What's the fuss about this M&S suede skirt?

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Alexa Chung in her skirt, with the Marks and Spencer website image of the same itemImage source, Rex Features and Marks and Spencer

Amid all the talk about M&S's improved performance there's been a lot about one item of clothing. Why is a suede skirt hitting the headlines, asks Denise Winterman.

When style maven Alexa Chung was photographed in a mid-length suede skirt from M&S, corks probably popped in the PR department. Champagne all round.

Before Chung, the last time you saw a similar skirt was probably in photos of your mum in the 70s. The modern skirt is being credited with helping to "jump start" the first profit rise for four years at M&S.

When it went on sale in early May it quickly sold out. Now it's back in stock and fashion magazines are urging readers to sharpen their elbows and hit the local M&S before they sell out again. "Hurry, Hurry," says Look Magazine.

But it feels like we've been here before, says the Guardian's Hadley Freeman. Last time M&S managed to convince women they needed a pink coat in their lives. The skirt and the coat both "represent a triumph of M&S PR over actual fashion for women", she says.

The ubiquitous skirt is making some feel left out of the fashion party. "Am I the only person who doesn't like M&S' Suede Skirt?" tweets ‏@roshETC. Others appeal for common sense to prevail: "Just because it's endorsed by a celeb we don't have to follow like sheep," tweets VivChance.

M&S has come over all coy about the skirt saga and won't tell the Huffington Post how many people are on the waiting list for the skirt. But it does say that it is "really excited to see demand for something develop so quickly". A cynic might say that plugging the skirt in the fashion press for months may not be classed as "quickly" but who are they to quibble.

The Mirror seems to know, saying the online waiting list had 800 names on it within an hour of the skirt coming back into stock and now has more than 3,500 names on it.

Will they be happy? No, says Freeman. "The reason women tend not to own many mid-length skirts is that they look terrible. Oh sure, some women look great in them - long, willowy women. The rest of us, however, suspect we look like substitute teachers from the 1970s and feel about as elegant as dumplings."

Penny Liechti tweets it like it is. "I'm off to try on The M&S Skirt, laugh at how rubbish it looks on me, then take it back."

Some have already moved on from the skirt. M&S's next project is to get women into patchwork jeans, cropped T-shirts and dungarees, says the Daily Mail. Now you know.

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