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Hit or miss: River Island - 25/30

Proves you don’t have to compromise on quality to keep prices low. The merchandising is strong too.

  • Arndale Centre

Product 8

For women, the offer is great, with styles such as velvet slippers not seen elsewhere. Ankle boots look particularly strong, with lots of options from cut-out sides to wedge soles, while flat shoes are also good, with boat shoes and metal toe-cap pumps. One criticism is the lack of mid-height heels as, apart from boots, the range seems limited to flats or very high heels indeed. For men, the devil is in the detail, with contrast stitching and laces on boat shoes and tassels on leather loafers. Classic lace-ups are updated with chunkier rubber soles, highlighting the thought put into the designs, which generally comes off.

Value 8

Women’s fringed ankle boots for £55 and cut-out leather ankle boots at £50 are great value, especially considering the range available. Overall the quality seems better than expected, as demonstrated by one man who bent a trainer almost fully in half before, apparently satisfied, making the £38 purchase. Men’s boat shoes and loafers are pricier than women’s at £45 to £55, but are better quality than women’s, which are £25 with thin soles.

Experience 9

The store sets itself apart in terms of merchandising, being one of the only ones using foot mannequins complete with fun socks to show off the shoes. Bright, well-lit spaces with full-length mirrors are a pleasure to browse and clearly separated from the rest of the shopfloor. Plenty of places to sit mean trying-on is easy.


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