The story so far: a few weeks back Johnnie Boden fell on his sword and publicly admitted that he had been a ‘complete nitwit’, stopped listening to his gut and let his successful British clothing brand veer off course.
Lesson learned the hard way (profits took a dive), he vowed to get Boden back to what it does best — not just some of the time, but all of the time.
When I had a good look at Boden’s summer offering, my verdict was that shoes and swimwear were going strong, knitwear needed a rethink, short hemlines and sheer party frocks were appealing to no one and the fancy silk shirts were not that fanciable. But it did have a bang-on pair of jeans.
The misses were (broadly) trend-chasing. The hits were good-value, quality classics, executed with flair.
It wasn’t hard to see how Boden could get back on track, tighten up its core offering and cut away the less wearable, one-season-only fashions.
Wool wrap coat, £320, cashmere tank, £110, and mini skirt, £130, boden.co.uk; boots, £199, mintvelvet.co.uk
Wool blazer, £190, and trousers, £135, boden.co.uk; loafers, £207, lkbennett.com
Embroidered duck jumper, £110, silk stripe shirt, £140, and wide-leg jeans, £90, boden.co.uk; ballet flats, £99.95, massimodutti.com
And that’s what everyone was expecting. Back to Boden basics, with a smile and a sigh of relief.
But that’s not what we got. Instead, the new autumn collection has gone one better.
It is stuffed with hits, and although there are a few misses (you can’t please everyone), most of the clothes successfully sit in that tricky middle ground where desirable meets wearable and useful.
Sailor wide-leg trousers in black (£90, boden.co.uk) are a great shape and guaranteed to give you lots of wear, and the Mod red, white and blue striped jeans are cute — not for the mums perhaps, but your daughter can wear them with a giant navy polo neck.
Likewise, the grey-blue wool blazer and trousers (note, they don’t have to be worn as a suit, but they probably will be this autumn) is just the right degree of slouchy.
The jacket is the perfect length and the trousers are fitted on the hip and loose on the leg, which is how you want to wear them now.
Checked wool coat, £320, boden.co.uk; knit top, £110, jigsaw-online. com; boots, £219, mint velvet.co.uk
Bow back jumper, £90, and striped jeans, £80, boden.co.uk; ballet pumps, £55, john lewis.com
Striped merino jumper, £98, and taffeta midi skirt, £85, boden.co.uk; boots, £199, mint velvet.co.uk
Merino cardigan, £110, and sailor wide-leg trousers, £90, boden.co.uk; trainers, £195, meandem.com
Neither are cheap, but if you know they’ll solve all your workwear problems, they could be worth it.
I’m not so convinced by the pink check tweed skirt (too short) and matching coat, although there is a bold statement coat mood in the air and the brown-and-yellow checked wool coat has potential if you can afford it.
Last but not least, the sweaters are spot on and better than ever, especially the colour-blocked merino cardigan which is smart enough to wear with a navy skirt or trousers — along with patent shoes or good-looking boots — to the office.
For Boden, it’s back to business as usual.