Upmarket fashion stores such as Hobbs and Reiss are set to overtake budget clothing chains as the fastest growing segment of the market in 2007 according to new research released today (29 November).

Shoppers seeking brands with a strong identity will spend an extra GBP785m (US$1.62bn) with premium retailers this year, says Verdict Research, up 13.9% year-on-year and outstripping the extra GBP697m being spent with value retailers.

The shift underlines the changing mood of clothing shoppers, who now want exclusivity in their wardrobes.

"The realignment on price since the millennium, fuelled by the value retailers, has given shoppers the option of buying garments at rock bottom prices and investing their savings at the top end of the market," says Maureen Hinton, lead analyst at Verdict.

Though it is the smallest segment of the UK market with an overall share of 18.5%, the premium sector now accounts for the majority of growth.

This compares with the value sector, which accounts for 24.6% of the market, and the mid-market, where stores enjoy a 56.9% share of the market but suffered a sales dip of 1.1% in the past year according to Verdict's research.

However, even though the middle market is losing share, individual retailers are benefiting from the trends in the market by segmenting their ranges more clearly or, in the case of H&M, creating a completely separate brand called COS.

Hinton says retailers "at every level of the market will have to provide shoppers with a very good reason for taking a share of their clothing expenditure in 2008."