You all love Zara, right? And you love clothes you can afford because, well, you can afford them and they’re great. I’m guessing some of you might like biker boots, jackets and jeans that won’t run out on you, or fold away into a gloopish hole of poor quality. If this fits the bill for the kind of dream shop you’d pick should someone ask your opinion on the British retail market, then you’re in for a very happy treat.
In the last year Zara’s parent company Inditex launched &otherstories, a slightly left of field high street store focusing on high quality, nicely priced pieces for the street style, blogging and technologically shareable climate we live in. And it was a success, being placed on Regent Street alongside our favourite brands – a hop, skip and jump from Topshop’s flagship, down from Gap and H&M, and opposite French Connection where much of its customer base might also care to visit. So in some ways, a year on it isn’t surprising to hear of another Inditex brand. Her name is Stradivarius – not to be confused with the violinmakers – and she is the street version of Princess Zara, her big sister. There is something of an overlap with Zara’s diffusion line TRF which is, contrary to some belief, not just about grungey boucle tops but packs a punch for September essentials too. Stradivarius is not new to Inditex, having been acquired in 1999 but it is new to the UK.
Like Zara, Stradivarius has invested in an excellent art director to up-brand itself. The catalogue images, which are interactive on the website by the way, give you a very polished idea of what’s to come, covering the first half of autumn/winter. And I like that, probably because my Boden catalogue arrived a few weeks ago – don’t mock, it’s practically J. Crew now – but mainly because a catalogue sets out the stall. You’re aware of what’s coming in, not necessarily when to expect it but how it will be sold. The styling dictates its market and who will be queuing ahead of you for it. But there’s the other thing: there’s no bricks and mortar store in the UK, for now. &otherstores began online – you could sign up to a exclusive pre-order list (very high fashion, don’t cha think) and then the store opened. It was absolute click-bait, to get people going.
Catalogues aside, Inditex also does monthly look books well. Dropping in monthly bundles is not uncommon on the high street – with press privileges these dates are accessible, but for those who simply want to shop, it presents a problem. I am well accustomed to sending a sly email about a dress I saw at a presentation day, just so I can be online or in store the day it hits to snap one up. Such is the beauty of e-commerce, for all its apprehensions. But for those who cannot simply ask for a drop date, a high resolution image to share with friends, or a stock check of the entire country on something thought to be discontinued, accessible monthly drops are crucial. While they might not guarantee your entrance to the Zara skort – may it rest, firmly, in peace – it will have you and your precious pounds better prepared.
I don’t much like pigeonholing brands into the ‘student-purse-friendly’ sector, but Stradivarius, what with its fresher’s week near-perfect timing fits the bill. There are just enough sloppy-chic cardies, posh joggers and Balencigaga boots for a whole lecture theatre. A no-brainer, I reckon.
Visit Stradivarius online here [www.stradivarius.com]