Skint students and homesick Brits rejoice: fast fashion chain New Look has landed in Shanghai.
Having recently toppled Zara as the UK’s favourite high street store in a style poll by brand recommendation site Dressipi.com, the chain has now set its sights on China domination. An ambitious expansion goal of having ten stores nationwide by the end of the year has kicked off with the opening of three outposts across Shanghai – in Zhongshan Park’s Cloud Nine, Xujiahui’s Metro City and Jinqiao Life Hub – last month alone. No billboard has been left unplastered with the ad campaign featuring teenage lovelies in acid-wash jeans frolicking around Britain’s misleadingly sunny capital.
‘Designed in London, styled for China’ runs the tagline and the selection on offer at Cloud Nine certainly bears this out; it’s strongly weighted in favour of the flowery, feminine aesthetic so beloved by local Shanghainese. Those with more Western tastes will have to dig a little deeper through the rails for edgier styles and bigger sizes (which ostensibly run from UK 6-14, though anything over a 12 is in short supply). As you’d expect, pleather and polyester abound, but with patience and a judicious eye for fabrics and finish, bargains can be had.
We love the navy bouclé biker jackets (398RMB) and the mint green, lace overlay pencil skirts (price tba) that carry a strong whiff of Burberry’s spring/summer 2014 collection. Likewise, we’d happily pay twice the asking price for the feather-print jumpsuit (349RMB) and a peasant-style cotton top with broderie anglaise details (249RMB).
The denim section is strong, with multiple cuts (jeggings, skinny, super-skinny, boyfriend, dungarees, skater skirts and even ‘mum’ style high-waisted hotpants) and washes (acid, indigo, black) available: a pair of jeans goes for 249-349RMB. Of the accessories, jewellery is of the cheap and cheerful ilk – think cartoonish perspex cocktail rings in the shape of daisies (39RMB) and tribal-inspired necklaces (79RMB) – while bags are, well, a mixed bag, with a 249RMB black backpack (pleather, sadly) being the standout on-trend piece.
One of the brand’s biggest draws in the UK is its vast selection of affordable shoes, and you won’t be disappointed by the plethora of styles on offer here, from real leather brogues and Alexander Wang-inspired flatforms to ballet pumps (169RMB), suede wedge trainers (349RMB) and nude high-heeled courts (349RMB). But Sasquatch-footed expats need not apply: the largest size available is 39.
Although New Look has attempted to inject a posh international edge by tagging ‘London’ on the end of its name, don’t be fooled: at its core this is still cheap, cheerful and disposable fashion. With pricing on par with Forever 21, Bershka and Stradivarius it’s a good budget alternative to Zara and Mango. Now, if only they could sort out their shoe sizes...
By Selena Schleh