Marks & Spencer has teamed up with fashion darling Alexa Chung in its latest bid to attract younger shoppers.
Chung has helped create a 31-piece collection, to launch in April, inspired by the retailer’s archive.
The collaboration came about after Chung helped turn a 1970s-style suede skirt into a fashion sensation for M&S last spring after she was photographed wearing it. The chain claimed demand for the suede skirt had helped sales even before it hit stores.
M&S needs to attract younger shoppers after recording just one quarterly increase in clothing sales over the past five years.
The company brought in former Debenhams boss Belinda Earl as an advisor and has been through a string of clothing bosses in the past few years but has yet to find the right formula to win back shoppers.
Steve Rowe, the current head of general merchandise and whose remit includes clothing, will become chief executive of M&S in April, taking over from Marc Bolland. He has already shaken up the clothing management team and working with Chung is likely to be seen as a statement of his intent for the future of the brand.
The company said the tie-up was the first of the “M&S &” series: “A sequence of unique, exclusive collections in collaboration with some of today’s most exciting designers, brands and fashion icons.”
Rowe said: “Marks & Spencer’s history is vast and quality design has always been paramount; therefore, using our expertise and classic designs and Alexa’s unique eye and approach to style, our collaboration was born. A new womenswear collection, curated by Alexa, with heritage firmly at its heart.”
Chung, a TV presenter and model, will also be directing the advertising campaign to launch her collection.
British Vogue, which first revealed the collaboration, said it was a “clever match” for M&S as Chung had a “personal penchant for androgynous sweaters, floral dresses, peter-pan-collar blouses and a well-tailored pair of shorts – all of which the M&S archives must be brimming with.”
M&S has previously tried working with celebrities with mixed success. Footballer David Beckham worked on a boyswear range, DB07, in 2002, but ended the multimillion-pound deal two years later.
However, lingerie ranges fronted by models Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and David Gandy have both proved highly successful.
This article was written by Sarah Butler, for theguardian.com on Thursday 4th February 2016 12.19 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010