Marks & Spencer has delivered its first rise in clothing sales in four years after a pickup in performance at its website. Sales of clothing rose by 0.7% in the 13 weeks to 28 March compared with a 5.8% slide in the previous three months.The tentative step into positive territory comes after 16 quarters without growth. It was also achieved in the face of a tricky spring for fashion retailers, with much chillier weather than this time last year. M&S credited improvements in style and quality as well as positive press coverage, particularly of a suede skirt which has yet to arrive in stores, for the sales turnaround. But performance was largely lifted by a return to growth at M&S.com, where sales rose 13.8%, a considerable bounce from the 6% slump over Christmas. (The Guardian)
I buy a fair amount of museli, fruit and veg, bacon and the odd bottle of wine from M&S. Virtually all my knickers are M&S, but I have not bought a fashion item for a very long time. Mainly because I don’t think much of the fit, and none of the sub-brands do it for me. Once when I was buying an umbrella or some stud earings, an enterprising sales assistant asked me if I was “Per Una?“.
“No” I shreiked – not for me over-colourful, bias cut midi skirts that cling to the thigh, matched with embellished waterfall cardigans. I was appalled at his inability to even take in what I was wearing, my general appearance and demeanor. Per Una is for 40 year olds from Tranmere, with a dog and a husband called Kev.
He hesitated, then tried again: “Classic?” he ventured. “No!” I cut in. Even worse – the middle of the road outfits for dowdy 60 year olds – Susan from Haslemere who makes marmalade, organises a reading group and wears a nighty in bed. I began to despair – “I quite like Autograph” I suggested, although I don’t actually buy this range, apart from the tights.
Actually Autograph and the Limited Collection do have some reasonable outfits. The new womenwear supremo, credited with the slight turn aound in their fortunes, is Belinda Earle, from Debenhams. Let’s have a look at that suede skirt shall we?
Apparently there is a waiting list for this £200 skirt, due to be released today. If you see someone wearing one, now you where they bought it. Not from a second hand shop, trading in 70s leatherwear, but from”good old M&S”. In fact there is also a cheaper “faux” suede version available, but it’s apparently sold out. I don’t like it much – if your legs are wider than your arms this is not a length that flatters. I don’t rate the colour either, especially when paired with maroon or black. It would look a lot better with rust, mustard or khaki. These two pretty girls, with identical cheek bones, can look miles better.
The outfits below are available this spring/summer and I have picked them out as a cut above the high street norm. I am not sure I would buy or wear any of these outfit due to the colour, cut or fabric. But I like the shapes and silhouettes, and I feel that the styling is far better than we have seen before.
What do you think?