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Portas unveils retail and clothing tie-up with HoF

Retail guru Mary Portas has launched her much-anticipated collaboration with House of Fraser, including a service-driven retail environment and eponymous clothing range.

The 2,000 sq ft space in House of Fraser’s Oxford Street store in London was due to open yesterday.  Designed to mirror the lifestyle concepts of international boutiques such as Milan’s 10 Corso Como, Mary & House of Fraser combines the Mary Portas clothing range and brands including Whistles, Bastyan and Day Birger et Mikkelsen with homewares and grocery.

“We’ve lost the places on our high streets where women want to shop,” Portas told Drapers during a private tour of the department. “Women want beautiful things. The [Mary Portas] collection is for ‘women’ not ‘girls’. It’s not for teenagers who want to dip into the collection; it’s for women who want to buy into quality and great cuts.”

The Mary Portas womenswear range, which is spearheaded by HoF’s buying director for special projects Alex Dimitriu, is a collaboration between the department store chain and Portas. For autumn 11, the dress-led collection will comprise 39 pieces, with a further 25 for phase two in October. Blouses, jeans and trousers also feature in a print-heavy collection.

“Mary signs off everything – the colours, prints, fabrication,” said Dimitriu. “The collection’s key is the no-brainer dress, either a tunic or a structured ponte fabric style that lifts your bum and sucks in everything.”

The majority of the collection is manufactured in Turkey and Europe, with key pieces – three dresses and a pair of trousers – made in the UK.

Retail prices range from £32 for a jersey top to £300 for a leather dress, with the average price around £132 and 44% of the range under £100.

Portas has launched a 25-piece women’s footwear range, Mary & Clarks, in collaboration with retailer Clarks. Each style is named after a famous Mary, including La Magdalene and La Portas.

The collection is available in the Mary & House of Fraser space, online at HoF and in Clarks stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street. It will be rolled out to a further 58 Clarks stores from September 14. Prices range from £79.99 to £160.00.

  • For a full report on the Mary & House of Fraser concept, see next week’s Shopwatching.

Drapers comment

It’s just over a year since Mary Portas first told me she wanted to open her own shop, where women could buy trend-led, well-made clothes (designed by her) and a host of other “beautiful” things – books, wine, homewares. Well, she’s now done it.

I must admit, I’d envisaged it more as an indie-style format , located on a similar street to her Living & Giving shop in leafy Primrose Hill, north London. Not that the format doesn’t lend itself to HoF. The “lifestyle” concept – the area with the olive oil, the specially commissioned greeting cards and exclusive scented candles – adds a different dimension to the shop-in-shop format.

The clothing collection is very Portas, with her signature oversized tops and slim trousers, and brightly coloured, printed dresses. The merchandising is more democratic in store, compared with some of the younger styling in the look books.

Ana Santi, deputy editor


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