I must admit I had my doubts on hearing that Forever21 was opening on Oxford Street. I had purchased a couple of items online before but it had all felt so terribly American (I’m sorry, there’s no other word for it) that I wasn’t entirely sure it would be a hit in the capital.
I gave it a few days to calm down and then decided I couldn’t possibly call myself a fashion writer or even enthusiast without investigating the arrival of this new establishment on my very own high street.
Once inside I was blinded by college sportswear, clichéd tribal prints and more stripes than I had ever seen in my life. This whole affair enveloped the entire ground floor in a swathe of exactly what I had expected. I did a cursory scout around in the hope of finding one of those satisfying gems one sometimes stumbles across and did momentarily think I had succeeded as I clasped a leather midi skirt firmly between thumb and finger only to recoil at the unpleasant clamminess of it all.
On spotting an apple print T-shirt reminiscent of Tammy Girl circa 1999 nestled snugly next to a flesh-and-black lace bodice I shuddered and to be honest, gave up hope. But by this point I was too far in, I really had to keep going. I ascended the staircase.
En route I did see a maroon lace midi dress with a high polo neck in quite a Victorian style, completely out of place among its crotch-skimming neighbours. I did also take time to appreciate how cheap everything was: a basic black body con dress was around the £8 mark which really was Primark prices in a far nicer environment. My experience was improving.
Feeling revitalised and full of fresh hope I strolled into the neighbouring section, a mishmash of denim, florals and cotton tees. Here I spied some good possibilities for transitional layering although I still felt a decided lack of clothing for the approaching colder climes, perhaps downstairs?
Well, on descending the staircase I found myself in my worst nightmare; a floor of colourful cotton basics. I started to panic, pacing through until I realised these garments did not in fact occupy the entire floor. Here I had reached the much awaited Autumn/Winter clothing section. This was a definite improvement, despite a healthy smattering of dodgy pieces: a lace cardigan attempting to do ‘Goth Chic’, clumsy straight legs attempting to be super-skinny, all easy mistakes to make.
I emerged from the changing room and into the early evening air (I did pay in-between; I may be exceptionally offensive when it comes to fashion that does not please me but I am not yet a thief) clutching a knit and some rosary-style black and gold beads with a crucifix hanging regally off the end.
So, a mixed success? Yes. But nonetheless satisfying and actually far better than I had anticipated. Nothing should ever be too easy after all, shopping included, and to be honest, picking the choice words to describe a particularly hideous garment is just as enjoyable for me as finding a gem of a buy. Nevertheless I will reserve my final judgement until the full Autumn/Winter collection has come in as you can never really judge a brand by its flimsy, inconsequential summer garments. It’s those good chunky winter warmers that are the real test. Watch this space…
360 Oxford Street
Tel: 0207 493 3054
Image courtesy of Freak Deluxe