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Home > News> Talking Point > Give your style staples a rethink, says James Munson, Marks & Spencer’s India MD

Give your style staples a rethink, says James Munson, Marks & Spencer’s India MD

  • Marks & Spencer’s has tailored a campaign specifically for the Indian market called Rethink 
  • The campaign has been launched in tandem with the brand’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection

 James Munson in Mumbai. Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint 
 James Munson in Mumbai. Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint 

Outside the UK, the largest number of Marks & Spencer (M&S) stores are to be found in India—71 till date, with six more launching in the next two months. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the popular British multinational retail brand has tailored a campaign specifically for the Indian market. Called Rethink, it’s a first for a market outside the UK.

As the name implies, Rethink involves a new way of looking at your wardrobe.

Can that brunch jacket double up as formal wear? Possibly, if you find the right items to pair it with. Figuring that out is a time-consuming, often daunting exercise, which is why Rethink will give customers first-hand advice from in-store stylists. Rethink will cater to the brand’s existing loyalty base, currently in the age group of 25-45, but also hopes to appeal to new customers.

Last week, James Munson, managing director of Marks & Spencer Reliance India, spoke to Lounge about Rethink and new directions for the brand. Munson, who is dressed in M&S nearly all the time, has been associated with the brand since 2006, and was designated MD in 2017. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What are the trends we can look forward to this year?

We have seen a shift away from formal to casual in India and also across the world. The Spring/Summer 2019 collections offer both men and women modern silhouettes, colour palettes and prints for easy outfitting, and will help inspire customers to push fashion boundaries. Relaxed tailoring, animal prints and stripes are the heroes for the season. This year, stripes are going to be a big element in the womenswear collection, so stripe-on-stripe—choosing to wear stripes together in a bolder manner—is going to be in. In menswear, we will see pink and other dynamic shades.

What motivated M&S to launch the ‘Rethink’ campaign in India?

What we have found from customers is that wherever you are in the world, you need help with style advice. Rethink is about trying to help customers figure that out. We will have stylists in our stores who will show our customers how they can wear our products for different locations and different occasions. We intend on showcasing the versatility of our products, to see how our customers can use them to achieve the kind of style they want for any of the occasions they want to take part in. It’s more than just picking up a formal dress from the store, but about how you can wear the dress. Rethink is also a difference in the layout of the store and a difference in our service proposition.

Clothes and accessories from Marks and Spencer’s SS19 collection. Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint
Clothes and accessories from Marks and Spencer’s SS19 collection. Photo: Nayan Shah/Mint

Will the campaign be available to stores in tier II and tier III cities as well?

We have expanded into smaller towns and a fifth of our turnover is from non-metro cities. The real benefit of Rethink is that our style advisers will cater to individual customers (who may differ) from Delhi to Chennai.

How would you describe the Indian M&S shopper?

It’s true of any market that every customer has a different requirement. We see that customers here prefer more colour and prints than in the UK. We have seen a really strong growth in categories such as dresses and swimwear and what we are seeing is what the female consumer wears in India is more and more in line with the UK as well.

We usually associate M&S with womenswear and its line of lingerie. What about menswear?

Like womenswear, menswear is an equal contributor and the Rethink campaign applies to them equally.

More high street brands have been attempting to make their lines more sustainable. What is M&S doing in this regard?

We have done a huge amount of work in this space. All our cotton is sustainably sourced and we have also introduced the clothing recycling programme in all our stores now. From a global sourcing perspective, we try to make sure that our products, and especially our cotton, is ethically sourced. We are the highest-ranked retailer in terms of visibility of our supply chain.

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