Friday, 20 March 2015

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Marks and Spencer used to be a clothes UK retail giant, but recently they have fallen on harder times, with only their food sales apparently keeping the whole ship afloat. Now when I was a younger man I used to shop with them for clothes, admittedly that was only once a year or so, and featured a lot of socks and underwear in an annual replenishment. But hey, a sales a sale, and when I could afford to, I would buy jeans, jackets and tops.

I am not too embarrassed to admit that I was poor in my teens and early twenties, so normally they were too pricey for me except in the sales, but I appreciated their quality. And that was the point .... for Menswear their quality shone through, with standardised fittings and thick materials, so as a man you paid the M&S premium, and were very happy to do so. Another bonus was that once you had established which sizes fitted you, you could just buy off the rack confident that it would fit.

Somewhere in the last decade or so M&S lost their way, and I, and many other men, were cast into the clothing wilderness, until eventually landing safely in the arms of George's (Asda's) clothing range, which is remarkably like the M&S of old.

I was struck by all this when I recently visited a large M&S, and after finally finding the tiny menswear department jammed into the home fittings floor, I was totally depressed by what greeted me. Rack after rack of woollens .... Sweaters and Jumpers .... like a Val Doonican convention on acid. The prices were hardly competitive either, when you think this is a seasonal item at best, and Primark does them for around £10 - £15.

Val Doonican - Inspiration For M&S Fashionistas

Now I don't know which female buyer (of either sex), decided that 'sweaters and jumpers' were this Autumn Winter Season's men's must have, but they were sadly mistaken. Look around you for gods sake. How many sweaters or jumpers on anyone under the age of 70? One, maybe two?

Men don't wear them anymore .... even if middle aged wives do still insist on buying them for their husbands. I work in a large department, with a majority of men, and just two sweaters to be seen in over 100 men. I did eventually buy something later from a M&S outlet store, where I got some black cords at a discounted price.

But even that wasn't a simple purchase, because before I alighted on them, I had made the mistake of assuming that M&S fittings would be standard with the Asda George range (I was wearing identical George trousers) and initially had bought some M&S trousers .... which to my horror when I got home I found I couldn't get over my thighs! I was so wrong that I had to go back to the Outlet store the next day and replace my original purchases, with one size up in the cords ... eek!

Last time for me ... apart from the odd curiosity visit, I am unlikely to put myself through the effort of trying to find menswear at M&S .... that's if it's even possible in a few years time, the way they are going.

What a shame to see that such a giant has seemingly so lost the plot .....

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A middle aged orange male ... So 'un' PC it's not true....