No one can afford to ignore the high street now, says retail analyst Sally Bain, of consultancy The Chambers. Having spent decades watching fortunes and style levels of mass market and designer stores, the changes of the former have much benefited those who prefer shopping in the latter.

What was once cheap and ghastly is now inexpensive and desirable. Take for instance the new collaboration between Karl Lagerfeld and H&M, who's collection debuts in stores November 12th. High street multiples are giving designer boutiques a run for their money and even supermarkets are in on the game.

Tesco's Finest label offers well-fitted cashmere v-neck sweaters for £25. Or perhaps you're more inclined to wear a sleek, short black mac that could be mistaken for a Jil Sander or Prada. Head to Sainsbury's for its TU range. The Mac costs just £35.

Changes in the high street have snowballed, with a slew of new elite ranges - limited in stock, higher priced, well made and often fashion forward. Marks & Spencer's Limited Collection, the brainchild of former womenswear design director Yasmin Yusuf, has been a press hit and sales have exceeded expectations. And Warehouse this autumn introduced Kasbah, a range of sumptuous beaded and embroidered kaftans, partywear and one-off long skirts made in India, often from vintage fabrics and customised for the British market.

Even the supermarkets have upgraded. Collection by George at Asda has helped the chain's clothing sales outstrip Marks & Spencer, while Florence + Fred at Tesco saw sales grow by 39 per cent last year. Sainsbury's TU range aims to be a benchmark on quality for price.


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