By Claire Watson
Supermarkets became a safe haven for “fashionistas” while all other shops had their doors locked and closed. Everyone has a story or knows someone with a story about climbing under Dunnes’ yellow tape and grabbing a sweater. Since the pandemic, our attitudes towards supermarkets, and their exports, have changed. Online shopping can be a dangerous rabbit hole that ends not with a wonderland but an empty bank account, and there’s nothing quite like going out and physically buying clothes. Since then, these supermarkets have seemed to have given their fashion products more attention, and are producing more than just the bare essentials. Shops like Tesco tended to skip the young adult demographic, catering to little kids and their moms. However, looking online F&F seems to be changing its tune. Shackets, sweater vests, and maxi skirts, the chain seems to understand what zillenials are looking for. The company is definitely trying to appeal to a younger age, but it’s playing it safe with simple patterns and muted tones.
While scrolling through F&F’s Instagram, I was positively surprised to see the diversity in their models. On their Instagram, you’ll find women in religious headwear, women that use wheelchairs, plus-sized women, and people of any race or ethnicity modelling their clothes. If I had a scale of 1 to 5 judging how well a company appeals to the younger generation, Dunnes is at a 3. It’s getting there, but it just feels unsure of itself.
The Paul Galvin collection markets itself as an edgy mix of sporty and rocker and is clearly targeting young men. However, everything in this collection just looks like what you’d dress a nine-year-old boy in for Christmas. Jocks and punks are notorious rivals in the media so why they thought to combine these vastly different styles I’ll never know. Dunnes definitely has nice clothes for young men, but nothing exciting. Young women, it’s worth checking out the Savida collection. There’s a lot of misses here, with some sweaters and blouses just dripping in pearls and rouches, but the collection’s bright colours and bold patterns give off ‘art student next door’ vibes. Half the range have this cottage-core flair to them, with dainty florals and frills, while the other half has this bold modern look consisting of monochromatic colours and minimalist patterns.
I don’t think Dealz can be counted as a supermarket but I absolutely have to draw your attention to Pep&Co’s clothes. They are hilarious. They are so far off the mark that they’ve swung back around and look like memes. It seems that Dealz gets its shirt from Nice Shirt Thanks, which anyone wanting an incomprehensibly funny shirt needs to check out. The one store that seems to be genuinely changing its output to suit a new audience is Marks & Spencer. Its partnership with GHOST is nothing short of cottage-core, with its vintage-inspired, floral dresses.
M&S stopped selling suits during the pandemic, which apparently was a major loss. To replace this, the chain began producing ‘smart, redefined,’ Smart wear. This line hosts fresh, dress wear that sticks to the trends, and prioritises personal style. It describes itself as ‘flexible and on your terms. […] Your formal, your rules.’ According to my gran, a seasoned M&S shopper, ‘I can’t buy clothes there anymore. It’s all for your crowd.’ The company is clearly aligning itself with modern attitudes, putting sustainability as its core value. The company has always been quite sustainable, but it doesn’t seem to advertise this to those not already shopping at M&S. The company hopes to be completely zero waste by 2025 and was the first major retailer to become carbon neutral.
Its clothes are made to last, with 33 million pieces being “shwopped” since 2008. M&S stores are equipped with shwop boxes for buyers to drop in their preloved clothing. These clothes are re-sold, reused or recycled. I know many of us used the weekly shop as an excuse to get dolled up, and maybe that’s what inspired these shops to up their game. Sometimes, the stylish items we’re looking for are right under our noses, and behind the vegetables.