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Corporate clothing takes a look at the catwalk.
Although it may not feel like spring has sprung just yet the spring/Summer collections are hitting the shop floors in every city and the time has come to begin preparing for the warmer months. Turn the central heating on full and throw off your layers of cashmere and Pashmina’s its time to start shopping for cotton and shoes that show flesh as clothing takes a new turn for a summer that promises to turn up the heat whether it’s at work or the many bars which follow.
Corporatewear on the high street has come on in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years and, while large corporatewear suppliers argue that garments from the High Street cannot compete where durability is concerned the consumer’s desire for high fashion is becoming increasingly popular.
I visited the High Street to see what trends had filtered down from the catwalks for Spring/Summer and to see how far into corporatewear they delved.
Harvey Nichols has always been at the forefront of fashion and its buyers are consistent in meeting their customer’s needs from season to season. This year is no different with the shelves already packed full with new ranges from designers for the forthcoming warmer months. With both women and men spending more than ever on clothes it’s possible that companies are allowing staff to put together their own wardrobes which reflect the changing fashions.
The ultra feminine look is one trend that can easily be adapted to fit into the workplace and the more floral and floaty your blouses and skirts are the better. Picture Little House on the Prairie placed in the middle of Manhattan and you have the look. Perfect for offices without air conditioning and flattering for all shapes and sizes, which must be a first for the catwalk.
Diane von Furstenberg’s jersey dresses and long flowing skirts can be found at Harvey Nichol’s while Paul Smith caters for those who want to take florals to the next level with vivid colours and intriquate designs.
Ruth Marquiss Liddell, the Assistant Department Manager of personal shopping in the Leeds branch of Harvey Nichols believes that it has become common for people to spend more money on clothes, “It’s obvious by the growth of style advisors in more stores that people feel it is important that they look their best and that appearance is very important when attending an event. The designers will always stick to their own style but it’s up to the consumer to then adapt that to fit their work wardrobe which is what I think people are doing.”
For those who don’t want to spend the earth on something they will only wear for one season Topshop provides high fashion for those on a budget.
This High Street store popular with celebrities and your average joe’s alike has adapted the floral theme to Tribal Chic which has strong bohemian themes with an abundance of loose, floaty cotton and linen. Easy to wear and perfect for the summer months in a stuffy office or while travelling.
The cropped look is perhaps the biggest trend for this season with everything from sleeves, trousers and shorts making an appearance on the catwalk cut up to the mid calf level and three-quarter length sleeves. If you’re thinking of reaching to the back of your wardrobe for those skin tight pedal pushers you wore with pride many moons ago, forget it. Anti-tailoring is the only way to wear trousers and blouses this summer so make sure trousers are hanging from the hips and shirts look as if they may slip from the shoulder at any moment.
Chloe’s easy to wear range will suit any style along with Nicole Farhi’s sexy subtle shades and DKNY’s vintage edgy looks designed by the stylists from Sex and the City. Match these luxurious items with Topshop’s folk wrap dresses and waistcoats and you’ll have the perfect outfit fit for the office without looking like you’re wearing a uniform.
Rebecca Drury, Style Advisor for Topshop in Leeds is confident the new lines won’t stay on the shelves for long, “People are beginning to realise that they spend so much of their lives at work so they may as well make more of an effort. I think when you feel you look good you feel better about yourself which probably helps in the workplace. People don’t want to turn up in black trousers and a white shirt anymore, it’s more competitive as employers will notice if people make the effort.”
It’s perhaps these new concerns that have placed added pressure onto corporatewear suppliers to not only produce garments that have influences from the catwalk but to produce garments more frequently as styles and tastes change.
Steve Ciuffini, sales Manager at Incorporatewear has been working to meet these demands for some time, “With all of our customers we seek to create styles that are fashionable and reflect or predict future trends and fabrics. Jeff Banks and his team at Soho HQ create quarterly trend analysis books and work closely with Paula Cannon our in-house designer to enable us to show clients new options.”
“Many ranges are designed to have core items which may be used for three years, however by evolving certain items such as blouses, stretch tops and new knitwear each year we can reflect the High Street fashion element within a range. The key difference is that the ICW items are fashionable yet perform in the working environment with fabrics surpassing the durability of those purchased directly from stores.”
The corporatewear suppliers can only alter their garments so much before price becomes a factor, something which the client will have to decide, something cheap but short lived from the High street or perhaps more durability and reliability at a higher cost.