Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Article

I found this article whilst scanning the web pages of Fashion Telegraph UK:




Good for one of the best fashion store fits in the country.
Bad for a look that isn't for everyone - and the prices
On a high street largely driven by fast fashion and what I call 'copy and paste retail', the fashion brand All Saints has always gone against the grain. 'We don't care what colour Prada plans to do next season,' the creative director, Kevin Stanford, once stated. 'Just look at the average person's wardrobe - it's full of taupe, grey and black.' Earlier this year, in a move some felt to be rather less well calculated, All Saints opened a massive two-storey branch on the site of Lipka's Antiques Arcade in west London, causing outrage among the surrounding traders of Portobello Market, who feared that the spirit of one of the most famous independent street markets in the world was about to be extinguished. Headlines were more favourable earlier this summer when All Saints opened a 14,000sq ft store on New York's Broadway. I must admit that All Saints' colour-free, distressed and quirky look has never really been on my radar. What's more, Portobello is a stone's throw from where I live, and I signed the petition to support the market traders when the landlords saw their opportunity to secure a higher-paying tenant. But I like a brand that zigs when the rest of the world chooses to zag, so a matter of weeks after All Saints' largest store yet opened on Regent Street, I was there.
THE WINDOWS All Saints' windows are among the most dramatic on the high street. Hundreds of antique black Singer sewing machines have been purchased from God only knows where and lined up in sharp rows. No product. No promotions. Just sewing machines. The effect is simple yet utterly arresting.
SHOPABILITY Spanking new, yet with an archaic feel (in a good way), this is undoubtedly a brilliant storefit. All Saints is laid out like a factory with old printing presses and looms as fixtures for the product. The floor is decked in what appears to be centuries-old timber and there are clever touches such as oversized glass cloches perilously placed over the shoes. Antique busts hold statement gothic jewellery and industrial-style tables groan with every style of jean. As is essential for a jeans shop, there are loads of spacious changing-rooms. On the day of my visit, the whole team were talking about a new fit for men, the Lynvall, which they say is one of the best on the high street. There are two downsides, however. First, compared with the likes of Reiss or Whistles, which aim to offer classic pieces that might last you a few seasons, All Saints is not in the classics business and its prices are above average. In the words of one of my team, 'I wouldn't pay £45 for a T-shirt with holes in it.' Second, this is not a look for everyone - if you're the kind of girl who likes colour and pattern, this place may feel as dark and intimidating as an old-fashioned asylum.
WAS I BEING SERVED? Admittedly, I was there on a quiet Monday afternoon, but I was taken care of by not one but two capable assistants. Zara guided me through the jeans and Jazz ran back and forth between my changing-room and the stock to ensure I had the right sizes. Really impressive.
ONLINE Many retailers have struggled with the integration of their online and offline presence, often treating their websites as just another shop, while perhaps chucking together a random Facebook or Twitter profile. Clever retailers have realised that seamlessly connecting all the brand's touchpoints is key to their future success. I call this integration of offline and online 'inline retailing' - the intelligent use of technology to make shopping both practical and experiential, depending on your mood or mindset, and in line with how people shop today. All Saints has grabbed this approach with both hands, locating sleek iPads at every corner of the shop, so you can browse for other styles, send an image of your outfit to your mate or order a piece that may be out of stock. The ultimate toy is a supersized screen on the ground floor that they call 'the pod'.
VERDICT If this is a brand you've always parked in a box marked 'grungy', then look again. Yes, All Saints has its own distinctive look, but the denim, the leather jackets and some of the casualwear impressed me. What I really loved was the attention to detail in the shopping experience. From sexy wrapping paper and unique and exquisite store design to some of the best service I've had in a fashion store in ages, this is a business that has shirked the ubiquitous trends and done its own thing. Brilliantly.



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