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 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 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.


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,

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)


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.

Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

    £40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

    Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

    £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

    £30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum