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M&S lifts lid on new Indigo line

Marks & Spencer is combining stylish casualwear basics for outfit building with statement pieces and splashes of bold print and colour via its new Indigo range this autumn.

The casualwear label, which was unveiled to the press this week, targets women aged 30-plus. Mixing practical casualwear with contemporary styling, it will go into 100 stores and online on September 1.

Indigo was conceived following customer research by the retailer which found that women’s casualwear customers in the 30-plus age group wanted a dedicated label, rather than product included within the general M&S ranges.

Kate Bostock, executive director of clothing and home, said: “Many of our customers’ lifestyles have become increasingly busy and therefore the demand for a more casual yet stylish look has become really important to them.

“We wanted to introduce a brand that was a one-stop-shop and that will offer her [the 30-plus woman] easy outfit solutions.”

Denim will be a key element of the Indigo range, featuring in jeans, dresses, skirts and jackets. Jeans are in slim, skinny, boyfriend and bootcut styles and will be updated with seasonal washes and shapes.

Indigo also offers strong prints for autumn 09 including checks, stripes and bold florals which are aimed at adding colour to the more basic outfit-building pieces.

The overall colour palette is a mix of neutrals, whites, creams and greys with some bright blues, aqua greens, navy and lilac.

The Indigo collection will also include accessories such as belts, scarves and bags.

M&S head of design for casualwear and the Limited Collection Sheradene Rose said: “In womenswear all the other aspects of our offer are fronted by a really strong brand so we wanted to do the same here. The customer is interested in trends, but we’ve also focused on a lifestyle and giving them help in outfit building.”

She added: “We’ve been influenced by European and US brands which do that casualwear look very well, but there isn’t a lot of that kind of thing in the UK. The pricing is at our ‘better’ level around the level of Limited Collection and Portfolio but under Autograph.

“Indigo is easy to wear, relaxed, comfortable and stylish. We call it ‘effortless style every day.’”

Prices start at £12 for a jersey scoop T-shirt, £19.50 for a skinny T-shirt with ribbon trim, £35 for a boyfriend-style cardigan and £29.50 for a cotton frill-front check tunic dress.
Denim starts at £19.50 for slim jeans and goes up to £25 for the boyfriend jean. A tie-waist denim tunic dress is £29.50. On outerwear, a gingham check coat is £69 and a purple parka is £55.

Indigo: the Drapers verdict

Having refocused its attention towards the 40-plus customer with its Portfolio sub-brand, Marks & Spencer is now setting its sights on a slightly younger shopper with the introduction
of Indigo.

Launching for autumn 09, Indigo’s set of co-ordinated casual basics has been developed to offer women simple building blocks for their day-to-day casualwear wardrobes.
Indigo’s modern, preppy aesthetic draws comparisons with Gap’s handwriting. Skinny striped jerseys and fitted Henley shirts are paired with cropped denim jackets, slim-fit jeans and utility-inspired multi-pocket jackets in a neutral colour palette punctuated with shots of cobalt blue, lilac and aquamarine.

M&S launching a basics range is a little like Starbucks adding a new Columbian coffee to its drinks roster - it’s difficult to visualise how Indigo will stand out from the retailer’s existing offer.
The average 30-something M&S customer already expects to be able to pick up parkas, jeans and jerseys from the mainstream retailer, so without thoughtful design details, inspiring visual merchandising and bulletproof signage, Indigo risks blurring into M&S’s existing ranges.

The range will also need to reel in shoppers from Gap and Next, both of which have developed coherent casualwear ranges in the same price bracket. The challenge for M&S then will be to fuel the imaginations of its ever-demanding shoppers.

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