By George, they've got it: Asda's trend-spotters

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Asda's clothing range first made waves in supermarkets 21 years ago. Rebecca Gonsalves follows the brand's trend-spotters to New York to learn their secret

The fact that one's supermarket shopping list could now list a pair of palazzo pants alongside bread and milk is testament to the prowess of George Davies, the designer who revolutionised the landscape of affordable fashion in Britain 21 years ago.

Celebrating its milestone birthday this year, Asda's clothing range George has come on in leaps and bounds over the last two decades, not only responding to changes in how the nation shops, but driving it forward, too.

Brand director Fiona Lambert was brought on board by Davies himself when stocking clothes alongside sundry goods was a revolutionary prospect.

"At the time George started it, he couldn't actually say what he was doing, just that he had a fantastic proposition that was brand new to the market with great potential. It was very exciting to be there at the beginning – there was no supermarket fashion at all until then," she says.

As every successful brand knows, the customer is king and, to capitalise on the 19 million shoppers who go to Asda every week, George has built a brand that can be trusted to provide key high-quality basics as well as a fast rotation of fashion-led pieces.

Rather than lazily creating cookie-cutter copies of catwalk styles, the brand's designers work to translate key seasonal trends into more wearable pieces. A classic example is the cropped trousers in the birthday range, inspired by a leather Isabel Marant style from last season which had a moment in the spotlight when worn by Victoria Beckham. Knowing that red leather is far too outré for the George customer, instead ladies formalwear buyer Ruth Golightly commissioned a cotton sateen fabric, with a bit of stretch that shopping-basket analysis has proved the George customer loves.

Golightly and formal wear designer Amanda Wilkinson regularly travel the globe on inspiration trips, armed with a dossier of colour and print trend stories to keep on top of ever-changing tastes. The pair recently took a trip to New York, looking for inspiration for next year's high summer season. The first stop is the vintage boutiques of Soho where, among the classic Chanel suits, beautiful beaded dresses catch Wilkinson's eye for last minute additions to this year's Christmas collection. As soon as she is out the door, Wilkinson is furiously sketching details to pass back to the London team.

At the Hell's Kitchen flea market the rails groan with eclectic vintage pieces: tea dresses; brash Eighties florals and glittering sequins are lined up against fur jackets and silk scarves. The stallholders here are used to designers ransacking their wares for inspiration. As he takes the money for Wilkinson's purchases, one vendor with a policy of no photos explains that "designers used to buy" – he has a business to run too.

As supermarket shopping has grown over the last few years, so too has George's standalone website, ensuring those who don't shop at Asda for their groceries can still buy into the brand. Using social networking, blogging and its e-commerce site www.george.com, which receives half a million visitors every week, the brand plans to double its business in the next five years – eminently achievable thanks to the brand's dedication to building momentum.

George at Asda celebrates its 21st birthday on 26 May, www.george.com

Click here to watch 'Life of a garment', a video commissioned by George at Asda to celebrate Graduate Fashion Week

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Account Director - Tech Startup - Direct Your Own Career Path

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Telephone Sales Advisor - OTE £35,000

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telephone Sales Advisor is re...

    Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker - OTE £20,000

    £14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An office based Appointment Mak...

    Recruitment Genius: Healthcare Assistant

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This provider of care services is looking for...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent