My bad dress sense, by Branson

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RICHARD BRANSON, head of Virgin, said yesterday that one of the reasons for creating a clothing company was the need to improve his own dress sense.

Mr Branson, the billionaire who has been voted Worst Dressed Man, was speaking from his home on the Caribbean island of Necker as his latest addition to his corporate stable - Virgin Clothing - was launched in the United Kingdom.

After two years of consumer research the label's first "urban collection" for men and women, with a footwear range, went on sale yesterday.

Prices start from about pounds 75 for a pelmet skirt to pounds 650 for a leather coat.

Speaking on a live video link Mr Branson, dressed in an open-necked blue Virgin shirt, said that he believed the fresh attitude of Virgin would fare well in the fickle world of fashion.

He said: "I think that Virgin has an advantage in that people generally trust the name. They have the general impression that the quality will be really good. Virgin, around the world, is a brand that's well respected and people seem to like the clothes."

The clothes have been on sale at Selfridges in London. The range will go nationwide next month and the Virgin boss said it would not be long before the label makes its way around the world.

As for competition, Mr Branson says that the poster advertising the collection, which forms part of the pounds 3m launch, sums it up.

Over a picture of the boss wearing one of his infamous "loud" jumpers runs the slogan "Giorgio designs. Ralph designs. Calvin designs. Don't worry, Richard doesn't".

"These people are real designers and I'm not, but we have gone out and found some of the best new designers in the world," Mr Branson said.

"In the future I'm hopefully going to start looking a bit better, more smart. That's one of the reasons for starting up a clothing company. From now on I will only wear Virgin clothes, of course."

Virgin Clothing's chief executive, Simon Glasgow, explained that the collection's target market was the 18 to 34 age group and the clothes were at the upper end of the fashion market, although he said: "People who buy Prada won't really be buying Virgin."