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River Island

Great trend direction means product is strong but bad labelling and untidiness let it down.

River Island covers every trend and more. A wide range of directional flatforms, excellent espadrille, wood- and cork-sole heels and wedges, faux snakeskin and chunky heels stand out for women. It’s one of only two stores seen in Liverpool to have the Isabel Marant-inspired wedge trainer too. There are great desert boots and updated casual brogues with contrast soles, and espadrille details for men. More than 20 versions of the Vans-style plimsoll and numerous versions of a Toms-style casual shoe provide great choice.

An on-trend strappy wedge sandal featuring PU straps, espadrille-trimmed sole and snakeskin-print panelling is £55, which isn’t the best compared with a similar style at Topshop which has 100% leather straps and is only £10 more, while the Isabel Marant-inspired wedge trainer is £8 cheaper here. Topman also nips River Island on some of the men’s offer, with River Island’s basic desert boots £4 pricier than Topman’s, although in this case the River Island option does win on quality of materials.

‘New Arrivals’ tables in both women’s and men’s sections neatly draw customers’ attention to the latest styles. Women’s footwear is merchandised excellently throughout, but the men’s is lacking. One thing Drapers did notice is the bad labelling across footwear, with some items having no price tags or some just written on stickers in pen. A point is also lost for the messy Sale area which lets the women’s section down.

View the full report here

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