“Is this what people are wearing now?” The Sewing Bee host criticizes M&S’s jumpers and socks

During filming The great British sewing beepresenter and clothing entrepreneur Patrick Grant needed a pair of black socks.

The production team bought a pair from the Marks & Spencer store close to where the hit BBC show was filmed. Grant said, “They went to everyone’s favorite store, which used to sell based on quality and value, and they bought me their Autograph socks, which are supposed to be their best socks.

“And I put these socks on, I thought… Is this what people are wearing on their feet now? They felt like tights. They were thin and a bit synthetic, limp and terrible.”

He added: “I still have the jumpers I bought from Marks & Spencer in the 80s. They are brilliant. And the jumpers you buy now, which cost £30 at Marks & Spencer, are totally worthless. They are not the same.”

M&S enjoyed a profit revival last year and regained its place as Britain’s largest women’s clothing retailer for the first time in four years. Sales of women’s partywear increased by 49% and knitwear sales increased by 23% in October 2023 compared to the same month the year before; The retailer’s more trendy and fashionable collections are seen as the driving force behind the turnaround. M&S has also appointed a new head of menswear design, who will take up the role in June.

Clothing from the M&S Collection range – the company has regained its place as the UK’s largest women’s clothing retailer. Photo: Marks and Spencer

But the criticism from Grant, who runs textile manufacturers Cookson & Clegg and Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons, and is also a judge on the popular BBC One show, will sting. A spokesperson for the retailer said: “At M&S ​​our clothes are well made and made to last, using materials that have been sourced with care: that’s why we lead the way when it comes to both quality and customer perception .”

Grant, speaking at an event to promote his new book: Less: Stop buying so much trash, his criticism was not limited to M&S. “This is what happened to clothes, to shoes, to the houses we live in. Our houses are built with shit because people can make more money.

“Does that make our lives better? Is it nonsense? Clothes haven’t gotten cheaper, they’ve just gotten worse. In the process we’ve thrown away five and a half million jobs, which has made these things work, and it’s absolutely killed communities.”

The 52-year-old understands that the cost of living crisis has made cheap clothing even more attractive to many people. Speaking at Waterstones bookshop in Leeds, he said: “It’s a challenge to say to someone, you should buy a more expensive item that will make you feel better. It’s really hard… because a lot of people are having a really hard time right now.”

But he added: “The sad thing is, the cheaper the clothes we buy, the more likely the money will bypass everyone you like and end up in the pockets of someone you consider an asshole.”

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Grant said experienced designers like his colleague Great British sewing bee judge Esme Young would have a hard time if they started in Britain today, against the backdrop of fast fashion. “Fashion is now a $3 trillion industry, mostly just putting out absolute crap for a very small price, and they don’t stand a chance,” he said, adding that companies like fast-fashion retailer Shein, which selling thousands of designs, for just a few pounds “the opportunity for creativity and craftsmanship to thrive as it did in the 1960s, swamped and killed”.

“Esme couldn’t have done what she did today,” Grant said. “Undoubtedly, Vivienne Westwood couldn’t do that; Alexander McQueen probably would have found it difficult.

“If people are paying £2.50 for a piece of clothing, what chance does anyone have who tries to make something incredible and spends six months not only ripping off other people but also reading and thinking and being a cultural bellwether and absorbing what the hell that is ? what happens in the world that reflects back?

“That’s what fashion can do, but it almost doesn’t stand a chance because of the wave of nonsense that has just drowned it.”

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