Welcome to the week I never thought would arrive. The week when the High street re-opened, celebrated in this week’s special Amanda Zips It Up.
I’ve been out and about in my home town of London for the past few days, discovering the joys of shopping again after the darkness of the past year.
This is the statement emblazoned in huge letters on the side of one of the most famous department stores in the world, in Europe’s busiest shopping area – Selfridges on Oxford Street.
Over the past year, consumers have been forced to alter the way they shop, with many turning to online retailers. Now, as stores are allowed to reopen, what’s left on London’s most famous shopping street?
Walk the entire length of Oxford Street, noting down all of the defunct stores, and you will find that 28 out of 212 shops – over 13% – are either boarded up or their occupants have clearly left for the last time.
Topshop, at the heart of Oxford Street, is probably the most famous casualty. If you peek through the windows, you’ll see a few undressed mannequins – a far cry from Topshop’s heyday, when supermodel Kate Moss drew huge crowds to the store.
But Topshop is not alone: Debenhams and Evans are further brands that have closed for good. Many other companies have consolidated their store portfolios on the street – gone are the days where brands would have multiple outlets along the 1.2-mile (2km) stretch of road. Next, River Island and Boots have one flagship store, whereas before the pandemic they had two or three.
By comparison, the only shop boarded up on Regent Street is US fashion store J Crew, which closed before the pandemic. On Bond Street there are a few boarded-up stores, but mainly at the point where it connects with Oxford Street. The “luxury” end of Bond Street, full of fashion brands such as Chanel, Dior and Versace – it remains unscathed.
For the time being, shops in England will be allowed to stay open until 22:00, six days a week, the government has said.
So, get out there people and shop until you drop. We owe it to our beleaguered country.
Why the Nike Air Force 1 Is & Air Jordan Is The Winning Team in 2021
So, Monday 12th April signified that we could all get back onto the high-street and into the malls. I wasn’t as crazy as some shoppers, who queued outside Primark at 5.30am, but I did spend a few hours walking around my local big shopping mall, Brent Cross in North London.
It was packed everywhere. with the ‘new normal’ queuing system in full effect outside most shops. But the most astonishing line of all, bulging with hundreds of people, was outside JD Sports and Sports Direct.
Everyone seemed to be buying white Nike Airforce 1s or Air Jordans. These have been around for ages, so why are they still so iconic? Shoppers were that crazy for getting new pairs that they were literally changing shoes in the middle of the Mall after making their purchase.
It’s been almost 40 years since Nike introduced the iconic Air Force 1. The sneaker, which debuted in 1982, was an immediate hit with basketball players. Since then, it’s transitioned into the legendary lifestyle silhouette that transcends the sport, thanks to a versatile offering of colourways, collaborations and customizations.
So, perhaps it’s not a revelation that the Nike Air Force 1 is the one of the greatest sneakers of all time. Nevertheless, it is experiencing a major mainstream resurgence this summer. In particular, the classic Air Force 1 Low in crisp, all-white leather is becoming the must-have sneaker for fashion enthusiasts, especially women. And for the sneaker history buffs, Nike didn’t release this silhouette in women’s sizing until 2001.
So why now? With sneaker store shelves flooded with brands old and new, why is the Nike Air Force 1the shoe to own?
1. Retro is in.
People are yearning for a safer, simpler, less hateful time. Retro feels warm and homely during the Covid era.
The rise in popularity is also down to Nike ramping up allocations for the Air Force 1 and other formerly “limited” shoes. Limited edition shoes have sold very well under Covid. This is likely due to consumers having less things to spend their money on, and more time on their hands to seek out something special.
2. Numbers talk.
The Nike Air Force 1 has almost always been in the Top 10 best-selling sneaker list. In 2020, it was No. 1 and is already outselling others in 2021.
“Buy now, pay later” shopping provider Klarna comment that the Nike Air Force 1 is the most-popular shoe on the app, based on wish-lists created by customers.
But before you start Googling, the style also isn’t easy to come by right now. Many women’s and men’s sizes are currently sold-out across retailers.
3. Influencers are on board.
TikTok can’t take sole credit for the shoe’s recent success, however, its most-followed users are certainly helping, since the Air Force 1 has become a go-to in TikTok fashion.
And it’s fashion Influencers outside of the conventional sneaker world who are flocking to the classic style too. From Ariana Grande to Cameron Diaz, there’s more than one singular demographic associated with the style right now, making it one of the hottest trends of the summer across the board.
4. It’s versatile.
It’s a shoe that translates well to the masses because of the access, price, simplicity and “classic” essence. It has been successful with millennials due to its gender fluid aesthetic and minimalism.
Over the last several years, Air Jordans have been extremely sought after too. Yes, Jordans have become the must-have sneaker because they are truly unique. In fact, many people consider them to be a form of currency.
WHY ARE AIR JORDANS SO POPULAR?
Jordans’ popularity lies in the fact that they offer a certain exclusivity level, incomparable to other footwear. They are manufactured with extremely high-quality materials, including full-grain calfskin and premium leather uppers, which scream “high-end product”. Besides, the shoes come in a wide range of colours and styles. The history of Jordans is intertwined with recognition by many popular actors, celebrities, athletes, and entertainers, emblazoned with the iconic Jordan logo on their feet.
2021 looks to be another strong year for Air Jordan sneaker releases, with several hype drops including the Air Jordan 6 Carmine, Air Jordan 1 University Blue, Air Jordan 1 Hyper Royal, Air Jordan 4 White Oreo, and the Air Jordan 5 Raging Bull 2021. The Jordan 5 Raging Bull pays homage to the Chicago Bulls with a premium suede upper and red shoelaces. In addition, the shoe features a 3M silver reflective tongue. Currently, the sneaker is scheduled to be released April 2021.
Having recently watched and hugely enjoyed the Netflix series THE LAST DANCE, you can’t go wrong with Jordans.
So, two essential questions. Nike Air Force 1s or Air Jordans? Also, which looks better – weathered and worn or clean and pristine? That’s another feature for another time.
Now I know that lockdown has been mostly grim. However, some amazing and creative stuff has been produced whilst people have had so much time on their hands.
Imagine being pregnant during lockdown. For some, it turned out to be the perfect time to create something phenomenal and imaginative. So, meet Gemma, the founder of KIDSTR.
Gemma has produced and launched this super stylish range of accessories for kids during her maternity leave and lockdown. I grabbed five minutes to discuss her impressive collection and launch.
“My career began in retail and I have worked within the fashion industry for the past 20yrs designing and selling to our high street.
I have always had so many ideas (too many sometimes) about what I would like to do in terms of setting up a business but have always struggled to actually get it done.
Maternity leave has given me the opportunity to get my ideas down and make a start in creating something special.
Instead of ploughing into loads of different products all at once. I wanted to work on one thing and do it well. Then grow the brand through clothing and accessories for our kids.
Introducing KIDSTR Bags, for the cool kids.
Minimal, bold and made from natural materials. After having 2 boys and accumulating the number of toys that go with them. I wanted to produce an aesthetic and pleasing to the eye storage bag. Toy boxes and tubs take up so much room, so the thought of being able to bag up toys and hang them up from the floor seemed like a great idea. Not only are they suitable for the toys but also great as changing bags, gift bags you name it. Versatile for all our children’s needs.
I design and print the graphics keeping them current with nursery & decor trends. I have been influenced by the Scandinavian vibe with the monochrome graphics, fonts and neutral tones.
I want the bags to be unisex, versatile, attractive and functional for modern day living.
I can personalise with names or initials and provide a choice of coloured tassels to compliment your theme.
This adventure is just the start, watch this space there’s more to come…
New products will be added to the range as time goes on such as kids hats, accessories and apparel”.
Prices will range from £20+ with additional cost for personalising etc… postage will be included.
We have lift-off. Lockdown is easing and the highlight of our immediate social calendar is a pint or glass of vino in the pub garden over the next few weeks.
As well as beer gardens, picnics in the park, garden parties and alfresco dining, I’ve gathered together my fave beer garden looks, for you to make a dramatic entrance, even if is rather chilly at the moment.
Midi skirt & t-shirt
If you’re a skirt girl more than a trouser girl, a midi skirt is your best friend during Spring/Summer. Whilst I love a pair of grey jeans, if you’re looking for ultimate comfort – opt for a skirt. Take this zebra print midi for something different, paired with a plain black t-shirt, some chunky boots and some gold earrings to complete the look. This look is simple, but so effective. The skirt already gives you an effortless look while still possessing the feel of a well thought-out fit.
Cardigan & jeans
When there’s a cold breeze outside, a beer garden can threaten to leave you yearning for the indoors – so make sure you’ve got the appropriate layers. Struggling with what to wear to keep you warm? A cardigan is always your best bet. It won’t keep you too hot when the sun’s beaming on you, but it’s guaranteed to keep your arms warm when the sun takes some shade. Pair with a comfy double layer racer bodysuit and your fave black jeans. Finish the look with a cute 90s feel over-the-shoulder bag.
Summer dress & sunnies
A “girly” girl never fails to have a collection of cute summer dresses in the wardrobe, perfect for when it’s starts heating up outside. This pinstripe smock dress is a must-have for a beer garden afternoon. If you’re wanting to style it up, make sure you’ve got some necklaces to bring attention to your chest/neck area. This borg saddle bag is a super cute accessory that’ll take you through the whole year. Don’t forget your sunnies, perfect for a cocktail in the sun!
Hoodie & trainers
The thought of wearing dresses or skirts is a no-no for some people, but don’t worry! Ultimately, you want to be beer garden comfy as you’ll likely be sat down for a while outside. Sometimes, it’s easier to throw on your fave comfy hoodie and style it up with some leather trousers. These chunky trainers are perfect if you’re a more of a sneaker head, and this black bag is so versatile it’ll become your new bestie for months. Get glam with your makeup, and put your hair into a sleek fashion ponytail or a tight bun. Guaranteed comfort, so the only thing you have to worry about is what drink you’re ordering next!
Check shirt & dress
Check shirts are a great way of making a dress feel slightly more casual. If you want to wear a dress but don’t want to look overdressed, wear a shirt off shoulder on top and it’ll bring the look a more relaxed vibe. This bag is a much cheaper alternative to iconic Prada bag, so if you’re on a budget, opt for it across the body. Complete the look with your fave chunky boots – we recommend these. Having your hair in a tight bun will keep any stray hairs out of your face when there’s a Spring breeze too! Pop on your lip gloss and you’re good to go.
Jeans & a nice top
If you’re heading to a beer garden for an occasion like your bestie’s birthday or a new job celebration, why not go for something a little fancier? We’ve been in lockdown so long, so who cares if you’re overdressed?! Definitely go with some split hem blue jeans and your fanciest top. This bodysuit is super floral and girly, paired with some silver earrings. Mules will finish the look and add some confidence to your step!
At last, it appears that we’re well and truly on the road to freedom. We can exercise more and socialise outside, so this week I am featuring the ultimate gym garment, in which to get fit AND wear to the pub garden afterwards.
Plus, as we emerge from lockdown, many of us can get back into dating, which has been almost impossible during the pandemic. For some, 2020 has proved just how much they can’t stand their current partners, meaning that now is the time to get back out there. I have some expert advice on how to bring “sexy” back, after a year in tracksuits.
Also in this edition, Stella McCartney has a new alternative to animal leather, and following last week’s feature on how to look good in your 40s, 50s and beyond – here are the official top 12 most fabulous celebs aged over 40. They seem to have got it right – do you agree?
We’re well and truly on the road to freedom at last. Plus, it’s time to burn OFF all that chocolate you’ll eat this weekend. We’re allowed out to exercise even more and socialise outside so this week I am featuring the ultimate gym garment to get fit in AND wear to the pub garden afterwards.
As we emerge from lockdown, many of us can get back into dating, which has been impossible during the pandemic. Or 2020 has perhaps proved just how much we can’t stand our current partners and now is the time to get back out there. I have some expert advise on how to bring sexy back after a year of tracksuits.
Stella McCartney has a new alternative to animal leather and following last week’s feature on how to look good in your 40s, 50s and beyond – here are the official top 12 most fabulous celebs aged over 40. They seem to have got it right – do you agree?
The pandemic has been less than ideal for relationships old and new, leaving some couples locked down with each other – and others reconsidering things. Covid-19 has offered a less-than-ideal setting for romance. Couples who are long out of their honeymoon phases have been stuck inside with each other for months in homes that have turned into awkward co-working spaces and classrooms. Meanwhile, social distancing measures have forced socializing with people outside of one’s household to be a calculated, often stressful, event, making dating leagues harder than it was in the before times.
The Government’s roadmap out of lockdown means that, amongst other things, people can slowly but surely begin to date normally again.
Dating in the modern world – ie. Tinder and dating apps – has been difficult during the pandemic. For around a year, we haven’t been allowed to meet up indoors with someone not in our bubble. However, soon we’ll be able to visit those ‘dating staple’ locations of pubs and restaurants.
But, for those of us who’ve spent the majority of the last year in joggers and PJs, dressing to impress and getting back out there might seem a bit intimidating.
Bring sexy back After a year spent mostly indoors, it’s time to embrace our sexiness once more. We’ve been living in the comfort of oversized hoodies for far too long and these have got to go to the back of the wardrobe. Let’s ditch all the baggy clothes and opt for something more flattering to show off our best attributes. However, don’t panic about lockdown weight gain. The sun is out and we can enjoy outdoor sports. Plus, gyms open soon, so we can shift those pounds in no time.
You can take the theme of sexy and make it as subtle as you want. It could be something as small as a beautiful cashmere oversized wrap that highlights the colour of your eyes or a bold lipstick. I love a guy in sexy jeans and a simple, slick but not tight, shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
Don’t forget to think about your underwear. Wearing the right underwear can be a big confidence booster, regardless of whether you’re planning on showing it to anyone.
I go by a simple rule of matching the colour of my underwear. Think black bra and panties. It looks like you’ve put yourself together without trying. Don’t bow to trends if it doesn’t feel “you”. Following the latest trends can be inspiring and a lot of fun, but if you’re not into the latest Big Thing, don’t force it. You don’t want to feel self-conscious the whole time.
When it comes to outer garments, the perfect fit makes all the difference You could be wearing the most beautiful clothes in the world, but if they don’t fit right, they won’t look right. Go for the right shapes for you and don’t try to squeeze into anything too tight, it can make you feel stiff and rigid. Opt for stretchy, flexible materials instead to help you feel more at ease.
Don’t forget about colours too, choose colours which flatter your complexion and your eyes. I think I bagged my man with my eyes, so it’s important to emphasise them.
And don’t stress about being all ‘designer’. You can dress well without breaking the bank. I still believe that pairing fitted jeans and a T-shirt is one of the sexiest combos ever. You don’t have to try hard, and it’s a timeless classic.
Pick a bold statement piece. If you’ve got something bold in mind that you’d love to wear, build your look around that piece. You want to spark a bit of interest (and conversation), and inject some personality. It’s been a gloomy year, step away from black and bring out the positive vibes.
Give your shoes some love. Most of us have been married to our slippers and trainers for the last 12 months, but other shoes exist and are worthy of our attention. It’s frequently the first thing people look at, so don’t neglect them.
Hurrah! Gyms finally open on April 12th, so it’s time to unearth that gym kit, which has been gathering dust. OR even better, it’s time to revamp it instead.
Unitards are back in a big way. Don’t be afraid – I’ve just bought one. If anything, it has encouraged me to diet even more so that I can look good in my unitard at the gym. Suffice to say, they’re fairly ‘revealing’.
Our 2020/21 WFH lifestyle has made us grow fond of comfortable no-hassle outfits, and now it looks like the “no-hassle” trend is moving over to the fitness side of things too.
Unitards are nothing new. They’re perhaps best-known in the world of ballet – but also rose in popularity in the 80s thanks to home workout videos. Think Jane Fonda, Olivia Newton John and Jamie Lee Curtis. Now, it seems – along with clogs and Ugg boots – unitards are making a return for 2021. I like that whole combo, if I’m honest.
It’s easy to see why the retro garment has become a favourable option. Unitards are perfect for lounging around the house, but are also ideal for exercise, as everything stays in one place – plus you don’t have to worry about matching your leggings to your top. Their super-stretchy nature also makes them great for yoga and Pilates – or if you’re teaching yourself something more adventurous during lockdown, like doing a headstand.
The good news is that the high street is already bursting with brilliant options. Brands such as & Other Stories, Free People, ASOS and Selfridges all have their own unique offerings. There are traditional black pieces – reminiscent of those worn by dancers – or more vibrant colours, along with more patterned options (if you want to give the ultimate nod to 80s fitness queens). Not to mention, you can get them in a full-length style, which stretches right down to your ankle, or the shorter variety that cuts off mid-thigh.
There’s also no reason why unitards have to be limited to loungewear and workout sessions – simply throw a jumper or a jacket over the top and wear on your daily walk. Or be like me and wear it to the pub garden next week. I love mine.
Stella McCartney Unveils Clothes Made From Vegan Mushroom Leather
This could be the future of fashion. Stella McCartney’s latest garments are made of a material called Mylo, a vegan alternative to leather derived from mushrooms. A lifelong vegan, McCartney has always been known for her refusal to bow down to the norm and incorporate leather into her designs. Her brand has never used leather, feathers, fur or skins, meanwhile publicly committing itself to ‘never compromising on desirability or sustainability’. While it’s true that Stella is passionate about animals and their welfare, she has also criticised the use of leather due to the environmental damage that producing it inflicts.
People don’t want to talk about the fact that the fashion industry’s biggest impact is its use of leather. The animals killed, the toxins, the chemicals, the cutting down of rain forests, the food and water and the electricity. All of which it takes to make a leather bag.
Stella’s latest clothing experimentation comes in the form of bio-based ‘un-leather’ grown from mycelium, which comes from fungus. Technically, it’s not straight up ‘mushroom leather’, rather the material is developed from a part of mushrooms. Amazingly, it can grow on a sheet of sawdust in just two weeks.
Mylo is vegetable-tanned to make it similar to the sensorial experience of real leather. Stella McCartney comments that the material is ‘remarkably similar to animal products with fewer environmental impacts. It is also not petroleum-based, unlike most current synthetic options. Mycelium, the infinitely renewable underground root system of mushrooms, might just become the next big thing to claim fashion development.
These are the garments that Stella McCartney has produced. Having worked with the scientists behind Mylo, she’s produced a black bustier and utilitarian trousers. They’re the first ever garments to be created in the fashion industry using this material. They aren’t for sale, but provide a flavour of what consumers could see in the future.
Though, she isn’t the first to dabble into a new generation of mushroom leathers, as Hermès has developed an alternative mushroom-derived leather called Sylvania. The new sustainable fabric will make its debut on the Victoria travel bag in late 2021. Perhaps this is the future of fashion, as the industry is increasingly being held accountable for its impact on the environment. Let’s hope this material will replace leather and stand shoulder to shoulder with the real thing.
Welcome to ‘the week before Easter’ on the long road to semi freedom. April 12th is just around the corner and we can start preparing for gyms, hairdressers, nail salons and shops reopening. Huge hurrah!
At the far end of the “freedom” spectrum, we’re all hoping that we can get to that first big festival this summer. Conveniently, my friend and fashion accessories accessory designer Angela Pappin Cole has revealed her 2021 festival collection and accessory range. It is perfect for a return to musical festivities in 2021.
Introducing House Angels London
Back in 2010, Angela started selling cool clothes for kids 0-16 – Funky Beanos Boutique. She then moved into womenswear, festival clothing and customising anything she could lay her hands on. Angela doesn’t adhere to the norm and never has, so it was inevitable she would produce something funky that completely bedazzles.
By 2018, Angela was designing captains’ hats, baseball caps and women’s kimonos. Having always been arty and crafty as well as up-cycling, Angela took inspiration from her career as a dancer and also the costumes that she would make with her mother over the years.
There is now a men’s T-shirt range too, as of course men are just as keen on dressing up for raves and festivals. Watch her fly, post lockdown. I’m personally after one of her Kimonos…
Website is under construction, but House Angel London can be found on Facebook as Angela pappin-Cole and insta @houseangelslondon @pappincole
Take your Easter festivities to the next chocolatey level.
Good Friday is next Friday 2nd April but after the year we’ve had, we think we deserve to gorge on as many Easter eggs as our newly invested loungewear will allow. And Easter is all about eating and not really fashion as such.
This year, it’s all about treating ourselves and if that means your version of self-care is cracking into a smooth, melting chocolate shell adorned with an array of mouth-wateringly delicious toppings – then we are here to support you. It’s in the name of Easter, after all.
We are looking at the most extravagant offerings to date with new luxurious varieties of white, milk, dark and even blonde and ruby to suit even the pickiest of chocolate connoisseurs.
We go from expensive, mid-range and cheap but all LUXURY – no Cadburys Cream Eggs or Terrys Chocolate Orange eggs in this selction.
The Selfridges Easter Egg
At luxury department store Selfridges, there is a nod to sustainability, as they have partnered up with Chocolarder and have used ethically sourced cacao from the Dominican Republic and sugar cane from the green harvest project in Brazil to craft the chocolaty treats. The Almond Nougatine is made from almonds wind sailed from Spain, while the Honeycomb iteration benefits from the delicious honey from beekeeper Matt Pitt’s Cornish Black Bees. The packaging is also plastic-free.
It’s hard to believe that it was only in 2017 that ruby chocolate (dubbed the “fourth” variety after dark, milk and white) entered our lives and now it’s everywhere. Rococo has transformed the pink chocolate into an egg with chocolate-coated raspberries to go alongside it. Fruity and delicious.
Prestat Dark Chocolate Easter Egg with Dark Chocolate Truffles
Royal Warrant Holder Prestat make chocolates for Queen Elizabeth herself and so to truly indulge this Easter, you can’t go wrong. It’s the Dark Chocolate egg that has our taste buds tingling this year, presented alongside chocolate truffles.
Hotel Chocolat Rocky Road to Caramel Extra-Thick Egg
Hotel Chocolat’s seasonal offering is one of the best out there and you’ll be hard-pressed to choose an egg from here. The Rocky Road to Caramel is part of the brand’s satisfying extra-thick collection where they have doubled down on the typical casing adding even more indulgent chocolate. It has a solid caramel chocolate shell with hints of dulce de leche, creamy milk chocolate, cookies and puffed rice. Inside, you’ll be delighted to find a mix of truffles, pralines and caramels. Luxury lovers will also swoon after the brand’s Champagne flavour chocolate.
Proving that “luxury” doesn’t always equate to “expensive”, budget supermarket Aldi is here to delight chocolate fans everywhere with its premium Moser Roth Geo and Ripple Eggs. Crafted from Fairtrade chocolate, there are a variety of flavours; Ruby, Blonde, Dark Chocolate & Orange, Belgian Milk Chocolate, Crunchy Salted Caramel and Belgian White Chocolate & Forrest Fruit. If you can’t choose just one, the brand’s Duo Eggs have you covered with a half-half approach combining white, milk or dark chocolate.
And finally (as we’re still in lockdown this Easter and if you have lots of kiddies in the family who want their own Easter egg hunt at home) and are looking at a more cost effective way to spread the pennies and chocolate further this Easter – here’s my ‘home-made Easter Egg’ hack.
Melt as many chocolate bars as you wish – Aldi sell their ‘own brand’ big bars of white, dark or milk chocolate as a ‘daily essential’ because they know we all need a regular stock and they’re literally only 30p. Genius.
You’ll need a few empty Kinder Egg packet halves to use as moulds.
Spoon the melted chocolate into the moulds ensuring a smooth coating of the shell and leave to stand on a foil covered tray. Wack them in the fridge for an hour then take them out and fill the shells with anything you like from chocolate buttons, smarties or even yummy jelly babies. Or my fave – Haribo cherries.
Use a little more melted chocolate to paste and seal the shell halves together then replace them in the fridge. Voila, an hour later you have a huge array of your own custom made eggs to fill a basket and create your own Easter egg hunt at home for a fraction of the price.