Coast’s Shifting Tide

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WHEN she took the helm at Coast almost 18 months ago, Kate Bostock, previously head of clothing at Marks & Spencer, had a clear plan for the brand’s evolution: more separates, less of a focus on occasion-wear, concentration on fit and quality. Now, a year and a half later, those decisions are beginning to bear fruit – leading to the brand enlisting its biggest campaign star to date:Arizona Muse.

“She’s a great step forward for us and exemplifies our new, more confident approach,” Bostock told us today. “We decided this time to take the budget that we would usually spend on a big location shoot and instead do something you might not be expecting. We wanted to put a beautiful model on a studio set and let the product talk. Arizona was our first choice; she was the one we wanted. She fits the brand very well; she’s glamorous, but in a contemporary way – she’s very relaxed.”

Focusing on creating separates for a new shopper keen to “dress up for all occasions”, rather than targeting the brand’s core wedding-guest and race-goer customer base, has opened Coast up to a new consumer. Blessed with a broad demographic – from teens buying their first formal dress ahead of a school prom to those ubiquitous mothers of the bride – the company is used to catering to a wide range of body shapes and ages, and the addition of a petite range, as well as a more expensive limited-edition offering, has helped take the brand forward – but Bostock is mindful of its limitations.

“The new collection is very feminine and relaxed, but it’s still dressed-up; we’re not interested in the casual-wear market,” Bostock explained. “There have been rumours that the occasion-wear market was in decline, but that’s not the case – recent research shows that socialising is actually on the rise – it’s just that the approach is starting to relax. We still have customers who come to Coast for what we’re famous for – looking for a head-to-toe outfit for an event – but there are also customers who are looking for something they can wear several times in different ways. It just feels cooler to look like you didn’t try that hard.”

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