Tory abandonment or cost of Covid? Samantha Cameron’s clothing brand loses £2.6million | fashion industry

Samantha Cameron’s clothing brand Cefinn has just released figures which show cumulative losses of nearly £2.6million last October.

The brand, which makes floral dresses regularly worn by the Duchess of Cornwall and favorite midi skirts of TV royalty Holly Willoughby, is for many inextricably linked to Cameron’s political ties – Sienna Miller is unlikely to wear Cefinn for her role as the wife of a disgraced politician in Anatomy of a Scandal.

For some, Cameron’s political ties will have been off-putting enough to make the clothes undesirable from the start. For others, the designs were good enough to overcome this 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 wear some of these clothes.”

Support for the Conservative Party has suffered several other hits since then. In addition, buyers have increasingly started to use wallets in line with their values ​​- a A 2017 survey found that 57% of global consumers have bought or boycotted products because of a brand’s stance on political or social issues.

The Duchess of Cornwall in a Cefinn dress during a visit to Torquay on July 20. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

But Cameron’s connections have also been a help, both in practice – in 2018 Cefinn received a £2.5million cash injection from Conservative donor David Brownlow’s investment firm – and in terms of soft power. It can’t hurt that her sister is a former deputy editor at Vogue.

However, perhaps the biggest challenge for the brand has been the change in clothing habits caused by the change in work habits. “The pandemic – having disrupted the way everyone works and forever changed dress codes in the office – has virtually eliminated the need for this work uniform for conference calls and cocktail parties,” says Graeme Moran, associate editor from the industry publication Drapers.

According to a report by Kayla Marcimarket 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 work born of the pandemic. .

It’s a shift Cameron is aware of. Speaking to the Telegraph in June, she said: ‘There is no longer a separation for most people between workwear and homewear because the two merge. Many smart/casual brands have moved into the lucrative loungewear market. Cefinn’s response was more separate – and some hidden elastics around the waist.

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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 forward-thinking brands, such as Ganni. “The market for pretty printed dresses is very competitive – brands like Rixo and Kitri come to mind – and is already oversaturated,” says Moran.

With ethics becoming increasingly important to consumers, brands such as Baukjen are offering more eco-friendly casual daywear. Consumers are unlikely to associate Cefinn, which is classified “not good enough” on the ethical fashion app Good On Youwith durability.

While Cameron has made it her mission to create clothes for the modern woman that wouldn’t leave her “too corporate or feeling like a freak if she went out for a drink after work”, it seems that in the world post-pandemic, clothes are not far enough away from the copier. Perhaps more loungewear — and more meaningful steps toward sustainability — could help hide the political ties.

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