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Hit or miss: River Island - 24/30

A good-looking store with all the product we’d expect to see for the colourful spring season.

  • 90-91 Whitgift Centre

Product: 8

An entire wall of printed shirts greets you as you enter the menswear section, nodding to the season’s top trend, including tropical palm trees, Navajo-inspired patterns and bird repeats. Cleverly, across more than 20 different styles, the more daring and colourful options are balanced by toned-down versions, so there are several ways to buy into the trend. Printed T-shirts and polos feature contrasting pocket details and it’s good to see transitional knits, alongside baseball jackets and lightweight sporty coats - two more big trends. Four chino styles give way to lots more jeans, ranging from trend-led ripped and acid-washed, to indigo washes with a more mainstream appeal. A solid offer of plain basics and vests also features.

Value: 8

The quality and price ratio is well balanced and matches its competitors well. Taking the key item that crops up almost everywhere this season, the printed short-sleeved shirt, River Island is around the same as its rivals on price, £28, matched by Topman but slightly more expensive than Burton’s lower-quality £22 version. Basic shirts start at £20, pricier than H&M’s £9.99 for a similar quality.

Experience: 8

Well-merchandised windows show off the best River Island has to offer in terms of interpreting spring’s trends. Entering from the ground floor, male customers are clearly directed upstairs. The men’s area shares a floor with kidswear but is well organised and makes the most of the space, using clear signs to draw customers to certain pieces such as ‘Shirts from £20’ and a centrally placed ‘New Arrivals’ rail. Mannequins are used throughout, showing customers different ways of wearing the trends, which is a helpful touch.

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