Weekend high street shopping misses and hits with a street-smart shopper
Picture this: an unassuming chilly Saturday morning in September. I’d scanned a high street starting to show signs of trading. Outside the market-leading clothes and home wear store the big brown bags are circulating. Women stand with bulging buggies waiting for a coffee injection. Men nervously lean against the glass windows distracting themselves on smart phones waiting for a certain someone inside, entranced by a four floor fortress.
Flanking the shiny beacon of cheapness is a discount shop and a boarded up space formerly a music superstore. The windows hold a brightly lit display of thin polyester blouses, acrylic wool jumpers and pleather boots. Everything has a price point so low that you can see the appeal but my conscience will not budge.
I very rarely shop on the high street because of how cheaply clothes are made and my desire for quality is unlikely to be met by big brands who love to keep profits up and prices down. Having finished buying my ‘essentials’ I decided to challenge my impression of these companies and visit a large department store. I wondered what I would discover about modern hight street clothes:
- What choices are available
- Which materials they made of
- Where the clothes are made
I headed to a selection of concession areas. One of the labels headed up by a mid-weight designer who caters for a sophisticated shopper. The trousers were nice, well made but a little too ‘corporate’ in style. The blouses were a very pretty pattern as was a matching tunic dress. Sadly upon inspecting the labels both stated 100% polyester and made in Bangladesh.
I move on to a up-an-coming young designers fusion line. Again the patterns are great and the shapes of this label are more to my taste, sadly most items are made in man-made fibers. I did find one cotton top that was quite plain but made in Turkey so was not sure if an adult was paid fairly to make this item, I’m guessing not?
My last look was at the store’s own label which is a confusing mix of leisure wear and cliche ‘mother of the bride’ smart two piece suits. Nothing in this area has any real appeal and looked dull as dishwater. I leave the store thirsty and with nothing to show for my 45 minutes of looking. I was sure that time spent in vintage stores and charity shop rummaging would unearth some gems and I was not mistaken there!
The high street shopping thing was a small attempt to conform but my heart was not in it. I’m saddened that people have little choice but spend their life making fast fashion clothes and it pains me to think I could be part of that demand. Devoted magpies have reported clothes donated to charity shops in towns are getting cheaper so consumers are losing out on investing in a better products. It’s increasingly harder to find quality items but second hand is still one of the best ways to make your clothes and money go further. I am happy to travel if it means I can find clothes that last years, not just Saturday night to Sunday morning.