Tuesday 12 December 2017

Savida back to ticking all boxes for success

Having briefly lost its way, Savida is now back to doing what it does best, says Andrea Byrne

maxi dress,
€60. Sash
bow belt,
€7, Dunnes
Black ring,
Draped maxi dress, €60. Sash bow belt, €7, Dunnes Stores. Black ring, stylist’s own
Braided coat, €60. Stripe military sweater dress, €40. Nude point shoe, €9, Dunnes Stores. Grey tights, €2, Dunnes Stores.
Ribbed cardigan, €30. Pleated dress, €35. Silky arm warmer, €3, Dunnes Stores. Jazz Brogue, €15, Dunnes Stores. Shaggy yarn scarf, €10. Grey tights, €2, Dunnes Stores
Ruffle wool dress, €40. Nude point shoe, €9, Dunnes Stores. Black ring, stylist’s own
Boucle jacket, €35. Rosette vest, €15. Belted wide-leg trousers, €40. Heeled clogs, €25, Dunnes Stores. Beaded bow detail hat, €6.
Aran knit dress, €30. Side-bow beret, €6. Brown woven belt, €12. Grey tights, €2, Dunnes Stores
Gold button coat, €100. Ankle boots, €55. Cashmink check scarf, €8, Dunnes Stores. Brown woven belt, €12. Grey tights, €2, Dunnes Stores
Long-sleeved draped dress, €45. Red point shoes, €9, Dunnes Stores

Andrea Byrne

As my editor correctly pointed out to me this week, if you didn't know that the above shots were from Savida's autumn/winter campaign, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were looking at the collection of Betty Jackson or Emporio Armani, or a designer equally as high-end.

It's an altogether complete collection from Dunnes Stores' successful womenswear label, all bases are covered and almost all the pieces have an investment feel to them. Available in sizes 8 to 18, Savida will work well with your existing wardrobe. Also, having perused the entire collection, I can say that it's good quality too.

It's great to see, because Savida had gone slightly astray in previous seasons, for reasons brought about largely by market changes. Their prices dropped significantly to the point that they couldn't maintain the level of quality and richness that had become associated with Savida. It had also become too young.

Acknowledging the change, Pamela Casey, chief buyer for Savida, says, "Last year we kind of changed direction but we have pulled it back now. Savida has always been known for separates and coats, we have gone back to that. Coats now would probably be double the size of the department they were last year.

"We kept separates very tight last year, too, only because they had come off trend, and dresses had become so strong."

Things, thankfully, are back on track.

At Savida, you'll find great coats; the best I've seen so far this season. Furthermore, there are some beautifully tailored trousers, functional day dresses and glamorous eveningwear, as well as high-quality jersey basics and chunky knitwear.

"It takes a long time for you to get your brand positioned where it needs to be. We're happy that it is definitely moving in the right direction," says Pamela, the young, enthusiastic buyer who gave up a career in pharmaceuticals to work in fashion.

What's great about Savida as a label is that it caters for such a wide demographic and cross-section of women -- which is no easy thing.

"We pitch it for a professional girl, that she's able to dress herself for work and the weekend," explains Pamela, continuing, "Having said that, because of the nature of Dunnes Stores and because of what else is located in the store, we do actually appeal to an older customer as well. When we're buying, we know something is going to sell if anyone could wear it. So we buy it with one person in mind, with the acceptance that it should be able to sell to a broad demographic."

Having bought many pieces from Savida over the years, something that has long impressed me is that while it is stocked in the vast majority of Dunnes' 155 stores, you rarely endure the ignominy of seeing someone else wearing the same garment. Things move quickly in Savida, with an almost entire change in stock every four to six weeks.

This season, I'm particularly loving their camel swing coat (€70) and their high-waisted, wide-legged trousers (€40), both pieces which are bang-on-trend. However, these are exceptions, because while Savida does strive to be contemporary and current, it would hate to be a place one would associate with buying trendy items.

"We love to have nods towards the trends but we need to be careful about what we choose for the customer. Sometimes, straight out, you know it's not flattering. It can be the biggest trend all over the high street, but if it's not going to suit our customer, if she's not going to put it on and think, 'I look a million dollars in this', we won't buy it," says Pamela firmly.

Another standout piece is a draped jersey full-length dress, priced at €60, which has the look and feel of something 10 times its cost.

What Savida has achieved this season is remarkable, especially when you consider the prices that they are charging. "We have to appreciate that everyone is working on a smaller budget. Disposable income just isn't there anymore," says Pamela.

"So if you're going to walk into a store, do you need to spend the money on something that invariably you can get somewhere else for half the price? So we're working on the premise that we have to provide something different, we have to provide something new and have to represent good value for money. As long as we have those three things we think the customer will stay loyal to us."

Sunday Independent

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