THIS season's fashion must-have? A top award for being a great independent retailer

NORTH-EAST business owners Julian and Rhona Blades clothed themselves in glory at the prestigious Drapers Independents Awards 2018, picking up the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The awards celebrate the most influential brands and highly respected independent retailers, and after more than three decades in the fashion business, the owners of Jules B and Zen have certainly made their mark.

The honour is one of the highest accolades in the fashion industry and a massive coup for a local company. Previous winners include Matches and Joan Burstein, honorary chairman of London designer Browns.

Jules B has been a respected brand in the North-East since 1985, when husband and wife team Julian and Rhona opened the first womenswear store in Newcastle’s leafy Jesmond enclave. After 33 years in business, the company has expanded to include five Jules B stores and a thriving website. A couple of years ago, the couple added two Zen stores to their portfolio, which are gaining momentum and a loyal customer base. Where other outlets are finding times tough, the future looks bright for the company.

“We are absolutely delighted to be honoured with this award from Drapers,” says company director Julian. “This feels like just the beginning. We’ve got a clear vision for the future and are more excited and motivated than ever to deliver unique and exclusive fashion products to our customers in the North.”

After opening the doors of their first Jules B womenswear store in Jesmond, Julian and Rhona went on to open stores in Kendal and Yarm. Also former winners of the Drapers award for Best Independent Fashion Retailer in Britain, they now employ more than 100 people. “We remain passionate about providing the best in fashion to the women of the region,” says Rhona.

• Jules B, Yarm, Jesmond and Kendal. W:

• Zen Wardrobe, Yarm and Jesmond. W:

Have a butchers...

THIS season, it's all about huge earrings - meaning autumn's foremost style icon is none other than EastEnders' Pat Butcher. The one-time Queen Vic landlady was famous for her extensive collection of weird and wonderful ear candy.

On the catwalks models have been adorned with earrings so big that it's a wonder their skinny frames can take the weight. From Marni to Armani, Stella McCartney to Saint Laurent, huge hoops and quirky, sparkly strands are everywhere. Have a butchers at these Pat-worthy pairs...