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

Friday, 20 February 2009

Portfolio: an update

Yesterday I went in to Marks and Spencer's at their invitation to take a look at the Portfolio range for over 45s in the flesh, so to speak. At the Marble Arch store, there were some fabulous things: a Limited Edition tunic dress which looks as if it has missed its way en route to Net a Porter and several Autograph silk dresses and tops I loved.

But Portfolio. No. Not for me.

I looked around for the calf-length denim skirt but could not see it. And do you know why, ladies? Because it has sold out. Yes, the Portfolio range is massively popular and the denim skirt has flown off the rails. What does this tell us? It tells us that M&S is serving its customers. The one's who want affordable Marni look-alikes, and the ones who want to look like early 1980s geography teachers.

Across Britain there are tens of thousands of women who want to dress like frumps. Is this a crime? Personally, I think it should be, but I am an adamant supporter of freedom of expression, even when that freedom is the joy of beige.

I was taken upstairs to the press showroom and shown some of the next batch of stock and there were some big improvements, quite a few things I liked.

But I made the point as comprehensively as I could, that M&S like much of the rest of the high street is making far too many sleeveless dresses that rise above the knee. This will be passed on. We live in hope.

PS M&S also say that they now ship overseas.


Susan said...

Thanks for the update, Linda, very interesting!

Fair play to M&S if the Portfolio range is doing well. As you say, they are there to provide what their customers want.

phyllis said...

I know I'm a broken record with this, but the denim skit itself is not the crime; it's those brown peep toe pumps with flesh tone hose.

*shudder* M&S stop the insanity! That photo makes me run screaming from the room.

Duchesse said...

Do you believe, Linda, that an affordable Marni look-alike is to be avoided? I see Marni here, and it looks well made and interesting, especially the leather jackets.

Arabella said...

M&S to ship internationally? I missed that. Knickers ahoy!
And thanks.

Rosaria said...

Imagine that, thousands of women walking up the high street looking like 1980s geography teachers. If M&S are shipping internationally, then this could multiply to hundreds of thousands or millions of women worldwide looking like 1980s geography teachers. That brown denim skirt has a lot to answer for.

Sheila said...

Any purchases I've made at M&S in recent years (knickers excepeted) have come from either the Limited Collection or Autograph ranges. At 58, am I supposed to be too old for these? I can't see why else they would have started a completely new range. M&S seems to be going backwards at a time when the High Street is just beginning to recognise that we want interesting and dare I say even eye-catching clothes. However I can't argue with the fact that they are selling well. I know that there are lots of women who like what to me are boring and unflattering clothes and have different priorities and do not want to spend lots of time clothes shopping. This range caters for them so fair enough - but I wish M&S would describe them some other way than for 0ver 45s. I guess Portfolio - the Safe and Boring range doens't really cut it though.

I think we need to stop this mass slander of 1980's geography teachers. My cousin was one and would not have been seen dead (then or now)_in that skirt.

mq, cb said...

My 1980's geography teacher wore Polyvelt shoes, just like these. Even at the time we thought that they were plug ugly.

So if you fancy maligning the fashion taste and judgment of the average 1980's geography teacher, just remember: it ain't slander if it's true.

Librarian said...

Like Duchesse, I am puzzled by your lumping in of my beloved Marni with M7S frumpishess. I may have to cancel that pre-order for the new book...

Elsa Xenia said...

As a contemporary of Sheila I totally agree with her - all my purchases are Limited Collection and Autograph, too. Portfolio would have been perfect for me when I was working in an office where I wanted to wear plain boring clothes, but now I'm looking for something more flattering and exciting.

Linda Grant said...

There seems to have been some misunderstanding about my point about the Marni lookalikes - M&S is providing customers with what they want - whether it's a fabulous Marni lookalike or beige geography teacher wear

greying pixie said...

My geography would have loved that skirt. Anything to make her legs look as wide as possible! Plus the beige lace-up mocassins for added width!

She was great. I loved her most of the time except when the chalk she hurled across the room to interrupt illegal conversations actually hit me!