Marks & Spencer’s trend-led sub-brands Limited Collection and Autograph are impressive, with the former effortlessly ticking off the sculptural and colour-blocking trends, while Autograph delivers premium fabrications at good prices. But its new sub-brand Portfolio, which targets the 45-plus market, is disappointing, offering little in the way of distinction from Per Una.
Of the sub-brands, Autograph (including Weekend and Essential) and Per Una get roughly twice as much space as the rest, and altogether (including its older brand Classics at the back of the store) make up about half of the shopfloor. Lingerie, denim, accessories and footwear have their own dedicated areas, with more basic product, including black trousers and coats in large, circular rails.
Despite this being a huge, anchor store, M&S’ signage is so efficient that almost every sub-brand (and there are plenty) is visible from the entrance. Inside the store, product is clearly divided into either product categories or more sub-brands. It’s immaculately clean and tidy, and the changing rooms have an abundance of cubicles.
A lilac, pleated cocoon skirt at Limited Collection is excellent value at £25, as is a pure silk gold blouse for £39.50 at Autograph. Although Portfolio is generally disappointing, a high-waisted pair of black trousers with gold buttons at £25 is one of the few good-value pieces.