Once again, it is that time of the year to start a new season and venture out to the big cities. Gaining fresh inspiration and seeing exciting new ideas is the aim for the day, there’s always a great anticipation and intrigue on what we may find!
As I stand on the platform waiting for my train, the warm summer air blows around all the patient passengers as I gaze down the tracks looking for our 8.17am to London St Pancras. The 1 hour 35 minute train journey gives me a great opportunity to plan what stores I want to visit and what areas of London I want to explore for SS18 inspiration. There are a few stores that are regularly frequented for comp shopping in London. Department stores such as Fenwick and Selfridges for their variety of brands covering innovative ideas and high-end yarns. Hosiery specialists Tabio and Calzedonia for quirky styles and specialist socks. Highstreet stores such as Topshop, J.Crew and Uniqlo for a strong fashion-forward look in to trends. Always high on the list is Paperchase, their huge Tottenham Court Road store is full of fun ideas, quirky characters and trend-led themes. From tropical fruit patterns to catstronauts (yes, cats as astronauts..), foods with faces and sombrero wearing dogs, the store is always full to bursting with ideas.
At just before 10am we arrive. The train comes to a slow and gradual stop, and after planning my route and destinations on the journey I am ready to being, full of enthusiasm and excitement.
I jump in a taxi and head to the first stop of the day; Fenwick department store. The doors open before me as they are opened by a very smart looking member of staff. I enquire where the sock department is and head off to the far right corner of the store. Their range covers luxury yarns, dress socks, jacquard designs and varying weights of socks for all occasions. I collect up all socks that fill me with ideas and head over to the friendly assistant to make my first purchase of the day! Next stop, Selfridges…
Department store sock selection
As the day goes on it is not just the sock departments that I begin to gain ideas from. The Ladieswear departments are full of varying prints and interesting knit structures full of exciting yarns. From clashing patterns and contrasting colours to mono prints in varying fabrics, the inspiration is everywhere.
Mono patterns and colourful print at Selfridges (www.selfridges.com).
There are not enough hours in the day to even scrape the surface of the stores London has to offer. So as time ticks by faster than I can keep up with I move on to the high street stores to take a look at the fast fashion ranges on offer. Quirky jacquard ideas, lurex yarns and embroideries are everywhere, it definitely feels like every store is trying to give their customer great value for money.
Topshop print selection (www.topshop.com).
Whilst wandering to Topshop’s sock range the prints and patterns in their Ladieswear department caught my interest. Topshop is renown for it’s on-trend fashion and leads the way in the eyes of many for their fast fashion, catwalk inspired ranges. From pretty florals to tropical motifs, animal prints and pattern clashing designs, their inspitional collection never ends!
Up the road from Topshop is the wonderful world of Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road, no socks involved, just quriky illustrations, prints and patterns to feast my eyes on. Their greetings card collection on their own is a treasure trove of imagery and ideas, from skateboarding sloths to fez wearing koalas, tropical fruits and cupcakes with faces.
Paperchase wrapping (www.paperchase.co.uk).
Along with their rows upon rows of greetings cards is Paperchase’s selection of reels upon reels of gift wrap, upkeeping with their colourful, novelty, conversational theme Paperchase have throughout their store. Seeing clusters of colours helps me envisage the colour palette of a 4 or 5 pack of socks, and viewing a collection of prints gives me the idea of different pattern based packs. I end up getting carried away with a basket full of greetings cards, postcards and whatever else fills me with inspiration and leave feeling full of ideas and excitement!
After a long day of walking all across London I head for my train, with a brain full of ideas buzzing around my head. The jouney home gives the perfect opportunity to take photos of the samples I have bought and collate purchases into themes and groups. Colour themes may be appropriate or design styles may seem a better fit, either way sock packs or single socks start to design themselves with all that I have seen throughout the day.
The following day, away from the hustle and bustle of the London city streets, is the hustle and bustle of the office. Sharing my finds with all the other designers, showing photos, samples, cards and creating trend boards based on what I have seen on my comp shop. Now the creativitiy begins, the start of SS18 designs.