A slight comedown from the highs of last season, but plenty on offer nonetheless.
One season on from a strong spring range, River Island appears to lack the critical mass of trend winners this time around. Fun printed T-shirts, an array of denim styles and cut-and-paste and mix-and-match textural elements across sweatshirts and T-shirts elevate the collection above the norm but key areas such as outerwear and tailoring look uninspired by comparison. They offer very little beyond standard styles, with unpressed shirts straight out of the packet a particular low point. The T Lipop Design Forum collection is clean and considered, and offers the cohesion the mainline generally lacks.
Not a jot of marked-down stock makes a good first impression, and some items have plenty of heft and style, such as a very smart bomber jacket from the more premium Holloway Road line with a price tag of £70. Conversely a prevalence of acrylic knits in the £35 bracket and shiny suit fabrics, in the £95 version especially, look cheap. For a basic and not very substantial parka, £85 seems pricey but £40 for untreated denim looks better value.
With the windows giving as much prominence to men’s as women’s and the items in them some of the strongest, the store gets off to a good start. Venturing upstairs to the men’s area there’s a sense that the shopfit is a little derivative of flagships in central London, but the hanging Design Forum pod is good, despite housing items not part of that particular range. Staff come across as slightly lacklustre, preferring to chat rather than serve, especially in the changing rooms.