As the major supermarkets look to lure ever more sophisticated shoppers, Stephanie Smith picks out some key pieces for autumn.
Anyone trying to sell fashion in 2016 has to be pretty cool and canny about it, if they want to impress the modern super-savvy British style shopper.
It’s a tough and competitive market, whether you reach out to the high designer end or the mass-produced value sector of fashion.
Competing at the budget entry level, our major supermarkets have been doing rather well with their own-brand clothing lines. For years now, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Tesco have managed to divert us away from our grocery trolley route – starting at veg, ending at frozen – by enticing us to fill up with useful T-shirts, bargain school clothes, cheap and cheerful underwear and nightwear, basic leggings and maybe the occasional little sundress that will do for holidays and weekends.
Price has tended to be the main attraction, of course, offering lots of wardrobe essentials for under £10, and in many cases under £5.
Plus, the buying power of the supermarkets coupled with their their tried-and-tested experience in responding quickly to customer trends and demands means that they know all about fast turn-around. They make sure that they always have newness to see and buy alongside their bread-and-butter basics. As a result, we customers are now trained to expect a constantly changing offer – and if the sales racks look a bit like a jumble sale, so much the better, because everyone loves a good rummage for basement bargains.
However, we don’t want to look cheap. In fact, as fashion becomes more multi-purpose, from work to play and from day to night, it is also becoming more pared-back, with a sophisticated simplicity that instantly denotes easy elegance. To meet these demands, the supermarkets are decidedly upping their game when it comes to fashion. It’s no longer just about the essentials and the cheap fun stuff. Now they are becoming more serious about offering excellent design and realistic quality for the discerning style seeker.
George at Asda has been previewing its new key pieces to press with a “look how chic we are” flourish, for example, comparing its check coat and faux leather mini skirt combo, featured here, with a similar look from Isabel Marant for autumn/winter 2016. It’s a great shorter length, the perfect proportion for the season to wear with above-the-knee skirts and cropped trousers, and the check is statement but wearable, keying in to both the mono and the tweedy English eccentrics trends for autumn. Sadly, it’s not due out until October, but it’s a snip at £25.
Meanwhile, Tu at Sainsbury’s launches its autumn Premium collection with a glimpse of elegant, considered, pared-back pieces in quality fabrics such as silk and tailored wool blends, with a classy neutral palette of black, white, cedar, camel and the occasional thoughtful print or detailed item.
Price points are a little higher than usual (the camel coat is £50), but if you can pick up a classic new season outfit of silk blouse, tailored trousers, butterscotch coloured shoe-boots and chicly minimalist camel coat all for around £150, what’s not to like? And if you can get it all together in less than 10 minutes before deciding what to have for dinner, so much the better.
Over at Tesco, F&F for autumn offers a beautifully wearable collection of relaxed sports-inspired pieces from easy bombers to loose trousers, alongside a range of elegant dresses and tops in the new season’s evocative winter florals. The tie-neck dress featured here is a wonderfully flattering piece to dress up with strappy heels, or down with boots and bomber jacket.
It’s amazing what you can pick up along with your weekly shop.