Archives for May 2008

Oh, Topshop, Why?

As a teenager, I had no money of my own (the waiting on job I had paid £20 a night, money which normally went on my mobile and on Sainsburys chocolate chip cookies) and so I couldn’t afford to wear the clothes I liked in Topshop, instead having to persuade my mum each time I liked something. This method was not usually that sucessful.

I went to uni in Aberystwyth, and I suddenly had some money thanks to the student loan. But Aber is a tiny little town, with about 8 shops that sold ladies clothes, including a Dorothy Perkins, a New Look (founded by an Aber Economics grad, hooray for my school!) and Cafe Society, a quite expensive shop (at the time)

I got used to wearing the same things as other people (when there’s so little choice, you don’t really have many options) and would go back to Chester to buy things occasionally.

When I left uni and became a proper working person, I suddenly had money every week and a good choice of shops to spend it in. I could finally buy things I liked from Topshop! (Unfortunately because I was now 22, I felt a little too old to shop in the Chester Topshop at weekends as it is mostly full of 15 year olds and shop assistants who seem to think that you’re too old to shop there after the age of 21)

Now I have moved to Bristol, I feel like I have more options of what I can wear without being laughed at by people I know, so over the past few months, I have been storing certain items away.

So thats my story of clothes buying. Now I have the abilty, I want to wear things that don’t look like my mum bought them * So it annoys me slightly that Topshop seem to produce things now that wouldn’t look good on me, no matter how it was styled.

This top could probably be quite nice, if it wasn’t for the enormous ruffle that goes all around the body. Any girl with a cup size more than a B probably will look like she should be a clown or something.

I can’t even begin with this one. Silver plastic biker jacket. (I am slightly snobby in a way (I guess) with biker jackets, having grown up in a biker-y family. Its not a biker jacket unless it’s leather.)

OH MAN. Who has decided that this sort of playsuit is acceptable. This is only going to look good on very tall, very skinny people.

I saved the best till last. We are not in the early 90’s, and I don’t care if its supposed to be fashionable. It wasn’t cool the first time round. Maybe thats why it’s only £25.

Sometimes Topshop does have some lovely stuff, such as this yellow dress from the Kate Moss collection. It currently hangs in my wardrobe waiting for July so I can wear it for my dads wedding.

I do feel a bit wrong when I admit that its from the Kate Moss collection, bearing in mind her “designs” have produced these shorts which are so hideous, I can’t even put a picture here.

Sometimes though, it feels like they stock over the top items to see if people will actually buy them. What do you think? Am I just being too old fashioned, is Topshop just very “fashion forward”, or do they stock items they think people will just buy because its from Topshop?

* To be fair to my mum, she was often wearing new things from places like New Look. My mum was well cool.

Ethical Fashion

It seems that it has become fashionable for designers to produce items over the last year or so that can help the enviroment, or that has some sort of slogan on it regarding ethics. This in turn has trickled down into the usual channels and we now see places like Topshop, New Look and Primark selling similar items. Whilst there is the obvious upside of this (erm…the planet doesn’t die?), it can sometimes feel like people will be buying these products as a way of saying they do something, but the reality may be different.

A good example of this is the Anya Hindmarsh “I’m Not A Plastic Bag” sale last April. Normally, a similar sized canvas bag will currently cost you over £250, so the excitement of being able to purchase this bag for £5 was great. People were queuing outside Sainsburys (the sole retailer in this country) for hours waiting for their chance to purchase a cut price designer bag. In the weeks before the bag went on sale, various celebrities were seen carrying this bag, which added to the hype.

20,000 bags were made, and sold out within an hour. I had considered waiting myself for the chance to buy one of these bags (as Sainsburys is just a 5 minute walk from my old house) but I had work to get to and couldn’t be late.

The bag was designed for people to put their shopping in, and to (rather obviously) not use a carrier bag. Instead, there were reports of people asking for carrier bags to put this bag into so it didn’t get dirty.

An article that popped up on my feed reader last week made me think about this issue a little more – reported about Forever 21 (which seems to be similar to Primark) producing t-shirts asking about carbon footprints when the footprint of that very t-shirt was probably quite ridiculous. As the article says, “carbon footprints aren’t trendy” (although did we even consider them 2 years ago?)

A brand that are more ethical (and quite lovely I think!) is Howies. Based in Cardigan Bay (about 40 miles south of Aberystwyth where I went to Uni) their company ethos is to produce their items with “as low an environmental impact as possible, using organic products when they can but refusing to label themselves fair trade until they can be convinced of a trusted set of guidelines to follow.”

Even when sourcing shop fittings for their only store in London (why not one in Bristol?), they have tried to keep things local to their factory – Pembrokeshire oak in the fittings, curtains from a wool mill in Carmarthenshire and the shop designers were from Tenby.

I quite like some of the items, although I am unlikely to buy things like their jeans (damn these 35″ legs!) and may have to go to one of the shops in Bristol that they have some items in this week. (Luckily my friend Ruffle adores their clothes, so it shouldn’t be hard to convince him to come shopping with me)

I guess my point is that being able to say that a product doesn’t harm the environment in its manufacturing is a Good Thing, but I dislike that point being used by the consumer to say they are “better” than you for buying this item. Its better to buy the clothes and not promote this fact to everyone.

(p.s. I really like these two t-shirts, and may have to order them later…)

Edit (30/05): I ended up buying the above Helvetica t-shirt, and also am very excited to hear that Howies will be opening a Bristol store soon. (Actually, in time for my birthday, but who’s counting with Cabot Circus also opening at the end of September?)

Eurovision Entertainment

I’ve been away this weekend in Bedford visiting friends for a Eurovision gathering. Eurovision was once an amusing event to watch as noone took it that seriously, and all songs were sung in the countries main language so translations via Teletext subtitles were often entertaining. Oh, and the UK actually had a chance of winning back then.

Now, it seems there are some countries that take it a bit too seriously (last nights entries from France and Spain were definatly exceptions to this!), most of the songs were sung in English (a way to others to understand it more, yes, but its just not as entertaining!) and political voting is something that is accepted by many people (especially Terry Wogan)

Here are some of my favourite entries…

Latvia – PIRATES!

They recieved many cheers from our crowd, mainly cause we love pirates (who doesn’t?). We decided that the only thing that would have beaten them would obviously be a ninja song.

Spain – Chiki Chiki

The dance moves in this song were pretty odd (Robocop anyone?) and there was one dancer who didn’t seem to know what she was doing.

France – Bearded Ladies

I’m not too sure why these ladies were beardy, but they were. Strange.

Anyway, I am back now in Bristol and will be writing much more things that you’re probably not so bothered about!

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