Pricing has been addressed as has quality, leading to improvement all round.
There’s still an element of schizophrenia about the menswear but steps have clearly been taken to inject some trend-led pieces into the mix. A squirrel motif is printed across an Oxford shirt and embroidered all over a grey marl sweatshirt, both of which are fun and well made. Chinos come in a good array of autumnal colours and sit alongside a pea coat which is one of the best seen. However, the graphic T-shirts and going-out shirts still jar, especially with the more upmarket brand positioning, and some key items such as bomber jackets are missing.
Definite improvements in this area see properly finished chinos at £55, denim at around £65 and the embroidered sweatshirt at £75, all correctly priced. Some pieces do still seem a little expensive, for example a simple quilted jacket at £150, but overall the quality befits what’s being charged, with a really substantial parka at £195 sporting a host of details and thick padding.
The French Connection shopfits have a clean and simple feel with a premium mix of brushed steel and blonde wood. In this store the men’s is at the back, but the new ‘Sketch to Store’ campaign is printed large at the back so finding the section is fine. Once there, it’s pleasing to see no marked-down product in line with Stephen Marks’ new strategy, while staff are attentive and friendly. Windows are clear and feature mannequins sporting some of the more interesting pieces.