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The Interview: Fiona Lambert, Managing Director, Jaeger

Lauretta Roberts
04 February 2022

Fiona Lambert is one of the best known leaders on the British fashion high street having held high profile roles such as Vice President at George at Asda and product director at Next.

In February 2021, when the UK was in a strict lockdown, she was appointed as managing director at heritage fashion brand Jaeger, which had been acquired by Marks & Spencer, and tasked with reviving it. The brand recently unveiled its new look under the M&S umbrella.

Lambert talks us through what it was like to take on such a challenging role at such a challenging time and what the response has been like to the latest iteration of this historic brand.

You recently unveiled the new look Jaeger for Marks & Spencer, can you tell us what the reaction has been to the collection?

We have been really pleased with the reaction to the new collection from customers, both existing customers who are thrilled to see it back on the High St, but also new customers who are looking at it for the first time following our launch in M&S stores and on line.  The best-selling products for womenswear have been our 100% Wool Coats. They are beautifully soft with a soft handle finish and fully lined with our bespoke jacquard Jaeger lining. Key styles were the Boyfriend Coat and the Wrap Coat in Navy and Camel, but another highlight was the long line Military Coat, and of course our Opera Coat, based on the Iconic archive coat, as worn by Anne Gunning in 1956 for British Vogue. For menswear, our event tailoring was a hit, with our Velvet Blazer and our classic Tuxedo stealing the show. Our Wool Flannel tailoring also hit the mark with the new way to wear a suit, customers used this to wear as separates, with our Merino and our Cashmere knitwear.


It’s such an historic brand to take on, when you first sat down to plan it, what was your vision for the brand and the collection?

The first step was to recognise that it has a fantastic history and to work out what are the values and credentials of Jaeger at its finest that were vitally important to treasure and then work with the creative teams to ensure we took those things and made them relevant for today and tomorrow’s lifestyle and ways of shopping, taking our existing customers on the journey but introducing new customers to the brand.

When people think of Jaeger, its expertise in camel coats always springs to mind and there are a number of those in the collection, but can you talk us through some of the key pieces in the collection (for men and women) and why they are important? 

We wanted to bring back the iconic camel hair coat. Many don’t realise that the Jaeger brand was based on the philosophy of Dr Jaeger in the late 1884 that natural fibres next to the skin were good for your health. It meant part of Jaeger’s DNA was about innovation and a focus on noble fibres, hence inventing fabric from camel hair that was light, drapey and durable was a Jaeger fist that became a classic. For Spring 2022, linen is the fabric of the season, on both womenswear and menswear, using this across all usual categories, as well as Jersey and Knitwear. Our womenswear linen can be seen in bold prints in dresses and tops, as well as in softer jackets and trousers in easy to mix and match colours. Silk Linen Tailoring on menswear is key, and is part of our Summer Tailoring in Navy, Stone and Mid Blue – perfect for weddings. Dresses, skirts and tops in silk, georgette and Ecovera viscose will also be key for the event season, where we have re-use some archive prints in a modern way.

Does the brand have a great archive and did you and did you and the team consult it?

We are very fortunate to have an incredible archive of garments and photography that are housed in Leeds and The University of Westminster. Our launch collection contained 3 coats based on vintage pieces and we intend to keep dipping into our archives for unique inspiration. Our new SS22 collection launches with a trench coat and a print dress both with their naissance in an archive piece.

You took on the role in February 2021 in the midst of lockdown, how did you work under those conditions, it must have been challenging…

I think everyone has found new innovative ways to work, clever diary planning, technology, improved communication, virtual design and fitting. As we’ve returned to more normality, many of these evolutions will make us slicker.

Can you tell us about the team you have assembled to work on Jaeger and how you all work together?

We have a really amazing, small, agile and passionate team that is a real mix including colleagues with experience at Jaeger and M&S talent who’ve been able to help us harness the amazing infrastructure that can power Jaeger whilst we still maintain our independence as a brand and some new talent from different businesses that bring focus in new skills that help us be digital first.

It’s run as a separate brand from Marks & Spencer but how do you feed into the wider M&S team?

Jaeger is part of the M&S family and very important to the wider Brands at M&S strategy. Our quality and sustainability credentials align completely and we add something different to the M&S range in order to stretch customer appeal and introduce customers to something new. It’s important to all that we remain independent but we have fantastic resources to support us.

You have worked in high profile roles for some of the industry’s biggest names, what was it about this role that particularly inspired and excited you to take it on?

I am passionate about design and quality and have worked for some great entrepreneurial leaders. Jaeger was an innovative brand with design and quality at its heart and the offer to be able to return it to it’s rightful position as a market leader was too good to resist .

You have witnessed some big shifts in how we consume fashion, in particular the shift to a more conscious method of consumption, how are you addressing that with Jaeger?

With its focus on noble fibres Jaeger has great credentials to build on but we want to focus on all aspects of how we can be more sustainable; from choosing fabrics and packaging to the journey of manufacturing and production. Importantly we are not creating disposable fashion, Jaeger’s design ethos is to create tomorrow’s vintage. These are garments with enduring style and quality that can be treasured, worn forever and handed on.

You’ve always been a champion of new talent and brands in fashion, are you optimistic about the post-Covid era and the new brands we are seeing emerging? 

Fashion is an incredibly resilient industry. Covid has forced people to be creative and new brands, new ways of working, a focus on how our lifestyles have changed from how we work, how we shop, how we socialise means small brands who answer these need have a great opportunity.

When you look back at your career, which were the moments that stand out as the most rewarding for you?

I’ve been lucky to work in many great companies with great people . I enjoy the process of brand transformation and whenever I’ve been part of teams that have delivered something brave and innovative that puts the customer first and it’s worked have been a huge buzz. Getting the opportunity to sponsor and support Graduate Fashion Week and help young talent was also a hugely rewarding chance to give back and I always seek out ways to champion young people.

Now looking forward, you still have so much to achieve, which is exciting, what are your ambitions for yourself and Jaeger?

Jaeger has such huge potential to grow and I am excited to be part of the team that can deliver this. It has such a rich, colourful, innovative history as a successful British brand that I would love to look back in 5 years and say I’ve played a part in bringing that back.

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