Our experience of the high street is ultimately the one thing that keeps drawing us back. It has become a weekly ritual to throw away our hard-earned cash in exchange for the clothes of our dreams (or the nearest alternative that won’t bankrupt us). So, to reflect on the stores that have defined many of our wardrobes since the day we opened our first issues of Teen Vogue, it’s time to consider what shops really stand out and what they actually stand out for.
In terms of the most stylish stores to grace our high streets, the top three must be Zara, Topshop and Urban Outfitters.
Zara is like a form of fashion insurance, no matter what you need and which fashion trend you’re lusting after, this store’s rapid turnover always has a guaranteed, near perfect replica of that killer runway collection. Their window displays are known for drawing every fashion focused adolescent/young adult/ grandma through their doors, and the affordable price tag helps a bit too.
Topshop has always been known as the go-to store for those wanting to show off their cutting-edge style, despite its price-point. The front of the store never fails to demonstrate some intriguing and quite daring looks, piecing together statement pieces which are guaranteed to capture one’s eye upon first entrance.
Finally, Urban Outfitters, the queen of edgy. This store will never fail to guarantee every customer with a high fashion piece that will most likely be seen on the next 25 girls walking past us on the high-street. Nevertheless, this just goes to show how stylish the store really is, whilst the lightning speeds at which the top picks sell out reinforces this even more.
Although many stores advocate their efforts in sustainability, many of them are really a little slack in taking responsibility ethically. However, there is a growing number of high street stores that are really focusing their investment and time into really developing their sustainability. The top three of our high-street stores are H&M, M&S and Mango.
H&M was the first high street store to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, the legally binding agreement following the horrific Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 which killed over 1,100 people. This led the path for other retailers, thus evidencing its sustainability efforts, and this, along with their willingness to be more transparent in their processes, shows a brand setting the way for others to follow.
M&S is like an old family friend, warmly waiting with a cuppa when you pop over for a visit, their efforts in sustainability well known because of their stable, long term relationship with suppliers. It is a commendable store in its ethical practice as one of the only stores to ensure its suppliers are paying workers a living wage in the least developed countries.
Lastly, Mango, Spanish powerhouse of fast fashion is one of those stores in the process of improving its efforts. Despite placing orders with the Rana Plaza factory, it has taken responsibility and has now signed the accord – hopefully proving it is only onwards to improvement from this point.
Perhaps the biggest influencer of student high-street spending habits, the price of products is our final trio of trios. Both H&M and Zara return to the podium, but they are effortlessly pipped to the post by Primark.
No-one can disagree on the ultimate winner in terms of best high street pricing, the award easily landing in the laps of our beloved Primark. This store has just about everything you could possibly think of, all priced at ridiculously affordable costs. Now moving on to try and compete with the higher fashion stores, Primark has begun to replicate some of the biggest trends we see trickling down from the runways as an affordable alternative for those of us with a tighter budget and, in turn, trying to keep up with the world of fast paced fashion.
Moreover, it is safe to say H&M come in a close second with their affordability. As a more stylish store, they are commendable in the amount of selection and product standard they offer for a relatively affordable price. This can largely be said in comparison to stores such as Topshop and Urban Outfitters that regularly clear us out of our savings with their statement pieces coming in at costs higher than our weekly food budgets.
Lastly, Zara again wins a title with its relatively affordable pieces, some of course coming in a little more expensive than we may have hoped but, but for the majority of the time, not breaking the bank whilst still presenting a large range of must have pieces.
Image: Sophie Christie