According to Sean Poulter, Consumer Affairs Editor at the Daily Mail, Marks & Spencer is about to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Of course that's not precisely what Mr Poulter said in his exclusive report in last Wednesday's Daily Mail. What he actually said, was: "M&S boss pledges to go back to basics on fashion... Marks & Spencer has pledged to go back to its roots, axing catwalk fashion fads in favour of quality, fit, wearable style and lower prices."
So, why, as the director of SoSensational.co.uk , a fashion website for an older demographic did the Daily Mail story make my heart sink.
Okay, you didn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway: because despite SoSensational having been very quick to point out the stupidity of inviting Alexa Chung to create a range for M&S, (and indeed saying so in the Huffington Post), the notion that M&S is "axing catwalk fashion" entirely is not good news either and would in my view be chucking the baby out with the bathwater.
"Chucking the baby out with the bathwater" is not a phrase you hear very often these days, but among boomers and older Gen-Xers the idea of making something over and getting rid of the good along with the bad is something that concerns us.
Thus, we fear that M&S could go too far down the route of "axing catwalk trends" and finish up offering us a lot of comfy cardis and "neat" dresses (albeit ones which fit well and are in better quality) but which have as much to do with "fashion" as a parrot has to do with an iPad.
M&S run the risk of failing its core customer yet again. I understand that their core customer does not want stupid, gimmicky fashion. But, she does want fashion; the right kind of fashion. Offering her merely clothing rather than the right kind of fashion will simply create a new set of problems for the High Street giant.
Fit, wearability, quality and more colour options will be a big step in the right direction. But when it comes to fashion, M&S needs to hold its nerve: it needs fashion, not just clothes. Instead of asking Alexa Chung to look at its archive, the directors should look at the archive themselves and learn how, in the late 80s M&S had an absolute genius for combining designer-level fashion with fit, wearability and quality, and try to reproduce that combination rather than chuck baby and bathwater down the drain....
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