Wednesday, 11 April 2012

I walk the Linea

I've always enjoyed shopping at Frasers, House of Fraser's flagship in Glasgow: it has a wonderful cosmetics hall,  a shoe dept. where I can fantasise about owning a pair of Jimmy Choos and a proper powder room. So its always been with a resigned shrug that I've walked past the two floors of women's clothing collections as there was nothing for me there at all. 

However a recent bit of idle web browsing uncovered the surprising news that their own label brand Linea has expanded its size range and now offers clothes up to a size 22.  Even better these sizes are stocked in store and are not just available mail order. There are plenty of things I'd be happy to wear from the range such as this interesting dress with a distinct whiff of Missioni  

However my first purchase was this cute summery striped top. £40 is maybe not cheap for a jersey pullover but the quality of the fabric is substantial and the bardot neck sits pretty.

All the noise about House of Fraser stores over the past few months has been about Mary Portas redesigning the middle aged woman's wardrobe. She's done a good job I've got no issues at all with her range which has recently expanded quietly (I know uncharacteristic) up to offering clothes in UK size 20. Much like Net-A-Porter who as Deena pointed out in a recent post offers clothes by Vivenne Westwood and others in a sizes much larger than might be expected. Anything that makes shopping a more interesting, less stressful experience is to be applauded and I'm delighted that I'll now be able to pick up more than just lipsticks from this glamorous store.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Clements Riberio designs clothes for big birds

It's not new news now but Clements Riberio, the British based design duo, have released their first Swan collection for Evans. This collection checks a lot of boxes for me. I have long been crying out for a designer range in larger sizes, and this in particular has a vintage-y feel to many of the designs, archly named "Joan", "Betty" and "Peggy" after our favourite quality slice of TV existentialism. Evans also promised better quality fabric and cut than their usual fare which I have pretty much shunned of late.

So last Saturday morning I switched on my trusty Mac and tried to make the decision about what I was actually going to purchase. I'm not a seasoned onlined shopper and the prospect of ordering several items with the view of choosing only my favourites and sending most back does not appeal to me. So I deliberated and then I went crazy, opting not for a classic red gown or the Adele-ish black broderie but for the mint -green and coral print with spotty overlay. What can I say- the sun was shining at the time?Anyway here is my new dress as posed on Evans' gorgeous model, on the hanger and finally on a 45 year old woman just back from the gym with frightwig hair and no make up.

I promise you the reason for the pic is because of my excitement about receiving the dress. It met all my hopes most hansomely; the dress is made from a lovely heavy crepe quality viscose, fully lined and though you can't really tell from the pic it is fashioned at the waist and bust in a way which nips in nicely without constricting. I'm now awaiting invites to garden parties and Civil Partnerships where I will have the chance to show off my new purchase.

I've been following the reception of this collection closely through some of my favourite bloggers such as Lauren of Pocket Rocket Fashion and Em of Oh, the places you'll go  who have done sterling work across all Social media trying on the range and describing it to prospective purchasers and inevitably I strayed onto the Evans Facebook page which did not turn out to be a fun read. I was struck by some of the vitriol directed to Evans and the range by contributors there. "Frumpy", "like pyjamas"and my favourite "The patterns reminded me of the interior upholstery of an early 90s Ford Orion". Customers also generally found it to be too expensive and there were plenty of concerns about quality. Although there were also a few supportive, constructive comments there was a definite negative bias. I'd really hate to work for Arcadia's customer service if I had to face this every day.

It occurs to me that customers who have so little choice where to shop really need Evans to meet their expectations, but this covers an impossibly wide range of tastes, age groups and budgets. If I had the choice of anywhere on the high street to shop I'd be lurking around Zara and Anthropologie; others might favour Topshop or River Island or even Jane Norman, heavens help us, but we can't shop there cause there is nothing to fit. Maybe a smart way for Evans to go would be to offer better defined capsule collections in store as a way of meeting these expectations. I think its a fascinating problem and would love to know how to work it out. An alternative would be for more shops to extend their size range but that's an issue for another day. I'd rather sign off here by celebrating what I see as terrific, well-thought out set of clothes that made me and a few other shoppers very happy.

Post update. Following my mail order purchases I paid a visit to my local branch of Evans to see the whole range and decided to splurge on the summer weight coat. Dressing room pic above. I've also got the "Arrows" top on underneath and the two patterns work together pretty well I think. However I do need to replace the tired old denim skirt I'm wearing.