The safe pair of hands moves tentatively into spring with quality, if unremarkable, ranges.
This being Marks & Spencer you’re not going to find anything cutting edge but, for its customer, it just about nods to trends even if it does stop a little too short of some of them. The most successful styles are those that push it a little: the watermelon-print swim shorts are fun, a double-faced stripe shirt in a zingy purple tone is bright enough to feel fresh and the premium suiting is very sharp if a little heavy for spring.
What the product lacks in cutting edge is made up for in quality, at least for the most part. A good basic Oxford shirt is great value at £22 while a nautical-tinged navy double-breasted blazer with enamel buttons would be money well spent at £99. On the flipside the polo offer at £19.50 is more expensive than Uniqlo but not as good quality, and the sweatshirts feel a little thin.
The space is vast. As one of the three giant corner units at Bluewater, there’s plenty of room for M&S to show its wares. But the expanse of rail upon rail, including the slightly messy Sale section, makes for an overwhelming experience, especially considering (bar splitting off tailoring from casual) product types and sub-lines aren’t all grouped together and the central atrium blocks the view across the shop floor. Changing rooms are poorly signposted and, while the staff were warm if a little thin on the ground, sizing across the range is clear and deep enough.