A couple of weeks ago, I got a message from Nathalie asking me if I wanted to go to London for two days to visit the River Island HQ and showroom. You see, besides being a great blogger (and an allround great person), nathalie is also the great PR for River Island in Belgium. This is one of those things that actually seem too good to be true: travelling to one of my favorite cities with a friend, for one of my favorite high street brands? Ehm, let me think about it… YES!
We hopped onto the Eurostar and were met by a very sunny London, which is always great. Our cabdriver took us from St. Pancras to the outskirts where the HQ is situated. Being in retail myself, there is nothing more inspiring than visiting an office like this. River Island is a family-owned business (aha!) that was founded in 1948 in East London by Bernard Lewis. Soon, his three brothers joined the company and by 1965, Lewis seperates, as it was then called, had 70 stores in the UK. The company rebranded to Chelsea Girl in the sixties and then finally to River Island in the eighties- early nineties. They recently brought back Chelsea Girl as a capsule range in their collection, inspired on their own clothing archives.
It is apparently a rare thing to be granted acces to the River Island offices, the owners like to keep themselves out of the spotlight. The company seems like a great place to work, with young, stylish people everywhere. We took a look at the design departments, the online shopping department, saw moodboards, samples and even the company gym. You can buy magazines and candy in the cafeteria, book yoga and massage appointments in the company and there are clothes, bags and shoes everywhere. There even is a true to size mock up store for the visual merchandising team to work with. All in all, very overwhelming and inspiring.
After this, we hopped back in our cab to central London and visited the showroom, where we saw the very typical River Island clothing cocktail for FW13: fashion forward, print heavy, with a lot of London thrown in the mix. I immediately fell in love with a sequined skirt, the structured neopreen pieces, the outerwear and uh… a cat hat. Great stuff! Between the press days and company visits, I had just about enough time to take Nathalie to some of my favorite places in London (she’d only been there once and she didn’t really see anything) and visit the Lichtenstein expo at Tate Modern. Score! Enough talking for now, I’ll let the pictures take you to London with me and Nathalie…
Something for the boys.
Do we LOVE our hotel? Yes we do! The Mandeville was just perfect.
Drinks at Loungelover (more on that later)
Lichtenstein at Tate Modern/ St. Pauls from Tate/ sightseeing / Nathalie’s new iPhone cover/ Power to the people!
Thanks River Island and Nathalie for taking me back to lovely London!