Pradamark, Diorbenhams and Foxfam

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.

How to travel on foot...

How to travel on foot…

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:

  1. What choices are available
  2. Which materials they made of
  3. 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?

The view from escalators was noting to write home about :C

The view from escalators was noting to write home about :C

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!

I'm excited by the picture alone! Finding a gem is thrill, quality donated items are better value and help the planet!

I’m excited by the picture alone! Finding a gem is thrill, quality preloved items are better value and help the planet!

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.

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80s Glamour Trio…take three kitsch kittens

Vintage Black Gold Cloud Print Cow Neck Asymmetric Waterfall Hem Blouse

Vintage Black Gold Cloud Print Cow Neck Asymmetric Waterfall Hem Blouse

Vintage Ivory Satin Fluffy Peep Toe Boudoir Wedge Heel Slipper

Vintage Ivory Satin Fluffy Peep Toe Boudoir Wedge Heel Slipper

Vintage Bronze Gold Embroidery Tie Neck Grecian Sleeve Maxi Nightgown

Vintage Bronze Gold Embroidery Tie Neck Grecian Sleeve Maxi Nightgown

Ready-To-Wear-Now…#PFW top to toe!

50s, 60s, 70s, 80s delectable designs from decades gone by....

50s, 60s, 70s, 80s delectable designs from decades gone by….

Start of term – Green Brick welcomes the freshers!

Studying the latest looks...colourful knits, darling dresses, shoes, jewellery and much much more!

Studying the latest looks…colourful knits, darling dresses, shoes, jewellery and much much more!

Can-do Attitude – Silver Sisters have it!

A book and now a documentary about fashion coming of age!

London Fashion week is in full swing, reminding me once again that my love of fashion does not always extend to those who consider themselves ‘Fashionable’.

Daphne travels the globe to meet Fashion Designers and the camera loves her!

Daphne travels the globe to meet Fashion Designers and the camera loves her!

In my experience it is those who feel they have the edge (Victoria, Sienna, Harry… I could go on) who are so very far from the mark of what is truly stylish.

Self expression is key. A disposable income plus sycophantic personal stylist is a dangerous combination leading to popularist over-indulgence in ‘the latest trend’ worn with such crippling unconsciousness.

Jean prefers to style herself 'street' instead of 'smart'

Jean prefers to style herself ‘street’ instead of ‘smart’

As expected I received rave reviews from my sister, having sent her a hard-back of copy of ‘Advance Styling’ by Ari Seth Cohen.  This sensational publication is devoted to alternative fashion photography. Ari enthusiastically captures fashion lovers on the street in New York and his working subjects had an average age of 80.

Bridget loves to buy preloved clothes and has a keen eye for colour

Bridget loves to buy preloved clothes and has a keen eye for colour

In the same spirit I enjoyed Ari’s portraits I was thrilled to watch Sue Bourne’s captivating Channel 4 documentary ‘Fabulous Fashionistas’ to see how six octogenarians based in the UK get their fashion fixes. The film shows the women’s positive love of fashion and unapologetic lust for life. This program put a spring in my step this September!

Five easy pieces – make a scene!

80s Vintage Ladybird Polka Dot Knitted Top

80s Vintage Ladybird Polka Dot Knitted Top

80s Sequin and Bead Feather Cut Edging Cocktail Top

80s Sequin and Bead Feather Cut Edging Cocktail Top

Vintage Silk Rayon Scoop Neck Empire Line Long Mullet Hem Blouse

Vintage Silk Rayon Scoop Neck Empire Line Long Mullet Hem Blouse

80s Kitsch Embellished Socialite Lady Print Cotton Structured T-Shirt

80s Kitsch Embellished Socialite Lady Print Cotton Structured T-Shirt

80s Vintage Cameo Lady Printed Button Blouse

80s Vintage Cameo Lady Printed Button Blouse

Rewind for one of a kind… New stock the season at Green Brick!

Pretty dresses, cool jackets, beautiful blouses, sweet skirts, unique accessories and much much more!

Pretty dresses, cool jackets, beautiful blouses, sweet skirts, unique accessories and much much more!

My So-Called 90s…take three alternative ateliers

Vintage 90s Liza Bruce Raw Seam Gossamer Nude T-Shirt

Vintage 90s Liza Bruce Raw Seam Gossamer Nude T-Shirt

Kate Moss bravely wears a Liz Bruce sheer maxi dress

Kate Moss bravely wears a Liza Bruce sheer maxi dress

Vivienne Westwood Candy Pink Sugar Pink Leather Suede Sling Back Heels

Vivienne Westwood Candy Pink Sugar Pink Leather Suede Sling Back Heels

Classic catwalk cappers courtesy of Ms Campbell
Classic catwalk cappers courtesy of Ms Campbell

Preloved Save The Queen Stripe Embroidery Top

Preloved Save The Queen Stripe Embroidery Top

The Olsen girls try their stylist's hand with matching 'Blossom' outfits

The Olsen sisters walk the checkered carpet in matching ‘Blossom’ outfits

Heart throbs…take three bloggers favourites

Preloved Alexander McQueen Canvas and Wool Jacket

Preloved Alexander McQueen Canvas and Wool Jacket

Preloved Sam Endelman 'Abby' Stud Leather Sneakers

Preloved Sam Endelman ‘Abby’ Stud Leather Sneakers

Vintage 60s Tiger Camouflage Print Lux Top

Vintage 60s Tiger Camouflage Print Lux Top