HIGH HIG STREET – HOW MUCH? MUC
I’M NOT ONE to boast, but I’ve just discovered the perfect coat. A swaddling hug of a piece, it’s crafted from buttery butterscotch suede and a cloud of white shearling. It’s robust yet refined, and the best bit is it’s from Gap, so a snip at… Oh. Errr, just over £700. Yep, you read that right.
This price tag might be surprising, but it’s no oddity or mistake. Welcome to the high ticket high street. Gap is by no means the only high street name proffering spenny pieces right now. There’s Topshop’s leather pants (£225), Russell & Bromley’s embellished biker boots (£595) and Whistles’ Teddy sheepskin coat, which comes in at a whopping £1,199.
So how can the high street justify these apparently exorbitant price tags? In short, the same way designer brands do: craftsmanship and materials. Responsibly sourced, those shearlings, sheepskins and leathers don’t come cheap. For its nubby tweed jackets, LK Bennett works with Linton Tweeds, a supplier in Carlisle also used by Chanel and Burberry.
The high street might be the natural habitat of the bargain-hungry, but these high-ticket pieces are resonating with customers right now. ‘ We’re seeing a big lift in our occasion dresses at this higher price point, with sales up by a quarter,’ explains Huong Su, merchandising director at LK Bennett. ‘Sales of our Charlee tweed jacket have almost doubled in the past year alone.’ It’s a similar success story at Finery, where the Glass leather coat (£599) was a sell-out – and the Leila (far left, at £395) is set to follow in its footsteps. ‘ We’re very proud of our leather and feel it bridges the gap between high street and luxury (and the price tag that accompanies the latter),’ says the brand’s creative director, Emma Farrow. ‘ We’ve been really pleased with customers’ reactions to our leather collections. It’s definitely a key growth area for us.’ That success shouldn’t come as a surprise. In an age when the ‘ buy it, bin it’ mentality of fast fashion feels grossly out of step with the times, when we’re all striving to consume more mindfully, it follows that the highstreet customer might also want to invest in ‘forever pieces’. Typically, when embracing a wince-worthy price tag, we like to be buffeted by the reassuring kudos of a designer label. It takes a certain self-assurance to spend that money on a high street name. Snobs would dismiss the high ticket high street as the sartorial equivalent of buying the best house on a bad street. And there is a point to be made: if you’re dropping a grand on a new item of clothing, why not just buy designer? Well, simply put, for the equivalent item you’d be looking at two, three, four thousand pounds more. In the age of £1,000 designer jeans and £500 T-shirts, a £700 coat might not be a bargain exactly – but it is a solid investment.
Gap (gap. £ 704. co.uk) 95 3
ett Benn LK com) nett. lkben ( £475
ley Brom ll & Russe omley .co.uk) landbr russel ( £595
Karen Millen ( karenm illen.com) £1,400
Top ( sho top sho p £ p. com 695 )
Whistles (whistles.com) £1,199
LK Ben ( lkbe nett nne £ tt. 1,60 com ) 0
Whi ( whis stles tles. £ com 1,19 ) 9
H&M ) com (hm. £199
Reiss (reiss. com) £750