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High Street Hit or Miss: Womenswear spring 16

Karen Millen

Manchester’s Intu Trafford Centre was the setting for Drapers first Hit or Miss retail review of 2016: our analysis and assessment of what the biggest high street names are offering customers this spring 16 season.

Karen Millen

Karen Millen

Apart from the ubiquitous trench, the key trend was a summery take on the 1990s grunge look. This was epitomised by the bomber jacket, which came in a range of guises, from classic khaki to sporty mesh and statement embroidery.

Dungarees – long and short – and pinafores – pencil shaped or full skirted – are a new way to wear summer denim, while boho crop tops and off-the-shoulder peasant blouses channelled a festival vibe.

Another common trend was discounting, as retailers slashed prices by up to 50% in an effort to drive footfall over the Easter holiday period.

Visited on March 23-24, the stores reviewed are divided into premium, mainstream, young fashion and value. The scores are based on the quality and value of the spring 16 offer, as well as the overall in-store experience, from the layout and visual merchandising to the all-important customer service.

Intu Trafford Centre womenswear stores

Premium

Karen Millen 9/10

Ted Baker 8/10

AllSaints 7/10

Reiss 6/10

Young Fashion

Oasis 8/10

Jack Wills 7/10

River Island 7/10

Superdry 7/10

Topshop 7/10

Hollister 6/10

Lipsy 6/10

Quiz 6/10

Zara 6/10

Miss Selfridge 4/10

Mainstream

Next 8/10

Coast 7/10

Dorothy Perkins 6/10

Fat Face 6/10

Marks & Spencer 6/10

Monsoon 6/10

Phase Eight 6/10

Warehouse 5/10

Gap 4/10

Value

New Look 7/10

Glamorous 6/10

H&M 6/10

Premium

Karen Millen

Karen Millen

First floor

A-grade customer service with real charm

9/10

Pros

The first-class treatment at Karen Millen reminds us why in the era of digital retailing there is still no substitute for a great in-store experience. From the moment I enter the shop staff are incredibly friendly, offering to take the items I select into the changing room and bringing me a pair of heels to go with the eye-catching metallic green skirt (£125) I try on. Inside the plush, well-lit changing rooms two sales assistants act as my personal stylists, selecting items they think might complement my outfit. The quality of product is as impressive as the service, ranging from a wearable monochrome 1960s style mini-skirt (£99) to an unstructured mimosa yellow duster coat (£235) and a flirty digital floral print dress with a racer back (good value at £160).

Cons

The only aspect to let down an otherwise excellent store is a rather basic visual concept. The window – three mannequins set against a campaign image – fail to do justice to the product within.

Ted Baker

Ted Baker

First floor

Visual merchandising masterclass

8/10

Pros

The visual “wow” factor is in abundance at Ted Baker. Executing its jetsetter “silver service” theme with aplomb, the windows showcase product against the backdrop of an opulent hotel, featuring feather dusters, orange slices and a butler’s elegantly gloved hands. All the quirky Ted Baker signatures are on show inside, from individual pendant drop lights to graphic mirrored walls. Lush prints, rich embellishment and fabric quality continue to give this brand the edge, epitomised by a pink, cream and green digital floral appliqué dress (£189). While £249 feels expensive for a black trench, features such as the gold embossed buttons and tropical floral lining justify the price tag. Wandering around I never feel rushed by the charming sales assistant, who takes my outfits to the changing room to free my hands for browsing.

Cons

While spacious and with a handy seating area, the unisex changing rooms are dimly lit, so I struggle to see my outfit in real detail.

All saints cropped

AllSaints

Ground floor

A touch of class that shines in a store format that needs a refresh

7/10

Pros

While the store interior may not have had a refresh for years, the product selection for spring 16 is full of gems among the staples for which AllSaints is known. Alongside the signature cigarette skinnies (£98) and leather biker jackets (£298) are cute printed Italian silk shirt dresses (£218), khaki leather bomber jackets (£278) and taupe unstructured trenches with satin tie detailing (£258). The aspirational selection oozes quality and the staff are as polished as the product. While there is a lot of merchandise on show, the overall effect is edited. The store itself is spacious and high ceilinged, leaving plenty of room for freestanding mirrors, rails and a dedicated denim area.

Cons

While the signature AllSaints fixtures and fittings maintain consistency from store to store, the familiar wall of sewing machines and aged industrial setting could benefit from a refresh.

Reiss

Reiss

First floor

A sophisticated environment let down by a lack of service

6/10

Pros

Sophisticated and stylish from the minimal electro soundtrack, architectural panels and unisex changing rooms furnished with smart grey flannel curtains, the Reiss store is an exercise in pared-back cool. The spring 16 collection reflects this aesthetic. Standout items include a black polyester halter-neck dress with lace straps and a cut-out back (£180), and soft-drape unstructured trench in dove grey or salmon (£245). A butter-soft black leather biker jacket (£395) demanded attention, although shoppers may question whether it is worth £100 more than the AllSaints version. Well laid out, womenswear takes up half of the store, leading in on a selection of premium separates neatly merchandised on rails and tables, before moving up towards the formal workwear pieces at the rear.

Cons

Unfortunately the staff make no real effort to engage, actively avoiding a conversation and chatting among themselves, despite the Reiss “personal styling service” promoted in the windows.

Young fashion

Oasis

Oasis

First floor

Cute and quirky with bags of character

8/10

Pros

All aboard the Happiness Express! Oasis runs with a quirky travel theme featuring trains, planes and boats at the heart of its windows. The front of the store is split between a capsule collection of tropical prints, including a black, coral and khaki shirt dress (£55), and a nautical trend, featuring an adorable bow rib-knit vest (£32). Continuity pieces such as the “Forever” crew cardigan (£25) and taupe unstructured trench (well priced at £80) sit happily alongside a strong selection of denim. From the upbeat electro-pop tunes to the bright changing rooms full of quirky mismatched furniture, this store is full of charm.

Cons

The changing rooms have a four-item limit, which is low in comparison with competitors. This puts me off swapping one item to try on another, as it seems like a hassle. The only other suggestion would be to turn down the chilly air conditioning.

Jack Wills

Jack Wills

First floor

Preppy perfection comes at a price compared with high street rivals

7/10

Pros

Trimmed with white and green garlands, and featuring images of fresh-faced girls in meadows, the Jack Wills windows channels the joys of spring. Inside the shopper is transported to a country house, referenced by the large chandelier, sweeping staircase and parquet flooring. Pretty and classic, the product complements this theme, from cable-knit sweaters in coral and cream (£59.50) to the blue tweed Austerberry blazer (an expensive option at £179) in a “British equestrian fit”. The shop has a good selection from the wider range, mixing collegiate-style hoodies and joggers with gymwear and underwear.

Cons

Jack Wills proudly stands by its preppy aesthetic, so there is little trend-led innovation on offer. Although that may not be the reason people shop at Jack Wills, in a crowded market it may be hard to convince young shoppers to spend £149 on a trench when they could buy one from Topshop or Oasis for less than £80.

River Island

River Island

Serving the selfie generation with on-trend, well-priced product.

Ground floor

7/10

Pros

Big, bold and bright, River Island wows with the cool concept of its windows in which the faces of mannequins are lit by gleaming white lights as they take their best selfie. The pose is mirrored by mannequins on individual podiums at the entrance. The store is easy to navigate, helped by flooring or lighting that signifies a different part of the collection, while the large denim section cannot fail to impress. The untidy Sale section is cleverly tucked away at the back, so shoppers have to pass the full-price product first. River Island interprets the sporty 1990s vibe with a feminine twist, pairing a stretchy striped side-slit tube skirt (£35) with a cute black bomber (£45). Alongside glamorous body con dresses and hot pants are more wearable pieces, such as a biker jacket (£100) and denim dungaree dress (£38).

Cons

Female shoppers have to walk upstairs to a unisex changing room on the men’s floor instead of having a dedicated space downstairs. While the cubicles themselves are spacious, the area where staff take the clothes back is messy with product spilling off the shelves.

Superdry

Superdry

Ground floor

Friendly staff and cute product, although the store is difficult to navigate

7/10

Pros

Superdry is ready to duke it out with the likes of Jack Wills and Hollister for the title of preppy retail destination of spring 16. From the daisy print dungaree dresses (£54.99) and micro-daisy motif denim shorts (somewhat overpriced at £39.99) to the chunky sunshine yellow knits (£44.99), Superdry shows it can hold its own in the summer fashion stakes. The store also highlights its variety, stocking quality versions of the key trends, including a moleskin trench (£99.99) and khaki bomber (expensive compared with the competition at £94.99). The characteristic industrial fixtures keep the store interesting, including jam jar-shaped drop lights and wooden cabin-style changing rooms. Superdry keeps its Sale items restricted to a rail of discounted ski jackets (£52.49, from £104.99). The shop also benefits from friendly and helpful staff.

Cons

The store is dark and difficult to navigate. I struggle to find the changing rooms and stray into the menswear section, as there is no clear zoning of womenswear. The darkness, coupled with the loud drum and bass music, make the store feel half club, half retail destination, the overall effect of which is distracting.

Topshop

Topshop

First floor

High street trendsetter could take visual merchandising up a gear

7/10

Pros

Topshop is the go-to place for the latest trends, and it really owns the 1990s grunge vibe while others just dip their toes in the water. Take the bomber trend: at the entrance are a variety of options, from a khaki bomber with chunky gold zips (£55) to an embellished version (£59) and a sheer rose gold style (£60). Formal drape joggers (£30), a nude trench with black leather cuffs (£79) and wide-leg dungarees (£65) stand out as new season favourites. Within two minutes of entering the store a friendly assistant carrying an iPad approaches me to check I am OK. In store a dedicated “Brands at Topshop” area features House of CB, Kendelle and Love, as well as a dedicated click-and-collect point and fun photo booth to increase dwell time.

Cons

The store lacks the VM bells and whistles of Topshop’s Oxford Street flagship or even the retailer’s store in Trinity Leeds, and there is no visual concept to speak of. The window is dominated by a big 50% off Sale sign and simplistic neon yellow raindrops to represent April showers. Turn the VM up a notch or two and this store would shine.

Hollister

Hollister

Ground floor

Dark difficult-to-navigate store fails to show product at its best

6/10

Pros

In keeping with the atmosphere of a moody beach hut on the Californian coast, the Hollister store opens with a video screen of rolling surf. Womenswear is to the right, where the shopfit is set out in a series of rooms. Dinky cropped halter-neck tops (£19) and off-the-shoulder peasant blouses (£25) hang on rails, next to tables covered with 11 styles of denim hot pants (£29). A black biker jacket (£65) offers an edgy alternative to the beach essentials. At the back of the store is a big dedicated denim area helpfully organised by size and cut from skinnies to leggings, visible under the light of a chandelier.

Cons

Dark and heavily perfumed, the Hollister store is not easy to navigate. Finding the women’s changing rooms deserted, I am directed to changing rooms on the men’s side of the store. An unfriendly store assistant begrudgingly lets me into the cubicle with a key and continues chatting outside. The dark boxy shopfit adds to the oppressive feeling, as does the loud folk pop music.

Lipsy

Lipsy

First floor

Glitzy stores and product are let down by impersonal service.

6/10

Pros

Lipsy is big on its celebrity tie-ups, luring young shoppers with windows dominated by images of Ariana Grande in a cute flared prom dress from her spring 16 collaboration. The front of the store is split between the pint-sized popstar’s range, including a long red lace halter-neck dress (£68), and the collection with actress Michelle Keegan, which features a digital floral fit-and-flare dress (£70). From the slick R&B soundtrack to the marble-effect flooring and diamanté drop lighting, the atmosphere is all about dressing for a big night out, which is why casual product such as a suede trench (£165), feels a little out of place.

Cons

Accessible from Next next door, the Lipsy store feels pokey, and a lot of space is given over to the Sale. The sheer volume of product is a bit overwhelming but, when I ask where to find a top I like in the window, it is nowhere to be seen. The store assistant simply points to where she thinks it should be, and fails to offer to order it online for me.

Quiz

Quiz

Ground floor

A bright and well-organised store lacks a touch of finesse

6/10

Pros

Shoppers entering Quiz cannot help but be taken aback by just how bright the store is, from the highly polished floor to the strips of LED lights that create a feature wall with added glitz. A booming party R&B soundtrack gets shoppers in the mood for a glam night out. Unlike high street rival Lipsy, the store is neat, apart from a big Sale section. There is plenty of choice, from a navy and cream floor-length lace dress (£54.99) to a stretchy pink and black lace skater dress (£26.99). The partywear is offset by a selection of affordable daywear, including a cute denim dungaree dress (£26.99).

Cons

The changing rooms are chaotic: staff shout among themselves and a door is left wide open to a back storage area. While the changing rooms boast mirrored walls and chandeliers, the overall effect is let down by the cubicle’s flimsy rail and dusty floor.

Zara

Zara

Ground floor

Professional polish and breadth of product is not matched by available size range

6/10

Pros

Light, bright and highly polished – this is the first impression on entering the Zara store. The master of quick response fashion, the collection features all the trends seen at its high street rivals, but with a sophisticated twist. A caramel jumpsuit (£39.99) in the window stands out but is difficult to track down in store. It is easier to find a white broderie anglaise dress (well priced at £29.99) and delicate floral pleated skirt (£39.99), both merchandised close to the mannequin. From a collection that spans coats (£89.99) to striped shirts (£29.99), it is hard sift out a standout piece, although a reversible black and khaki silky bomber jacket (£49.99) certainly wins on versatility.

Cons

The staff manning the changing rooms are abrupt and unhelpful. The cubicles are small and basic. While product merchandised on the walls and rails remains relatively neat, garments folded on tables look unkempt. Following high demand there is also a shortage of sizes, leaving a lot of styles available in only XS or L.

Miss Selfridge

Miss Selfridge

First floor

Poor changing rooms and cluttered product disappoint.

4/10

Pros

A feast of feminine florals and pastel shades, Miss Selfridge is not short of pretty dresses, peasant blouses and cute crop tops to tempt shoppers. The windows showcases the best of the selection: a mint green V-neck jumpsuit (£49), a 1950s-style silver brocade dress (£65) and a pink floral halter-neck maxi-dress (£69), which are all easy to find inside. The collection also features more expensive pieces, such as an attractive long cream lace and mesh dress (£99), for those shoppers looking for something more special.

Cons

The store assistant leads me into a changing room and informs me that the light is not working, closing the curtain without giving me the option to use one of the many empty cubicles with functioning lights. Inside the floor is covered in tags – some from other stores – and there is nowhere to sit down. Out on the shopfloor a low ceiling and messy Sale area do little to shake the feeling the store is cluttered with product that is not shown at its best under the harsh lighting.

Mainstream

Next

Next

First floor

Selling a lifestyle concept effectively, although tech features need attention.

8/10

Pros

Next is great at selling a family lifestyle. For spring 16 it sets the summer holiday tone with windows of mannequins in denim shorts, bikinis and sundresses surrounded by images of swimming pools and palm trees. Functional basics such as racer-back vests (£14) and crocheted cotton tops (£16) are neatly merchandised with trend-led striped palazzo pants (£35) and a textured bomber jacket (£34). Next lives up to its promise of offering good value and quality, as epitomised by a substantial trench (£55), which makes its competitors’ unstructured styles appear flimsy by comparison. The busiest store by far, Next’s double-height ceiling and wide aisles give shoppers room to breathe.

Cons

Although the addition of a self-scan order station is a great feature, when I try to scan an item to check for additional sizes or order online, the machine fails to recognise the barcode. The changing rooms are unmanned when I arrive which causes some confusion. Out on the shop floor the staff seem quite hands off, yet friendly when I ask a question.

Coast

Coast

First floor

Feminine and fancy, with real product depth that could benefit from staff suggestions.

7/10

Pros

Smart wooden floors, mirrors and pink walls lined with imagery of pretty models give the Coast store a sense of feminine theatricality. The variety of product is impressive, ranging from lime and silver sequinned cropped tops (£89) paired with dramatic drop-hem skirts (£129) and affordable raspberry jumpsuits (£129), to the full on glamour of a pink strapless dress with a beaded belt (in line with competitors Monsoon and Phase Eight at £250). The versatility of the collection is emphasised by the window display, which shows four different looks in the same coral and floral palette. Merchandised with complementary accessories, the garments are grouped by colour and tagged with handy signs identifying pieces that are “new in” or “limited edition”.

Cons

The staff are relatively friendly, although they seem more interested in chatting among themselves in the changing room. I would expect more attention considering the expensive product and the fact that shoppers may need advice on dressing for a special occasion.

Dorothy Perkins

Dorothy Perkins

First floor

Solid, well-signposted store lacked a little excitement.

6/10

Pros

Dorothy Perkins carries off its functional take on the spring 16 trends with style. The windows reference hero items, such as a romantic blouse (£26), ankle-grazing trousers (£20) and a shirt dress (£30), which are signposted inside so customers can find them easily. Well-priced wardrobe essentials, such as a sleeveless jacket (£35) and gingham pinafore dress (£25), sit nicely next to special pieces highlighted on a “New this week” rail, including a black floral bomber jacket (£35). The signage in store is clear, and offers shoppers the option to order online and collect in store.

Cons

Great for work to evening dressing, Dorothy Perkins’ product and VM is never going to set the world on fire, but it does a great job for its target audience. The one element to let the store down is the basic changing rooms. The walls are scuffed, the floor is dusty and there is paint on the mirror. Improve this and the overall experience would be given a lift.

Fat Face

Fat Face

Ground floor

Cool concept, although the product could benefit from added edge.

6/10

Pros

Entering the Fat Face store is like taking a trip to the seaside, and features wood panelling, driftwood and deckchairs in the style of a large beach hut. Opening on womenswear, the in-store collection focuses on tonal sage green, soft pink knits and the odd tribal pattern. Fat Face’s take on the spring 16 trends includes a smart denim dungaree dress (£45), blue and white maxi-dress with a crochet hem (£50) and slim-cut capri jeans (£40). The changing rooms have serious wow factor, looking every inch the peaceful garden shed, from the rag rug to the metal garden chair and trowels hanging from the walls.

Cons

Cosy and comfortable, the product is lovely, if a little safe. Pieces with added edge, in keeping with the Fat Face aesthetic, might attract a new set of customers. On a store-specific level the changing rooms are unmanned and, while the staff are friendly when spoken to, they make no effort to engage.

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer

First floor

Some great product, but repetition across sub-brands requires an edit.

6/10

Pros

Highlighting its Art of Modernity concept, the Marks & Spencer windows looks slick, mixing a video of the spring 16 campaign with hero pieces such as an Autograph olive leather wrap skirt. Priced at £129, the skirt seems good value for the quality of leather, although expensive in comparison with surrounding product. The front of the store is divided into the Per Una and Limited Edition sub-brands. The latter impresses with some unusual pieces that might not appeal to the core M&S customer, such as an olive green embossed bomber jacket (£59) and metallic gold pleated midi-skirt (£39.50). While unafraid to take risks with these more fashion-led pieces, the store still stocks core denim and jersey product in a wide range of sizes. A handy “browse and order” station in the middle of the floor promotes M&S’s click-and-collect services.

Cons

The entrance to the changing rooms is cluttered with rails of miscellaneous product. And some of the merchandising is confusing: to flag up a homewares promotion, towels and toilet cleaning equipment are positioned next to the Autograph clothing section, which seems to cheapen the offer. With so many brands it is hard to navigate around the store and it often feels that there is a lot of crossover between labels.

Monsoon

Monsoon

First floor

Continues to carve out a nice niche that is let down by lack staff rapport.

6/10

Pros

From the romantic folk soundtrack and boho product to the opulent changing rooms, Monsoon continues to carve out a niche as a purveyor of unashamedly feminine fashion. The store opens on floral favourites and wearable denim pieces, including a strappy tulip shaped jean dress (£59), pansy-print shift dress (£99) and a tribal boxy jacket (£89). The occasionwear, bridal and limited edition pieces sit in a dedicated area at the rear. It makes sense to merchandise the dresses with sequined clutches and fascinators from sister store Accessorize next door through a shared archway. Monsoon’s cleverly created “Beach” branded area is devoted to holiday product from kaftans to bikinis.

Cons

Despite being a big store, a large amount of space is given over to childrenswear, reducing space for womenswear. The staff also make little effort to interact with shoppers, apart from at the till.

Phase Eight

Phase Eight

First floor

Friendly staff and good selection, even if the store is a little cramped.

6/10

Pros

Phase Eight appears to have upped its game for spring 16, introducing garments that appeal to a younger audience. Notable examples are a belted cream crepe dress with a digital floral print (£120) and a navy soft stretch jumpsuit (well priced at £99). The store opens with its 50% Sale rail to the left and the premium No 8 collection to the right, featuring a delicate mink and cream sculptural shift dress (£250). Full-length gowns at the back include a black and ivory intricate tapework dress (£325). The attentive staff are happy to put my clothes in the changing rooms, which are furnished with gilt-edge mirrors and vintage gold cinema seats for a touch of originality.

Cons

The cramped store feels as though it needs more room to accommodate the product on show, much of which us merchandised on cumbersome golden rails in the centre of the store. Efforts have been made to lift the product, but it struggles to compete with rival Coast’s modern take on occasionwear.

Warehouse

Warehouse

First floor

Strong product suffering from basic visual merchandising

5/10

Pros

From gingham tops to sturdy denim and mod-style miniskirts, Warehouse is not in the mood to mess around when it comes to product. The well-priced selection includes a buttoned russet suede mini-skirt (£59), unstructured navy trench (£79) and navy pinafore dress (£49). The Ware-Denim range is particularly strong, and a pair of denim culottes (£49) and a white denim A-line skirt (£42) catch the eye. Whereas some other high street rivals disappoint with flimsy product, Warehouse rarely falls down when it comes to quality, in particular for its spring 16 denim, which offers style and substance.

Cons

The strength of the product alone may not be enough to capture shoppers’ attention in a crowded market. From the windows to the shopfloor, the bland VM lacks the colour and inspiration of sister brand Oasis. Overall the store feels understaffed. The changing rooms are unmanned, causing shoppers confusion when they want to return unwanted product. The harsh light inside the cubicle only highlights the dusty floor where I had to place my bag as there as was no seat.

Gap

Gap

First floor

Reliance on Sale undermines the retail experience and quality product

4/10

Pros

While Gap fails to create a pleasant showcase for its product, shoppers who bother to give the clothes a closer look cannot fail to be impressed by the fabric quality, even if the design does not inspire. A well-stocked denim area is broken down clearly by style, from flares to girlfriend-fit jeans. Known for the strength of its basics, Gap also stocks a wide variety of bright T-shirts (£12.95) and chino shorts (£24.95). There are Sale bargains aplenty, from a stone-coloured trench (£35, down from £69.95) to a 100% cashmere iron grey top (£79.99, down from £129.95).

Cons

Gap’s reliance on discounting is written all over the windows, dominated by red 50% off posters and a sign in the doorway offering a further 20% off. Garments are packed on to rails, folded messily on benches and scattered untidily around the cash desk, which add to the sense of claustrophobia. While not unfriendly, staff are preoccupied tagging items with discount stickers. Tucked at the back of the store the changing rooms are cramped and dingy.

Value

New Look

New Look

Ground floor

Nice staff and interesting features, let down by the windows

7/10

Pros

Whether it is a silver sheen bomber (£29.99), camel trench (£29.99) or denim pencil dungaree dress (£27.99), New Look manages to hit all the trends and undercut high street rivals such as Miss Selfridge at the same time. With the exception of Topshop, New Look is the only young fashion store where the staff approach me to see if I need assistance. Notable elements include a dedicated “collect and order” pod behind the counter, a comprehensive denim area and fun labels on the pegs in the changing rooms saying “definitely”, “maybe” and “my stuff”. From the upbeat electro-pop soundtrack to the wide range of complementary accessories, New Look knows how to keep its target customer occupied.

Cons

With a shopfit designed to let the clothes do the talking there is little to admire in terms of concept. The windows are plain and drab considering the great product inside. The store would benefit from more mirrors and some product is positioned on high rails that are difficult to reach.

Glamorous

Glamorous

First floor

Fun product but basic and unfinished shopfit is in need of some TLC

6/10

Pros

Glamorous works a laid-back summer vibe, from the chill-out Ibiza tunes to the cropped tops, denim shorts and playsuits begging to be worn to the beach. The collection is affordable for its target young consumer, and places a big focus on separates. All the items from the window – including a cute cropped Ikat pattern top (£21) and matching shorts (£21) – are handily positioned front of store. Among the other highlights are a white peasant dress with fringe detail (£26) and floral embroidered jeans (£39) that would not look out of place at Californian music festival Coachella. At the back of the store a selection of wearable everyday product includes wide leg culottes (£27) and a white mesh bomber jacket (£36).

Cons

The basic plywood shopfit definitely lacks glamour, especially the changing rooms which feel unfinished. The curtain does not close properly, and there is no seat and insufficient pegs on which to hang my garments. The staff chat behind a large cash desk, failing to venture out on to the shop floor to offer assistance.

H&M

H&M

First floor

Wide product selection could benefit from in-store curation

6/10

Pros

The mastermind of fast fashion, H&M unsurprisingly encompasses every spring 16 trend, from floaty tribal print mini-dresses (£12.99), and Ikat pattern blue and white miniskirts (£14.99), to flared dungarees (£29.99). A watercolour print quilted jacket (£49.99) is an original take on the bomber. Basics are helpfully positioned together, and a whole rail is dedicated to black leggings in sizes from XS to XL. As expected the product depth is impressive – for example, there are four types of trench alone, ranging from £39.99 for an unstructured style to £59.99 for a linen version, the latter which seems good value for a natural fibre fabric.

Cons

While the width of H&M’s collection gives it universal appeal, this is also its main problem. The volume of product is overwhelming and there is little cohesion, as the merchandising feels random. Garments and rails are so tightly packed that a woman struggles to get through with a pram. The look in the window is repeated on mannequins positioned directly inside the door, which makes the product easy to find but lacks creativity. H&M is great for basics and some trend pieces, but beyond that the appeal is price over quality.

 

 

 

 

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