A group of five international suppliers impacted by the closure of UK clothing chain Principles have joined forces to launch their own online retail presence.

Epiq was launched two weeks ago at epiqfashions.com, initially to dispose of stock originally destined for Principles.

But new stock will be added to the site imminently, and talks are under way over the possible expansion of the Epiq brand into the UK multiple retail sector.

The suppliers - many left without payment amid the current retail crisis in the UK - are not being named for fear of jeopardising future business with other retail customers, a spokesperson for Epiq told just-style.

However, they are understood to comprise Principles' five biggest suppliers, based in various parts of Asia and Europe.

Epiq's launch is described as a response to changing consumer buying habits and a reaction against the "punitive trading practices" employed by retailers in the current economic crisis.

"This is an Asian response to what is currently a predominantly Western retail crisis," said the spokesperson.

"Some of the UK's high street retail failures have to be partly laid at the door of sharp retail practices which have badly affected clothing suppliers in Asia.

"Increasingly, areas of responsibility are being pushed back onto the supplier - design, the financial aspect, landing the goods, warehousing the goods. Ultimately, the retailer is only supplying the marketing and the shop front."

Talks over unsold Principles stock broke down between the suppliers and retailer Debenhams, which had bought the collapsed chain's warehoused stock.

"It was generally felt that Debenhams' offer was too low," said the Epiq spokesperson.

She said that the suppliers might make more money through the website than they did by selling through Principles.

"Even with a significant discount through offering online, you can still be cheaper than retail, and it's still worth more than the FOB price."