Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Coast to Coast

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Coast to Coast

Article excerpt

Byline: By Vicky Pepys

Vicky Pepys finds a new Coast on our horizon.

It's that time of year when sales of special occasion wear really soar.

There are the traditional spring events ( the balls, the charity dos, the weddings, the races, and much of it is bought well before the actual occasion.

It's a bit of a surprise to hear that Sian Hessian, retail director of Coast, regards the fashion retailer as an occasion wear brand.

The term itself is often used to describe mother of the bride and wedding guest outfits, and one thinks of a much older market where brands like Betty Barclay and Jacques Vert sell in their thousands.

And it's often a term that's a bit of a turn-off for a younger market.

But Coast is a younger and more spirited `special occasion' brand. It attracts a much wider audience because of the shift in fashion thinking. Daughters used to grow up wanting to dress like their mums. Now grandmothers want to dress like their granddaughters.

We all want to dress younger than we used to, and Coast seems to have that edge. It could be that they're a great team of designers headed up by Sandra Clark, who is ex-Mulberry and Marks & Spencer, or the fact that the prints are exclusive.

Or the fact that they're fully experimenting with younger, more design led, and experimental formal wear (in sizes 8-16).

A new stand-alone Coast store opened on Saturday within MetroCentre's Red Mall in Gateshead. It's not a large store, but one full of individual character.

This is Coast's first store in the region, and this week joins 23 other outlets throughout the UK with the launch of a new Fairies and Tuxedos collection of serious evening gowns.

The move to create `special' occasion wear was deliberate, and in effect a way of re-launching Coast after a management buyout in 2001. Coast had been acquired by Michael and Maurice Bennet of Oasis fame in 1998, and since 2004 has been a sister company to Karen Millen and Whistles, all strong labels with seemingly completely individual looks. …

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