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Drapers Hit or Miss: autumn 19 womenswear

Fat face index

Drapers puts womenswear retailers at Birmingham’s Bullring and Grand Central shopping centres under the microscope.

The view from the train window is grey and miserable as Drapers heads to Birmingham for our seasonal expedition to scrutinise high street retailers’ latest offerings. We are shopping the city’s interconnected Bullring and Grand Central centres in the hope of finding something more inspirational than the weather outside.

For womenswear, there were some excellent store designs and imaginative visual merchandising on display during our visit to the UK’s second city. Both Fat Face and Ted Baker shone in this field. Care and attention had gone into giving most of the stores visited a distinct personality, although this was let down in places by disappointing levels of wear and tear at the likes of Next, as well as poor customer service.

In fact, as has sadly become a regular occurrence during Drapers’ Hit or Miss visits to the high street, service was almost entirely missing at trend-led high street retailers such as H&M, Topshop and Zara. Premium retailers such as AllSaints fared considerably better, but the real star of the show was Fat Face. Service here showed other retailers how it should be done: warm, friendly and informative, without being obtrusive.

Key womenswear trends for the autumn season include romantic puff-sleeve organza blouses, printed midi-dresses, lots of fake leather and nods to the 1980s. Midi-dresses, also highlighted as a key trend in our spring secret shopper series, remain a key piece, and almost all retailers had a selection for customers to choose from. Topshop, Zara, and Primark all scored well for product thanks to their fashion-forward, on-trend offers that were well targeted to their core customers.

Stores were visited on 7 October and were assessed on product offer, store presentation, customer service, value for money and the overall shopping experience. Each category is rated out of five for a total score out of 25.

Drapers’ Hit or Miss rankings

Fat Face 22/25

Ted Baker 18/25

AllSaints 17.5/25

Primark 17.5/25

Hobbs 17/25

Topshop 17/25

Joules 16/25

River Island 15.5/25

Reiss 15/25

Arket 14.5/25

H&M 14/25

Superdry 14/25

Zara 14/25

Mango 12.4/25

Next 10/25

New Look 9/25

Fat face aw19 (4)

Fat Face 


Five-star service and excellent store design help Fat Face shine

Product: 3/5

Presentation: 5/5

Customer service: 5/5

Value for money: 4/5

Shopping experience: 5/5

This is a store with real personality. I am struck by the excellent store design throughout this spacious branch of Fat Face. It has been decorated to look like a rustic rural cottage, which brings a touch of the countryside to Birmingham city centre. Plenty of wood, old-fashioned beams and quirky light fixtures add to the effect.

Painted in soothing tones of grey and green, the changing rooms are excellent. Both the changing room area and the cubicles themselves are large – I feel relaxed and have plenty of space to try items on. There is also a desk with colouring-in equipment to keep children occupied – a thoughtful touch for the family Fat Face shopper.

This is hands down the best service I receive all day. Staff in this store should be commended. They are engaged, passionate and genuinely interested in helping customers. I am greeted promptly by a member of staff, who compliments my bright jumper. In the changing rooms, I am shown to my cubicle by another enthusiastic member of staff.

As I try items on, I can hear the team providing helpful styling advice to other shoppers and chatting about different fabrics. The staff member who initially greeted me also checks up on me just before I leave the store, asking about my experience and how I got on. He also goes out of his way to show me how to navigate the maze-like shopping centre when I ask for directions to another store.

Fabric quality is disappointing in places, which brings down the product score. My eye is drawn to a bright striped jumper in shades of burnt orange and blue (good value at £49.50), which is part of a well-signposted collection with stylist Angie Smith. It contains some wool, so the higher price point feels fair. However, I am disappointed by a caramel teddy coat (£89), which feels cheap and synthetic.

Ted baker aw19

Ted Baker


Some of the most interesting examples of visual merchandising seen in Birmingham

Product: 3/5

Presentation: 4/5

Customer service: 4/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 4/5

Silver pipes and gold cogs that wind their way around the mannequins in the windows of Ted Baker are some of the most imaginative visual merchandising I see on my trip to Birmingham. They are both quirky and charming.

I am greeted straight away as I enter the menswear department on the ground floor and make my way up the stairs to womenswear. The pipe and cog decoration continues on the walls up the stairs.

Although not huge, careful attention has also been paid to the visual merchandising in the womenswear department. Feature walls have been made to look like chocolate bars, and shelves are lined with jars of sweets. This is an engaging store.

The changing rooms are equally well designed, kitted out with plush curtains and thick carpets. Individual fitting rooms are spacious, and this is a pleasant place in which to try on clothes.

Service is attentive. I am also approached by a member of staff as I enter womenswear. She shows me to the changing room and helps me when she sees me struggling with the thick gold cord that holds back the curtain. She is happy to answer questions when I am thrown off by Ted Baker’s sizing system, which ranges from 0 to 5 instead of the more traditional 6 to 16. This is good service, although not quite as attentive as at Fat Face.

Ted Baker has a distinct design handwriting that stands out on the high street. Highlights I spot include a star-and-leopard print deep blue midi-dress (£199). For a shopper who wants to splash out a bit more on an occasion piece, it represents fair value for money given the elevated design and level of detail, including glitter cuffs. The offer feels relevant to the target customer.

  • Allsaints aw19 (3)



Service shines at AllSaints

Product: 4/5

Presentation: 3.5/5

Customer service: 4/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 3/5

AllSaints stores have a distinct personality, and this is a typical example of the retailer’s interiors: industrial fittings, black wood and rows of black antique Singer sewing machines. It is impactful and inviting. I immediately spot a zebra print midi-dress (£228) in the window that further draws me into the store.

I am greeted straight away by a friendly member of staff, who promptly helps me find the dress I like in the window and offers to put it in the changing room for me as I continue browsing. She also checks up on me after I leave the changing room, asking if I liked my chosen products and checking how they fit.

Attention to detail has been paid to design throughout the store, from the saddle-shaped seats in the changing rooms to the leather barbers chairs outside. However, it is untidy in areas, particularly in the Sale section, and this detracts somewhat from the overall experience, particularly for a premium store.

AllSaints’ product handwriting is as distinct as its store design. Moody-toned denim and leather feature heavily. However, there are nods to seasonal trends, such as the zebra print midi-dress. Close up, I am impressed by the level of quality, including a pretty gathered detail around the neck and cuffed sleeves.

The level of detail makes the higher price tag feel like fair value for money for shoppers with a larger budget. Knitwear, a key category for AllSaints, also shines. A grey tiger print jumper (£148) is another nice example of the retailer referencing trends without losing its identity.

Primark aw19 (11)



The world’s largest store makes a big impact

Product: 4/5

Presentation: 4/5

Customer service: 2/5

Value for money: 4/5

Shopping experience: 3.5/5

I approach this Primark store with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Clocking in at a whopping 160,000 sq ft, this is the world’s largest fashion retail store, as decreed by Guinness World Records. It is five storeys and the size of an entire department store in its own right.

I am impressed by the windows, which add a touch of excitement to an otherwise glum high street with digital screens that proudly proclaim “Brum” in bubble gum pink writing. Mannequins in the windows are dressed in tonal outfits of cream and white, which look more expensive than Primark’s famously low price tags and resemble those in Topshop.

It is easy to find the product on display in the windows inside the store and I am particularly struck by a cream boiler suit (£20) with a light check print. The fabric does not feel of the best quality, but at that price, one would not expect it to and overall, it is an appealing product. It is at Primark that I am also tempted to make my first purchase of the day.

There is a treasure trove of on-trend product on the store’s first floor, including a bargain rose print midi-dress (£18). My eye is also caught by a burgundy silk midi-skirt (£13), which has been well merchandised next to a frilled blouse in similar tones (£14). Together, they make an appealing outfit for less than £30.

Despite its size, shopping at Primark does not feel too overwhelming and it is relatively easy to navigate thanks to clear signage. There is a clear focus on experience at this store, which is home to several food outlets and offers a range of beauty treatments. It is a fun place for young shoppers to come and while away a few hours after school or at the weekend.

There is also more visual merchandising here than one might usually find in Primark. An old-fashioned street sign is a nice touch, as is neon letters spelling out “Primark” in white cages. It is slightly disappointing that a display of white, blue and pink balloons is unattractively cordoned off.

Mess – untidy displays and hangers on the floor – stops Primark from achieving a top score for store experience.

Service is basic but effective. There are staff on hand at the entrance and exit of the changing rooms. Red and green lights over the cubicles indicate those that are occupied and those that are free, which is a helpful addition to the store.

Hobbs aw19 (8)


A well-presented store and good customer service

Product: 4/5

Presentation: 3/5

Customer service: 4/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 3/5

Hobbs has been decorated to resemble a cosy members’ club or library, with white panelled walls, framed prints, squashy armchairs and reading lights. This is not a huge store and there is a lot of product on offer. As a result, it feels a little cramped in places, but the pleasant shopfit maintains a premium atmosphere. Gentle jazz feels more relevant to the Hobbs customer than the loud pop music I hear at other stores.

I am only browsing for a minute or two before I am greeted by a member of staff, who puts items in the fitting rooms for me. Someone else comes over to check whether I need any help while I am trying items on and I am bid goodbye as I leave, which makes for attentive but non-intrusive customer service.

Hazard tape holding down the plush carpet in the changing rooms slightly detracts from the overall experience. However, the cubicles are spacious, there is plenty of seating and, generally, this is a relaxing place to shop.

The midi-dress trend is well represented at Hobbs. My eye is caught by an emerald green polka dot version (£159). Although it comes with a high price tag, it drapes nicely and feels good quality, and represents fair value for money. I am particularly impressed by a luxurious inky blue fake fur coat (£199), which again feels high enough quality to justify the price point.

Topshop aw19 (2)



Gets a big tick for on-trend product but is let down by a messy store

Product: 4/5

Presentation 3/5

Customer service 3/5

Value for money: 4/5

Shopping experience: 3/5

You cannot miss this sprawling branch of Topshop. Huge campaign pictures showing models decked out in the latest trends hover just above eye level, making for a striking store front. In the windows, mannequins posing in a line are wearing head-to-toe tonal looks in neutral shades. They look sleek, well put together and on trend.

As a young fashion retailer, I expect Topshop to have its finger firmly on the pulse of seasonal trends. The latest looks are nicely represented in store: shoppers seeking to update their wardrobes should not be disappointed.

A ruffled floral blouse with ruching (£29) is a good example of the current prairie look and has an impressive level of detail for the corresponding price tag. Leather or fake leather shirts are a key piece for the season, and Topshop’s take in khaki green (£45) is both stylish and decent quality. The star of the show is a luxuriantly thick fake fur jacket (£85), which feels among the best I see all day and represents good value for money.

Pockets of mess detract from the overall store experience. There are jeans on the floor and items left abandoned in an otherwise impressive denim area, where different fits are clearly explained. A large Sale area at the front of the store is in need of a good tidy. I spot product on the floor throughout.

It is a similar story in the changing rooms. Although generally large and welcoming, and with a spacious entrance area with plenty of seating, my cubicle could do with a sweep.

Service is average. I am not approached as I enter or leave the store. I have to wait for staff to stop chatting before they help me when I go to the changing rooms, but I am shown to a cubicle in a friendly enough manner.


A pleasant store environment that lacks service

Product: 3/5

Presentation 3.5./5

Customer service 3/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 3.5/5

Windows at this store are well presented and appealing, and draw me into the shop. One side is dominated by a pretty woodland-themed display which highlights Joules’ 30th anniversary and includes some on-trend seasonal outfits, such as a green jumper paired with a leopard print dress. The other side is a nice example of how to advertise discounts without resorting to tacky signage – Joules’ Sale notices include quirky phrases that catch the eye, such as “corr blimey”. Handwritten notes from customers praising the brand printed on the windows are another nice touch.

Careful attention has also been paid to design details inside. White panelled walls are decorated with an array of prints, and an industrial light fixture creates a focal point on the back wall. Overall, this is a pleasant place to shop, but a few details prevent it from being a five-star experience. Although the entrance to the changing room is agreeable enough – there is plenty of seating for weary shopping companions and bright printed wallpaper is cheery – I have to squeeze past a large rail of clothing to reach a cubicle. The walls inside the changing rooms are also scuffed.

Service here is so-so. I do see staff on the shop floor, but I am not greeted as I enter the store. A member of staff tells me I can pick any changing room, but no one asks how I got on with my chosen items as I leave the store.

It would also be nice to see a more diverse range of product. I spot some well-designed pieces, including the leopard dress in the window (fair value at £79.95.) I am also impressed by a mocha-toned wrap dress with soft navy and pink spots (£79.95), which has been helpfully merchandised with a navy roll-neck jumper to give shoppers outfit ideas. Higher prices are justified by products that feel good quality. However, outerwear dominates the overall offer, and I would have liked to have seen more choice.


River island aw19 (1)

River Island


Key trends are represented, although service needs improving

Product: 3.5/5

Presentation 4/5

Customer service 2/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 3/5

Located next to rival Topshop, this is another hulking store. A pleasing jungle theme runs across the front of the store and windows, which are decorated with leopard print lamps and gold palm fronds. Golden monkeys dangling from fittings are an eye-catching pop of visual merchandising.

The womenswear offer is highlighted in a large display of mannequins at the front and centre of the store. Key trends are represented, and there is more fake leather on show here. My eye is immediately drawn to a shocking pink tuxedo suit. Bold and maximalist, it feels very 1980s – a key trend on recent catwalks.

It is easy to find the pink suit I spot in the window. The double-breasted blazer (£75) has enough detail – such as rows of buttons on the cuff and black piping – to make the price tag feel good value. A fake leather blouse with belted waist (£42) is comparable in price and quality to Topshop.

I am less impressed with an organza sleeve blouse (£36), another trend for autumn 19. The price tag feels high for this trend. Shoppers can buy similar styles of comparable quality for less at Zara.

Good store design is let down slightly by mess. A door leading to an unsightly store cupboard near the front of the store has been left open. I spot clothes slipping off their hangers and on to the floor throughout, as well as paper and tissue on the floor.

Service is also patchy. The member of staff on the changing rooms does not say a word to me when I enter, and simply hands over a tag. She is friendlier when I ask for a product in a different size but does not come to tell me it is not in stock. I have to go back out to ask.

The changing area is impressive. Velvet blue seating, pastel-toned walls and huge mirrors festooned with neon lights stating “You look amazing” make for a fun changing area that should appeal to young shoppers. My only niggle is that the cubicle itself feels a little cramped, which lets down the experience slightly. Perhaps the plan is to draw shoppers out into the wider changing area to look at items they are wearing, but I would have liked more space.

Reiss aw19 (11)


Marks are lost for average value for money and service

Product: 3.5/5

Presentation: 3/5

Customer service: 3/5

Value for money: 2.5/5

Shopping experience: 3/5

Simple and sophisticated is the order of the day in Reiss’s windows. Mannequins pose against smoky-toned campaign images and most of the store front is dominated by large white Reiss branding. Overall, the store looks premium and expensive.

A pleasant smell of perfume, low lighting and gentle music add to the glossy experience. There is not a hair out of place on the shop floor but as I head towards the back, I notice that the last changing room has been crammed full of paper and boxes, which are now spilling out into the store.

I am also not blown away by the service. There are two members of staff in the shop, although one is on the phone to another store – and I am the only customer, but I am not greeted. No one approaches me when I pick up product and take it to the changing room.

This is somewhat rectified when a member of staff comes over when I return to the front of the store and asks how I got on with my chosen product. She is friendly and engaging, but service here could have been more proactive. 

This is especially the case given how high Reiss’s prices are. There is some lovely product here, but in places the price tags do feel steep. A chunky knit jumper in a bright pink (£145) is pretty and soft, although it contains a lot of polyester (34%) for the price tag. I am impressed by an emerald green midi-dress with batwing sleeves (£185), which drapes nicely and is flattering. This means it feels like good value.

Arket aw19 (3)



A complete lack of service hits this retailer’s score

Product: 4/5

Presentation 4/5

Customer service 0/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 3.5/5

The windows at Arket, part of the H&M group, scream Scandi cool. An attractive display of green-toned homeware next to a typically simple but stylish outfit immediately makes me want to buy into the Swedish lifestyle.

A nicely presented trestle table is the first thing I spot as I enter the store. It is a fun and fresh touch of visual merchandising, offering a pick ’n’ mix of clothing, homeware and accessories.

Womenswear is on the first floor of this large store. Like many others I visit, this store is on Sale, and I am greeted by a large rack of discounted product as I enter. However, unlike many others I visit, at Arket the Sale section is spick and span. Everything is neatly in place and nothing has fallen on the floor.

Soft music contrasts to the loud chart hits blaring at most other retailers, which fits with the more premium feel Arket is trying to project. Creamy white walls and grey marble floors are offset by plenty of plants. This is a modern, easy place to shop.

Arket does a fine job at good-quality basics, and dots a few more trend-led styles throughout its offer. A super-soft cashmere (£135) jumper is excellent quality, and good value for money. I am impressed by a structured pink blazer (£150) – a wardrobe staple that should last for season after season. More fashion-forward products on offer include a jacquard leopard print overshirt (£115), which feels reassuringly thick and heavy – again representing good value for money.

While the store itself and the product offer position Arket as a premium retailer, the service does not match up. I am not approached at any point during my time in store. Most frustratingly, there is no one manning the changing rooms. This is annoying when I want to try another size in the pink blazer, as I am forced to dash quickly across the shop floor to fetch it myself. 

Hm aw19 (2)



Some nice product, but an offer that lags behind when it comes to trends

Product: 3/5

Presentation: 3/5

Customer service: 2/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 3/5

Although minimalist in design, this is a light, bright and spacious branch of Swedish retailer H&M. Windows have been kept simple, highlighting H&M’s recent collaboration with knitwear brand Pringle of Scotland.

This appealing collection is easy to find near the front of the store and offers some of the best product I see in H&M. I am particularly attracted to a jacquard knit in grey and cream with flashes of neon (£24.99). As well being visually appealing, it feels soft and is made from recycled polyester – all for a very low price tag, which represents good value for money.

I am also drawn to a lime green chunky knit (also £24.99) that is part of H&M’s sustainable Conscious collection and again, feels more expensive than its bargain price tag. Pretty twisted leather buttons help elevate a brown pile jacket (£39.99.) However, more broadly H&M’s offer does not feel as fashion forward as young fashion competitors such as Topshop and River Island. It would have been good to see more trend-led product to elevate what in places is a samey offer.

A member of staff is on hand to greet me as I enter the fitting rooms and take unwanted products from me when I leave, so the very basics of customer service are at least being ticked off. However, I am not approached at any other time during my visit.

Fitting rooms are fairly basic but still bright and attractive with eye-catching turquoise curtains. However, the floor of my fitting room is littered with hangers and sweet wrappers, which is a shame. 

Superdry aw19 (13)


Needs a more varied product offer and better service to stand out

Product: 2.5/5

Presentation: 3.5/5

Customer service: 2/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 3/5

White frames hanging over mannequins to make them look like Polaroid pictures are a fun and fresh piece of visual merchandising that makes the store front pop. However, I would liked to have seen some more interesting product on display: Superdry has chosen to highlight core product of jeans, checked shirts and outerwear. While seasonally appropriate, the chosen product is not particularly exciting and does not spark a real desire to go in.

I am greeted by a member of staff on the ground-floor menswear department as I enter, but this is the only interaction I have.

Superdry is another retailer with a clear design handwriting running throughout its store estate. This is a typically large and dark store, and is nicely done. Lights suspended in jam jars are pretty, as is a display of folded hoodies (£49.99) in pastel pink, purple and yellow. Lined up next to each other, they look very appealing.

This is another retailer that could benefit from a wider product offer to give customers more choice. The range is heavily dominated by hoodies. There are some nice examples, such as a white fleece hoodie with a sporty, retro Superdry logo (£59.99), and a similar style in black with front pocket and cord ties (£69.99). High quality makes them good value. However, the offer would benefit from more choice.

The changing rooms, while well designed, are disappointing. I like the camouflage-print curtains, which pop against the wood-lined walls of the fitting rooms. However, the space is crowded with untidy rails of abandoned product. I have to squeeze past the mess to reach a changing room and the general untidiness detracts from the experience. There are also no staff on hand to ask for different sizes or help. No one notices me as I go to and from the changing rooms.

Zara aw19 (8)



Trend-led product let down by a lack of service and experience

Product: 4/5

Presentation 2/5

Customer service 2/5

Value for money: 4/5

Shopping experience: 2/5

There is not much to see in the windows of Zara, which are covered up with paper as presumably the display is being updated.

The ground floor of this store in particular feels smaller and more cramped than other young fashion retailers such as Topshop and River Island, which makes it more difficult to shop. Things are better upstairs, which is lighter and brighter. The first floor is also home to a carved feature wall, which adds an element of visual merchandising.

However, overall this is a typically messy Zara store. Displays of folded clothes are rumpled and rummaged through. Product has slipped ont o the floor throughout the store, detracting from the overall shopping experience.

It is a similar story in the changing rooms, where there are tissues and tags on the floor of my cubicle. Messy racks of discarded clothing clog up the changing rooms, which feel very pedestrian compared with the more exciting designs on show at many other retailers I visit. Zara could step up the in-store experience.

Where this retailer does shine is product. Zara has been clever to update its summer smash hit polka-dot maxi-dress to capitalise on demand – I spot a black version (£39.99) that should tempt shoppers looking for a more seasonally appropriate take on their favourite dress. I am an extremely impressed with a maximalist midi-dress in an opulent floral print (£49.99). Reminiscent of Gucci, it looks considerably more expensive than it is and has some eye-catching details, including orange and green panels at the cuffs and hem. A fake leather shirt (£29.99) undercuts Topshop and River Island’s versions, and feels of comparable quality. As ever, Zara gives customers an affordable way to buy into trends.

Service is basic. There is someone manning the changing rooms, who greets me and hands me a tag. This is the only interaction I have with staff during my visit.

Mangoaw19 (2)


This retailer lacks a clear personality

Product: 2.5/5

Presentation: 3/5

Customer service: 2/5

Value for money: 2/5

Shopping experience: 3/5

I like a display of geometric rocks in the windows of Mango, but overall this store lacks clear handwriting or personality. Like Zara, Mango has a simple shop fit. It is light and bright enough to be a pleasant, if unexciting, shopping experience. 

The store is wide and spacious, although very bright stark lighting makes the space feel clinical and cold.

A lack of personality extends to the product offer, which does not feel particularly fresh or trend led. There are a few nice pieces – for example, a chiffon tiered midi-dress (£49.99) and a zebra wrap dress (£69.99), but nothing that you could not find elsewhere on the high street. 

Rivals such as Topshop, Zara, River Island and Primark all feel like they have their fingers more on the pulse of seasonal trends, and, as Mango is catering to a similar shopper, the offer here lags behind.

The price of the zebra wrap dress feels high, given the quality, and there are plenty of similar styles a lower price point available at other retailers. It is considerably higher than the chiffon tiered midi-dress and I am not sure why this is.

Service is also lacking. This is quite a large store, and a member of staff does point me towards the changing rooms when she sees my lost expression. 

However, there is no one working on the changing rooms. I see another customer trying on a selection of items who is clearly looking for someone to help. 

Staff stay clustered around the till or unpacking deliveries. This is a theme throughout Drapers’ visit to Birmingham – although clearly unpacking deliveries is important, it should not take priority over serving customers.

Next aw19 (2)



Care and attention are needed to elevate Next’s store experience

Product: 3.5/5

Presentation: 2/5

Customer service: 0/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 2/5

The festive season has come early to Next’s windows. A glittery burgundy backdrop and fixtures that resemble Christmas trees make for a sparkly display that brightens up a cold and grey autumn day.

Unfortunately, that is where the magic ends. I spot ugly yellow crates and cupboard boxes on the shop floor as soon as I enter and throughout my time browsing the store. There is make-up smeared all over the floor near a display of gifting, and large yellow hazard signs warn me to keep clear from a leak dripping from the ceiling. Receipts and dust litter the floor.

I find this doubly disappointing because with some care and attention this could be a nice store. It is light, bright and well designed, but has been let down by wear and tear.

This is compounded by my trip to the changing rooms. These are spacious but there are racks of messy product crowded into the area, making for an uninspiring experience. Several sections of the changing rooms are cordoned off. Staff are nowhere to be seen and I am left to wander in and out without being approached.

There is a lot of basic product on display here, but I do spot some pieces that take my fancy. Next is particularly strong when it comes to affordable knitwear. A grey sweater jumper with “smile” embossed in fuzzy rainbow writing (£26) and a navy version covered in rainbow stars (also £26) are bright and fun – the perfect pick-me up for shoppers looking for an affordable, value-for-money treat.

An ochre floral printed midi-dress (£38) is considerably cheaper than similar styles at Joules and feels like acceptable quality. I also like a blush-toned coat (£82), which contains wool and therefore represents value for money. 

New look aw19

New Look


An extremely messy and unexciting store makes for a disappointing experience

Product: 2/5

Presentation: 1/5

Customer service: 2/5

Value for money: 3/5

Shopping experience: 1/5

Visiting New Look is a dispiriting experience. The windows are drab and unexciting compared with competitors such as River Island, Topshop and Primark, and there is little in the way of visual merchandising.

This store feels dark and uninviting, and it is a mess. The front is more or less presentable, but as you head towards the back of the store, the worse it becomes. There are receipts, dust and stickers on the floor. A Sale rack near the changing rooms is a disaster – clothing and accessories are jumbled in an unattractive pile on the floor.

I am similarly unimpressed by the changing rooms. A battered chaise longue needs to be revamped or replaced – a criticism that has been levelled at other branches of New Look in previous editions of Hit or Miss.

Details such as a trompe l’oeil gilt frame around a large mirror or signs over hooks in the changing rooms that read “definitely” “maybe” and “my stuff” could be fun details, but I am too distracted by battered walls that need painting, chaotic racks and an overflowing bin. There is, however, a member of staff at the entrance who welcomes me in and out.

The store is dominated by row upon row of similar product, such as checked shirts or fake fur trimmed short parkas. This makes the offer boring, although I do find one or two more interesting pieces. A printed floral midi-dress (£27.99) feels like reasonable quality for the price tag, and a black teddy coat (£49.99) is thick and fluffy for a low price.

All in all, this store needs a good tidy and a refresh.



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