Marks & Spencer unveiled its Spring/Summer 2019 collection today and it is a fresh, pared-back affair for the retailer.
There is a simplistic approach to this season which differentiates this collection from seasons before, where a more risqué and fashion-forward angle was taken by its design team. Jill Staunton, a former Next and Nike executive, was headhunted last year to take up the position of trading director of the company, along with a new head of womenswear, Lisa Illis, and head of lingerie, Soozie Jenkins. The team are directing the firm back to its roots, with Staunton telling the Guardian: "We need to stop thinking too much about everybody else and really focus on what makes M&S great."
Much of what has made Marks & Spencer's previous collections successful has been the concentration on standout and ultimately sell-out pieces. A recent collaboration with This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby has also proved particularly successful. However, the focus is now on having that same appeal across the entire business, with Illis saying: "Our business is big and complex and for us to be successful, we have to be winning across our portfolio … T-shirts, jeans, dresses, tops, swimwear, activewear and lingerie pieces, which have been more consistently successful over a period of time."
Related: These are the five colours you'll be wearing in 2019, according to Pantone
With a retail landscape that becomes increasingly challenging by the day, Marks & Spencer have felt the heat. With a 2% drop in sales of womenswear and homeware during the Christmas period, plans to close 1 in 3 stores by 2020 and what is described as "difficult" trading conditions in Ireland, it was predetermined that a shift in how the retailer was selling itself was needed.
Online is now a focal point of the long-term plan, after a 14% increase was seen in online sales during the last period. With a newly revamped website, the company are on their way to finding their foothold in today's competitive industry.
What does the collection look like?
In recent times, M&S seemed to be moving away from the customer that propelled them to the top of the retail game, both in the UK and here in Ireland, and began directing its attention to a different demographic. However, this collection is back to basics. Comfortable and flattering shapes, neutral colours, layers of denim, easy to wear fabrics and a mixture of both mini and midi lengths means they are hitting the sweet spot of young to old while still maintaining the appeal which made them so successful.
So what are the standout pieces? On my wishlist are the classic denim mini dress and the easy to wear and on-trend navy boilersuit. Of course, the dreamy, striped tiered maxi dress will be perfect for the holiday I won't be going on this year — but a girl can still scroll through Instagram and look at other people doing it, can't she?
Take a closer look at the collection below.
M&S Collection dress, top, bag and shoes
M&S Collection jumpsuit
Autograph dress, earrings, bag and shoes
Autograph coat, top, shorts and trainers
M&S Collection shirt, shorts, belt, necklace and earrings
M&S Collection shirt, t-shirt, skirt and earrings
M&S Collection dress, jeans, shoes and earrings
M&S Collection jacket, trousers, trainers and t-shirt
Autograph shirt, skirt, earrings, hat and shoes
Autograph shirt, trousers, belt, earrings and shoes
Per Una dress, bag and trainers
Per Una dress, earrings and shoes
Per Una top, trousers, earrings and shoes
Images: Marks & Spencer