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The much-loved clothing brand Per Una was created as a joint venture between High Street behemoth Marks and Spencer and the noted designer George Davies back in 2001. Davies was already a huge success, having headed up noted retailer Next as well as launching the monumentally successful George at Asda clothing range, with a philosophy of bringing great design to the masses with affordable prices.
It was this egalitarian ideal which led to the formation of Per Una. Marks and Spencer was in trouble at the time, attacked on all sides by younger, hipper, and cheaper competitors, and their market share was declining. the advent of Per Una helped to put a stop to that, and kick-started a revival of the retail giant which was so successful that in 2004 they bought the brand out wholesale.
M&S have always had a reputation for quality tailoring, but they were also known as being a bit dated and middle aged. Davies' genius was to keep what made the company strong, whilst adding enough to bring new audiences in without scaring off the old ones. Recognising instantly that whilst M&S was never likely to pull in a young crowd, he nonetheless realised that there was a huge swathe of women in their thirties and forties who weren't being catered to by M&S, as well as older women who weren't necessarily ready to dress like that. The Per Una line was created to satisfy the new audience, whilst maintaining the traditional M&S qualities of being reliable, well-made and affordable.
The label's focus is on women in their thirties and forties, and it carries a wide range of designs from underwear to sleepwear, skirts, shirts and dresses, and all points in between. It's an ideal label for the fashion conscious, as it's regularly updated and revamped. It's notable not only for the close attention to detail in its design, but also for the timelessness of its clothing. M&S has never fallen prey to mere trends, and the classic cut and deceptive simplicity of the label has guaranteed that it stands the test of time. The whole point of Per Una is to be a wardrobe staple, a reliable go-to piece that won't let you down, a favourite bra, a jacket for all occasions. It's a big ask, true, but that's the task the label's been set and, time and time again, it's risen to meet the challenge.
As the years have gone on it's diversified. It now stands not just for clothing but also for accessories, shoes and jewellery. In all these areas the same design rigour is brought to bear. Marks and Spencer customers are a demanding crowd, they know who they are in life, they don't tend to settle for second best and they certainly don't want to pay over the odds. So over time the brand has evolved to fit this expectation. Today, Per Una is a modern and flexible label, one which, whilst not necessarily being all things to all women (who could achieve that?), does an excellent job of providing peace of mind to its millions of devoted customers, women who know where they stand when they but from its range, women who know what they like.