Hail, Britannia

In Opinions by Harry SheffLeave a Comment

I’ve been asked back to cover the Spanish shoe show, Moda Calzado, but this time I’ve thrown in a little side trip – a stop in London! A friend of mine is living here now, so I took him up on his offer to sleep on his couch and check out the scene!

On Thursday I had a little time to wander the streets, so I checked out a few stores:

I’d been hearing about TopShop, and their men’s shop called, what else, TopMan. I couldn’t wait to finally stop in and check it out. It was a bit of Ricky’s (a kind of young, crazy beauty product store in Manhattan) and H&M.

 TopShop

There’s a lot of energy in the store. Cute young sales guys in matching grey, white and red striped polos roamed the floor. If London is any indication, it looks like scarves are going to continue to be a hit accessory this spring. I’m seeing the gauzy linen version in bright colors with a bit of fringe, as well as simple lengths of cotton jersey in bright solid colors being paired with everything from a T-shirt to a navy blazer. The store has a section with brightly colored graphics notebooks and pens, makeup and bins of candy, and, in their book section, they carry “Back In The Days” and “A Time Before Crack” by photographer Jamel Shabazz, that inspired our February Fusion photo shoot. (Kionna, on trend, as always!)

 River Island

River Island is a chain of stores based here that brings the California West Coast aesthetic to the other side of the pond. Lots of tattoo or music-inspired graphic T-shirts, denim and denim alternatives. Great accessories: a perforated leather wallet screamed “buy me,” although the two-dollars-to-the-pound exchange rate screamed “don’t you dare.”

 River Island

I really loved this wall of men’s jewelry, and was having a blast watching one guy—probably around my age—layering on different necklaces and posing in front of a mirror, trying to get the right combination. I got nabbed taking pictures by the manager: she even threatened to force me to erase the pictures I had already taken! Luckily I charmed her with my MR business card and got the information for her P.R. department…whew!

NEXT is another chain store that, although well-trafficked, seems to have a somewhat uninspired collection of men’s tailored clothing, dress shirts and sportswear. They actually have a hard-back Spring/Summer directory that is reminiscent of the Sears catalog in size and scope. Their cuff link selection really caught my eye, though, including “Dr. Who” telephone booths at £13 and sports cars with battery-powered headlights for £20!

 Debenhams’ message

Debenhams department store has a fun promotion going on right now called “Designers at Debenhams.” I’ll be contacting their P.R. department to get the scoop, but the whole promotion is all about promoting designer names in the men’s department, including a diffusion collection by one of my personal favorite designers, John Richmond. It’s called John by John Richmond, so how could I NOT love it? My favorite piece was a satin-stripe pink and ecru dress shirt with French cuffs that had silk knots in place, and an additional pair of chrome cuff links in a small acrylic box attached to the shirt front. What a fun merchandising idea! The store has also created this cheeky brochure about clothing. I’ll try to get a scan of this section to be viewed more clearly…you’ll be hearing more about this from me.

Now, this trip hasn’t been all tea and scones, so far—I’ve been having a little travel drama, so those of you who can’t resist a good train wreck, go to my personal blot at dakotajone.blogspot.com for a giggle at my expense.

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