Your browser is no longer supported. For the best experience of this website, please upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Drapers Hit or Miss: autumn 19 menswear

Boss autumn 19 (5)

Drapers heads to the heart of Birmingham’s shopping district to put the autumn 19 menswear offer to the test.

All the signs are here. Drizzle, dark mornings and damp leaves underfoot, plus cosy knits, boots and jumpers popping up across the high street: ’tis the season for Drapers’ Hit or Miss.

For autumn 19, we are tackling the menswear of Birmingham’s Bullring and Grand Central. The vast interconnected malls in the city centre feature more than 200 shops – many of them flashy, flagship destinations. Even first thing on a chilly October morning, there is a notable buzz around.

Following 2015’s £600m revamp of New Street railway station, of which Grand Central is part, and the £20m refresh of the Bullring’s Selfridges that completed in 2018, as well as new openings including the world’s largest Primark store earlier this year, the shopping scene in Birmingham is thriving.

Trends on offer were split into two distinct categories: streetwear-influenced sportswear with bright colours and slouchy shapes, and a heritage-inspired approach to casualwear featuring neutral colours, and 1960s- and 1970s-style sportswear separates. Puffer jackets remain dominant in outerwear, but shearlings and heritage checks were also popular.

Although the customer service in some retailers was non-existent, assistance was offered more frequently and was generally more friendly in Birmingham than in previous seasons’ outings.

Despite many stores’ polished layouts, shops were let down by carelessness. There were wrinkled shirts, empty rails and hangers on the floor in numerous stores, and it became tiring and disappointing to see this shoddy upkeep.

Drapers selected 14 menswear stores to mystery shop – across a range of premium, young fashion and value retailers. Arket, Ben Sherman and Boss were all tested for the first time as part of Hit or Miss.

Retailers were judged on: product, presentation, customer service, value for money and shopping experience. Each is rated out of five for a total out of 25. Drapers visited on Monday 7 October. 

 

 

Drapers’ Hit or Miss Rankings

Boss: 19.5/25

Ben Sherman: 18.5/25

Topman: 17/25

AllSaints: 16/25

Arket: 16/25

Primark: 16/25

Ted Baker: 16/25

H&M: 15.5/25

TM Lewin: 15.5/25

River Island: 13/25

Superdry: 13/25

Zara Men’s: 12.5/25

Reiss: 12.5/25

Next: 10/25

 

Boss autumn 19 (2)

Boss

A premium experience from a premium store puts Boss at the top of the pack.

  • · Product: 3.5
  • · Presentation: 5
  • · Customer service: 4
  • · Value for money: 3
  • · Shopping experience: 4

Total: 19.5

The Boss store has a pristine, slightly aloof atmosphere that sets it apart from its premium peers. The two-storey store on the top floor of the Bullring eschews cluttered window displays in favour of clear, bold Boss branding. As part of the Hugo Boss “two-brand” strategy, this store is dedicated to the Boss offering of business, casual and athleisure clothing, rather than Hugo’s youthful, fashion-led collections.

Inside, the store has a clean design and minimalist decor. A spacious layout clearly displays a wide variety of products, and a modest number of styles are out on the shop floor. This allows the product to stand out. I wander around the store with ease, and I focus on the clothes themselves rather than flashy store design details, which makes for a pleasant browsing experience. The store is a fitting representation of its brand identity.

The store is neat and glisteningly clean throughout, and not a single hanger appears to be out of place. After I look through a rack, I notice a store assistant subtly perfecting the arrangement as I leave the store.

Clothing is arranged by category – coats are all together, for example – which makes it easy to shop. The product itself is excellent quality and accordingly expensive. A puffer coat for £525 is pricey, but is robust, well made and timeless. It is in an entirely different league when compared with the lower end of the high street. 

There is a strong focus on branded basics, and some of these look a little dated. However the casualwear, with its “HB” logos, provides a fresher direction.

The highlight is the tailoring area upstairs. The impressive suiting offer features a strong mix of classic styles – such as charcoal grey three-piece suits – and more contemporary colours and fabrics, such as brighter blues and checks.

Prices are high. A blazer at £395, is a step above many competitors, but there is not an equivalent hike in quality. The fitting rooms in the suiting area are spacious, well lit and clean, and I am assisted in my enquiries by a very attentive member of staff, who is more than happy to help me with my questions. 

Ben sherman

Ben sherman

Ben Sherman

Quirky retro product shines in a store that makes the best of a bad location.

  • Product: 4.5
  • Presentation: 4
  • Customer service: 3
  • Value for money: 4
  • Shopping experience: 3

Total 18.5

Ben Sherman’s Birmingham store is located in “Link Street” – an indoor connection between the Bullring and Grand Central shopping centres. The design of the “street” is a little alienating: dark walls and ceilings, combined with low lighting, do not make it somewhere I am inclined to linger.

However, the store manages to overcome the barriers of its location with its bright, 1960s-feel shopfit, which is quirky and eye-catching. The window contains a good mix of product and campaign images that project the brand’s retro aesthetic. The mannequins in the window, and inside, are vivid and colourful.

The design of the store is engaging. Shiny tiled walls are reminiscent of the London Underground, and a good variety of wooden display boxes and shelving is used to display products. The fitting rooms also feature a fun design idea – the sturdy doors look like front doors. Inside they are relatively simple, clean and well sized. However, the lighting is very harsh and unflattering. 

The store is devoid of shoppers and the music is very quiet, so there is an eerie feeling. The staff add to this sensation. Although they greet me, and are attentive and happy to help me with sizing guidance, when

I am not speaking to them, they watch me browse from behind the till, which makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

The product is the highlight of the store, and after this summer’s brand refresh, the autumn 19 offer provides a range of retro, sporting-inspired styles that are good quality and reasonably priced.

A mustard, striped knitted polo top is 100% cotton and, for £75, well priced. A knitted wool flower-print polo shirt (also £75) is similarly trend led and good quality. Other highlights include a sturdy cord overshirt (well priced at £85) and a solid range of chinos in several colours that are good value at £65. 

190718 topman aw19 soho shot 07 0107 f1

Topman

Topman neatly tackles the two top menswear trends in a strong and youthful store.

  • · Product: 4
  • · Presentation: 3
  • · Customer service: 3
  • · Value for money: 3
  • · Shopping experience: 4

Total: 17

Neutral tones and smart-casual retro staples are the core of Topman’s offer. The menswear section of the windows is elegantly styled with mannequins wearing a pleasingly co-ordinated array of outfits. Prices for core products are subtly displayed under each model, which is helpful. There are Sale signs in the window, but these are relatively small, and do not detract from the overall impression.

When I enter the store I am greeted immediately, but the first thing I see is a messy Sale rack. Beyond that, however, the store is a success. White wooden walls, large mirrors and good lighting, as well as an array of different display tables, make for

a simple but sophisticated approach. The fitting rooms continue this – while they are unmanned and have no seats, they are very spacious with sturdy wooden doors.

However, I visit first thing on a Monday and the store is already messy. Hangers on the floor and empty rails undermine the pleasing design.

The store caters to two trends – a smart-casual retro-influenced look, and bold, brash streetwear. Topman’s offer outstrips other retailers in terms of trend and value: strong products include a checked trench coat (good value at £75) and a high-quality polo-neck (£25). Product adjacencies are impressive, and colour combinations are unconventional: tonal areas are livened up with pops of colour. The visual merchandising is helpful from a styling perspective: jeans, jumper, shirt, hoodie and bag are displayed together, making it easy to shop.

Topshop’s streetwear offer also stands out thanks to its selection of brands – a key draw for many in that market. Levi’s, Champion and Nicce are among those in store.

Staff are helpful, but are a little reluctant to assist me beyond basic information. There are not many assistants on the shop floor and it takes a while to locate someone. 

Allsaints since 1994 11 cropped rgb 72dpi 4x3

AllSaints

Stellar service in an elegant store, but the AllSaints product is in need of a revamp.

  • · Product: 2
  • · Presentation: 4
  • · Customer service: 5
  • · Value for money: 2
  • · Shopping experience: 3

Total: 16

I am warmly greeted by a chatty shop assistant as I enter AllSaints, and am offered help to find anything specific that I’m looking for. This is one of the rare occasions I am directly offered assistance during my day in Birmingham.

The menswear floor is upstairs, and the space is impressive. AllSaints has a rugged, undone look – distressed wooden walls and display tables, exposed light bulbs and vintage sewing machines – combined with fun details such as a high ceiling that is decorated to resemble a dilapidated stately home. 

These quirky touches give the store a sense of personality – and they are a good reflection of the brand’s premium rock ’n’ roll aesthetic.

The space is extremely neat, and the visual merchandising is strong. Products are folded tidily on tables or hung on metal and chain fittings – all evenly spaced and with a small number of products on display. 

As I climb the stairs to menswear, the assistant tells me he can fetch other sizes if needed, and, if they do not have them in store, I have the option to order online via a large digital touchscreen, which is easy to navigate.

The shop assistant is extremely helpful, and when I enquire about sizing, he explains how the brand compares with other retailers in terms of fit, and makes suggestions as to which size would be best for me to choose. His knowledge of this fit detail – down to the individual product level – is very impressive.

Unfortunately, the clothing itself is nothing special, and the elevated rock-star vibe feels out of step with current trends. There is not much variety in the categories, and the product feels very samey throughout the store. 

There are a lot of basic jersey T-shirts, some of which are priced at £45, which seems very poor value. Additionally, the knitwear is expensive – a wool-mix leopard print jumper at £148, is soft but feels fairly flimsy and does not seem to represent good value. 

Arket

Scandi minimalism and cinnamon buns were winners at Arket, but a complete lack of store staff hits its score.

  • Product: 4
  • Presentation: 3.5
  • Customer service: 1
  • Value for money: 4
  • Shopping experience: 3.5

Total: 16

Arket 19s0b2 m 19 rgb pr

The power of a wonderful-smelling shop should not be underestimated. Walking into the serene Arket store, I am met by the aroma of cinnamon buns and fresh coffee emanating from the cafe. On a drizzly October day, this is enough to make me want to linger in the store, and gives a cosy, welcoming atmosphere.

The proliferation of knitwear and elevated autumnal basics adds to this, and seasonal styles are displayed close to the door. Products are good quality and well priced, and offer subtly unique takes on winter staples. A simple chunky jumper, for example, comes in mossy, tonal green stripes. Made from an alpaca/wool blend, £79 is a very good price for it.

The tags on all Arket’s items make it clear what exactly I am looking at by describing the materials used and where the product was manufactured. This helps to justify the higher price points, as I invariably find that premium natural materials such as merino, silk, wool and cashmere are used in the garments.

The varied visual merchandising is effective, ranging across display tables, wall racks and moveable rails. In contrast with many menswear retailers, Arket chooses a light approach in its shopfit. The soft tones, terrazzo flooring and matt textures were elegant and unique, and the fitting rooms decorated in shades of grey with cosy carpet underfoot add to the sense of laid-back, minimalist cool.

Little touches, such as the small cafe that sits unobtrusively in the ground floor, plus an installation designed to look like a market stall, give the store a distinct personality.

However, there were very few staff in the shop, and the fitting rooms were unmanned. I was unable to find staff to help me with my questions. There were a large amount of Sale items in the store, which detracted from the overall serene vibe. When browsing I found the chunky matt-coated hangers unwieldy: it was difficult to look at products and return them to their rails.  

Primark

Primark stood out with its sustainable focus and strong value offer, but a messy store made for an muddled shopping experience.

  • Product: 4
  • Presentation: 2
  • Customer service: 3
  • Value for money: 4
  • Shopping experience: 3

Total: 16

Primarkuk ca34c0ba155cb

Of all the retailers tested during Hit or Miss, Primark stands out for its sustainable messaging in store. Perhaps surprisingly, its sustainability focus is much more prominent than that of retailers such as H&M, which is better known for its ecological stance.

Recycling bins encourage shoppers to donate their old clothing, and there are several products on display that have clearly signalled sustainable credentials. The denim section, for example, has tags explaining each style’s use of sustainable cotton. Although staff cannot tell me any additional details beyond what is on the tag, they are able to flag other sustainable styles in the offer.

The overall design of the menswear floor is minimalist but pleasant. The space is white and bright, which gives a crisp and clean feel. Birmingham slang such as “blabberin’” on the walls adds a nice local dimension.

Most of the store is typically chaotic: rumpled tables, messy racks of clothing and products falling off the hangers. Even in a new store – it only opened this summer – this is very damaging to the overall appearance, especially when so much product is displayed on tables, all of which are unsightly. As ever at Primark, there is no music, but the large space and busy store create a pleasant atmosphere.

The “trending now” section at the front of the store is a clever addition. It focuses on a strong, trend-led offer: a good-value £25 checked puffer jacket and £30 fake shearling jacket both stand out.

Elsewhere in the store, value is strong. Soft jumpers for £5 are a particularly well-priced item and feel good quality. In addition to a large number of basic items, there is a slightly jarring focus on Christmas product, which feels too soon in early October. 

Aw19 statementshoot double merci agneta 0019

Ted Baker

Helpful staff, strong suiting and quirky design were plus points for Ted Baker but overwhelmed by a busy store crowded with maximalist product.

  • · Product: 3
  • · Presentation: 3
  • · Customer service: 4
  • · Value for money: 3
  • · Shopping experience: 3

Total: 16

Ted Baker’s localised shop designs are always impressive, and the Birmingham store is an enjoyable experience to walk around. There are steampunk-inspired metal cogs and clocks adorning the walls, which gives a quirky sense of character to an otherwise unremarkable shopping centre location.

The window displays are equally engaging – they are simple but effective, and have a dark autumnal tone that shows the new-season arrivals with an array of autumnal warm colours and dark romantic florals. There is an equal amount of men’s and women’s wear in the windows, which creates a nicely harmonious feel to the store as I enter.

The quality of the fittings in the store is impressive. Vintage wooden display tables, plush velvet curtains and wallpaper in the fitting rooms, and quirky objects dotted around the space combine with Ted Baker’s print-heavy aesthetic to give the feel of

a vintage bazaar. However, despite the pleasing overall look, the store is too dark and cramped to allow for easy browsing, and the mish-mash of patterns and prints is somewhat overwhelming.

In addition, some of the casual product in the menswear department feels a little tired. There are numerous repetitions of the brand’s signature floral prints – a floral shirt is priced quite high at £95 – but this has not been modernised enough.

The suiting section is a contrast to this. One of several retailers to clearly delineate their tailoring offer, Ted Baker’s suits are well made – predominantly from 100% wool – and they offer good value. The styles balance trend and classic designs very well without too much of a focus on either. Highlights include a slim-fit sky blue three-piece wool suit, fairly priced at £289 for a jacket and £139 for trousers.

I am not greeted on entry to the store, but am offered assistance as I browse the suits, and the assistant explains the tailoring services. From a high street name that is not a dedicated suit specialist, the offer of tailoring is a strong bonus. 

H&M

With otherwise strong store and product, H&M was let down by unkempt shelves and messy details.

  • Product: 4
  • Presentation: 2.5
  • Customer service: 2
  • Value for money: 4
  • Shopping experience: 3

Total: 15.5

Hm

The H&M store is a clever mix between the premium Scandi vibe of sister retailer Arket and the volume-led practicality of a value retailer. Marble display tables show off trend-led products, plants are dotted around the store, and scaffolding-style shelving ranges up to the high ceilings, granting the space an interesting visual dimension. H&M intelligently displays products on the high shelving twice in these units, so out-of-reach products are available at a more accessible height. Mirrors and banquette seats give a relaxed air, despite the large amount of stock on display.

The overall layout is well designed. An array of mannequins in neutral clothing greets me as I enter the store up the escalator, and products in the eye-catching and trend-led display are placed immediately next to the models.

The floor is divided into two key trends: a formal-inspired, grown-up aesthetic, and a more daring, dramatic and brash streetwear approach. The areas are clearly distinct, which is sensible given the different shoppers they likely target: H&M ensures it caters to its varied target market without alienating anyone.

Product is well priced and of reasonable quality. A smart checked coat is a bargain at £39.99 and a puffer jacket, which is available in a huge array of colours, is competitively priced: £34.99 is on par with other value retailers that offer pieces of lesser quality.

Despite its pleasing design, the store is let down by a messy shop floor and a lack of staff. There are empty rails in corners, and products have fallen off tables or hangers, and are left on the floor. It makes the store look uncared for.

I see no assistants in the men’s section, but the large, well-lit fitting rooms are staffed. They help point me in the right direction, but do not take me to the product I ask about, which would have enhanced the customer experience and the ease of my shopping journey. 

tm lewin

TM Lewin

A cautionary Sale tale: TM Lewin’s promising store was rendered chaotic by a Sale that dominated the space with mess and muddle.

  • Product: 3.5
  • Presentation: 2
  • Customer service: 4
  • Value for money: 4
  • Shopping experience: 2

Total: 15.5

TM Lewin’s store looks appealing from afar, but this is undone by the large, red Sale signs that cover up the product in the windows. The window mannequins are nicely styled, but are largely obscured by the signage, and, on closer inspection, the shirts and trousers they wear appear creased. Inside, end-of-season Sale product dominates, and design details that would otherwise shine are overwhelmed by messy piles of stock. 

The design of the store is very pleasing, and references TM Lewin’s tailoring heritage with items such as heavy wooden display tables, a “cutting desk”, vintage mannequins, exposed brick walls and stainless steel trunks.

A store highlight should be the elaborate shirting wall: a dark wood display stretching from floor to ceiling with slots for each shirt. The feature is neatly and clearly segmented by size and style. However, the overwhelming feeling in this store is chaotic. Many slots in the wall are entirely empty, and the shiny plastic wrapping on shirts and ties seems cheap. Additionally, display tables are piled high with the very messy Sale, which detracts hugely from the overall shopping experience.

I am greeted as I enter, and throughout the store, team members are attentively assisting all the shoppers present. Staff are friendly, knowledgeable and happy to offer help on style, fit and in-store services such as tailoring. Each member of staff wears a tape measure around their neck – regardless of whether this was a functional item, this gives a pleasant impression of professional, expert staff.

The small amount of new-season stock is strong: well priced, high quality and offering a good mix of stylish classics. A wool overcoat for £199 is soft and sturdy, and an unusual blue checked suit with a bold lining for £299 is good value, considering it includes a tailoring service. 

There are posters that hint at technical innovations, but they do not give a lot of detail and are not placed with the relevant items. I hunt for the Infinity Shoe – which claims to fuse trainer comfort with formal design – but it is displayed away from the explanation of its innovative approach, which is frustrating. 

Riverisland e785c018d9781

River Island

River Island’s solid product offer was undermined by untidy rails and clutter in a carelessly kept store.

  • Product: 3
  • Presentation: 2
  • Customer service: 3
  • Value for money: 3
  • Shopping experience: 2

Total: 13

In the vast windows of River Island, the tiny menswear display is somewhat lost. The few mannequins in neutral basic clothing fail to stand out compared with the vibrant womenswear display.Once upstairs on the menswear floor, the design is much more impressive. The paint drip-effect wallpaper and dedicated tailoring area, complete with pot plants, carpet and retro cinema-style seating, make the well-lit space feel premium.

The mannequins arranged around the floor are well styled, and positioned in unusual yet natural situations: one group is popping champagne and dancing. It is a playful addition to the store. However, they have facial features and expressions, which makes them look dated, cheap and unsettling, especially in combination with their cheap, plasticky wigs.

The tailoring section is strong, and features a good range of classic and fashion suits. A simple beige suit is a bargain at £130 and a green velvet corduroy suit for the same price is a fun talking point for the festive season.

The casual offer is well priced, and solid, if unremarkable. A tie-dye hoodie for £35 and a £90 fake shearling bomber jacket are both strong trend-led pieces that cater to two core menswear trends.

Staff do not greet me when I enter, but are engaged and friendly when I approach. They offer to order in additional sizes if they are unavailable in store, and give me guidance on fit. I also notice that River Island offers a free styling service, which is a nice, premium touch.

The biggest disappointment is that the store is so untidy. The fitting rooms are spacious, but messy – even at 11am on a Monday. Outside in the shop, there are products falling off hangers, abandoned empty rails and shoes littered across the floor.

Superdry

Superdry

With a baffling labyrinth of unremarkable product, Superdry is saved by helpful shop assistants and some strong outerwear.

  • · Product: 2
  • · Presentation: 2
  • · Customer service: 3.5
  • · Value for money: 3.5
  • · Shopping experience: 2

Total: 13

The first thing I notice when I enter Superdry is the sheer quantity of stock. The space is crammed with rails, tables and wall displays overflowing with different items. The store is dark, and product sits closely together, frequently piled higher than my eye line. This makes the store feel cramped and I find it near impossible to browse. I am overwhelmed by the maze of semi-visible products. Added to this, harsh spotlights dazzle me as I shop, making the whole experience quite unpleasant.

There is no clear differentiation between most of the products in the store. There are an incalculable number of hoodies and jersey tops, dotted around in apparently random locations. Many styles are very similar to each other, particularly in the casual category, and I question why one store needs to sell so many near-identical items

Nevertheless, among a sea of ubiquitous jersey there are some stand-out products. A premium, down-filled camouflage jacket is well made and well priced at £99.99. The rest of the outerwear offer – including a reflective jacket and appropriately seasonal ski range – is equally strong, and a technical ski jacket is fairly priced at £249. Printed T-shirts are reasonable at £24.99

Given the labyrinthine layout, finding staff is a challenge. When I do locate someone in the fitting rooms, they are helpful and are able to take me to the product I ask about easily, which is useful in such a maze. The fitting rooms are inaccessible during my visit, as they are blocked off by Sale rails that are waiting to be taken into the store.

Despite these negatives, the design has some nice touches. The windows are dark and dramatic, and highlight trend-led products with Polaroid-style frames. There are quirky details such as jam jar light fittings and table displays modelled on warehouse crates.  

Reiss

Reiss

Reiss

Pricey product, disappointing quality and a store let down by a lack of upkeep hit Reiss’ score.

  • Product: 3.5
  • Presentation: 3
  • Customer service: 2
  • Value for money: 2
  • Shopping experience: 2

Total: 12.5

Reiss presents a wide array of stylish contemporary basics with subtle takes on key trends. Retro tailoring, elevated sportswear (including pinstriped joggers that are pricey at £110), and hints of a romantic aesthetic in florals and satin fabrics are key trends.

I am disappointed in the quality for the price, and I do not feel like the store provides good value. A fluid, black and white floral-print shirt at £115 is made from polyester, which I typically associate with cheaper fast fashion brands. Additionally, a houndstooth blazer for £295 is only lined at the front, which seems to me like a cost-cutting measure.

These elements jar with the “buy less, wear more” mentality filtering through the premium end of the market. I find myself wondering how long these items will last and whether they are worth the investment. If they were made from natural materials, or had technical properties, I would be more likely to pay the higher prices.

The shop design is a similar tale of contrasts. A glamorous and dramatic store front is an appealing introduction to the store, and there are chic, well-styled mannequins in the windows. The metal fittings and moody (but still bright enough to browse) lighting confer a premium feel, as does the subtle scent that permeates the store.

The dedicated tailoring area – with plush carpets and large mirrored fitting rooms – also feels appropriately premium. However, one of the fitting room doors is messily cordoned off with yellow tape over fractured glass, and a second cubicle is out of action, piled high with hangers and display rails. This undermines the otherwise pleasant shop fit – knocking points off Reiss’s presentation score.

I am greeted on entry, but when I later require assistance, the only person I can find is engaged in a phone conversation behind the till, and I am unable to get any help.

Zara

Zara Mens

Despite the store’s drama, Zara Mens is a disappointing, messy array of basics.

  • Product: 2
  • Presentation: 2.5
  • Customer service: 2
  • Value for money: 4
  • Shopping experience: 2

Total: 12.5

The dramatic exterior of Zara’s menswear store sets it apart from those surrounding it. In contrast to the flat, bright frontages brimming with colourful mannequins and sky-high campaign images, the dedicated Zara Mens store has a dark, sweeping curved glass shopfront across its two storeys, simply decorated with slatted blinds and a luminescent logo. 

Sat among its bright counterparts, the simplicity is alluring and gives a premium look to the store. The design inside is equally chic: dark metal fittings, and glossy black flooring continue the premium feel.

Plush curtains in the fitting rooms and an overall minimalist aesthetic make for a pleasingly dramatic store.

Unfortunately, the store is very messy. A display table of jeans is well rummaged and has not been tidied, products are left abandoned in the wrong locations, and shoes are jumbled into piles throughout the store. 

In the fitting rooms, a large pile of clothes is abandoned on the desk, and, although the rooms themselves are neat and clean, this is not pleasant.

The customer service in the Zara store is also lacking. There are very few staff in the store, and when they appear, they rush past me, speaking into headsets. I am not able to stop them for assistance until I approach them in the changing room area, where they answer my question briefly but helpfully.

The outerwear selection from Zara is strong and fantastic value – a distressed fake leather and fake shearling overcoat is a bargain at £159, as is a heavy, sturdy fake shearling-lined jacket at £149. Other than the outerwear, however, I am disappointed by the offer in Zara, which is overwhelmingly made up of neutral basics, and there are a relatively small number of styles on offer. An additional annoyance is the mannequins’ styling. They sport items that staff tell me are not available in store, which is frustrating to say the least. 

Next

Next

Next

A rodent problem adds to a long list of disappointments at Next: with product, presentation and service all lacking.

  • Product: 3
  • Presentation: 2
  • Customer service: 2
  • Value for money: 3
  • Shopping experience: 0

Total: 10

In seven seasons of Drapers’ Hit or Miss series, I have encountered some disappointing in-store experiences. However, entering the tailoring department of Next in the Bullring and looking down to find a mouse trap lying on the shop floor – complete with dead mouse – is probably the most unpleasant.

It is not Next’s fault that there are mice in the centre, and Primark had to close its cafe in July after visitors spotted the rodents. Mouse traps are arguably the only solution, but it is entirely unacceptable that the traps are left full and in plain sight of shoppers.

Nonetheless, first impressions are good. The menswear entrance is warm and inviting, with cosy, autumnal-toned products on mannequins in the front of the store. There is an accessible, toned-down take on the sportswear and heritage trends. A long-sleeved, knitted polo top is well priced at £30 and offers an accessible retro vibe – a good choice for the more traditional Next shopper.

However, the store is extremely messy. There are empty shelves and abandoned hangers, and under one display table is a washing-up bowl filled with water. Racks are untidy, and have products in the wrong places or askew.

It is an unpleasant and badly presented store. There is a good range of shirts, but all the products on display are creased, which makes them appear cheap and the shop feel shabby. I am disappointed to find a badly damaged blazer with a torn lapel displayed prominently. The blazer itself feels flimsy and poor quality, and is overpriced at £150.

I am unable to find staff as I shop, and the only assistants I see are behind the tills. The large Next store is confusing to navigate – there is a strange arrangement of floors and floor numbers – and I get lost. Even when I ask for specific directions to one of the four exits, staff are unable to help me find my way out. 

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.