since most ordinary fashionistas like myself get their regular style fix from large high street stores, we tend to form preferences as to which establishments we frequent. in addition to visiting mid-price brand stores, vintage boutiques, flea markets and designer havens in my spare time, my leisurely wandering around shopping strips is limited and i've noted that i skip many a high street fashion store during my strolls.
finding whatever rides the fashion wave highest at a given moment is not as difficult as it used to be, and you really cannot claim one store outweighs another in production speed and keeping up with trends. nevertheless, there are differences between stores when it comes to reputation and pricing.
although only a few of the most famous global chains have landed in finland, i've had a chance to visit the cream of the cheapo crop during my trips, and i must confess never understanding the hype around topshop: the clothes are rather pricey for the awful quality and the only worthwhile store is their oxford circus flagship because they sell so many other brands in addition to the normal topshop duds. it must be kate moss and her infamous admission that she gets her gear at topshop...
another site of constant wonderment is gina tricot i've visited a few times and always left empty handed; somehow the clothes are too obviously cheap although i've seen items which look great on other people. moreover, i have frequented h&m, but tend to go in less and less although the swedes probably have the best grasp on what is hotter than hot.
my biggest turnoff is the feel of clothes in which every single high street store scores high on the yuck scale: fake studs (they're stickers for goodness sakes. stickers! on your clothes!), frumpy sequins, twisted seams, printed stripes on wovens, and fake leathers (plastic!) make me nauseous. i'm really touchy-feely when it comes to my clothing, probably because i constantly fidget and rely on clothing to keep my hands occupied.
because i also sometimes want a quick picker-upper, i absolutely and obviously do shop at high street chains, and when i do, my preferred place is zara. the spanish chain is an oddball amongst the large high street vendors, because they refuse to give their clothing to fashion shoots (that's the reason you never see zara in any glossies...) and do not advertise.
unfortunately, most of the stuff on offer is boring, classic and way too feminine for my liking, but there are imaginative jewels amongst the dull, frilled blouses and the oscitancy promoting cotton pants. zara enjoys the same lousy reputation for respecting human rights as every other global chain and i, consequently, try to keep my self-perk instances to a minimum. when it comes to quality, as long as one remembers to steer clear of the knits and polyester-garb, the clothing is usually pretty well constructed. i recently bought my first bag from them (above right), and feel like it just might be a great fit...
what zara excels at is footwear and i probably have about three dozen pairs -- my most recent acquisition left. what distinguishes them from the rest is the use leather on both upper and inner linings (essential, i think), and that they fit my feet like a glove. most importantly, zara's shoes have an edge most high street stores lack; i've stopped visiting din sko, bianco and such because i'm quite particular with compromises in style, heel height and materials. also, a finnish fashion blogger favorite, vagabond, has failed to impress me to such an extent repeatedly that i haven't seen a pair i wanted from them... um... ever. better yet, at around €100 a pair zara shoes are a bargain, and as much as i love my prada, marc jabobs, miu miu and versace shoes and their beautiful finishes, these cheaper alternatives work just as well.
what's your high street store of choice?