LONDON — Marks & Spencer is preparing for an injection of youth serum.
The retailer plans to build on the success of its Per Una clothing line, with the launch of Per Una Due, an edgy line for women in their late teens to early 30s. The launch also will signal the store’s debut in the world of fast fashion, as the line will be refreshed and updated every two months.
Per Una Due will be designed by the high-street legend George Davies, who launched Per Una in 2001 after founding the George clothing line at Asda and building the fashion retail chain Next. The first collection, which will bow on May 6 in 65 M&S stores across the U.K., will feature drainpipe jeans, pleated miniskirts, slash-detail T-shirts and accessories.
A retro sports look will follow later in the season with brightly colored bomber jackets, print spaghetti-strap tops and HotPants. Further branches are set to open in September.
Eager to build on Per Una’s “already considerable success to reach a younger audience,” Roger Holmes, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement, “Per Una offers our customers a clear choice of styles and ensures that we will always have something fresh and creative to offer.”
Per Una is available in 160 Marks & Spencer stores across the U.K. and will be added to another five stores in March.
“They need to experiment in developing their clothing range,” said George Wallace, ceo of the London-based consultancy Management Horizons. “But they are entering territory that is fiercely competitive and occupied by companies like H&M, Zara, Topshop and Mango.
“They are leaping into a value-driven territory — it’s a very brave, ambitious experiment.”
This month, M&S management said clothing was an area that needed particular attention, although it noted that Per Una was one of the more successful collections.
As reported, the company promoted Vittorio Radice, head of the home division, to the post of executive director for general merchandise.
“We know we’ve made mistakes in our clothing area,” said Sue Sadler, corporate press manager. “Vittorio is going to be examining where changes need to be made, and how to make aspirational products for our midmarket customers.”In January, M&S saw clothing and footwear sales drop 3.3 percent, year-over-year, during the 15 weeks preceding Jan. 10 — the crucial Christmas season — with women’s wear the worst-performing area.
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