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New strategy for M&S breeds ‘most confident’ collection yet

Marks & Spencer has “put the customer at the heart” of its debut clothing collection under the new strategy of chief executive Steve Rowe.

The autumn 16 range, which features five trend stories, is “more confident” and more “coherent”, according to Queralt Ferrer, M&S’s womenswear, lingerie and beauty design director, following a reshuffle of the womenswear teams.

The womenswear teams now focus on product type rather than brand. Once there would have been a buyer of autograph for example, there is now a buyer responsible for jersey or knitwear etc, across all brands.

“The whole team is now working across every look so the whole collection works much better together,” Ferrer told Drapers. “It’s part of the process of putting the customer at the centre of what we do.”

In stores the collection will be merchandised- as it was shown to press- mixing the different brands for the first time.

“We want it to be a easy-to-shop collection. It won’t be separated by brand like it was in the past, we want to make it easier for shoppers”, Ferrer added.

The retailer has also bought deeper in the trends it is backing for autumn 16. For example it will have a key style of trouser in two or three colours or it will have a dress, skirt and trousers all featuring a key print for the season.

“We are backing our trends with confidence. It’s about giving the shopper more choice. She can buy a head to toe look or mix and match separates. We are more confident in our offer,” said Ferrer.

M&S has also streamlined some of its product categories to simplify the offer, so from autumn 16 there will be one key pair of black skinny jeans for example, rather than having one style in each of the in-house brands.

“There is less waste this way, it’s a more considered edit now,” Ferrer added.

As reported by Drapers the retailer has also launched its first “buy now” capsule collection- allowing shoppers to buy an edit of the autumn 16 collection from today (May 11).

The 20 piece range called The Big Easy capitalises on the customers’ appetite to buy products straight from the catwalk rather than waiting three months for them to appear instore.

Ferrer said: “It’s a taste of the autumn season but they are pieces you can wear now. We are listening to our customers. She wants the product when she sees it in the press, so we have created this edit for her. The pieces are versatile and lightweight so can be worn all year round.”

The Draper’s verdict:

From the pleat-front wrapped kilt-skirt, the cropped and frayed patchwork denim jeans and the khaki lightweight parka through to the wide tobacco leather culottes, roomy belted shirt dress and frill-trimmed bohemian floral dresses, this is one of Marks and Spencer’s most confident interpretations of the key catwalk-to-high street trends for seasons. Two key moods emerge: a contemporary simplicity, with loose or slightly oversized shapes and transitional pieces in easy neutral shades to carry shoppers between the seasons, contrasted with a more richly coloured and flamboyant direction, seen in the floral jacquard skirts, leopard spot furry outerwear and louche velvet tailoring.

Graeme Moran, Drapers’ fashion editor


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