Thursday, 30 June 2011

Are Supermarkets Ruining our Highstreet?

The retail industry kicked off the week announcing that Jane Norman had gone into administration, quickly following suit was Habitat, TJ Hughes and Thorntons. All three have such prominent positions within our well known high streets, so where is it all going wrong?

As huge supermarket chains seemingly go from strength to strength, I'm left wondering if the likes of Sainsburys, Asda and Tesco are a little to blame for the fall of some big retailers.

People these days love convenience. We live in an easy option, disposable, fast fashion world with quality being overridden by quantity. We want it all now and in the most convenient way for us. Looking for a new dress for Saturday night? You can pick it up in your local supermarket whilst doing your weekly food shop. Looking for some sexy lingerie to spice up your love life? Look no further than Asda. Hunting for some posh chocolates for your mums birthday? Tesco will sort you out.

If we can buy everything all under one roof, from food to clothes, shoes to homewares then no wonder we are bidding a tearful fairwell to high street icons like Habitat.

However, just because its convenient doesn't mean it looks good. I don't know about you but I'm sick of seeing badly dressed people taking inspiration from Sainsbury's latest TU range - half massed chinos in every colour are a no-go. We need to be encouraging people to support the high street and (please god please) see whats on trend and be advised by trained fashion assistants and whats hot and what most deffinately is not!

We need to feel the need to go to the high streets and shopping malls for our luxuries and not be swayed to the clothing department whilst were trying to buy our meat and veg (!). As obesity levels rise in the country, laziness sets in - how many calories does shopping burn? I'm guessing a lot and with supermarkets branching off into "fashion" not only is it encouraging our laziness but its killing the big fashion retailers.

So step back Asda with your repetitive tunics, stay away Sainsburys with your ill fitted trousers. And Tesco please just top trying! Supermarkets stick to the food and let the real retailers do the fashion. Its time to support your old favourite retailers and boycott the food chains - well until you need your Sunday roast ingredients that is...

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Festival High Street Picks

Glastonbury 2011 is officially in full swing (mud, rain and all included) and the fashion police have been out and about patroling the attendees who will be inspiring us for the remainder if the summer months.

Hot off the press this weekend, however, is the fact that Kate Moss has been voted as being the best dressed festival goer at Glastonbury back in 2005. Mossy paved the way to short shorts (yeah thanks for that one love!) edgy studded detailing and, of course, the ultimate festival must have; the Hunter wellies.

The winning look is said to have influenced many festival goers outfit choices today, from celebs such as Jameela Jamil and Pixie Lott been inspired by the catwalk model.

So how can you get this look too I hear you ask? Well whether your at Glastonbury or are planning on attending the many other festivals throughout the year or even if you just fancy nipping to your local shops a la Moss, be sure to head to River Island for some copycat pieces.

Notice Kate Moss' cute little buttoned up waistcoat? River Island have a close match at £40, but what an investment piece as a waistcoat can add a new look to a dress, or put a smarter spin on workwear too.
 These short shorts are perfect for the festival season - short enough to catch a tan on those pasty legs (if your lucky and get the sun that is!) and catch the essence of Kate's winning festival look at just £24.99
 Don't be afraid to toughen up your look by shopping in  the menswear section as you will find rougher and edgier pieces like this studded leather belt £19.99 Wear it like Kate; slung low on the hips.

The studded leather bag £29.99  is also a must have item. Small enough to not get in the way of your raving but still plenty of room to fit in your esessentials like your camera, sun cream and whatever else you may want to hold close to you.

If you prefer a more feminine festival look but still inspired by Kate Moss winning Glastonbury look from 2005, check out River Islands hippy take on these pieces.

I love this denim cut offs with the embroidered floral design on each pocket. These are from River Island's Chelsea Girl range, £30

The burnt orange of this pussy bow blouse is very on trend for the summer season. The billowing sleeves scream out 60's hippy and the blouse is free enough to bust out those festival moves, £29.99
Hair accessories will be everywhere at the summer festivals so pick yours up now for just £4.99. The floral detail coincides with the embroidered denim shorts and hits the seasons floral trend right on the head (get it ?!)

If you want to stand out from the mud, its time to clash your prints and experiment with texture!

 How cool is this feathered hat? Both hair and had accessories will be huge and River Island have a great selection of both. Snap this one up now online for £14.99 as I'm predicting it to be a fast seller!

This shirt is a fab buy and will go with almost anything. The tie detail a the front gives it a casual twist and I love the low cut arm holes too £19.99
Clash the above shirt with these bright funky shorts £19.99

So there we have it; we have the rock style inspired by Kate Moss iconic look  from back in 2005 then a more feminine style for all of you boho girls out there and for the brave, a daring look consisting of clashing prints and funky head gear.

So head to River Island for a fantastic range of festival clothing for all!

(Kate Moss image taken from
 Clothing images taken from

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

House of Mary

All hail Mary Portas - crowned Queen of Shops since the early noughties due to her vast retail knowledge and hard business ethic. We've seen her on television, heard her on the radio, read her books and even followed her tweets on twitter but never before have we bought her products or witnessed her endoursement of a brand within the retail sector; until now.

According to a source, the press have gone wild over her new age ideas of opening up her very own "shop within a shop" alongside lucky department store House of Fraser. Mary will work on the brand said to be a clothing range aimed specifically at the fashionably forty year old woman and rumoured to be called "Mary" (although I'm hoping she swiftly changes this to "Portas" a little more desinger-esque don't you agree?!)

The retail guru is set to take the retailing world by storm by taking customer service right back to basics with traditional old fashioned service. Not only will there be the best patrons of fabulous customer service being employed, but expert stylists to assist each customers needs.

All eyes will be on Mary in October as every part of the process will be documented by her company Yellow Door and aired on television for all to see. Portas is putting her career on the line as if this fails, our Queen of retail will be no more...

But she must have every faith in herself as the process is moving full steam ahead with the support of House of Fraser Oxford Street apparently giving her the whole of their third floor to accommodate her department, the employees having already been recruited and the press being filled in on whats what. Exciting stuff.

Lets hope the customer service orientated retail presence will wow us with her own credentials and can practise what she has preached about for so long. Mary has previosly slammed House of Fraser for losing the heritage and independence of Jenners department store in Edinburgh stating

"Jenners internal design is absolutely stunning," she said. "But it feels like House of Fraser got a hold of it and it's just ended up with a slightly hybrid shop instead of one that is still 'Jenners'

And when a journalist complained to Portas of bad customer service from another House of Fraser store when she was unable to return a faulty item, Mary didn't hold back and  advised the said employee "You know what, my advice to him is 'take the damn thing and smile',

So maybe her goal is to prove herself to the retail industry once more and to also show House of Fraser how its supposed to be done too...


Monday, 20 June 2011

Matalan Autumn Winter 2011

So our Winter 2010 wardrobe has only just been nicely tucked away and our Summer 2011 essentials purchased, but already the fashion retail industry is thinking about the upcoming Autumn season.

Yes, yes, I know its only June and we've barely had the opportunity to apply our factor 30 (!) suncream, but its time to look forward to the cooler months and see what AW11 has to offer us. And who better to do that with than the reinvented high street giant Matalan?

Their Fall lookbook is full of alpine knits, spotted mini dresses and wide legged trousers. Think camel and navy hues mixed with a retro pallette of black and white sophistication.

The first story "Modern Retro" is Matalan's most iconic trend for the ipcoming season. The 1960's is a major focus here with adorable Mary Jane's and cute ankle socks. Think Twiggy meets Alexa Chung and your on to a winning formula.

Key Details: peter pan collars, pleated skirts, polka dots and colour blocking

Pleat Dress £25 Knee Socks £2.50 Mary Janes £20

Peter Pan Collar Dress £25

Colour Block Dress £14 Knee Socks £2.50 Babydoll shoes £16

Matalan completely won me over at their press day with their "Global Mix" collection. Chunky knits, clashing prints and mixing textures creatively is what winter should be all about.

I adore Matalan's use of aztec and alpine inspirations. Mix your knitwear with faux fur and wooly bobble hats. Clash with a tartan skirt or boldly coloured ankle socks and tights. Feeling more reserved? Tie denim into your look with a great pair of jeans instead. Super skinnies are gonna be huge!

Key Details: alpine knits, aztec shawls, shearling details, cable knit snoods.

Cardigan £25 Crochet Dress £18 Chunky Socks £4

Shearling Mitten £6 Shearling Bag £10 Knitted Boot £22
(PS Hands off - the boots are mine!!)

Cable Snood £8 Crew Neck Jumper £18 Skater Skirt £10

Cardigan £25 Tunic with Snood £18 Faux Fur Collar £6

The 70's trend remains a strong contender for the Fall sason. Matalan's "Abigail's Party" seduces Autumn/Winter with oranges and mustards. Think back to the original Biba era with paisley shift dresses, floral tunics and printed palazzos. Taht's it ladies, hang on to your staple palazzo pants and prepare to team them with simple knitted jumpers and pussy bow blouses.

Key Details: shift dresses, wide legged trousers, batwing sleeves, fringed knitwear and bold prints add a modern twist.

Paisley Shift Dress £20 Retro Sunglasses £12

Printed Shift Dress £18 Gloss Tights £1.50 Mary Janes £20

Pussy Bow Blouse £18 Wide Leg Trouser £18

Fringed Zip Cardigan £28 Pleat Front Skirt £20

For all you sophisticated ladies out there, Matalan has catered for your effortless chicness with "Retro Prim"; think classics reinvented with a quirky twist. Embracing the female form with cinched in waists, fitted blouses and knitwear and dramatic silhouettes. Who says workwear is boring? Not Matalan!

Key Details: skater skirts, belted capes, pussy bow blouse, lace overlays. A school satchel quintessentially completes the look.

Wide Leg Jumpsuit £30 Strappy Wedge £18

Pussy Bow Blouse £16 Pencil Skirt £14 Trouser Socks £3

Belted Cape £35 Pussy Bow Blouse £16 Pencil Skirt £14 Satchel £10

Cube Tunic £20 Mid Length Skirt £18 Tassel Tote £10

So there we have it; Winter 2011 at Matalan. Summer may not be even half way through, but my pre-fall list has been made, has yours?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Warehouse Transitional Sale Picks

As the weather plays havoc with our outfit choices in a morning (will it rain if I wear open toed shoes? Or have a heatwave if I put my coat on?) many fashion fans have already started investing in their transitional season pieces. Thanks to the amazing sale at Warehouse (both instore and online) we can start to nab the bargain items that will take us from Summer into Autumn; even if it is quicker than we hoped it would be!

 This dress caused a huge buzz in the press at the beginning of the season. Architectual and structured cuts will remain to be huge for AW11 so this is a must have purchase. Team with a tailored blazer and a pair of killer heels through the Summer transition season. Dress Was £60 Now £35
 Ah the denim a-line skirt was the perfect way to wear the 70's style trend this season and will remain a strong image through the upcoming long winter months. I'll be wearing mine with thick woolly tights and a cute knit jumper. Skirt Was £45 Now £20

 Cutesy balletic skirts were everywhere this Spring Summer thanks to certain ballet films and romantic catwalk collections. For Autumn though its time to toughen up the look and pair with a battered leather jacket and biker ankle boots for a punky edge. Skirt Was £40 Now £20
 Autumn Winter 2011 will see lots of texture and mix and match fabrics so why not get your hands on this pair of suede shorts. A perfect transitional item to pair with a blazer for workwear or a knitted short sleeve jumper for casual wear. Shorts Was £68 Now £30
Now we all like to get wrapped up when the weather gets a bit chilly so this wrap over jacket is the ultimate winter warmer. Layer up with a contrasting long sleeved top, or make a statement with a ruffled blouse underneath instead. Jacket Was £65 Now £35

So there's my favourite picks from the Warehouse sale but what are yours? Get down to a store near you or go online to but be quick as I'm making my own way down there too...

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Whats happened to the vintage fair?

0n Sunday 12th June, Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair held an event in York. It took my friend and I well over an hour to drive there, but having being to another York one plus many in Leeds before, we thought it would be worth the journey.

On arriving there, queues filtered through the locations doors and out into the gardens. Clothing and accessory stalls filled two floors. Rails and rails were packed tightly together and many young vintage hunters pushed passed each other to get the pick of the best finds.

In my honest opinion, I was really disappointed with what was on offer. Not only was the location too small to fit each stall holder in with a comfortable shopping space for each customer. If we were to compare this to a high street store, the brand would be  satirized for having bad visual merchandising principles and no spatial awareness for customers needs.

Judy's Affordable Vintage Fairs have a reputation for supplying good quality, authentic vintage and antique items. However, a large percentage of the fashion on offer consisted of customized and altered "vintage" clothing. Not only were there more fake items than real ones, it was disappointing to have seemingly been deceived into thinking I was going to a vintage fair when infact it seemed I was at a handmade event - and a poor excuse for one at that.

As a vintage fashion lover, it is my absolute pet hate to see pretend vintage stalls passing off their home made skirts and dresses in old fashioned looking cheap material. It should be banned and should be marked clearly on the stalls that do this who are not selling what customers are expecting.

Aside from the majority of the items been fake, the latter were over priced. Yes, some items were clothes from the 50's and such forth, but £50 for a second hand dress, in my opinion, is way too steep. Are these stall holders forgetting that what they are selling is used, second hand? Just because vintage is now the cool, 'in thing' to be doing, doesn't mean they should over charge their customers.

What made this genre of clothing so popular in the first place is its economic price tags. But why should we pay that amount of money for an item we could pick up from the high street at a fraction of the price? Yes some pieces are authentic and its fab to own a piece of fashion history, but these "business" men and women are ruining the essence of antique and historic clothing by over charging who would be a loyal source of income.

And why why why would you customize a real vintage item? I spoke to one stall holder (name witheld) who admitted to cutting the sleeves from a 70's era dress to make it sleeveless. WHY?! This is no longer vintage! Its a rip off of the beautiful dress it once was. If they want to be a designer, design your own clothes don't change another persons creativity and then charge us the earth to buy it - no thanks!

I am not sure how the Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair works, but checks need to be consistently carried out on who is selling what and whether it really is as authentic as they make it out to be. Fair enough, sell your own made tat, but don't trick someone who isn't as savvy about clothing as maybe my friend or I am.

I managed to speak to a few of the fair goers. One girl said "its so over priced, and for what? Something I could get from Topshop which is cheaper and brand new?"

"I don't think I will be bothering coming again. I think I'll stick to the high street I can trust".

 I really hope this won't be a downward spiral for vintage fairs as todays has made me more wary of attending them in the future. The stalls should be pulling together great collections of what tir customers what; real vintage clothing. Otherwise, the more they fob us off with fakes and overpriced items, the more we will be forced to shop the high street and become less ethically balanced and even less likely to support these independent retailers and business owners.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Green with ethical envy

Forget black been the most popular colour in fashion because this season everyone's going green. That's right. Now I'm not talking about 'the little green dress' or saying 'green's the most flattering colour'. I'm talking about been green with our shopping bags and supporting retailers with being ethical and organic. So, whose the greenest of them all?

 H&M launched their Concious Collection range at the beginning of this year as an attempt to promote the brand as being ethically minded. The range is environmentally adapted using greener materials such as organic cotton and recycled polyester.

Marks and Spencer have certified Fair Trade basics and a long standing organic cotton range.
More recently the brand has partnered up with charity Oxfam to urge customers to donate their unwanted M&S items to the charity and will be then rewarded with a £5 gift voucher - being paid to be charitable to a good cause? Its a win win situation!

Asda is one of the most ethically challenged brands with a huge range of their customer base in demand for organic cotton. Their ethical ranges vary from toddler clothes right through to towels and bedlinen. Not bad for a supermarket brand...

Making other retailers green with envy, these three brands are leading the way ethically, environmentally and economically too. Whilst its onwards and upwards for these organically focussed companies, lets just hope the others follow suit...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Miss Selfringe...

The return of the fringe has put the fashion world in a huge tassle of who on the high street is doing it true bohemian style. Taking inspiration from designer catwalks such as Roberto Cavalli and Mark Fast who both made a statement using fringing to create texture in their spring summer collections.

Roberto Cavalli captured the essence of bohemia with his use of fringed accessories such as necklaces and clutch bags.
 Mark Fast interpreted a girls inner rock chick, mixing tassled edges with studds and embellishment; a perfect influence for this years festival 'it' look.
Mark Fast unleashed animalistic tendencies going for an all over fringed effect.
So where is the number one  place for you  to be hunting out the best pieces from the high street to capture this designer trend?

Miss Selfridge is the perfect destination to fill  your summer festival backpack! The range captures the boho chic look with an added edge thanks to tough detailing such as studds and tie-dye prints.

This quirky vest is a signature Miss Selfridge piece, team with denim cut offs and feather hair accessories at Glasto.
 Instantly update last seasons summer dress with this fringed belt. Wear it low slung on the hips for a relaxed vibe - the simplest accessories to accompany a day of dancing at Leeds festival!

This limited edition piece is every fashion fans must have piece. Dress up with a pair of heels and embellished clutch, or dress down with ankle boots and a leather jacket for a rock chick festival look.
My favourite pick is this fringed and bejewelled suede bag. The teal colour is right on trend and the unique detailing nails the bohemia vibe. Nicole Richie eat your heart out...

(All images from all items can be purchased from the website and selected items from instore.)

Monday, 6 June 2011

New Image, New Brand, New Look

A popular high street choice amongst young adults making that transition from girl to young lady in the fashion stakes, New Look is repeatedly living up to all the usual high street expectations. Although over the last six months, they have majorly stepped up the pace by branching out commercially via their television advertisement, glossy magazine PR shots and, most recently, an association with channel 4 on a purely fashion based program New Look's Style The Nation.

Presented by the delicious Nick Grimshaw on T4 every Saturday at 11.25am, the program enables wannabe fashion stylists to go head to head to win the ultimate prize: a stylist job at New Look. Not only does the program give young adults a chance at their dream job, but it promotes the brand and showcases New Look's key pieces of the season; thats a good promotional techniques for you!

Plus, viewers at home can join in with all the fun on their interactive styling game by dressing a virtual mannequin and, once completed, they give you a £5 off voucher to purchase the items you have just styled with- what more could a girl want?!

Alongside the television programme is the advertisement. Shown at prominent target customer viewing times such as during Hollyoaks ad break or after Style the Nation programme, the advert is everything New Look represents; current, fashionable and fun. With a fantastic soundtrack from The Notes with Maybe Baby putting New Look on the indie fashion radar.

As New Look improves commercially in more ways than one, how long will it take before other brands try to follow in pursuit of becoming just as marketable as a fashion high street brand as they are?

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