Will Marks & Spencer's New Runway-Inspired Makeover Turn It Around?

Retailers selling goods inspired by high-end designers is nothing new. And in fact, it's proven a very successful and lucrative business model for companies like Zara and ASOS, despite the knockoff accusations. Now, British department store Marks & Spencer is taking a cue from the high street with a new line that is the retailer's most fashion-driven yet.
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Dhani Mau
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Retailers selling goods inspired by high-end designers is nothing new. And in fact, it's proven a very successful and lucrative business model for companies like Zara and ASOS, despite the knockoff accusations. Now, British department store Marks & Spencer is taking a cue from the high street with a new line that is the retailer's most fashion-driven yet.
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In lieu of wardrobe staples like cashmere sweaters and wool trousers, many retailers today are looking to high-end fashion to inform their own, self-branded lines. It's proven a very successful and lucrative business model for companies like Zara and ASOS, despite the knockoff accusations.

Now, British department store Marks & Spencer is taking a cue from the high street with a new line that is the retailer's most fashion-driven yet.

It's the second line by new style director Belinda Earl (formerly of Massimo Dutti), who is now tasked with pulling Marks & Spencer out of a period of dismal sales results -- the retailer announced a fall of 1.3% in sales between July and September compared with the same period last year. Her first collection, for Fall 2013, features a very fashiony pink coat, which must have been a hit, since she looks to be going in that same runway-inspired direction for Spring 2014.

As The Guardian points out, the collection features items that look to be directly inspired by several of the spring runways. A Japanese-inspired silk bomber is reminiscent of Jonathan Saunders' dreamy collection, while a beaded jacket gives off a strong Isabel Marant vibe. We also noticed several instances of the luxe '90s black and white minimalism that was so prevalent last fashion month.

"Our customer wants fashion, and it is important that we show that we are confident in our expression of fashion," Earl told The Guardian. "We need to demonstrate to her that we at M&S are part of fashion."

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The company also tapped a couple of fashion stars for its holiday campaign: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (who also designs a fast-selling lingerie line for the company) and former Marc Jacobs campaign star and all-around fashion icon Helena Bonham Carter. Grace Coddington starred in a campaign earlier this year.

With their own lines, retailers seem to waffle on whether to go with classic wardrobe staples or fashion-forward, runway-inspired pieces, neither of which is exactly a display of originality or inventiveness. M&S has made a clear choice towards the latter and it could pay off. We can't help but find many of the looks appealing -- and we are all talking about it, aren't we?