There's trouble brewing in Boden World. The brand has responded to complaints of being 'too smug, expensive and out of touch with austerity Britain' by designing an 'edgy' range called Shoreditch (quite nice basics with a J Crew twist, hardly pre-Burton McQueen) and by using Helena Christensen, 43, as a model. That's cool I thought. Enough of the sickly prints already. Bring on the Jenna Lyons factor. And Christensen's healthy wholesome looks are perfect for the brand. The Fulham Mums will love it. But no.
Over on the Boden blog there's been much talk of whether Johnnie Boden is getting too big for his Chelsea boots. The majority of customers feel that the supermodel is 'too sexy and sultry and completely wrong for Boden'. The famous model has 'no concept of the lives we lead' and the clothes should be shown on everyday women who are 'not all slim and good looking'. Customers reminisce about the good old days when the catalogue was shot on real people ie Johnnie's posh mates and included pull-quotes highlighing their likes and dislikes. A friend of mine worked for Boden when it was just four people in a warehouse on a grotty industrial park in north west London - so I remember those catalogues, they were bloody awful. Amateurish and cringeworthy. People, move on.
My favourite comment is from Harriet who says, ' Forget Helena Christensen, get Kirstie Allsop on board and you might stand a chance.' Yeah, right. Get the Right Honourable Lord Hindlip's daughter involved, that's really democratic. So far, so Daily Mail.
Having seen the collection, I think this new direction is a massive improvement. I like the slicker more modern look - though there's still a lot of the old Boden prints and ruffles in there, so it's hardly a seismic style shift.
I've been eyeing up their Bistro crop trousers and sixties heels, and even contemplating Boden's take on the J Brand Houlihan (top picture). They're called Seam Detail Trousers, so as not to scare the customers. But there are some things that even Helena Christensen cannot help:
What do you think? Should Boden stay firmly in middle-England, or are they right to head to Shoreditch for inspiration?