Marks and Spencer’s have previously found fashion a problem area for sales compared to their infamous food hall, which they are renowned for. But the store is hoping to boost consumer appetite towards their clothing lines this autumn.
Their showcase of autumn looks for the new season is not only a ‘back-to-school’ moment in the British fashion industry but also an indication of which catwalk trends will translate into the high street mass market. This autumn’s pieces are not designer dupes of celebrity favourites like we’ve seen in previous years at M&S, like Alexa Chung’s 2015 suede skirt, but full of key comforts; quilted coats, bright tracksuits, and even non-wired bras.
“Anything with an elastic waist flies out of the store.”
says Jill Stanton, the company’s womenswear design director.
Post-Pandemic Fashion Demands
It is clear that lockdown has impacted fashion demand. We’ve become so used to living in elastane and relaxed fits, that this is translating into our outfits post-covid. Shoppers at Marks and Spencers have told staff “they’ve forgotten how to get dressed”, and the store’s mission is to make fashion easy for people who struggle, by making comfortable, and not boring, clothes. Before coronavirus, 50% of their knitwear sold was in darker colours of black, navy, and grey, but now it’s only 25%, and orange tones have proved the most popular this season.
M&S are aware that their clothing lines don’t have as much consumer impact as their food ranges, but as the consumer demand for comfort has increased post-lockdown, they may have an advantage. Soozie Jenkinson is the head of lingerie at M&S, and she says, “Our ethos has always been that we don’t have one comfort line. Everything we do is comfortable”. The soft non-wired bralettes are available in sizes up to a K-cup, making it a very inclusive fashion brand too, and even partywear is now incorporating elements of comfort with elastic waistbands.
The Need for Speed
Lockdown has also provoked a push for sustainability amongst the clothing lines as people are caring far more about the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions and especially how far their money is going.
The irony of the changes in customer demands due to lockdown is that as people couldn’t pop to the shops for necessities, online shopping, specifically shopping on Amazon boomed, and therefore next-day delivery became the norm. M&S has taken this aspect of online fashion seriously and hopes to become the first high street clothing retailer to offer same-day delivery.
Could this be the thing that finally allows their fashion lines to stand out?
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