Sep 16, 2008
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Jaeger hits floating note at its second show

Sep 16, 2008

By Paul Casciato

LONDON (Reuters) - British fashion retailer Jaeger followed the success of its first show in February with an airy display of colour and a hint of vintage in its Spring/Summer 2009 collection at London Fashion Week on Monday.

The 124-year-old brand impressed front row celebrity spectators such as Lizzie and Georgia Jagger and model Erin O'Connor with a mix of colours and styles that matched tailored tops, trousers or skirts to sheer floating pieces in bright colours from the English garden.

"I loved the airiness of it," O'Connor told Reuters on the sidelines of the catwalk after the show.

Slanted digitalized rainbow prints wafted down the catwalk on tops and dresses, trailed by a kaftan-like dress with envelope sleeves in oversized paisley print and jumpsuits with high waists. A black and white, slit-sleeved coat from the 1950s came fitted over a soft flirty dress in a take on the British love affair with tweed and chiffon.

The daughters of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger and model Jerry Hall exclaimed their enthusiasm for Jaeger's ability to capture a fresh look with a touch of the past.

"We liked the jumpsuits," Georgia Jagger said.

Jaeger Chief Executive Belinda Earl told Reuters after the show that customer research has led the fashion retailer's steady transformation from classic English tailoring to eclectic style for modern women of any age.

"We did lots of customer research and the customers actually said that they wanted to be up to date, they wanted to be modern, but they wanted to wear clothes that were fitted and flattered them," Earl said.

"It was more about attitude than age."


Three years ago, the former chief of Debenhams joined Jaeger, an aging apparel chain that had tumbled into the red after losing its way as British women marched towards discount fashions.

Top-line sales are up 16 percent for the financial year ending February and Earl's revival of privately owned Jaeger comes at a time when trying to spot the next turnaround story among Britain's faded high-end brands has become a tricky business.

Since Burberry proved a global luxury goods group can be built out of a World War One trenchcoat maker, London's catwalks are full of once-storied names -- Asprey, Aquascutum, Biba, Ossie Clark -- whose backers are hoping to build fortunes by exploiting their heritage.

While seasoned luxury industry executives believe many of these to be doomed to failure, Jaeger is considered to have potential not least because of Earl's steady hand.

Jaeger London's designer Karen Boyd said colours were the starting point for the latest collection, which also hints at Jaeger's long history.

"What I love is the mix of the floatiness and airiness but punctuated with quite graphic chic tailored pieces... ," she told Reuters after the show.

Earl said Jaeger was not immune to weakening sales if forecasts by economists for a softer economy came to pass, but said the expected draw of the current collection would continue to bring in customers.

"We're not immune because we've got 70-odd shops across the UK ... but we do know that when the customer loves something as we've seen with our autumn collection she is wanting it."

(Editing by Peter Millership)

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