Streets remain cool while dictators of fashion wrangle: The clothing industry has come under attack for not giving its customers enough choice. Glenda Cooper reports

THE dictates of fashion and style consultants were largely scorned on the streets of London yesterday, as a spat broke out between the two.

First shots were fired by the image consultants House of Colour, who attacked the fashion industry for 'dictating' a look that fills shops full of a narrow range of clothes in shapes and colours that do nothing for 80 per cent of British women.

A spokeswoman for Vivienne Westwood - winner of British Fashion Designer of the Year awards in 1990 and 1991 - dismissed this. She said that Ms Westwood's couture designs catered for the whole range of women. 'She's got long skirts, short skirts and those in between,' she said. 'And with introducing the bustle this year it means women can use their bodies how they want - you don't necessarily have to be rail thin.'

A spokeswoman for the high-street fashion chain Kookai said staff tried to be sensitive to customers' individual looks. 'We're quite sensible, we'll have at least three colours whereas the major designers might have only one,' she said.

The shops may be full of strappy dresses and beige linen, but on the streets of Covent Garden in London yesterday the people's choice was multi-coloured, denim and business suits.

Stephen Dove, a plasterer, summed up the mood: 'I'm a Levi's man. You can't go wrong with a pair of jeans and a couple of nice tops. And a good jacket if it's cold.'

'I don't follow fashion slavishly, I shop around,' said Justin Bradley, a photographer, dressed in alternative business wear - brown trousers, white shirt and a striped waistcoat from Bournemouth.

The idea of shop assistants trained in colour analysis working out which colours customers should wear, depending on skin, hair and eye tones - as image consultants do - horrified most people.

'Oh, it would really get on my nerves,' said Michael Barrett, a bank assistant sporting suit trousers with Midland Bank tie, and bright red casual jacket from Boxfresh in Covent Garden.

Judy Lee, who works for a property consultants and had opted for a flowery dress, said: 'It's so rare assistants speak to you. I would prefer it if they would give you some physical help instead, carrying things around the shop.'

'I don't need some man telling me what I can wear,' added Warren Penford, a disc jockey. 'I'm not such a sad bastard.' He wore jeans and went topless in the heat.

The House of Colour wants customers to boycott shops and designers who do not offer a wide range of styles.

'Each season we are presented with a fashion which will only truly suit 20 per cent of the female population at any given time,' Lynn Elvy, the consultancy's training director, said.

'They match black with sunshine yellow, for example. They don't belong in the same spectrum and, as nature tells us, are reserved for aggressive animals like wasps, tigers and traffic wardens.'

An image consultant, Mary Spillane, said she was amazed by summer fashion: 'The British are unleashed as madmen and madwomen when summer comes along with bigger fashions and clearer colours,' she said.

She added: 'If this is a lousy season for you, sit it out. Forget buying clothes - save up and go on holiday instead.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...