If there is a word, a concept, that sums up Marks & Spencer’s new approach to spring and summer dressing, it’s mindfulness. It’s of the moment and yet timeless, relaxed yet active and fresh, considered yet with a degree of dreaminess that gazes ahead to a land of light and warmth, to a promise of paradise.
This brings with it a striking new simplicity to M&S womenswear SS19, resulting in a broad appeal with clothes that most of its customers can, and hopefully will want, to wear. Especially if brand ambassador Holly Willoughby wears them first, photographed in the very Holly-esque styles she continues to select as her picks. Whatever, M&S seems pretty relaxed about this range. Relaxed shapes, relaxed fabrics, relaxed attitude. Yet it’s not lazy. On the contrary, there is a confident energy, a deft and thoughtful approach. There’s nothing wishy-washy here, but neither are there in-your-face, straight-from-the-runway, unwearable pieces, although the trends are, of course, covered. There are all-in-ones and hero denim pieces and striped easy tailoring and beiges and browns – key looks for the forthcoming season.
Launching its womenswear and lingerie Collections for spring/summer 2019 today in London, Marks & Spencer presented an edit of easy, wearable styles in colours, prints and silhouettes created to be layered and mixed without a second glance, throughout the season from first shoots to harvest time.
It’s all designed to cater for the way M&S believes the modern woman builds her wardrobe. There are fresh shapes, including a darted, nipped-in shirt shape, almost Elizabethan in silhouette, plus high frilled collars and yoke styles. Double denim takes on a clean, modern elegance, with wide-leg cropped jean paired with chic denim shirts. The button-through denim midi dress and pale blue denim high-neck western shirt (teamed with denim mini skirt) are very Holly Willoughby.
A striped lace-front halterneck swimsuit looks set to be a summer hit and there’s always a pink coat to look out for – this time it’s a long jacket in a corded fabric, to throw over everything, work to weekend. Look out too for a long taupe trench in the Autograph collection - a must at £99, in a key season shade that’s classic enough for longevity.
Last spring ushered in a new modesty, with hemlines down and necklines up, and that is still evident, although with more playful detailing. There are shorts, too – another key catwalk trend, transcending holiday mode to become mainstream.
The summer collection brings spice and earth tones, including ochre and turmeric and a conker shade that will translate beautifully into autumn. Easy silhouettes in tactile luxe fabrics, pared-back tailoring and gentle layers, with some exaggerated shapes thrown in for good measure. Lingerie sees lilac and ochre plus a fab bra with lace panel between the back shoulders, while beachwear brings bold prints, striking new swimwear cuts and oversized accessories.
Pared-back is a bit of a watchword at M&S right now. Recently it announced the closure of 17 more stores including in Hull, Huddersfield and Rotherham. Trading conditions are still tough. Like-for-like clothing and home sales were down 2.4 per cent in the 13 weeks to December 29, 2018. Mindfulness is much-needed, including meeting customer demands. This month sees the launch of a vegan shoe range, with a must-have rainbow stripe trainer costing just £25, plus cute leopard slingbacks, made in vegan-friendly synthetics. Expect to see vegan signposting in men, women and children’s footwear very soon.
Rachel Smith, senior footwear technologist, said: “After increased customer interest in veganism and a rise in online searches for related products, we decided to investigate the possibility of expanding our vegan-friendly offering into footwear and accessories.”
M&S has also launched a new style finder feature, which allows consumers using its online mobile site to use photos of clothing to find similar products in its menswear and womenswear ranges.
It’s all about getting what you want when you see it. For last spring, M&S launched its collections to press in November 2017, whereas we have waited for January 2019 for this year’s preview. Perhaps, quite sensibly, it has decided that it was a bit pointless shouting about clothes that no one can buy for months. As I said, keeping it simple.
There’s more fashion and beauty here,