I was in Copenhagen last week, which was lovely as always. If you’ve never been – it’s one of the cleanest and most “perfect” places I’ve ever travelled to. Spotless pavements, impeccably polite citizens and everyone speaks English (thank The Lord… as Danish is one of the most difficult languages I’ve ever heard and often sounds like the Danes are messing around speaking gobbledygook!)…I was there for the sales meeting of a brand I’m doing some work for called SAND. (For a first visit to the city don’t arrive on a Sunday unless you like ghost towns, because it’s deserted and a bit weird – I live in London, so when a city centre city has only 2 people on the main street, I get freaked out and you start to wonder if everyone knows something you don’t!!).
Anyway, I didn’t spend much time on the “streets” this visit as I was there for work (and a fair amount of “play” – we had a wonderful private dinner in a fabulously kitsch café with our own Michelin-Starred chef, it was amazing!). I did, however, have an amble down one of Copenhagen’s key shopping streets en-route to the SAND store and I was very surprised to see an Urban Outiftters… and later that day I also spotted a Karen Millen in Illum, one of their department stores! I was surprised because I’ve always thought that the Danish dressed quite differently to we Brits and I’ve always considered Urban Outfitters to offer a very London type of “look”. That checked shirty, chunky boyfriend-cardi-wearing, multi-chained with a clock hanging off, quirky yet pretty mainstream type of dresser!
The Danish have always been way ahead of us in certain areas fashion-wise, particularly on the trouser front – they’ve always loved harem type pants – and actually crops of any sort, with crazy pockets, ties/the kitchen sink dangling from them! I’d certainly never really thought of them wearing Karen Millen! But I haven’t been to Copenhagen for nearly 4 years and things have changed… In fact retail has become much more globally linked with the emergence of on-line cyber-space! Brands which would have been relatively unknown out of the States or the UK, for example, have been popping up everywhere.
At the fabulous dinner I was at, I had a really interesting conversation with one Danish girl (who was 19) about how she loved home-grown brands but also how much she liked the likes of ASOS and Topshop (before, unless you’d travelled to England, you probably wouldn’t have heard of them but now because of the internet everyone with access to a mouse and an interest in fashion has!). When I was last in Germany, ASOS was brought up during a conversation over dinner – and 6 people out of a table of 8 had shopped there. No wonder I read last week that on-line retail sales for ASOS were up 17% on last year!
But I must admit that I’m not that into on-line shopping… it’s not bad for summer stuff. However, I always feel that if I’m making an investment wintry purchase like a coat or something – I really want to try it on in person. Plus, to me, half the fun of shopping is the trying on and feeling the fabric – also I’m often in between sizes on things and I have to try them on in both sizes to decide which fits best – I can’t do that on-line!
So, as much as I think on-line shopping is oh so conveniently wonderful, if you’re time-poor or if you’ve got babies and can’t get out – I would never want it to replace actually “going shopping”. Now I know obviously I’m slightly biased as I wouldn’t have a job if shops didn’t exist – but also if you shop on-line you never really know if a style is the right one for you, because you haven’t tried anything else on to compare? To me there is nothing like browsing in Butler and Wilson (the amazing jewellery store – www.butlerandwilson.co.uk), going down the escalators in Topshop Oxford Circus (as long as it’s not too hectic) and seeing a sea of clothes just ready for me to immerse myself in… witnessing in person the stunningness of a Balmain jacket (www.balmain.com) on the 2nd floor in Selfridges or simply picking up an amazingly bargainous item in H&M that I spotted in the window. Shopping on the web just can’t possibly be the same! The e-tail phenomena has been unbelievable over the last couple of years – the rise and rise of the likes of net-a-porter has seen internet sales hit the roof. However, in the words of my 19 year old Danish friend, “I do hope on-line doesn’t get too big, I still want there to be shops in the future!”…. I totally agree.