Editorial: Riches from the rag trade

The glitz and the glamour; the taffeta, the tantrums and the tiaras; the model's staple diet of Marlboros, black Lavazza and devil's dandruff ... To an outsider, the world of fashion is a strange business, with all sorts of weird behaviours and rules. And the financials are often very odd indeed: loss-making fashion houses kept alive by angel backers or by perfume sales and spun-off brand extensions rather than the threads themselves.

by Matthew Gwyther, mt editor

In the UK, we're good at the creative side of fashion. We turn out graduates who go on to design for all the world's big houses. But creativity alone has not led to commercial success. With the exception of Burberry and Paul Smith, we lack serious players on the international scene. The London fashion business remains a cottage industry when compared with the LVMHs, the Guccis, the Pradas and the Armanis of global renown.

That's why Kim Winser has arrived to lead Aquascutum out of genteel obscurity.

With 20 years at M&S under her belt, followed by a vigorous shake-up at Pringle, Winser knows the meaning of the bottom line. This is why her Japanese bosses hired her. She's very likeable and full of energy, as I found when I tagged along for the interview in her smart Regent Street lair. I was impressed and, worrying that the shop seemed lacking in till action, I even bought one of Aquascutum's shirts - at full price, which must be a first for a journalist.

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