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Cruel intentions

While navigating the River Island press day it was hard not to notice a number of signs dotted about the merchandise proudly proclaiming ‘All the items you see at this press day will go into River Island stores’. Well, that goes without saying, right? Not necessarily. A common whinge from magazine readers is that clothes are featured in shoots but then impossible to find in the stores. So here’s the deal. The stores have one big presentation where they show the entire new collection to all the press. That can be newspapers, weeklies, websites, glossies. There’s no discrimination when it comes to the high street, Vogue and That’s Life get to see exactly the same clothes. When it comes to ‘calling in’ the samples for shoots, the press office or PR agency only has so much control over what gets used when. Quite often an item won’t get used for the issue it was intended for and the fashion editor will hang onto it for a future issue. By the time that issue comes out, the item has been in-store and gone. And the poor reader can’t get hold of it. This could be remedied with stricter PRs and more reader-friendly fashion editors but sometimes one faces a dilemma. If I really want to use a piece and I know it won’t be in store by the time the magazine comes out, I have to make a decision. Should I be the consumer champion and substitute something else, something less show-stopping but more likely to be available in the shops? Or should I use my beloved piece, get praised for the shoot and let the readers go without? You see the dilemma?

But sometimes the retailer is at fault. On occasion, an item will be made up in a sample, shown to the press and used in shoots. And only at the last minute will a problem be detected and the decision be made not to produce it. Even though it’s already been featured in Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle. And maybe even papped on Alexa Chung! This is bad enough, but just about excusable if it’s a production issue. But, naming no names, there are stores who are notorious for making press samples with no intention of putting the piece into production. One well-known high street store is renowned for showing a spectacular evening gown as its ‘key piece for the season’ while openly admitting to fashion editors that the piece won’t be produced. And do we care? Not enough. At the end of the day, our pages look good, the brand gets its coverage and the consumer is told ‘oh that dress was only made in a limited number and they’ve all sold out’.

Times are changing with the popularity of ‘in store this week’ pages. This trend was initiated by Grazia and copied by Glamour and Look. So magazines have to be much stricter about what they feature. It’s cruel enough to shoot an item that’s never going to be sold but to specifically send readers on a wild goose chase on a given date is beyond mean. Hence the clampdown on ‘just for press’ pieces and River Island’s statement.

Pics: River Island spring-summer 08

The return of florals and nautical

At last! The bane of any fashion editor’s life, the week-after-week trawl of new season previews is over! The bulk of the high street brands show last, so Arcadia, New Look, River Island and Urban Outfitters have all been unveiled in the last couple of weeks. I must say, I’m usually very picky but on the whole there have been some not-bad-at-all presentations. (more…)

The Christmas cram

Ugh, it’s already started. That feverish rush to see everybody you know before Christmas as if the world’s going to end. This year I’m opting out. Far better to see them all in January when there’s nothing else to do (and you can buy their ‘Christmas’ pressies in the sales. Oops did I really say that?)

Grazia loves you!

Oh my! Imagine my shock when I opened Grazia yesterday to see not just Susie Bubble from www.stylebubble.typepad.com’s fringe-framed face peering out of the pages, but Michelle and Marie from www.kingdomofstyle.typepad.co.uk. It’s no secret that Tuesday is Grazia day in my household and this was like seeing my real-life friends in my favourite magazine. I felt so proud! It’s great that blogging is being taken seriously by print media but I was more enthused that it was “my” blogs that were being championed rather than any old blog. As much as I love www.whowhatweardaily.com and www.bagsnob.com is a useful information resource, it was really gratifying to see real girls like Susie, Marie and Michelle being bigged up for their personal, independent fashion blogs that are labours of love toiled over in addition to their day jobs. Way to go ladies!