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Shepherdson unveils vision for Whistles

Whistles chief executive Jane Shepherdson has outlined her vision to target 25-year-old women with a collection comprised of ‘pared down classics with a twist’ to the brand’s key concession partners and consumer press.

Sources who have seen Shepherdson’s first collection for the womenswear retailer, which she bought in January from Mosaic Fashions, told Drapers she had instigated a seismic shift at the business. They added that she was targeting a younger consumer and had produced a collection with similar handwriting to See by Chloé, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Vanessa Bruno and Reiss.
Shepherdson’s range will debut in Whistles’ stores in September.

One concession partner told Drapers it was a “brave collection” and that Shepherdson had abandoned Whistles’ signature boho styling for 35-plus women in favour of shorter hemlines and more contemporary minimal styling. Knitwear, previously one of Whistles’ strengths, has also been dramatically scaled back.

However, concessionaires have embraced the new look. Another concession partner said: “Key strengths in the collection are the dresses and the great fabrics, and there was also a lovely vintage print.”

A third concessionaire said: “The Whistles collection is amazing. It is pared down, but all about fantastic pieces in great fabrics. Key pieces include black Audrey Hepburn-style classic evening dresses.”

One editor of a consumer magazine said Shepherdson’s vision for the business was ideal and that Whistles had underperformed under its previous owner Mosaic Fashions because of its bland product offering. She said: “It has been very uneventful in recent years. Everyone has been doing the luxe boho look that Whistles is known for and it had no point of difference.”

Another concessionaire said: “The season before last Whistles really struggled – it was too quirky. But the new collection is classic and beautiful.”

Whistles has more than 40 stores and about 40 concessions in the UK.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Wow. I can't wait to see what Jane has done when this hits the shops. Its all we've been talking about in the office for ages. Shorter hemlines will be really different from where it's been before but i agree that the luxe boho thing has been done to death so it was time for it to move on. Should reiss be looking over their shoulders I wonder? What will be interesting is to see what the prices are though because it might be more expensive maybe. But let's face it it will be brilliant if jane has done it i am sure. no one knows shoppers like she does. Maybe she wants those that are a bit too sophisticated for topshop as they get a bit older?

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  • I think it should be really exciting to see what Jane is doing for the Brand, Whistles. I love the talk of "pared down classics...minimal...etc, etc..."
    The British High Street has become very stale, with such a formula that is seen season after season, with no new blood entering at high levels in the industry...which is precisely WHY it is so stagnant at the moment, with the re-hashing of all these old formulas (which people still think is right for the HighSt)!
    Lets hope Whistles will inject some new interest into a "bogged-down, over styled, over embellished, smocked-out, high street market!

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  • Love Whistles as an overall concept but never find anything I actually want to purchase. 'Classic with a twist' sounds way more exciting.

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  • I am very surprised by the direction that Whistles is taking. I believe that the younger market they are targeting with the new collection are the ones who are still buying throw away fashion from Primark and the like. Whistles should retain its core client base - a slightly older, more sophisticated spender who would be happy with the edge of this new collection but not the shorter lines and wacky prints.

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