John Lewis fashion buying director Ed Connolly has told Drapers fashion will play an increasing part of the department store business in future, with a more contemporary offer at the top of the agenda.
He said fashion accounts for approximately a third of sales (alongside home and electricals, which are roughly equal), but he has “big ambitions” to make it the largest category.
For spring 15 this involves adding new brands such as Wood Wood, Rains, Gant and Barbour Great Coat to the product mix in menswear and a partnership with denim specialist Trilogy for womenswear.
“In fashion we may have been perceived to be more classic than contemporary in the past, but we see an opportunity in trying to redress the balance,” explained Connolly, who has worked at John Lewis for 11 years, but only took charge of the fashion business seven months ago from his role as buying director of electricals and home technology.
The retailer will not necessarily target a younger demographic, he said, but he expects to attract a new wave of customers into the business through the new strategy.
Online, he said the group is exploring exclusives with various brands and will be introducing more “magazine elements” and references to catwalks to the site. “We want our customers to come to us for ideas so we can take them on a journey, and to do that we have to offer them direction and more outfit-building pieces, both in stores and online.”