Tory Shutdown or Cost of Covid? Samantha Cameron’s clothing brand loses £2.6million | fashion industry
Samantha Cameron’s clothing brand Cefinn has just released figures showing cumulative losses of almost £2.6m (as of last October).
The brand, which makes floral dresses regularly worn by the Duchess of Cornwall and midi skirts favored by TV Queen Holly Willoughby, is for many inextricably linked to Cameron’s political connections – Sienna Miller is unlikely to have chosen Cefinn for her role contributed as the wife of a disgraced politician in Anatomy of a Scandal.
For some, Cameron’s political connections may have been enough of a deterrent to make the attire undesirable from the start. For others, the designs were good enough to overcome that association. When the brand launched in 2017, the Guardian’s Jess Cartner-Morley summed it up in her verdict on the first collection: “I will still never forgive Samantha Cameron’s husband for calling this referendum, but I would definitely support some of these.” Wearing clothes.”
Tory party support has taken several hits since then. Additionally, shoppers have increasingly begun to use wallets in line with their values — a 2017 survey found that 57% of consumers worldwide have bought or boycotted products because of a brand’s stance on political or social issues.
But Cameron’s connections have also been a help, both in concrete terms – in 2018 Cefinn received a £2.5million cash injection from Tory donor David Brownlow’s investment firm – and in terms of soft power. It doesn’t hurt that her sister is a former Vogue deputy editor.
Perhaps the brand’s greatest challenge, however, has been the changing clothing habits brought on by changing work habits. “The pandemic – which has disrupted the way everyone works and forever changed office dress codes – has all but eliminated the need for that work uniform for conference calls and cocktails,” said Graeme Moran, associate editor of industry publication Drapers.
According to a report by Kayla Marci, a market analyst at fashion research and consultancy group Edited, “Workwear trends have yet to return to traditional office attire. Products have evolved to reflect the hybrid working that has emerged from the pandemic.”
Cameron is aware of this shift. Speaking to the Telegraph in June, she said: “For most people there is no separation of workwear and homewear now because the two are blurring.” Many smart/casual brands have focused on the lucrative loungewear market. Cefinn’s answer was more separates – and some hidden elastics around the waist.
Another pitfall is the price – around £300-400 for dresses and £200 for tops. For this type of clothing, consumers can find what they need for less at Cos, Whistles and Jigsaw. Or for a similar price there are more fashionable brands like Ganni. “The market for pretty printed dresses is very competitive – brands like Rixo and Kitri come to mind – and it’s already saturated,” says Moran.
As ethics become more important to consumers, brands like Baukjen offer casual daywear with a more sustainable approach. Consumers probably wouldn’t associate Cefinn, which is rated “not good enough” on ethical fashion app Good On You, with sustainability.
While Cameron embarked on a mission to make clothes for the modern woman that don’t make her “look too corporate or feel like a freak going out for drinks after work,” it seems that in the post-pandemic world , The clothes do not deviate far enough from the copier. Perhaps more loungewear – and more meaningful moves towards sustainability – can help to erase political ties.
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