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.