When we say ‘High Street,’ what do you think we mean?
When you say ‘High Street’ what do you mean?
Which brands are we all talking about when we say ‘High Street’?
Here, by the way, we must define our terms: we say ‘brands’ but often we all know them as ‘shops.’ But because actual shops are mostly going the way of steam-trains (i.e. towards obsolescence) and we will all ultimately buy online, we all now use ‘brands’ to mean ‘shops’.
Where were we? Oh yes, what do we all mean when we talk about the ‘High Street?’ We ask because the term ‘High Street’ has become somewhat loaded of late. For most of us mature women, the High Street was literally the place where we went shopping in our youth. Even London’s famed Oxford Street was a bigger, glossier version of the High Street, with a few department stores thrown in to the mix.
Without getting bogged down in a history of UK retail, we would point out that for a period from roughly 1990 to the early noughties, ‘High Street’ became a somewhat pejorative term indicating cheapness, tat and identical merchandise in every shop. This impression was reinforced by the advent of the brilliant e-tailer ‘Not on The High Street.com’ which declared its differentness from the High Street in its name.
After a bit of a poke from Spanish giant Zara and Scandi giant H&M, the British ‘High Street’ woke up, pulled itself up to its full height, gave itself a good shake and reinvented itself. The new British ‘High Street’ rejected cheapness, tat and identical merchandise in every shop, though it still appeared to have only very young customers in its sights.
To further muddy the waters, magazines and fashion writers use ‘High Street’ as a euphemism for all brands which are not designer.
Mostly, on Planet Fashion, every brand that is not a designer brand gets hauled into the ‘High Street’ net. Thus brands such as L.K.Bennett, John Lewis and Boden are called ‘High Street’ by the magazines and fashion editors.
SoSensational does not consider these brands to be High Street. We prefer the term mid-market if we must label them. In any case ‘High Street’ is definitely a misnomer in our view. Boden is only online (oh, alright, it has a single shop – in Ealing!). L.K.Bennett, and John Lewis trade in places which have replaced high streets but to call them ‘High Street’ sounds a bit snobby to us.
We don’t know about you, but it confuses us. We wonder if the fashion writers need to be more thoughtful, or whether the brands (and all of us) need to accept that the dividing line in retail is between ‘designer’ and all the rest? What do you think?
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