Thursday, January 10, 2013

A great deal of selection , all of it dreary: The place it all went completely wrong for M&S

The figures are disappointing, and their leaking only compounds an perception of disarray. However Britain's most important clothing retailer faces a far knottier fashion problem than that prematurely exposed 3. eight for each cent fall in basic products profits about Christmas.

For increasingly, what is actually in style is to say that Marks & Spencer just isn't. The standard in- keep rushes for this season's must -have M&S have been replaced by a perception that the firm's sartorial offer is aged, clumsy and effectively, a bit off.

Study : M&S loses £270m in value immediately after dismal Christmas

In fairness to its main executive, Marc Bolland, this is not a new difficulty. M&S's popularity as the nation's bulwark in opposition to tackiness and lowest frequent denominator taste has been in retreat considering that the in advance of the commence of this century.

What a big loss this is - and not only for M&S's vociferous shareholders. For most of the twentieth century, M&S was an exemplar of democratic British fashion and an upholder of the thought that very well - built, decently developed items will not have to price a fortune. It was not grime low cost, but one thing eventually a lot more useful : a supplier of lasting benefit.

Throughout the 80s and a great component of the 90s it held out against the demons of Disneyfied children's wear and the tacky preferences that were being swiftly currently being commodified from the Do - listing finish of the red carpet. But as opposition from the rest of the substantial street grew tougher with bargain basement Primark entering the scene, and these pesky foreign brands these types of as Zara invaded these shores, M&S misplaced its nerve, slashing selling prices (and good quality ) and dishing out vast quantities of unsophisticated dreck. The dreaded For every Una stands out as the most egregious offender, but in reality the virus spread to all its lines. In fairness, For each Una brought prompt salve to its bottom line but did untold damage to its prolonged term trustworthiness as a bastion of understated taste.

Even now, there are nevertheless beacons of excellence in retailer. The underwear is tough to conquer on the higher street for price tag and innovation and every winter throws up two or a few amazing coats and some of the menswear tailoring and cashmere is excellent too. But these oases are significantly isolated in a morass of inferior stock that you can't picture anybody buying as a initial choice. As for the quite a few branches that are not flagships: there is only morass, no beacons.

And what's likely on with their internet site ? This must be the jewel in their crown. Instead it really is a dispiritingly unwieldy clod-hopper a 21st century, capitalist, virtual version of aged Russian section keep GUM: a lot of choice, all of it dreary hunting.

Paradoxically, you can find additional of a put for M&S in the British isles than there at any time has been: a retail outlet that has the self-confidence to edit, innovate, is not scared to raise the taste bar as an alternative of pandering to the lowest widespread denominator - and 1 that champions British production. It does it with food. So why can not it have the courage to do it with clothes ? Undoubtedly it will not want to hand its entire raison d'etre above to the John Lewis partnership?


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