Pen­neys is heaven

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - SHUTTERBUG -

When I was a teenager in the 1980s, high­street fash­ion didn’t ex­ist in Ire­land. In fact, high fash­ion didn’t ex­ist much, any­way. So the Mecca of my dreams was Top­shop on Lon­don’s Ox­ford Cir­cus, which, even then, was a mas­sive store, full of fash­ion dreams at bar­gain prices. To get there (cheap flights didn’t ex­ist then), I made a hor­ren­dous jour­ney of a ferry cross­ing and un­end­ing bus travel, to a lonely, dawn ar­rival at Vic­to­ria bus sta­tion. All ut­terly worth ex­pe­ri­enc­ing (once) for what I got to see and buy.

Since then, I have tended to be­lieve that no re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence could ever get my fash­ion heart leap­ing in an­tic­i­pa­tion quite so much. Ex­cept, per­haps, each time I see New York’s Fifth Av­enue again.

How­ever, it re­cently dawned on me that ev­ery time I walk through the doors of Pen­neys’s flag­ship store on Dublin’s Mary Street, gen­uine an­tic­i­pa­tion rises up, as I wit­ness a re­tail won­der­land laid be­fore me. I stand on the precipice and won­der, am I up to the task of ex­plor­ing this vast place? Can I af­ford not to?

I am not alone in my feel­ing. Ev­ery time Pen­neys opens a store abroad — be it in Paris, or, last month, in the former Fi­lene’s Burn­ham Build­ing in Bos­ton’s Down­town Cross­ing — they have to or­gan­ise crowd-con­trol man­age­ment, as peo­ple turn up in their droves; al­most too ex­cited that a Pen­neys store is open­ing near them. Like the Bea­tles in the 1960s, or One Di­rec­tion to­day, Pen­neys is hot, and we are mad for it.

Gen­er­ally, but it’s not a rule, the Pen­neys core cus­tomer is aged 35 and un­der. Which means Pen­neys need to re­spond fast to trends and above all, be af­ford­able.

So Pen­neys’s buy­ers are good. Very good. They know fash­ion and tex­tiles, they know the acute plea­sure of the on-trend pur­chase, and they an­tic­i­pate the next as-yet-un­thought-of es­sen­tial fash­ion need. They are like pro­fes­sional in­ter­na­tional-sourc­ing mag­pies, work­ing for our delec­ta­tion.

As we head into the Christ­mas party sea­son, Pen­neys is unashamed in its of­fer of win­ter glam­our. It is all about cheer­ing our darker win­ter days with plea­sur­able colour and tex­tures. Think cheer­ful berry-reds and mys­te­ri­ous black, with smat­ter­ings of se­duc­tive metal­lic, glit­ter, Lurex and lace. Then add sump­tu­ous faux furs and cosy, chunky knits, and you have a recipe for win­ter fash­ion plea­sure.

It’s about del­i­cate, per­fect bal­let shoes, and in-your-face plat­form heels that Mary Quant would have died for, which cre­ate the il­lu­sion of su­per-long legs, when worn with the sea­son’s mini dress or flared jeans. Or it’s about chan­nelling your girl-next-door and en­joy­ing cosy, over­size sweaters and new boyfriend jeans.

This sea­son, fash­ion is all about hav­ing op­tions. At Pen­neys, en­sur­ing we can have fash­ion at an af­ford­able price is the only op­tion that mat­ters.

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