As I made my way into the Sprucefield store, I remembered that it's the size of their stores that is part of the problem. It's overwhelming - even for a seasoned shopper like me.
Immediately on my right, I had Autograph, which is always worth a look. On the opposite side of the store, it's Limited Edition. In between these two brands, there's Per Una and Indigo...two brands that I can no longer bring myself to look at. Too many patterns! Oh and not forgetting M&S Collection, Classic and Twiggy. Exhausting!
I started with Autograph and admittedly, spotted some gorgeous classic, structured pieces like this coat:
It baffles me why some stores can always have a good range of sizes out and others like M&S seem to struggle to get enough 10-14's in. A quick peruse of the last of the sale confirmed this for me - it was basically a 90% plus-sized sale. Someone somewhere is getting the numbers all wrong....it's great and necessary to have a wide spread of sizes but surely a company the size of M&S can dictate the spread of sizes better and ensure that more of the mid sizes are stocked.
I did find this jumper in my size and can confirm it's gorgeous...too like my Boden Off Duty so I couldn't justify.
Next step, accessories and this leather bag got a huge thumbs up for me. Not sure how I feel about 'Autograph' being 'Michael Kors'ed' onto the front of it but you could always wear it facing inwards? The leather & suede are gorgeous and it's a lovely quality
Autograph Leather Across Body Bag
But for me, the footwear still remains M&S's best department. The buyers there have got their game sorted. There's a good range of sizes, lots of lovely leather and some nice nods to catwalk trends and more expensive brands:
Think of Zara, Mango, Next (have struggled in AW15 but look promising in SS16) - all of which just have one brand across the store (apart from Zara TRF which I don't often notice I've moved into anyway). You move freely around the store. The sub-sections are more functional in nature like workwear, denim, coats, knitwear etc., so it's easy to shop for what you want.
Having said all that, their website has improved immensely - if, like me, you've not looked at it in a long time, do have a look.
So there's my soapbox on good old M&S....a brand I'd love to feature more on this blog in a positive light. I know many of you shop there regularly and love the brand but the bottom line speaks volumes. They're losing the 30-50 year old demographic to places like Zara, H&M and John Lewis. Yes, we're still loving the food (and the Percy Pigs) but that isn't enough to sustain the fashion square footage.
Do let me know what you think....can M&S ever find its fashion mojo again?