Oxford Street. Christmas. Toddler. A traumatic combination. In my mind, tackling London’s retail epi-centre during the festive season is all mulled wine, Christmas lights and cheery folk with coat hanger smiles. The reality: elbowing yoofs and stress-induced eye twitches.
But there is respite from this storm in River Island’s new Style Studio. A mere hop, skip and a buggy scoot from Marble Arch Tube, this is a Zen-like parental sanctuary to try on clothes (imagine!), sip fizz and let the urchins frolic about without fear of losing them or, worse, accidentally shoplifting (I had to recently return a ‘Soap & Glory’ gift set to Boots after my life appendage slipped it into the nappy bag).
Oh and, perhaps, most importantly, it’s free. There’s no pressure to buy, its run by a bunch of stylists who know their bell bottom from their top knot. There’s a distinct lack of pomp and ceremony and it’s the perfect place to while away a couple of hours with a parental mate, while reinvigorating a lacklustre wardrobe.
The thing that stood out most here was the absence of loitering and hovering from the genned-up style team. So often I feel under surveillance as I shoe-horn my derriere into a pair of high-waisted skinny jeans (never again) – and yet here, it’s all sunshine and light with no pressure to splash the cash.
The offset of that is you end up lugging a haul of threads out of there – check out my Instagram feed for some of our favourite bits (this is not an ad. We, like, bought this stuff).
It seems that finally a fashion brand gets it. Here is a brand that realises the trauma of schlepping your brood around the shops in search of a frock that won’t make you feel like a mangled moorhen.
Here’s a brand that’s created a space to take away the parental stress. And here is a brand that conjures up clothes that look good without the requirement of a Swiss bank account. River Island, thanks for helping us parent the shit out of life.