Now they're leading the pack - not following blindly
As an ex-fashion designer, I've always followed M&S's fortunes with interest. I was one of the company's womenswear designers in the late 1980s and got to see how the design selection process worked. From 1987-90 I was a lead designer in a womenswear company and its main contract was supplier for M&S.
The problem with M&S then is that they took all the exciting and new ideas that the designers come up with and, using a process of elimination based entirely on what has been popular in the past, break them down bit by bit, piece by piece until you are left with a virtual repeat of last season's best-sellers with just a few tiny details changed for good measure.
But that was then and this is now. At last after many seasons of trial and error they seem to have broken away from their own restrictions and started creating trends rather than following them.