A return to work-hard key items was a good move during the downturn
M&S menswear has had more changes of tack than Ellen MacArthur. The latest is to merchandise more by category than sub-brand, and it has been done in conjunction with a de-emphasis on fashion. Basics - cotton polos, knitwear, trousers - are abundant but fashionable pieces are harder to find. Trends come mainly through colours - particularly blues and pinks - and the use of fabric. Blue Harbour Luxury offers some interesting pieces such as a bold tablecloth-check shirt.
The move away from a reliance on sub-branded areas makes the space look unappealing. The only highlight is Collezione, which still sits all together. A lack of staff with product knowledge is made up for by good signposting and the quality of make and cloth in the Timothy Everest Sartorial suit line is explained well on swing tickets.
A Sartorial suit is £199, a Luxury Limited Edition £349 and the Handcrafted is almost £500. All offer good value against branded rivals. M&S is harnessing a good, better, best approach without using fashion to hide weaknesses. In knitwear, cashmilon is £12, cashmere just under £50 and merino somewhere in between.
‘I used to buy work shirts from M&S as they were cheap and of good quality. But the casual clothes seem to cater for an older shopper now’
Ben Ward, chartered surveyor, 28