Farewell to Marks & Spencer – but you deserve to go

High50 previews next year’s clothing collection

Oh dear. We were so prepared to give you one last chance.   We know your profits have plunged by 88% and that you are closing dozens of branches. We also know that you’re replacing lots of clothing stores with food halls.  And the recent opinions of disappointed and disgruntled shoppers say it all. Recently The Daily Mail asked customers what they thought of the clothes and here’s a sample of their reactions:

‘They’ve lost their way with their clothes and they don’t seem to do fashion very well for their age range.’  (Sharon Barber, 58, Birmingham)

‘It is getting harder to find fashionable clothes for women our age. Marks should be doing this.’  (Lisa Emmerson, 57, garden designer, Birmingham)

‘It is for old people. My nan shops there. It looks like BHS which has already gone and it is expensive. It’s a shop that is slowly dying out .’  (Shonda Humes, 18, student, Birmingham)

‘The clothes are a bit fuddy-duddy. There’s not much out there for people of our age. My daughter works in fashion and I think they need to get more young buyers in. Places like Debenhams and John Lewis do clothes that are better, not so old-looking.’  (Claire Wall, 78, Liverpool)

Today High50 went to the unveiling of Marks & Spencer’s new spring/summer collection in London to discover what they had in store for next year.  We were desperately hoping that the design teams had responded to their customers and indeed to the views of many of our readers, expressed here.

What did we find?  Had Marks & Spencer upped its game enough to lure us back into its stores?

First, let’s talk colour.  We’ve never seen such a mess.  The display of clothes that confronted us as we walked in – puce pink, yellow, synthetic orange, sickly flesh, reds and great swathes of mustard, mustard and more mustard – were enough to scramble the brain.  We’ve begged you to stop with the mustard before but you’ve just gone and given us a big dollop of more.  Who is meant to be wearing this colour?  We’d love to know who it’s aimed at. It’s not even a festive daffodil yellow. It couldn’t be less flattering – it’s a harsh, sludgy mustard guaranteed to drain an averagely fair complexion instantly.  We did notice that new boss Steve Rowe was sporting a mustard tie in recent photographs so perhaps mustard is his favourite colour.

Second, let’s talk design. Well, to the team that designed these new collections we have so many burning questions:  Whom did you have in mind when you put all those over-sized eyelets, huge brass buttons or complicated rope ties in your clothes? Did you think we’d look good in those fringed, tufty jumpers and jackets that looked as if they’d been fashioned out of floor rugs?  What human shape did you design the trousers with the high and enormous, gathered waists for?  And did you actually think we’d look pretty and girly in all those layers of fussy flounces?

 

M&S The sleek loaferFinally, let’s talk shoes.  The Sleek Loafers (£59) come in either black or a pinkish shade of beige. They are quite simply the most frumpy, ageing shoes we’ve seen outside of a catalogue selling orthopedic comfort shoes. We would never wear these shoes.  Admittedly we didn’t mind the brown suede Cutwork Boots (£35) and we thought you’d tried hard with the summer sandals – though again, less is more and you overdid it with too much of a jumble of pompoms, fringes, twinkly beading tassels.

We despair.  Reluctantly, we are consigning you to the scrapheap.   This was your opportunity to consult our age group and road test your clothes on your discerning, loyal customers. We would have helped, advised and been excited to steer you towards a look that we could all embrace and buy in our droves.  Instead, you ignored us. Your designers decided how we should look and we don’t like it one bit. So we are going to vote with our feet and abandon you.

But for those of you who are true devotees and will never abandon M & S, we have two bits of good news:

First, if you ignore the clothes and head straight for the beauty section, we were thrilled to find they are stocking a big range of brands we love:  REN, Cowshed, Dr. Haushka, NUXE, L’Occitane, Gatineau, Bumble and Bumble and Korres.

Second, to be fair, we did trawl long and hard to find some pieces of clothing we can recommend (though we were unable to try anything on):

  1. SHIRTS:

Autograph pink shirt (£69) : this looked classic, streamlined and seemed to be in a good, clear, strong colour in good material

M&S Pink Shirt

Autograph top (£45): if you can stomach the mustard background, we think this is almost like something you’d find in Prada and is good at covering muffin top.  If only it were in a pretty sky blue…

M&S Yellow Shirt

  1. SKIRTS:

Blue and black skirt (£39.50): for someone with a smallish waist, this is an excellent, flattering and flexible skirt that can be dressed up or down, given a contemporary twist with its zip up the back.

M&S Blue patterned Skirt

Autograph white skirt (£69): this pretty white fretwork skirt is made edgy and contemporary with its striped belt.

M&S White lace skirt

  1. TROUSERS:

M & S Collection Cream Trousers (£55): with their slits up the side, we thought these wide-legged trousers would be great for summer, teamed with navy or black and flip-flops.

M&S White wide leg trouser

M & S Collection Trousers (£25): these narrow-fitting pink trousers are classic in an Audrey Hepburn cigarette-pants way and are a steal at the price.

M& S Pink Trousers

  1. JACKETS/COATS:

Per Una Bomber Jacket (£65): We have to applaud you for trying. TopShop and Zara do it better but you have at least come up with a pretty embroidered jacket we could pair with jeans and feel perfectly happy about wearing.

M&S Bomber jacket

Autograph Oversize Coat (£149): Bang on trend for this season, we hope this good-looking coat is still in fashion next autumn.

M&S Coat

  1. DRESSES:

M & S Collection Jumpsuit (£39.50): we couldn’t try this on but we think this black, round-necked, sleeveless jumpsuit edged in white, looked classic and elegant.M&S Jump suit with white edging

M & S Collection Khaki Dress (£39.50): we loved the soft – mercifully non-shiny – fabric of this very useful shirt dress that could be worn alone or over jeans or leggings.

M&S Khaki Dress