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Whistles Unveils New Look

Jane Shepherdson, the former brand director at Topshop, has quietly unveiled her latest clothing project.

LONDON — Jane Shepherdson, the former brand director at Topshop, has quietly unveiled her latest clothing project — an attempt to breathe new life into British high street retailer Whistles.

This story first appeared in the September 18, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Gone are the vaguely mumsy silhouettes and the too-bright colors, and in their place are what she sees as the building blocks of a modern wardrobe. Among them are an oversize, sleeveless cashmere cardigan; cropped, wool serge trousers; Sixties-print silk dresses; ivory silk blouses, and slightly tulip-shaped coats.

Prices range from about 85 pounds, or $154, for the cropped trousers to 135 pounds, or $244, for the silk dresses to 250 pounds, or $452, for the coat.

Shepherdson’s core demographic is 25 to 40, marking a big change from Topshop. “In a way, this job is easier: We are our market,” added Shepherdson, who is in her mid-40s.

She took over in January as chief executive officer of the fashion chain, in which she is now a shareholder along with Baugur Group and Iceland’s Glitnir Bank. She left Topshop in 2006.

Shepherdson considers fall a soft launch, and plans to gain more momentum in the spring. And now that she’s begun re-tooling the collection, her next task is to tackle the stores. The first refurbished store will open near Oxford Street after Christmas. Her plan is to jettison the store’s pink neon signs and glass walls in favor of a calmer environment.

Shepherdson added that a shoe collection, an ad campaign and even plans to open in the U.S. are all in the pipeline.