Saturday, 27 September 2008

Whatever happened to New Look?

I remember back when New Look first opened their flagship store in Marble Arch, London and walking up the sweeping staircase into their frankly, space-agey shop and gazing at their wall to wall shoe collection and thinking that I had died and gone to heaven.

This was pre-Primark, when everything was shiny and new, fast fashion was just on the rise, and New Look was the name on every frugal fashionista's lips. That was then.

In recent times, I think it's fair to say that New Look has lost it's way. On more recent visits to the flagship, I have been struck by how haphazard everything is. The layout is appalling, the garment offerings lacklustre and the shoes - which used to be the jewel in New Look's crown - are looking decidedly down at heel.

Despite attempts to bring a little sexy back with design collabs with Giles Deacon and Lily Allen, they've somehow managed to fall into that gap between cutting edge and frugal that they tried and failed to straddle. Even the opening of a another big city store in Moorgate has failed to impress - another poorly layed out shop, where there is simultaneously too much and too little going on. There's simply nothing to keep you there, let alone get you buying anything.

New Look now seem to be stuck in Limbo somewhere between Topshop and Primark figuratively and geographically speaking and it's not the best place in the world to be.

Personally, I think they missed a trick when they left it too long to join the internet shopping revolution. Their etail site - which if memory serves, they only managed to get off the ground a couple of years ago - still lags behind most other high street etailers in content and layout. It's not a site that sells their brand very well. The layout is unexciting and makes everything they offer look tawdry.

Still, on the bright side, a lot of people -myself included - still have a lot of love for New Look. Giles Deacon, despite it all, still continues to work with them; they've produced a durable - if still slightly bland - Limited Edition collection; their latest footwear offerings don't seem all bad; and their website problem is nothing that a good design refresh can't fix.

But what they most need is an image refresh. They need to get back the oomph and confidence they once had. They need to get some direction and idea of what they stand for and their place on the high street. Most of all New Look needs to remind us all who they are and why we should love them still. I, for one, look forward to that.

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I like pretty dresses, high heels, the colour red and good writing.