New collection from Marks & Spencer: Stylish clothes that work hard
Retail giant says it’s about versatility, using layers to take you from summer into winter
“We are going for style rather than trends”: the M&S autumn/winter collection
Forget the denim boiler suits that attracted so much attention at Marks & Spencer last season or the sell-out pink teddy coat the year before. It was back to basics at the high street giant’s autumn-winter presentation (including a taste of spring) in London on Wednesday, on a bad news day for the giant as it dropped out of the FTSE 100 of the UK’s biggest clothes retailers.
“We are going for style rather than trends,” stressed Francesca Zedda, M&S trend expert, who spoke about “weatherproofing” clothes, the seamless transition from one season into another and sustainability.
Classic design with contemporary sensibility was the message, which in reality meant sticking to variations of failsafe pieces – floral dresses worn with chunky cable sweaters, jeans with aviator or classic cut coats, pleated skirts with hiking boots, and a lot of caramel and shades of brown peppering the colour palette even in lingerie.
Dresses were strong (starting from €47.50), the same shape repeated in different prints. “The wardrobe has to work harder,” argued Zedda. “It’s about versatility; light dresses in different prints can be layered up with sweaters, tights and coats when it is cold to take you from summer into winter.”
It was a view that must have struck a chord with international press at the event, who were all mostly in long dresses or midi skirts. Style workshops, lingerie masterclasses, a session on clothes care and sustainability and even a talk on how to master “mum style” spiced up the event.
For a company that shifts more jeans than any other retailer – 570 pairs an hour every day – the show went for three new shapes (though not the new slouchy wide-leg style) in supersoft fabrics boasting four different washes per shape.
Wool coats (from €100) came in classic shapes in a variety of colours and patterns. Typical of new takes on old favourites were a more pared-back trench with another in leather and a luxurious camel coat – the shape repeated in other shades and checks – as well as quilted and tweed jackets.
Real innovation, however, was in the stylish lingerie, with new inclusive shapewear, floral silk leisurewear, roomy cashmere sweaters, and technical developments allowing for wire-free bras using lightweight double-layered fabrics adopted from the car industry. With its 30 per cent share of the underwear market, what’s going on underneath at M&S is still a strength.