Drapers examines the new Scandinavian womenswear brand offer at department store Debenhams
Once, effortless Parisian dressing was held up as the epitome of cool. Now it is the clean lines of Scandi style that inspire everything from interiors to clothing. Driven by the success of premium labels such as Copenhagen’s Ganni, which counts Selfridges, Net-a-Porter and Liberty among its stockists, and indie favourite Baum und Pferdgarten, Scandi brands are enjoying an extended moment in the sun.
Debenhams is the latest retailer looking to inject a touch of Scandinavian cool to its offer. The department store has launched five new premium womenswear brands from the region for spring 18, as part of plans to shake up its brand mix and offer customers a “curated choice of differentiated brands”. Emerging womenswear designer Richard Quinn, known for his clashing prints and fashion forward designs, will also join the Designers at Debenhams roster later this spring.
Collections from Danish labels MbyM, Stella Nova, Minimum, Lolly’s Laundry and Six Ames landed online and in selected Debenhams stores, including Oxford Street, Westfield Shepherd’s Bush and Manchester’s Trafford Centre, this month. It has also introduced more affordable labels, among them Minimum’s younger sister label Move, of which Debenhams is the sole UK stockist, as well as Simple Stories, Vero Moda, Vila and Noisy May.
Debenhams describes its new Scandi offer as marrying ”simplicity, pretty prints and quality”. Buyers looked to Danish department store Magasin, which is owned by Debenhams, for inspiration, and combed contemporary womenswear and menswear trade show CIFF. The result is a carefully curated selection of wearable pieces that delivers the best of Scandi style without being too fashion-forward for Debenhams’ core customer.
From Move, a navy sweatshirt with embroidered daisies (retail £55) and a floral kimono (£50) shine, and other key pieces include a spot-print shirt-dress from MbyM (£80) and botanical print coat from Six Ames (£149.) A sunshine-yellow maxi-dress (£110) from Lolly’s Laundry has already proved a bestseller in the retailer’s Oxford Street store. Prices are higher than they are elsewhere in Debenhams’ range, but the quality is consistently high and designs feel contemporary and fresh.
The wide selection of brands at a variety of price points (retail prices start at £30 among the more affordable labels) means most customers should be able to find something that appeals.
Visual merchandising surrounding the new collections also proves a winner when Drapers visits the retailer’s Oxford Street store. This is key, given the attention to detail surrounding brand offer at nearby stores from competitors John Lewis and House of Fraser. Products from the collection have been given a prominent space near the escalators and there are dedicated sections for the new labels within the wider womenswear area. Scandi-style pale wood boards with bright white lighting alert customers to the new labels. Pale pink backdrops and giant cacti offset collections from the more affordable names. Upstairs, cool grey walls, wood effects and marble details complement the more expensive offer. Online, a prominent story on the Debenham’s homepage directs customers to the Scandi section, which provides a run-down of the key trends, the top product picks and a few lines on the style of each brand.
Introducing Scandi style seems a smart decision for Debenhams.