November 15, 2017 07:23 GMT by

Marks & Spencer's SS18 collection is the answer to every forty-something's dreams

Marks & Spencer's SS18 collection is the answer to every forty-something's dreams

The high street giant unveil their make or break SS18 collection today - will it be enough to change their fortunes?

Marks and Spencer unveil their make or break SS18 collection today. Confident and stylish, defining the season’s trends in an elegant, wearable way, the bastion of the British high street has a lot to be optimistic about.

But will it be enough? After a decade of disappointing clothing sales figures there’s a lot riding on this collection.

When CEO Steve Rowe joined the company 18 months ago, he made some tough decisions. Rowe launched a five year plan that included the closure of 30 UK stores, converting 45 stores into Simply Food-only stores and exiting several overseas markets.

(Image: Rex)
CEO Steve Rowe

The arrival of new chairman Archie Norman could signal more store closures and following comments about making clothes cheaper and younger change is in the air. It’s been reported that Norman and Rowe are working on an even tougher new restructuring plan to counteract the company’s decline.

Managing director of clothing and homes Jill McDonald's appointment is being perceived as a positive move. She has a clear idea of how she wants the business to develop.

Chairman Archie Norman

The high street knows that the future is all about the retail experience and McDonald understands the importance of destination shopping, homewear playing an important role in this.

The good news is that Rowe has achieved his mission statement to win back the loyal army of women shoppers aged 50 and over, who he said had been neglected in recent years.

Marks & Spencer
I spent hours trying to find a stylish long sleeve midi dress last summer - M&S have nailed the dress and have at least 4 I want to buy in the new collection; Autograph dress £79, earrings £9.50, shoes £25

In doing so, M&S have also drawn in a much wider audience. Clearly building on this, the new SS18 collection is the answer to every thirty and forty something's dreams.

Talking to The Mirror style director Belinda Earl explained:

“Women are no longer defined by traditional age boundaries, they're more informed than ever. If they feel dictated too about what they should/shouldn’t wear it turns them off.

Marks & Spencer

"What women want is ageless, timeless style that’s relevant to their lifestyles. So the focus for us is on carefully considered collections that cater for a wide demographic."

Marks & Spencer

"We designed this new collection to have something for everyone, it’s just about how you choose to style the individual pieces.”

Marks & Spencer

The merging together of athleisure, the blending of underwear as outerwear and the use of contemporary fabrics mixed with tailoring and feminine fabrics gives the collections a modern, yet timeless appeal. With a strong focus on natural fabrics like cotton and silk, these are clothes that not only look but feel good.

And while these are clothes I love, they will also appeal to tweens and young mums on the school run.

Marks & Spencer
The only coat you will need next season, perfect dressed up or down; Limited edition jacket £89, jacket £89, Autograph dress £69

The strategy moving forward is to attract M&S shoppers earlier, to ensure that they stay with them throughout their lives.

Only will time will tell if M&S weather the current retail storm. All I can say is, please don’t stop making beautiful clothes for grown-ups and for heaven's sake, don’t make them any cheaper.

Marks & Spencer
Tailoring has been huge for M&S this season and this soft deconstructed suit is stylish, wearable and on trend; Autograph jacket £129, Autograph shirt £39.50, Autograph trouser £79, earring set £9.50

I shop at M&S because I am looking for something the rest of the high street doesn’t offer. I want clothes that are cut for real women, made from top quality fabrics at a price I can afford. The devil’s in the detail and the right colour, cuff, sleeve or hemline can make or break a collection.

There’s no disputing that M&S have rolled up their sleeves and done the hard work now, they’ll have to wait and see if it pays off.