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John Lewis ramps up younger branded offer as sales soar

John Lewis has cemented its position as a key high street fashion retailer with the addition of a raft of younger, more premium brands including G-Star and Diesel to its mix.

John Lewis will also move a step closer to rivals House of Fraser and Selfridges this autumn with the introduction of premium brands such as Lauren by Ralph Lauren into three stores for menswear and five stores for womenswear, following the end of the label’s exclusive relationship with House of Fraser.

Diesel, which is also stocked by retailers such as House of Fraser and Republic, will launch into five stores next season while G-Star, which is carried by a raft of indies and multiples, will launch on the department store’s website.

Buying director for fashion Peter Ruis told Drapers there had been a gap in John Lewis’s denim offer: “Diesel and G-Star are the big players in what we loosely term boutique denim. They are important. Where we have struggled is that we have Levis at £70 and then the American brands such as Hudson, Lowfly and 7 For All Mankind at £150 and upwards - we have struggled in the middle.”

Polo by Ralph Lauren will also be rolled out to a further three stores following a successful trial of the brand in Cardiff.

“We are having a good time and the move towards more premium brands is growing apace,” said Ruis.

John Lewis will also launch an exclusive tailoring range called Mayfair by Savile Row tailor Richard James later in the year. Retail prices will be between £400 and £500.

Fashion sales at John Lewis have jumped since it began evolving its branded offer and relaunched its fashion website last year. Fashion sales rose 9% in the department store group’s full year to January 31.

Meanwhile, Fashion sales at John Lewis in the week to March 20 rose 15%, the best increase in its clothing business for two years.

John Lewis said that new fashion brands such as Hobbs’ affordable luxury brand NW3, upmarket womenswear brand Damsel in a Dress and John Lewis collaboration with designer Joe Casely-Hayford were particularly strong making up for flat sales in accessories and beauty.

John Lewis added that the strong sales were particularly “remarkable” given the fall of Mother’s Day.  

The retailer reported that trade was “cracking” in the week with total sales up 16%, a performance that beat the equivalent Easter period in 2008. Sales rose at all branches except three and the Direct business, comprising online and multichannel, was especially strong, up 53%.

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