Retail stores are places that we have interesting relationships with. You’re dependent on some or you feel indifferent and unattached about others. Whether it’s the price point, or the styles that they offer, you’ll find yourself always gravitating to that one store where you always find the good stuff.
I love the shopping experience. I love walking around retail stores and looking at the set up, the price points, the styles, whether its shop-able and if the employees are nice people. Here are my personal opinions about 3 stores I’ve visited on numerous occasions and either had a dependent relationship with or an indifferent and unattached relationship.
I wish I could love JCrew! They have great products and their stores are set up in an attractive way. But when I see a blouse and guess that it’s probably $30 (it’s polyester and the design is a normal sleeveless blouse, also H&M sells something similar), only to see that it’s actually $80, my heart breaks a little. You’re not paying for the garment, you’re paying for the JCrew name. And is the JCrew name really that special to you? To me, it’s not.
JCrew doesn’t seem like it’s geared towards to the woman who loves fashion, and who would then want to by multiple garments so she can have the whole look. As a woman, shopping at JCrew regularly could mean that you have an expendable budget and aren’t too worried about the quality of what you’re getting, or you’re oblivious. It might be for the girl who doesn’t really care about style and fashion, she just needs an outfit that looks good.
I, however, am not that girl. I’m looking for a bargain, for amazing clothes that are fashion forward and trendy with quality and prices to match. As it turns out, JCrew had to fire their lead designer due to massive financial losses, and hire a lead designer from their other company, Madewell. Perhaps we’ll see a change of friendliness to the average consumer in prices, or at least have quality that matches the price point. I would pay $80 for %100 silk or silk blend sleeveless blouse any day.
I’ve recently rediscovered my love for Mango. They’re at a higher price point but their garments are well made and you get what you pay for. The average top ranges in the $40 to $50 range with tee’s being in the $20 range, and then raw material tops being $80’s and up (suede etc). They have great pieces that you wouldn’t feel guilty purchasing, because the price point makes sense for the garment. I’d expect to pay $130 for the suede biker jacket but probably not much more than that. What I love about their price points is that it’s inviting and doesn’t smack you in the face. You feel like you can do business there without the shame of having to stick it on a credit card.
They also have the upper hand in that their clothing seems to be aimed at a more developed and mature woman. Their garments mostly don’t have the wild prints and abstract designs that you might find at places like Forever 21, where you wade till you find something you could actually wear as a late 20’s something girl and not look like a teenager. They do have cutting edge trend items, great garment designs and those one of a kind pieces that are must-haves. (Disclaimer: I do love some of Forever 21’s items and definitely their prices!)
Having Penelope Cruz and her gorgeous sister at the helm doesn’t hurt either. There’s a face that you know and trust. I’ve never been let down by Mango, but my gripe is that they don’t have enough brick and mortar stores!
I’m skipping right to Zara because they’re worth mentioning. Zara was the euro fashion house that found its way to our shores, and it’s introduction into american culture (as well as shops like H&M) was a breath of fresh air to our stale Abercrombie and Fitch and American Eagle counterparts. We loved the fresh cutting edge trends, and the other companies saw an unfortunate downturn in sales as a result of the fast fashion movement, and amazing price points.
You might not believe me but Zara and H&M are quite similar in some respects. Both are vying for global domination, it seems, and are constantly battling the top charts of who’s bigger and has more reach. They also have similar styles in some departments, though at different price points, and that’s where they differ.
You’ll be paying more for items at Zara, but to some style bloggers having the Zara name is more bearable than the other fast fashion giants like H&M and Forever 21, who are notorious for angsty crowds wading through stores looking for a bargain. (H&M’s saving grace, however, has been their collections and collaborations with major high end designers, which is what makes them unique in their field. They’ve made fashion accessible.)
The Zara customer is more refined and demure, they don’t beg for scraps and Zara has the attitude of you’ll either like or you won’t, and if you don’t it’s not our problem. Whereas places like H&M and Forever 21 have multiple departments each offering a vastly different style from the next. They want to cater to the masses. They want everyone. Zara only wants the style icon, or at the very least to make you into a style icon.
Let me know if you agree or disagree!
Where I Shop
Places I easily and willingly shop at are H&M; you can’t beat the collabs, and their Trend section is usually to die for. Their premium products are also usually amazing and their other stores like COS are amazing too. Also Zara, Mango, Next (amazing UK store), Forever 21 (I’m loving their Contemporary collections), and then the usual department and consignment stores. (TJMaxx, Macy’s etc). I also love theoutnet.com, asos.com, amazon.com (right??), shopbop.com and a host of other websites.
I love fashion, but because I’m a financially savvy person I’ve learned to shop for items that are great quality and at a fair price point. Know your materials! And invest in things like shoes, denim, coats, knit sweaters and basics. Everything else is just for fun and shouldn’t break the bank.