Look-alike styles from branded and catwalk influences add fashion seasoning to the bloke-friendly bread and butter. In casualwear it is a genuine smorgasbord with plenty of nods to key styles for men – like the engineered jeans, gingham shirts and cartoon print T-shirts alongside Lyle-alike knits. A more sophisticated knitwear offer serves up surprises including ombré jumpers, chunky Fair Isles and sporty track tops. In the tailoring there is a huge amount of mostly grey options with British wools flagged up, a section devoted to slim fits, 1sb, 2sb and 3sb options and a wealth of mostly pink, blue and white shirts.
A bare brick wall on the casual side, a men’s club feel for tailoring with framed lifestyle images and an impressive shirt wall are standout features. A “no-tie-required” section adds smart casual nous to the tailoring options and the well styled mannequins sprinkled throughout reveal a fashion forward sensibility in the merchandising with plenty of casual/formal cross-pollination. A shame then that the first mannequins that greet shoppers ascending the escalators do not reflect this with an ill-fitting purple knit that drowning one form.
Next is no stranger to large formats but in the past that has occasionally meant unwieldy stores and bland merchandising. Not here. A clearly demarcated 50/50 split between the formal and casual offers take shoppers left or right as they turn into the body of the menswear mezzanine. Each seductively segues through a raft of looks before the back wall plays host to accessories, undies and finally footwear.
Steady as she goes from Next whose architecture sits a little too high to rattle the cages of Uniqlo and New Look but will do very nicely for loyal shoppers, thank you very much. Suits from £130 to £160, two-packs of formal shirts and £22 and grey washed jeans at £30 are about offering quality value for money.