Debbie Le aka thefashionablepan and Alexandra Stedman aka Frugalityimage rights
@ thefashionablepan / @thefrugality

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Bloggers Debbie Le and Alexandra Stedman are fans of M & S clothing

Remember that this Marks & Spencer jumpsuit was sold out in the summer in 24 hours?

Or the flowing yellow dress that currently dominates all Instagram feeds?

When you look at social media, there is always something to do with certain parts of M & S. This seems to contradict Wednesday's news that the retailer has suffered a decline in clothing sales.

But as online enthusiasm is reflected in retail sales, can influencers and fashion bloggers suggest something to improve the prospects of the chain?

Above all, what is M & S doing right?

Well, the retailer has to do something right, with celebrities and public figures who present their statements on Instagram.

Freelance fashion stylist Alexandra Stedman, also known as Frugality, says there are certain staples for which she goes to the retailer: mainly cashmere ("the joggers are awesome") and "comfortable (but stylish!)" Shoes.

"But for me, the coat department is the strongest," says the blogger from London.

"I'm wearing a last year's fake fur leopard print that sold out almost immediately."

Instagram influencers like Stedman have thousands of "followers" in social media and use that clout to promote products. Sometimes they are paid by retailers to promote brands.

Blogger Debbie Le of thefashionablepan says that M & S "definitely goes the right way in its diversity and appeals to a younger, wider audience".

"I think they've helped with bloggers and real women of all types, ages and sizes," she says.

"They nail it with their must-have assortments and the fit and quality was a breath of fresh air."

With the role of the influencer, of course, the benefits come – and Le and her daughter were one of the lucky ones who got the M & S overalls.

She caused a "real mess" in summer, she says.

M & S has some great clothes, but …

Parenting and lifestyle blogger Harriet Shearsmith – of tobyandroo – believes the retailer needs to market more diversification and an additional message. She has never worked with the brand.

"M & S has some nice clothes, and I think they have an assortment that's suitable for far more people than they sell," says the 29-year-old from North Yorkshire.

"But they do not have that extra message.

"I do not really see any brand value, I think there is an attitude that applies to the elderly, to people who have a little more money.

"I want to know something more about the brand."

River Island's recent campaign for body confidence and positivity is a prime example of how M & S would like to see her.

But you can not please everyone, says Stedman, who has worked with M & S in the past but is not currently paid by them.

"I think the collection is too extensive, they try to please everyone, which is simply not possible with fashion," she says.

"I think merchandising is important – I'd like to see more of the trend LED pieces in the front of the store and not so much mass of the same style in different leg lengths on a long rail.

"In the center of London, where I shop, that definitely works.

"I think the online shopping experience could be better as well."

Stock availability is also important, says Le.

"Once you give something to an influencer, you need to support that stock," she says.

"Supporters trust influencers and they get frustrated when they can not get it, well, I know that happened to me."

Social media influencers hold the power?

Retailers like M & S have changed their marketing strategies to bloggers and social media, says Stedman.

"I think this really helps to convey the message that they move with the times, it definitely makes a buzz about certain garments."

Shearsmith agrees that Instagram marketing has become an "important" way to reach customers.

She says that she is regularly addressed by brands – but does not work with everything she does.

"It shows that people are interested in what influencers wear," she says.

"We are social in the way we shop, now the brands work on it."

Will things change for M & S?

"They can compete with smaller brands and younger brands, but they need to put on and diversify those clothes with the right people," she says.


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