Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Grow up!

our girl

For a year I have been banging the same drum: that we have to stop buying cheap throwaway high street clothes and invest in fewer, more expensive pieces. And I have been saying Jaeger Jaeger Jaeger (and Cos). In the past week I've seen pictures of Sarah Brown, the wife of our prime minister, and Anne Enright, winner of the Booker this year, in this season's Jaeger jacket with shoulder detail.

Now here is the Times with more of the same:

The sector of the fashion high street once unflatteringly called middle market has lost its flabby lack of focus and identity, and been given a fierce shot of retail Botox. It’s been upgraded and rebranded as something called Affordable Luxury or Masstige (that’s prestige for the masses; desirable things for everyone, not just the rich), and it’s meant to appeal to women, rather than girls, who appreciate youthful but don’t do teenage. Belinda Earl, Jaeger’s top woman, who has transformed the label into a fashion must-have and recently kicked off London Fashion Week with Jaeger’s first international catwalk show, is one of the movement’s forerunners.

“Today’s consumer is very discerning,” Earl explains. “Because of the huge amount of fashion information available through the internet, weekly glossies and TV, she’s aware of trends but wants them interpreted in a way that flatters her shape and is right for her lifestyle.” The ailing Jaeger label, bought by Harold Tillman in 2002, has been completely revitalised by Earl, who was wooed from Debenhams (where she negotiated the Designers at Debenhams ranges). “Our customer shops with her hands and wants quality fabrics that feel good to touch and against her skin.” Items such as the cashmere poncho and printed silk shirt have rapidly become contemporary classics at Jaeger. Since Earl joined, the number of stores has risen from 89 to 120. As a company, it has gone from losing £3 million a year to last year’s profit of £70.6 million. “When I arrived at Jaeger, I did lots of research and focus groups with our customers. They told me, ‘You must do this. There is nothing for us out there.’”


Toby Wollin said...

“When I arrived at Jaeger, I did lots of research and focus groups with our customers. They told me, ‘You must do this. There is nothing for us out there.’”
Amazing. Someone actually asked customers what they wanted, what they were interested in having. This has got to be a first, really. Most of the time when I shop, what I think to myself is, "Who came up with this?"

phyllis said...

I think there is another thing that Jaeger got right, and it was expressed years ago by airline executive whose name I have forgotten: "There's a difference between what customers say they would like to have, and what they’re willing to pay for."

Bobbi said...

I recently took a shopping trip to Vancouver, BC and I purposefully spent an afternoon looking at designer clothes, in boutiques, and in the high end department sotres and was shocked at the low quality (Yes I'm talking about you, Gucci). When viewed in terms of price it got even worse.

The next morning I went and spent all my budget at the Canadian version of shops like Jaeger, including Tristan, the non-boutique section of Holt Renfrew and the ubiquitous Banana Republic. Good quality, decent design, and outstanding value for the price.

Anonymous said...

I have found myself buying something simply because it fits, becasue there are so few choices. The more 'designer', the shorter the skirt, skimpier the top. Even bridge lines use plastic buttons and cheap zippers.