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Drapers Comment: Supermarkets get serious

Supermarket retailers are taking fashion seriously, that’s nothing new, but is a move towards better quality fabric and improved fit a warning to high street players that the grocers are coming for their business?

George has improved the fabric quality of its nightwear for Christmas 15

George has improved the fabric quality of its nightwear for Christmas 15

Take George at Asda. For its Christmas 15 collection, the supermarket retailer has added more natural fibres to its fabric blends and improved the general fit in response to demand from savvy shoppers looking for better quality product. Standout items from the Raw ladieswear knitwear collection for Christmas 15 include a boiled wool cape, soft fake fur coat and drape dress embellished by specialists in India.

This push towards more luxurious product is set to continue for spring 16, with a focus on trend-led garments designed to last. The trick for George will be to up the fabric quality, whilst maintaining its competitive price point. This has so far been achieved with the Raw collection, which varies from £8 for a scarf to £40 for a coat.

Supermarket rival F&F jumped on the ‘Made in Britain’ bandwagon for autumn 15 with a range of 100% wool suits. Retailing at £100 for a suit jacket and £60 for matching trousers, the UK manufactured collection is significantly more expensive than the mainline 100% polyester alternative, priced at £34 for a suit jacket and £16 for trousers. In comparison, the most expensive tailoring from high street competitor Matalan retails at £65 for a wool blend suit jacket.

Unafraid to move beyond the basics, the grocers are keen to embrace the latest trends. Along with Sainsbury’s Tu, the big three supermarket retailers have strongly backed the 1970s trend, adding flare denim, paisley peasant blouses, suede tunics and boho smock dresses to their offer.

While time will tell if consumers are willing to spend £100 on a supermarket suit, the grocers will always benefit from high footfall and their ability to convert food shoppers into fashion buyers. By improving fabric quality and fit, F&F and George are making a bold statement of intent, firmly setting their sights beyond groceries in a bid to steal business from their high street rivals. Matalan and Primark had better watch out.

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