The high street, for all its merits, can be a tricky place to navigate. I mean this in terms of both bricks-and-mortar stores and online brands – however you shop, the sheer choice on offer can be overwhelming, not to mention the increasingly speedy turnaround. Today’s new-in is tomorrow’s sale rail, or at least that’s often what it feels like. Not to mention a lot of the high street’s obsession with youth, as more and more clothes feel targeted at teenagers, leaving the majority of women feeling alienated and ignored. That’s why the new brand from John Lewis feels revolutionary, in a way. Launching today, John Lewis & Partners is the latest in-house collection from one of the British high street’s stalwarts, which already has three own brands: And/Or, Modern Rarity and Kin. With a focus on colour, what feels so refreshing about this collection is that it prioritises style over fashion, something that a lot of brands seem to have neglected in recent years.
The collection isn’t small – there are 300 pieces in total, ranging from a cotton-jersey tank top for £10 to a cashmere coat for £250. But the idea is not to make you buy as much as possible from the range, rather that each piece can be styled in myriad ways, to suit you and your existing wardrobe. This doesn’t sound radical in theory but, in practice, most brands’ focus is on quantity and following the transient trends that fall out of favour as quickly as they appeared. As Iain Ewing, head of design for womenswear and accessories, said, he wants to stress that this new brand is a “partnership, not a dictatorship”. It’s a lovely ethos and one that is backed up by the quality of the products. Colours are bold, lines are clean and the clothes just generally feel like things all women could actually wear.
What feels so refreshing about this collection is that it prioritises style over fashion
Jo Bennett, head of buying for womenswear at John Lewis & Partners, said: “[The brand] brings a new style philosophy to the high street. The collection does not require you to purchase a whole new outfit, or push you towards a brand-new look every season – there are no fashion gimmicks here, or impractical styles that look good on the hanger but fall flat on the body. Each item is designed to slot happily into an existing wardrobe, whatever your age or background, but also to empower your personal style at the same time.” Wide-leg culottes sit alongside silk blouses, funnel-neck knits, pencil skirts and tailored coats. There are trainers, block heels and classic cross-body bags. While I personally feel excited by the clothes (I want all the coats), I also know it’s the sort of thing that my sister, who's in her forties, would enjoy, while my 67-year old mum would look on it as an answer to her problems. It feels democratic – the prices are not sky high, but it doesn’t feel like John Lewis has skimped on quality, either.
With the high street in such a state of flux at the moment, it will be interesting to see how this new brand fares. Personally, I think a return to the concept of personal style, as opposed to the mass trends we’re bombarded with on Instagram, is a savvy move by John Lewis & Partners. Sometimes, all you really need to feel good about what you’re wearing is something simple, something without all the bells and whistles of trend-led clothes. Sometimes, all you really want is a well-fitting pair of trousers or a beautiful coat. Now, you know where to find it.
The best 6 pieces from John Lewis & Partners' new collection