The high street strikes back

They are faced with reluctant shoppers, online rivals and winter weather. But the big fashion chains are determined to woo us back in store. Three of them reveal to Gemma Hayward exactly how they’ll do it


Jacqui Markham

Head of Design

What's the thinking behind this season's collection?

We looked at lots of different references for spring/summer as we like to keep the collections fresh, and give our customers lots of options. The themes we worked around were "Hope and Glory", which is quintessentially English with a twist – we looked at floral prints, lace and embroidered vintage-inspired cardigans to create a quirky look.

"Memphis" is inspired by rodeo styling and features marble-wash denims, as well as check shirts and tasselled knitwear. "Voodoo", which has a strong tribal-print element and bold use of colour, has a body-con silhouette and can be dressed up or down. "Nouveau Sport" is our super-luxe approach to sportswear, with clean lines and functional fastenings, and a slinky silhouette, so it feels really fresh.

Describe your customer

Someone who likes to experiment and take chances with fashion – an individual who likes to have fun.

Which designers influence you?

We are aware of what other designers are doing, but look for inspiration in other areas. We do a lot of research at music festivals, clubs and gigs, and look at street style to get an idea of trends coming through and movements in fashion. Blogs are another great resource for finding out which trends are coming through both in the UK and internationally. We also look at vintage clothing for inspiration.

Which are your favourite Topshop pieces?

The Union Jack jacket is a great "trophy jacket" – the flag is so iconic and never dates! The English Rose dress is great for spring/summer as it can be teamed with a clashing jacket or worn alone for a classic look. Our "It Knits" are comfortable but cool, particularly the tassled pieces. Our studded skinny jeans with bleached wash are a must have!


Anita Borzyszkowska

Vice-President of PR

What's the thinking behind this season's collection?

For spring, we've relaunched Gap denim, introducing new shapes and reworking fits and washes across the men's and women's collections. New styles include the ultra- flattering Skinny Flare and the Trouser Jean, as well as our faded boy-fit jeans and authentic Western denim shirts. Looking forward to summer, our focus turns to swimwear. Mireille Gindrey, our new

head of design for GapBody, has created a comprehensive beach collection, including 20 different styles of swimwear and essential beach pieces – washed jersey hoodies, tie-dye tanks and pocket T-dresses.

Describe your customer

Confident and with an ease about their style. The Gap customer wants good quality pieces that they are happy to mix for a high-street look or pair with a special piece by a favourite designer. They are happy to invest in clothes that will live beyond the season.

Which are your favourite Gap pieces?

Our swimwear fits amazingly, with great sports-inspired colour-block pieces, an easy way to wear this season's brights. Our mannish chambray blazer works equally well with a dress or chinos, and classic stripy knits are also an effortless wardrobe update.


Ann-Sofie Johansson

Head of Design

What's the thinking behind this season's collection?

That fashion should be fun, with a choice of different trends and looks, from soft and romantic to relaxed and preppie. We also have an Eighties-inspired trend and an exotic safari story.

Describe your customer

H&M is for everyone with an interest in fashion. We cater to everyone's needs, from everyday basics to high-concept fashion.

Which designers influence you?

We're not really influenced by designers, rather street fashion, movies, music, celebrities, vintage... We take regular inspiration trips to key cities worldwide.

Which are your favourite H&M pieces?

Our light Eighties-inspired denim pieces, our cool oversized T-shirts, and our rope, chain and beaded statement jewellery.

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