With the opening of John Lewis and St David’s 2 last year, it seems the focus of Cardiff as a fashion capital has become more relevant, and even if you don’t shop at either, you can’t help but feel a little lifted by the investment in our fair city. The new retail outlets, restaurants, even the new library and the money spent on public spaces has, I think, created a general feeling that things are on the up. There’s a renewed sense of pride in Cardiff as a city and as a retail destination, and even perhaps a little bit of new glamour!
The flip side of this however, is that some of the smaller boutiques and retailers have unfortunately disappeared or downsized, as in many cities and towns across the UK, which has taken away some of the best loved offerings of cutting edge and more individual fashion brands.
Those of us who like to avoid the best known brands have to buy more and more online it seems if we want something a little more unique. Online has had a massive impact on the fashion industry….but that’s another story……and as an avid fashion blogger, one that I watch with interest.
The high street still reigns supreme though, and what a bright and colorful high street it’s become in the last couple of weeks! Even if snow has been forecast! H&M have their new Garden Collection in store, full of florals, floaty kaftans and pastels. Nude shades are still huge but there are definitely brighter hues too for our newly tanned (fake of course!) skin.
I don’t know if it’s just me but there also seems to be some of the broadest and most varied collections around this spring/summer, with plenty of vintage ’80’s thrown in – was it really that long ago? I’ve seen denim printed with faded florals in Top Shop and other stores. Some shoulder pads, but thankfully they’re still being kept mainly for ’80’s tribute parties! But you can buy jeans in any shape or shade, tight and loose blouses, smocks, shifts and fitted bodycon dresses, and just about anything in between.
The leading seasonal trends still exist of course, but is it the speed of the internet and the ‘real time’ availability of information as it happens from the catwalk, or is it partly to do with the social media revolution, that more and more of us are trying to have a voice and actually be really quite unique?
Company magazine released its new High-Street Edit last month which is a high street trend spotter to tie in with the fashion week seasons, and London Fashion Week itself was mostly digitally televised on the web. Previously, we had to wait weeks, even months for the latest trends to feed through to the high street, but we now have such direct access – and by the way we’ve all become more opinionated via fashion blogs – perhaps we’re being a little more imaginative about how we create our own look?
Maybe it’s also because we’ve all got a little less cash. And the vintage trend seems to be hanging around still because we’re being made to feel that we must revise and reuse more often.
Whatever the reason, the streets of Cardiff seem full of individuals, dressed in everything from clogs and lace up leather brogues to sky-high heels (both men and women), from tight fitting, figure hugging dresses that show EVERYTHING, to floaty shift dresses and oversized t-shirts, from biker-chic to romantic grunge and military influences, sharp tailoring to retro tea dresses.
Boutiques like Looby Loos, Lunacy and Hobos are still proving popular, and I’m quite enamored of the haberdashery section in John Lewis, which lets me embellish and alter some of my high street buys. I think most of us would still like a little label or two, Jimmy Choos (I bought some second hand, hardly worn ones the other day from Welsh based www.designerdesires.com), a bit of Vivienne Westwood or Alexander McQueen, if we can get our hands on them, but they’re being mixed in with our whole wardrobe, which are usually made up of TopShop, River Island, New Look, Primark, Zara and all the usual suspects.
The trick is to not look like you’re trying too hard or that you care too much, to have a little bit of comfort if you can manage it, and of course as many accessories as you can get your hands on!
This is a guest post by Gwyneth Moore. She is founder and blogger at Cardiff Fashion and runs a digital PR firm in Cardiff.