Expansion Plans: Comfort-Oriented Clothing Brings M&S Back to Fashion | Shops and shopping



The showcase of Marks & Spencer’s new fall looks is both a re-entry into the UK fashion industry calendar and an indicator of catwalk trends that will successfully translate into the mass market.

But this season’s heroic pieces aren’t designer look-alikes in the vein of 2013’s sold-out pink coat, or celebrity favorites like the Alexa Chung suede skirt as seen in 2015. In 2021, the stars of the show are the colorful tracksuits, quilted coats and non-wired bras.

“Anything that has an elastic waist” is flying out of stores right now, said the company’s director of womenswear design, Jill Stanton.

In the shoe department, heels have been abandoned in favor of flat shoes. Design manager Lisa Illis said: “Women buy comfortable boots, sneakers and sandals – ‘the right shoes’ are much less important than they used to be.

Fashion has been a problem for M&S in recent years, but the store is hoping consumers’ appetites for comfort signal a turnaround, playing to its strengths. “Our philosophy has always been that we don’t have a single ‘comfort’ line. Everything we do is comfortable, ”said Soozie Jenkinson, Head of Lingerie. Soft “bralettes” are available up to K cup. Even evening wear emphasizes a more casual approach: black velvet evening pants have a buttoned closure at the front of the waistband, but a panel. stretchable at the back.

Locked store closures have hit a brand that has been lagging behind in the transition to online retailing hard. A successful partnership with Ocado accelerated the transition to a food-focused model, and the fashion was taken off the shelves at many stores. But a sign that M&S ​​is now taking online fashion seriously, it hopes to become the first high street retailer to offer same day delivery.

Where clothes can still be found in stores, shelves of prosaic “basics” – now so cheap and so widely available online that it is almost impossible to generate a profit – have been replaced by “more attractive and attractive clothes.” colorful, ”says Stanton.

“The shelves and racks of black pants you used to see in stores are gone now. Colleagues at the store tell us that shoppers come in and say, “I forgot how to dress! People come to us because we make fashion easy for them, and they want clothes that are comfortable, but not boring. In the past 50% of our knits were sold in black, gray and navy blue, but now it’s only 25%. Orange is really popular right now.

Key pieces include brightly colored tracksuits, designed for public wardrobes after lockdown with tailored hiking boots and coats instead of slippers, and an olive quilted coat with ‘onion’ pattern quilting. Rigid and expensive stitching is out, and sleeveless shirts and knits are touted as easy, inexpensive wardrobe updates. “. Sweatshirts and joggers, considered the cornerstone of the modern wardrobe, all cost £ 15. Prices go up to £ 250 for leather parts from the premium Autograph range, “which we can do because our customer is confident that she is getting what she pays for. This £ 250 coin would be £ 500 elsewhere.

Sustainability is seen as the key to retaining a new generation of potential customers. Print dresses from affordable and eco-conscious brand Nobody’s Child have proven popular with younger shoppers, as have period-proof panties, which will go from an online-only launch to 70 stores later this year. year.


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