Marks & Spencer has unveiled its autumn/winter range and in a break with tradition has put part of the collection on sale in stores today.
M&S is selling about 20 items from the collection in 26 branches, including London’s Marble Arch, as well as online.
The decision reflects consumer interest in buying clothes when they feature on the fashion pages rather than having to wait for weeks or months.
It also allows the retailer to introduce greater newness rather than rely on the standard seasonal drops and, amid volatile weather conditions, enhance appeal come rain or shine.
M&S womenswear director Jo Jenkins said: “It keeps newness in the season and brings a sneak preview of autumn, but everything needs to be a bit seasonless. We have to have a bit of everything. People can layer.”
Jenkins was promoted to her role by new M&S chief executive Steve Rowe, and has overseen changes such as buying and design by product type rather than by brand.
The intention is to take a ‘holistic’ approach both to the business and the reality of how customers shop as M&S strives to restore its fashion appeal following a long period of underperformance.
The same holistic approach will be taken to in-store displays of autumn product, so that brands such as Per Una or Autograph will be mixed in looks that shoppers can buy.
Jenkins said the number of styles in the autumn/winter range has been reduced. She would not reveal by exactly how much but said it was “quite sizeable”.
She said: “We want to make sure we make style statements. We’re reducing the number of styles and backing key shapes in more depth.”
She also said there would be a “fresh approach” to pricing, enabling the retailer to more clearly communicate in particular the strength of ‘good’ prices in its good, better, best architecture.
The stores carrying the autumn items from today are:
- Argyle St Glasgow
- Cribbs Causeway
- Fosse Park
- Grafton St, Dublin
- Hedge End
- Kings Rd
- London Colney
- Marble Arch
- Pantheon, Oxford Street
- Stratford City, London
- White City