent retailers. This award is open to all fashion agencies running a multi-brand operation encompassing womenswear and/or menswear.
Acknowledging the industry’s leading fashion brand distributors across womenswear and menswear, this award will celebrate outstanding suppliers working with independent retailers. Judges will be looking for a profitable distribution operation that provides a standout mix of brands and customer service tailored for its target independent retailers. Its collections will have proven high sell-through rates while it will also actively source new products or introduce exciting international labels to the UK market. Entrants should be offering year-round support to its indie stockists including healthy margins and aftercare. This award is open to all fashion distributors running a multi-brand operation encompassing womenswear and/or menswear.
Highlighting remarkable footwear and accessories brands, this new award will be presented to an outstanding business making strides in this competitive product category. Judges will be looking for a solid USP and business plan, customer service offering, growth strategy and strong sell-through rates. The winner will be operating a profitable business offering a high quality range of products that appeal to its target market while providing an excellent service to its independent stockists including high margins and aftercare support. This award is open to all independent footwear and accessories brands based in the UK and abroad.
A very popular category when it was introduced in 2022, this award celebrates the independent fashion/ lifestyle brands making serious efforts to operate more sustainably. Judges will be looking for a sustainable product range and conscious production process. The brand will be committed to creating its entire range consciously and/or ethically and will be part of a wider eco-friendly supply chain. It will also be focused on minimising its own environmental impact wherever possible using greener materials and adopting less wasteful production and distribution techniques. Lastly, it will be committed to improving its environmental efforts as part of a long-tern plan. This award is open to all independent fashion, lifestyle, accessories and footwear brands based in the UK and abroad.
A celebration of female founded fashion brands, this new award will highlight the industry’s best labels and collections created by and run by women. Entrants will need to outline a solid business plan, customer service offering, growth strategy and strong sell-through rates. The winner will be operating a profitable business offering a high quality range of products that appeal to its target market while providing an excellent service to its independent stockists including high margins and aftercare support. This award is open to all independent female-founded fashion, accessories and footwear brands in the UK and abroad.
Open for nominations only, this award is for an individual that has made an outstanding contribution to the industry throughout their career. They will be an industry veteran, championing independent retailers and aiding the sector’s growth and development. This award is open to anyone working in the independent fashion retail and wholesale sector.
This award will recognise an outstanding individual who joined the independent fashion retail community in 2022 or 2023. The winner will be passionate about the industry and contributing to its future success. They will already be a shining star in their current employment and will be eager to play a significant role in the overall industry. The award is open to any individual working on the retail or wholesale side of the industry including retail staff and owners, trade show teams, designers and those working for agencies and distributors.
The Outstanding Business award is open to exceptional fashion and lifestyle independents, suppliers and industry events. The winner will be a remarkable business that excels in every area. The finalists for this award will be indies, agents, brands, distributors and trade shows/ events that truly go above and beyond for their customers. Please nominate your favourite retailers, suppliers or trade shows that you admire or are a joy to work with.
Appointed as Bira’s CEO in 2018, Andrew has a wealth of experience in the small business membership sector having previously held the roles of CEO at RLA since 2013 and a senior position at the Federation of Small Businesses.
He has vast experience in many key areas that affect indie retailers including lobbying government for changes in legislation. Meanwhile, he is dedicated to helping independent retailers thrive and has spearheaded numerous campaigns and new service launches at Bira.
Sunday Best CEO Jan Shutt is a retail veteran. Famously inspired by the Biba shop on Kensington High Street, she opened her store in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, in 1971 and has been at the helm ever since. Throughout her career, which spans 53 years, there have been countless highlights – from winning national awards and appearing on television to working with high profile designers and supermodels (including the first ever shoot for 15-year-old Agyness Deyn). Over the years Sunday Best has expanded and innovated, taking over neighbouring shop units and moving into e-commerce. Today it continues to be known industry wide as one of the very best multi-brand boutiques in the business.
Diane Sykes has been in the fashion industry since the 1980s. At 19 years old she landed her dream job working in the London showroom of a global fashion designer. This position saw her experiencing all aspects of the industry – from retail operations and buying to merchandising and wholesale sales. Over the years, Diane’s career has taken her from London and the QE2 to New York and back again. In 2015 she launched her own multi brand agency: Diane Sykes Fashion. Specialising in mid-premium European collections, she now proudly supplies discerning indie retailers across the UK and Ireland.
A journalist with almost 20 years’ experience, Gemma Ward is the founding editor of Boutique magazine. The title launched in 2010 as a niche publication dedicated to the needs of independent fashion retailers. Today it is celebrated for its insightful business articles and inspiring content created for small business owners. Gemma has judged a wide range of fashion and beauty industry awards throughout her career and regularly interviews some of the best fashion indies and brands in the business.
Friends and former colleagues Sally Gott and Rachel Hunt opened award-winning womenswear independent Sass and Edge in 2017. Armed with many years’ experience in fashion retail, styling and management, they spotted a gap on their local high street for a fun, relaxed and stylish womenswear boutique. Today their Winchester-based store has built a loyal fan base and stocks highly sought-after labels such as Devotion Twins, Self-Portrait, Rails, Bash and Samsøe Samsøe. In 2022 it was named one of the best 50 boutiques in the UK by the Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine and won Best Use of Social Media in the Drapers Independent Awards 2021.
Small business and retail expert Catherine Erdly founded The Resilient Retail Club in 2018 after working for high street names such as Coast, Laura Ashley and Paperchase. Through her consultancy she offers expert support, education and encouragement to independent retailers, makers and brands who want to grow their businesses. Catherine is a regular expert contributor to forbes.com, judge for the Good Retail Awards and on the editorial board for Modern Retail. With over 20 years’ experience, she is a regular speaker at trade events, television and radio while she recently published her first book, Tame Your Tiger – how to stop your product business eating you alive. In 2022 she was named Charity Champion of the Year by Work For Good.
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