Marks & Spencer has unveiled its first full collection under style director Belinda Earl, pledging “significant upgrades” to quality and “improved fashion and design credentials”.
The retailer’s autumn 13 collection, which has been widely seen as make-or-break for chief executive Marc Bolland, will hit stores from late July.
M&S has been criciticised recently for failing to maintain both quality and style, which commentators argue has been a major factor in its declining clothing sales.
Executive director of general merchandise John Dixon said the collection was “the culmination of six months of extensive research that has seen us listen to our customers’ views on brand and build on our heritage”.
The collection marks the start of renewed focus on “exceptional quality and confident style”, he added.
Earl said: “Over the last few months we have learnt that M&S is a brand that should be looking upwards for aspiration and we are determined to do just that… We are focused on delivering quality, stylish fashions for our customers each and every time they shop with us.”
Bolland added: “I am confident that we are taking a step in the right direction by focusing on quality and style.”
Higher quality fabrics are being deployed across M&S’ ranges – its £65 cashmere jumper has increased weight by 9%, while basic cotton T-shirts have been upgraded with a finish that reduces pilling. M&S has also reviewed its sizing blocks to give better consistency across the different brands.
The finish of products has also been improved, introducing visible French seams for a neater look.
The retailer has also shaken up its sub-brands, confirming the launch of umbrella brand M&S Collection this autumn. The new brand, which M&S described as “the next step in the development of M&S Woman”, will comprise Limited Edition – an adapted version of the Limited Collection, which will have fortnightly drops “to regularly bring customers the latest interpretations of the key season’s trends”.
Per Una, Autograph and Indigo will remain distinct sub-brands.
Frances Russell, director of womenswear, said: “We’ve injected some love back in to our brands and focused on their brand signatures to ensure that every product in each of our collections has been designed specifically with our customers in mind. This product focus, coupled with a clearly signposted, compelling collection of brands helps to make choosing amazing outfits that are perfect for every occasion even easier for our customers.”
M&S is also introducing a range designed and manufactured in Britain, as part of a three-year partnership with the British Fashion Council, which was first unveiled in February. Best of British is an edited collection of classic items that will run across womenswear and menswear. Garments will be made in a selection of premium fabrics such as luxury Scottish cashmere and fine Yorkshire cloths.