Last week, the Next team ushered me out of the cold and rain (on a particularly chilly March day) and into a world of virtual sunshine at their Summer 2019 Press Day at the Vinyl Factory.
Once, it was only the big fashion houses that could reliably entice a room full of leading journalists, bloggers, models and publishers to assemble whatever the weather. However, these days, brands like Next are leading the way when it comes to giving good Press Day. This shows not just in the truly impressive set-up (from rail upon rail of new season clothes to browse through to the full room sets showcasing Next’s homewares) but in the unrivalled opportunity for people watching. I think anyone with even an ounce of nosiness would be as intrigued as I was to hear one retail expert chatting about the career opportunities in Dubai (where she’s based) while browsing through a rail of ’70s style cover-ups and then just minutes later a model from Sydney talking about her time in the UK. Clearly people come from far beyond W1 to attend Next’s Press Days, and that makes for a fascinating room full of people bringing a bit of a fresh perspective to British fashion.
People watching aside, of course what we all want from a Press Day is an idea of what we’ll be buying, adding to our wish list or (in the case of bloggers and journalists) writing about next season. Here are a few of my takeaways:
- Colour: If, like me, you tend to wear black a lot, this could be the season that you finally get tempted to play with a bit more colour, because there’s going to be lots of it around. From pastel shades to neon yellow, it’s like Florida in the ’80s out there on the high street right now and it’s only going to get more colourful!
- Beauty & Brands. You’ll now find a whole beauty section on the Next website with brands like Elemis, The Ordinary, By Terry, Burberry and a whole load of others. Plus, unlike some department stores, where the beauty section on their website feels a bit like an occasionally updated afterthought and you sense that they’d rather you just paid a visit to the beauty counter if you really want that product so badly, Next’s beauty page feels more like an online version of Space NK when it first opened its doors in the ’90s – fresh, carefully curated and very tempting if you like your skincare and beauty products. Plus their super speedy delivery is always a bonus! Also, if you haven’t visited their website in a while, look out for all the brands – from Nike to Lipsy to Karen Milen (plus many more). If you want to fill a few gaps in your wardrobe, it’s useful to be able to check out so many brands in one place.
- Homewares. I don’t mind admitting that the home section of Next is one of my favourite departments. As a one-time interior design journalist, it still makes me happy when I see brands getting it right with their homewares collection and I think Next get this very right, consistently. One of my plans for spring is to take stock of everything in my home that slightly niggles (from the worn rug outside the front door to some pictures that need hanging and framing etc). I’ll be heading to Next as I gradually tackle this ‘detail stuff’. I think they get the price point just right, and add a dash of fun to a well considered range for the home.
- Accessories. I was lucky to attend the Next Press Day with Mancunian celebrity and personal stylist, Martine Alexander, (Instagram: @martinealexander) who spotted some fantastic sunglasses which looked seriously stylish without the designer price tag. I also noticed that Martine’s a fan of Next’s ‘Slim Boyfriend’ jeans, which are a great wardrobe staple. It’s always nice to know what the stylists’ favouries are, as they tend to get bombarded with so much designer inspiration, but will always find some high street gems to add to the mix!
If you have any updates planned for your home or wardrobe this summer (like, whisper it, embracing more colour) I’d love to hear about them. In the meantime, a big thank you for reading.
Related feature: A surprisingly emotional feature on jeans shopping!