Fashion's clean-up campaign

In the US, Banana Republic stands for affordable quality. This week's opening of its first UK store might signal the end of throwaway fashion, says Gemma Hayward

Affordable fashion has recently suffered from unprecedented bad press. The Primarks of this world, in particular, have been accused of pioneering the type of cheap-as-chips fashion that has become commonplace and therefore nothing short of boring – not to mention ethically questionable. Whipping up an unnecessary amount of hype around store openings and offering items heavily influenced by catwalk prototypes, at prices that are as scandalously low as the originals are exorbitant, they have changed the British high street beyond recognition.

The good news, however, is that this situation looks set to change: the budget-retail landscape is growing up. True, there may still be stores out there hanging on to the bell-sleeves of their gypsy tops as if their very existence depended upon them, but, for the most part, the look is now less fussy and even, well, refined. Thank Cos, the brand owned by Swedish company Hennes & Mauritz, for this sea-change, which will only be enhanced by the opening later this week of the UK's very own Banana Republic, also on London's Regent Street. The mood, then, is sophisticated and serious rather than whimsical and teen-focused. As these other stylish shops show, classic, well-designed clothing doesn't have to cost a small fortune. And there isn't a frump in sight.

Reiss

Reiss is the place to shop for all those looking for something for a special occasion. Or just nip in on a whim and instantly fall in love with a simple jersey top with chiffon covered buttons, say. It's true that the prices are high compared with those of the competition but both the design and the quality of the end product is worth any extra cash. This season find tailored jackets and prim pleated skirts and the range of accessories to go with them has recently expanded too. (top, £75, skirt, £89, 020-7473 9630)

Whistles

Whistles started life back in 1976 as a small boutique in London's Marylebone selling the work of bright young designers including, most famously, the then little-known Helmut Lang. It has since evolved into a fashion label in its own right, with 30 stand-alone stores and 38 concessions throughout the UK. Renowned for producing a quirky collection, with extra attention paid to the finer details, the store is filled with gems like this navy jumper with a modern striped bow (£85, 0870 770 4301). Now, with the former Topshop brand director Jane Shepherdson in control, anticipation has already set in for the arrival of the autumn collection in a few months.

Kew

It's not as well known as its sister company Jigsaw, but Kew has come a long way since its launch 5 years ago. It has becoming increasingly popular online and produces three seasonal mail-order catalogue's a year. This season's relaxed mood and understated colour palette of navy, grey and shades of brown with a flash of red will doubtless be well received by the brand's loyal customers and interested newcomers alike. These wide-leg trousers are the most chic in town (vest, £18, trousers, £62, 020-8487 2001, www.kew-online.com).

Banana Republic

America has long been in the thrall of the Gap-owned Banana Republic, and the company's first European flagship is opening in London. As well as carrying the entire men's wear, women's wear and accessories collections over three floors, the store will showcase the new Monogram line – billed as a collection of "wardrobe builders and statement makers" – read: the best of Banana Republic but in limited, and therefore more desirable, editions. So what should the savvy consumer snap up first? The smart choice would be this sleeveless trench dress (£95, 020-7758 3550), a classic with a fashionable twist if ever there was one.

Massimo Dutti

Spanish brands such as Zara and Mango are a favourite among shoppers on the British high street, but it is Massimo Dutti that is currently enjoying the limelight. The store is smart in appearance and offers all the basics that anyone could possibly need in surprisingly high-quality fabrics. This trench coat with a funnel neck would be a particularly wise investment. Massimo Dutti is also the place to visit for all those interested in the season's trends, but who'd rather not have them shoved down their throats. (£140, 020-7851 1280)

COS

The simple silhouette offered by COS is a firm favourite of the fashion follower. Shift dresses and cropped boxy jackets like this grey one (£79, 020-7297 0040) all feature the signature loose cut which is really most becoming. Fingers crossed there will be more stores opening up soon.

Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

    £16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

    Recruitment Genius: International Trade Advisors - Hertfordshire or Essex

    £30000 - £35379 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is based in Welwyn ...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Controller - Response Centre

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn