We love you M&S, but please stop chasing trends!

So the world and his wife had a go at poor old M & S last week, as Kate Bostock is to leave, Belinda Earl takes over as part time Style Director and the Head of Food (?) who has been there for 26 years, will become Executive Director of General Merchandise, everyone has a view on why they are doing badly.

I feel for the senior management teams at M & S I really do, but I feel for those further down the structure even more. As strategies change and new senior people are put in place, chaos reigns, hours get longer, and the desire to cut all the crap and just make nice product gets lost in a sea of endless meetings, range reviews where everything gets changed (again and again) and lengthy discussions about whats gone wrong. It’s demoralising and counter productive and everyone looses sight of what they are trying to achieve. Anyone who has ever worked in a big retail organization will have experienced this at some point in their career, as for those at the top of some big retailers, margins and profit are what count, not product and customers.

And who do I blame? Well certainly not the design and buying teams at M & S, as they have one of the hardest jobs on the High Street. They’re trying to please everyone and don’t have the luxury of selling external brands like every other department store. They have to invent specialist sub-brands to ensure they have covered the incredible number of age groups and customer profiles they are required to cater for, and as the high street becomes more niche and segmented than ever, this is a near impossible task.

So how can they become more customer focused and relevant? Well firstly they need to decide who they are and stick to it. Look at the heritage of the chain and the reasons consumers love M & S (and we do honestly!). Why do we shop there and what do we know they do well?

Ask any UK consumer what’s good about M & S and they will almost all say the same thing –  lingerie, tights and socks, men’s shirts, good basics, quality classics, school uniforms and food. It’s rare that anyone will say they go there for high fashion or current trends. And here’s where I think M & S and so many other mass market UK retailers go wrong.

Stop chasing trends! Women (especially women over 40) want to look stylish rather than overtly fashionable and they DO NOT know, or in any way care that Raf Simons has left Jil Sander has gone to Dior, or that this season it’s all about the cocoon shape! The high street’s relentless quest to keep on top of catwalk looks and provide the consumer with the latest trends, means they have lost sight of what customers actually want.

Zara is currently every retailers Holy Grail and I am very very tired of hearing about how amazing they are. I have no doubt the designers and buyers at M & S (and many other retailers) are too.  “Why do Zara have orange/pleated skirts/coloured trousers etc etc, and we don’t ” is a familiar question in many a buying office/design studio and I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to scream back,  because they are Zara and we are ……….(insert name of struggling UK high st retailer).

Zara currently have 95 stores in the UK and there is no doubt they are excellent at what they do. They are experts at copying from the catwalks and getting wearable versions onto the high street very quickly, and good for them if that’s what you want, but perhaps not everyone does. I suspect the Zara customer is quite young, cost conscious and desperate for a new look every few weeks/months.

M & S have 703 stores in the UK, their core womenswear customer is 40 plus and she wants quality, wearable fashion and probably doesn’t give two hoots about the ‘latest thing. If you are an avid reader of Grazia and obsessed with wearing the latest hot boho chic/camouflage utility look, where are you going to go to find it – not M & S, that’s for sure.

We work in fashion and we certainly don’t want the latest ‘thing’, especially not a bad version of it – we want well made clothes that take current trends into account, but only if they are relevant to our age group. Who needs a peplum at our age – why would we?

M & S will never ever be cool and they need to stop trying, John Lewis will never be cool and they don’t even bother to try. The fact that they know who they are are makes John Lewis one of the most aspirational stores on the British High St – clever that isn’t it. It’s all about being true to yourself and respecting and knowing your customer.

Visit the fashion floor at John Lewis on Oxford street, the Waitrose in the basement, or the haberdashery dept and you can positively feel the “never knowingly undersold”  message of trust and belonging resonating in everything they do, from the customer service to the quality of the product. As someone once said “if the world is about to end, head for the haberdashery dept at John Lewis, nothing bad can ever happen there”.

Visit M & S on Oxford street and you feel confused and depressed. Too much product with ‘added value detail’ in badly merchandised areas, that wouldn’t feel out of place in a 70’s department store. It just doens’t feel like they know who they are, or who their customer is. The collections aimed at the older customer are just downright dowdy and boring, the fashion forward ranges just feel wrong and out of place. And as for Per Una, the range that’s somewhere in the middle, don’t get me started!

What is the answer? Well thats a whole other post/six months research and a huge challenge for the M & S team. But to start with, please M & S, stop chasing trends and get to know and respect your customers, because at the end of the day, we all love you and really really want to buy from you – but we don’t want peplums!

37 Comments

  • Jacqueline says:

    Spot on Jane! I maybe 65 but I am NEVER going to be old enough to wear the Classic range. That should be stocked by old fashioned drapers along with wrap round pinnies. Per una – oh dear!!
    Autograph – some bits but not often enough.

    I want:
    – to replace the straight legged heavy washable crepe trousers I bought about 7 years ago in M&S in size 18. I am now size 14 & need beautifully cut trousers at a reasonable price.
    – summer trousers, not wide legged pure linen – most of us aren’t tall enough to carry them off & we don’t like looking like an unmade bed. A linen mix straight pair with a waist band – not a drawstring or elastic waist – will suffice. Didn’t M&S advertise men’s suit in uncrushable linen mix? Why for men & not women? Oh – and please no pockets down the leg & preferably not on the arse – it is large enough already in most cases & doesn’t need decorating.
    – slash neck tee shirts in non bright or pastel shades with bracelet / 3/4 length sleeves. You can still produce the pastels & brights but I love sludge! Good quality cotton please & I also need white – new ones every year.
    – smilarly fine wool sweater with slash necks in brown/ grey / black & navy
    – jackets, shaped at the waist in some of that lovely men’s suiting with a stylish striped lining so I can turn back the sleeves. Even when I was working I couldn’t bring myself to wear the awful dull suits they produce.
    – good quality white cotton shirts; not see through polyester.

    I am the same age as Twiggy – I don’t look like Twiggy nor do any of my friends. We want to be stylish, not trendy: be able to walk around, London, Paris, Rome & NY without being identified as poorly dressed British women. But we can’t always afford Jaeger prices.

  • Lilac says:

    So agree with everything you say Jane, I am 47 and would love to be able to buy good quality basics from M & S – fine knitwear, good quality underwear etc. not cheap tat that falls to pieces. I agree with Jacqueline too – I don’t buy garish colour combinations or overtly man made fabrics with dodgy texturing. You’ve hit a nerve with this one.

  • Cathy says:

    Great post. Perhaps M&S could become really radical and concentrate only on lingerie, school unifoms and the other categories you mention that consumers like. Can you tell I don’t work in fashion or retail? I like to buy from COS, Toast, Margaret Howell (at sale time), agnes b (when in France so much cheaper there) and Uniqlo for basics. All these retailers provide clothes that are well made and well cut. Their clothes also last for years as they are stylish rather than high fashion. They also offer good customer service which in these days I find a big plus point.

  • ruth says:

    I go to M & S for some basics, tights mostly. I so agree with you about the stores, not a great shopping experience, although the staff in my local store are great and the food department is brilliant.

  • gillian taylor says:

    Oh, I love a good discussion about our favourite store – poor old M&S! I am in total agreement with you Jayne – they just must stop trying to be everything to everyone! I have three daughters and I can absolutely tell you they would not shop there in preference to Zara, Top Shop etc and yet there are swathes of the shop floor dedicated to trying to draw in the younger crowd – stop it now M&S they are not interested! Me, however, now I love a good M&S shop but despite my dedication to the brand I struggle really struggle to remain loyal!! I have even worked for them – and I have to say I was totally staggered at the complete disorganisation behind the scenes. So come on M&S make us love you again!.

  • Jo says:

    I walk though M&S and wonder’who buys all this stuff and how can they ever sell it all.
    I would rarely think of buying clothes for me in M&S though I do buy stuff for my husband. Even the much lauded cashmere is to my eye unfashionable and the colours are ghastly. The pink is always the wrong shade of pink.

  • illuminata says:

    I couldn’t agree more! Even for the basics, the colours are too harsh, and the shapes aren’t good enough. Also, it’s too market segmented: if you had (for instance) well-cut classic lambswool or cotton round-necked cardigans with pearl buttons in a wide range of subtle/sludgy and bright/fashion colours, then everyone from teenagers to grannies would buy them, year-in, year out. Also, they have a captive market in those of us living near small market towns that don’t have a John Lewis or anything else much…

  • Sara says:

    Couldn’t resist creating a wish list like Jacqueline’s, so M&S I would like:

    T.shirts that you can’t see through
    The end of cashmillon – this stuff is just horrible
    A perfect mid grey crew neck jersey, not baggy, not clingy and not too short
    Dresses with sleeves in Summer and Winter
    Plain knee length wool pencil skirts in classic colours with pockets
    A navy blue crombie coat
    Leather kitten heels in a range of colours

  • You’ve certainly touched a talking point Jane. Retailers often seem to look to others in the high street asking why haven’t we got? Why don’t we do? completely forgetting who their customer is and concentrating and being proud of who they are. One of M & S’s problems is that they don’t understand what 40 means now. It is so different from when our parents were that age. Young buyers find it hard to relate as it is soo old to them and by the time they’ve been through 5 different meetings / people’s opinion, the essence of what they thought they were buying is lost. We all want to love M&S but they do make it hard. GG

  • freethequay says:

    Well I was about to rant in agreement but everyone else has already made most of my points for me. I live near two M &Ss but no uniqlo, cos or John Lewis and god is it dull. all I want is some quality basics, but the only alternative is primark etc. so I go to TK Maxx and cross my fingers…

  • Louise says:

    Well, when I saw their racks and racks of coloured jeans some months ago, I did think to myself they might have a problem shifting them…. They have lost their way, but after gap changed the neckline on their classic white t-shirts I did find some quite nice ones in M&S, and a couple of years ago I did buy a fantastic umbrella, a foldable large one which lasted through wind rain and many dog walks, but lost it and wanted to replace it with the same one….but couldn’t… which brings me to my point I’d like them to make good quality stylish classics that when you run out/loose/wear out, you can go back and replace. What a refreshing experience this would be!
    I think they’re also missing a trick on stylish waterproof outwear & footwear. I don’t want shower proof I want waterproof. I don’t want to look like I’m setting off on a hike up Mount Snowdon either. I think M&S could make a killing on this…. and what could be more British….or topical!

  • Becky says:

    What a great subject. We have M&S out here in Oman, but I have to say the range we get is just dreadful. I always thought that this was just because we are in the Middle East and we just got the dregs of what everyone else didn’t want – but from the sounds of things that’s not the case. I totally agree that M&S should stop trying to please all the people all the time – they have been doing this for years and it just doesn’t work. I wouldn’t even think of buying anything vaguely fashionable from M&S and I live in a place where there really isn’t much clothing choice on offer. I agree that their underwear now is dreadful – you used to be able to get lovely good quality great fitting stuff in there, but now it is all, prints and patterns and fits dreadfully – I know what size I am – it’s what I wear from every other store, why do I have to go up at least one size in M&S ? I think that what previous commenters have said is absolutely right – M&S should concentrate on good quality staple pieces, like lovely fine knit jumpers, t-shirts, cotton shirts etc. Look at the food, it’s pricey, it’s good quality and people love it – why can’t they take a similar approach to clothes – don’t try and be the cheapest, just be reasonably priced, but good quality – that’s what people want – isn’t it ?

  • Nicola says:

    I walk through M&S sometimes as a short cut to get from one part of town to another. Who shops there? Depressing stores, weird clothes, ugly prints, strange colours. A store offering good quality wardrobe staples would be great – classic but modern items like white shirts and plain cashmere sweaters. I’m not convinced M&S will ever have the confidence to radically pare down their range in that way though – they seem to want to be all things to all people. Maybe it’s time they stuck to food and gave up on fashion. I’d like our M&S to close and be replaced with a John Lewis.

  • Monix says:

    Way to go girls! I have a client who is a top buyer for M&S and I’m going to direct her to this post if only to see the passion that we all feel for M&S.
    My mother (78) lives in Spain and asked me to buy her a few tops to send her, so I swung by Westfield yesterday…not a thing. She’s a size 18 and likes natural fabrics with a sleeve and not a low neckline – nothing. I was totally confused with all the different brands and asked an assistant.
    “well Per Una is like “Monsoon”, ” M&S Woman” is like Jaeger, etc”.
    If the assistant has been taught to say their range is “like”, well it ani’t “like” and it ain’t “like” working.
    I left empty-handed and sent her Clarins products instead (well, she can still wear them!).

    I would like plain t shirts, in white, black, grey and maybe one “fashion “colour (so agree with you Jo about the pink colour) in cotton, with a bound neckline (not lumpy ribbed) with a 3/4 sleeve, vest and long sleeved version. I’d buy all and replace twice a year.
    The same with a black trouser, grey flannel, and yes – just leave off the “twiddles”, forget the nasty plastic belt (but keep the loops) and line them- I’ll pay for them handsomely -honest I will!
    I could go on (and on, and on), and whilst I’m at it – if they left off all the pattern, embellishments and “fashion” they would appeal to all ages.

    Monix (and breathe…)

  • Esmeralda says:

    Back in MY recession (1980s) I was a devotee of More Dash Than Cash advice in magazines. The received wisdom was never to buy recognisable prints from chain stores, but only good quality anonymous basics (black cashmere polo e.g.) and then you might splash on the odd label.

    I still love M&S – especially their food – but I do not buy their clothes. I would willingly buy bras there instead of Per Una – but they don’t fit me as well. I would buy their T shirts instead of Gap or East – but ditto and they are also a bit thick and lumpy.

    Three things then, please, M&S: basics, fit and texture. However, your men’s lambswool jumpers rock – don’t ever stop. I love the big friendly cardigans. And my 18 year old son sees no shame in a plain V neck with jeans.

  • Sue Evans says:

    Well, you certainly rattled some cages today Jane ! Interesting comments and I do agree this has not been M&S’s finest hour style-wise but I also think people get hung up about the whole issue of basics versus fashion. Sure M&S could lead the high street in capturing the basics market — they’d do a brilliant job and could market it as just that — the best basics the high street can offer at the best price. Seasonless pieces that form the backbone of a lot of wardrobes ( though not mine). But look at thesquare footage of most M&S clothing floors and I think we’d all agree a sea of basics could look rather bland and boring at best — rows of black trousers in 8 size options ? Racks of white tees ? I think they could have a basics department — accomodate all the things your commentators mention above but they DO need to address fashion trends– everyone else on the high street does. And M&S should try and lead the way there as well as addressing the issue of great basics. They should go back to the beginning and reposition their brand. It’s not that hard and when they have got it right in the past they have had some great winners. I’d LOVE to have the opportunity to turn my day job catwalk analysis into viable product for someone as generic as M&S.

  • Jude says:

    Brilliant piece Jane, I think you’ve hit more than just a few nails on the head there.

    I read a lot of comments posted by the public last week about M&S fashion. Popular msgs seemed to be “I’d pay more for a better quality of garment if it was made in the UK” and “M&S fashion is too expensive but the quality has gone down”. I think they’d be astonished to find out just how much British-made clothes would actually cost these days, as we’ve all become used to the pricing structure of far east goods since import quotas were lifted in 2000.

    I do agree with the cmmts above saying M&S should stop trying to be everything to all people and concentrate on what they deliver well – good quality basics with a nod to relevant trends. I always check out M&S first for cashmere, but apart from the lovely zip-front hoodie of last winter, for 5 years I’ve had to revert to Uniqlo for classic v-neck grey cashmere sweaters without any twiddly pointless details, even though they don’t wear as well as the M&S ones used to.

    And as for nightwear! For years I could rely on the classic checked or striped pyjamas in a selection of colours. But now everything seems to have a logo or print on it, or only comes in ‘girlie’ pink, lilac or turquoise. I wear navy, black, khaki & browns during the day so why the hell would I want to embrace bubblegum pink in bed?!!!

  • Amanda says:

    writing from the poolside (am trying v hard not to do the internet for two weeks, but then M&S go and provoke us!) I would put in a good word for the new beauty hall in Marble Arch and Kensington, which amazed me last week when I visited, lots of interesting French brands I wasn’t familiar with but are great quality, we could do with some of this daring and freshness in the clothes range. The layout was spacious too.

    Also I know that the lingerie design and production team are amazingly good at their jobs (bar the nighties, where I totally agree with Jude)…but often it’s impossible to find the new, innovative product on the shop floor…let alone a matching bra-to-knicker size…..last time we were at the press show we left a note saying ‘give lingerie its own chain of shops!’. World knicker domination would follow if you gave the team space to show the range to its best advantage. Ax

  • Monix says:

    “World knicker domination would follow…”
    projection of hot coffe over screen Amanda!!

  • Jane says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Until about fifteen years ago I couldn’t take a short cut through the Oxford Street M&S without stopping to buy all sorts of things, from bags and shoes to dresses and knickers. You name it, I bought it. It was always a very expensive short cut! But those items lasted. In fact, I still wear a fabulous jersey summer dress that I bought twenty years ago.

    But how times have changed. In the past three years I think I have bought four items from M&S – a showerproof jacket that went in the wash and now soaks up the merest spot of drizzle; a pair of tan suede boots that are lovely; a white shirt; and some patterned tights, which are great. All my underwear once came from the mighty M&S but no longer. The sizing of many of their knickers is bizarre – you can get a 10-12 and you can get a 14-16, but what do you do if, like me, you’re a 12-14? Easy. You go to John Lewis.

    I completely agree about the ill-judged decision to chase every trend going (and to do it really, really badly) and to try to attract age groups that wouldn’t be seen dead in M&S. As for the Autograph range, which is designed for my age group, frankly I feel like suing for defamation of character. They are joking, aren’t they?

    Something else I don’t understand is their choice of colours. In the vast majority of cases they are either wishy-washy pastels in colours that are reminiscent of floor polish or cheap pot pourri, or strong colours that would be great except they are completely the wrong shade. And some of the designs take frumpiness to a new level. It’s hard to believe that anyone thinks they could ever sell them. Because, looking at the sales section of their website today, it’s clear that they can’t.
    ,

  • Jane says:

    I am loving the comments we have had today and plan to do another post in response, rather than answer everyone individually. You are bang on with your thoughts and rest assured M & S are reading and taking note. The one thing that shines through is how much we really WANT to buy from M &S as it is part of our DNA and a very British thing!
    Jx

  • Su Du says:

    M&S: less is more, ditch the obsession with “fashion detail” it’s the scourge of design. Less stock, more style!

  • Debbie fisher says:

    Why is it always so fashionable to knock m&s?

  • Jo Rawley says:

    Please M&S stop it with the million different types of Knickers – bring back a few basic ranges in good quality materials that last …! And stick to them …this is what you used to be good at!

  • Craig says:

    Nobody looks good in a peplum, whatever their age.

  • Julia says:

    M & S should get us all in for a proper focus group.
    Agree with above wholeheartedly. Monoprix in France gets it nearly right: always a good range of neutral colours, restraint with decoration, classic cuts. Daughter, who lives in Paris, sent home a linen shirt for her brother in lovely soft, dusty rhubarb linen, beautifully cut. Men’s clothes even better that women’s at Monoprix. In fact, if M & S women’s ranges were more like classic men’s clothes they’d work better – as someone above says, a cheaper range of Margaret Howell-type/European classic styles and colours but cut well, with modern details but none of the horrid female-impersonator-stylee frills, furbelows and sequins of the dreaded Per Una – always reminiscent of Dick Emery to my mind.

  • Jane says:

    Ha ha Dick Emery in a peplum – “Are you married I’m looking for a nice young man”.
    Now we are just getting silly! But honestly a Margaret Howell type European classic range – how fabulous would that be – M&S I could even design it for you?
    Jx

  • Celia Stanley says:

    My pet hate is their trouser lengths. The larger you are the shorter your legs are apparently! At size 24 there are no long length trousers! Now I have lost two stone and have gone down to 20, maybe even 18, I can buy longer length trousers again. Where is the logic in that? I’ve complained but to no avail. Basics in a good range of size and length would please most people.

  • Margaret says:

    Agree with trouser comment – 18 long are very hard to find so obviously if you are a size 18 you must be short in the leg!I am a size 18 and 5ft 8in and I need long length.I too have complained and been told the comments will be passed on – I doubt it.Also agree that the colours of Per Una range are only fit to be viewed through sun glasses – garish and sequenced and a fee plastic and ribbon necklace which has similarity with that of the female characters in the Flintstones is a total waste of plastic. And sleeves are now a thing of the past,the only items with sleeves longer than the dreaded cap sleeve, which cuts your arm just at the fattest point so it resembles a sausages popping out of its skin,are in the dire classic range. M and S need to decide who their core market are and ask them what they want instead of giving us what they think we want!!

  • Susan says:

    Interesting how this post has stirred up so many comments! Last time I was in London I visited the Marble Arch flagship store and found it very disappointing – it was also very quiet which must say something. In comparison both John Lewis and Selfridges were booming.

    I agree with almost everything said already – the shop is such a mish-mash these days although if you take time you can occasionally spot something good. In my view they have too many lines and not enough colour choice – it’s always sod’s law when you see something you like it only comes in an unflattering lime green totally unsuited to my fresh Scottish complexion!

    My pet hate is the PerUna range which I suspect is aimed at our age range but is far too twee and fiddly and I particularly object to the additions of necklaces etc -why would anyone want to wear the same necklace as anyone who bought the same jumper? I don’t even buy my bras there any more as they have nothing bigger than a G cup – Bravissimo have easily cornered this market – and yet M&S is the brand which thinks it’s everyone’s first choice for underwear. Tshirts are poor quality and usually too long in the body for me and the colours/patterns are often weird. The only item that I have bought consistently over the past few years are their ballet pumps which are a bargain at £19.50 a pair and are produced in lots of colours and styles and are cheap enough to wear to death over the summer months (even though this year they have been soaked more than I’d have liked!)

  • Jo says:

    Goodness, I’ve never seen one of your post generate quite so many comments!

  • Cathy says:

    Hello Jane, in yesterday’s FT there was an article by the founder of Uniqlo about how he turned around the company’s image to make it a success in Japan, where it had been seen as frumpy and boring. On the same page a piece by Lucy Kellaway on what happened when she bought a designer handbag.

  • LizF says:

    Your post and the comments are all fascinating and I have to say that I agree with the vast majority of the points made by your readers.
    I do think that the M&S fashion range has deteriorated in recent years – Illuminata mentions wishing they made pearl buttoned round necked cotton cardigans but they used to maybe five or six years ago – I know because I am wearing a black one with three quarter length sleeves which I have finally managed to retrieve from my 18 year-old daughter’s bedroom and which still looks as good as new! As I recall they did it in a number of colours and I now wish I had bought at least a couple more!

    What made me want to respond however is your comment about the management side of things at M & S. My 18 year old currently works for them at the weekend and has done for approaching three years and while quite happy in her job, she has said that there has been a definite change in senior management attitude since Marc Bolland took over from Sir Stuart Rose and it is not for the better as far as the rank and file staff are concerned.
    The first thing to go was the previous rule that stores would be closed on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day to allow staff to get a breather between the hell-on-earth which is the run-up to Christmas at M&S and the hell-on-earth which is first day of post Christmas sale (having worked a Christmas there in the past I know what I am talking about!)
    Since then there have been other changes which made one long term member of staff say to me that they thought the new boss was wanting to turn Marks and Spencer into a supermarket – probably not surprising since he was brought in from Morrisons!

  • BobKellock says:

    Being a “Senior Male”, I cannott comment on the quality of Ladies undergarments but, in visiting my local M & S located in a rural town in Oxfordshire, I find the quality and chioce of mens wear is very limited.
    Having previously shopped in M & S for over fifty years, both my wife are saddened to see a National Institution being the subject of so many justifiable comments.

  • Lin says:

    As an ex buyer, sadly I agree with Jane’s post and most of the responses it has generated from such loyal customers. I can only despair at what has happened to the Women’s Clothing range. It wouldn’t be difficult to sort it out, it just needs alot of courage, some seriously tough thinking and a total disregard of the M&S politics – all of which I and some ex colleagues of mine are more than qualified to do. John Dixon, let’s take you out for lunch and tell it to you like it is. What have you got to lose?

  • Phillippa says:

    Mr Dixon – my advice is that very very soon you find the time to read this post and all the subsequent comments and then, go to that lunch and listen up. You will no doubt have your own agenda for sorting out your new area of responsibility but fortunately as a dyed in the wool M&S man you will value feedback and the M&S experience that will be round that lunch table should not be ignored. Hell, you might even enjoy talking to a bunch of delightful, smart, eloquent businesswomen who remain passionate about your Business. If they are prepared to give up their time to offer serious insight into how you can get back the hard won reputation that M&S used to enjoy, it’s difficult to imagine how you can refuse to take them up on their offer. As Lin has so aptly said – what have you got to lose?

  • Sue t says:

    The ” baby boomer ” generation is not only one of the most urgent areas for M&S to get right , but also one of the hardest.
    It is a growing proportion of the population, and as all the comments above go to prove, it is really interested in M&S getting it right for them. The biggest reason that the problem is not being addressed properly is because the ” baby Boomer ” generation requirements are those that have not been encountered or addressed before.
    For example, we are fiercely independent, individualistic and interested in our wonderfully busy and diverse older lives. We are not like our mothers in any way, our adventurous sprits and demanding standards completely different and in explored by most high street brands, and especially by M&S, who should know better than to alienate such a large group. This is why the Classic Ranges don’t even warrant a glance from us. They are for our mothers generation ( and mine is 94 and still shopping !)
    But we are not aspiring busty blousy ” barmaids trying to look like ” mutton dressed as lamb ” in Per Una either.
    We love all the opportunities still open to us , and we really enjoy our lives. We do not sit down for long and we do not only garden! Comfort is important of course but should not be used as an excuse to let yourself go. I do not possess an elastic acted waistband anything, and do not wear Velcro fastened shoes.
    We all want to look appropriate, with it, stylish, and interesting, but in our individual ways. So for some , M&S would need to provide the best stylish staples. The arguments of quality and value should be a given as far as M&S is concerned, and indeed it is an area where , due to high standards of global manufacturing, most store groups are able to go today.
    But for me the attention needs to be on fabric choice , in flattering but interesting colours, and in amazing cut and fit.
    One of my beefs is that most pattern grading is done by computer and the brilliant fits associated with good fit and tailoring need to be fitted on real people in all the sizes. M&S does not address good fit for the age group. We can look amazing in simple but stylish clothes which fit and flatter. So a tee shirt needs to be a good length, and not poke out at the sides. The sleeves need to be properly inserted to accommodate the older top arm area. This takes attention and t.l.c.
    We also embrace newness and are constantly on the look out to treat ourselves and continue to look good and interesting.
    We know our selves and who we are , and love to be tempted by stylish contemporary clothes with a ” nod to fashion “, but as most of the other comments observe, we do not tick trend boxes !
    Mr Dixon should most definitely realise that we do know how to help M& S serve this formerly loyal ( and wanting to remain group), because we ARE that age group and we know what makes our clothing sense tick.
    For some of us writing, we have created, and manufactured wonderful clothing for our age group then. It is for certain we could do that again now. So, looking forward to the invite Mr Dixon.
    M&S , we want to love you still. After all some of us have shares to protect !
    Sue

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