I usually pop into the Oxford GAP store whenever I’m in the city. It feels like going to a familiar friend and its sales and quality usually mean I leave the shop with a little something. GAP, despite its past troubles, is an American to UK success story. In 1987, it opened its first store here and currently has 148 stores and 8 Banana Republic stores. Another California company that ventured into the UK market was Gymboree clothing. As lovely as the Gymboree clothes are, Gymboree isn’t still selling happily ever after here anymore and pulled out in 2006. All that remains are its original concept play centres, of which there are 45 dotted around the country. There were a lot of mums that have had to resort to paying the ever increasing international shipping costs to keep their children’s lovely coordinating Gymboree fashion wardrobe up to date.
Forever 21 came on the local UK scene, a little less than 3 years ago and now has 7 locations in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Kent and Glasgow. I’ve only been in Forever 21 once, but it seemed like a good place for teen and young fashion and is sometimes likened to Primark. It’s done well in establishing online shopping in the UK, that includes men’s and plus sizes. Forever 21 is hoping to establish itself like GAP and is aiming to eventually have 100 stores over here.
Arriving alongside the London Olympics in summer 2012 was the much anticipated Victoria’s Secret. It started with two locations, one next to the Olympic park in the Westfield Stratford Shopping Mall and its other being its flagship Bond Street location. Three more are set to open by the end of this year in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. Unfortunately, their UK online service hasn’t been established yet, like Forever 21 and GAP, but for now you can get a few things on Amazon UK.
The latest US store looking to make an entry internationally is American Eagle. According to several news articles, one in 2011 and one just last month, they are scouting for locations in London. Other trendy new American shops to have travelled over the here of late, are Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Both have the added convenience of online shopping in the UK.
Despite all these new American stores opening over here, a lot of my favourite clothing stores are still British, like NEXT, Boden, Joules and Fat Face. Combined together with all the new American shops that have entered the arena, shopping in UK (especially London) offers something for everyone. Now if we could only get the high street shops to stay open until 9pm.......