Birmingham it seems is having a moment. This week saw the long awaited completion of New Street Station and the Grand Central development that goes alongside it. With an estimated £1 billion investment in the city coming to fruition, there’s good reason why The Rough Guide picked it as one of it’s top 10 cities to visit in 2015. So while everyone else is consumed with the fact that Birmingham FINALLY has its own John Lewis (how did it take so long?!), I decided to take a look at another behemoth on Birmingham’s freshly painted retail landscape.
As the first big newbie to open last month in what is frankly a much needed revamp for Britain’s second city, the new Harvey Nichols store in The Mailbox has seriously delivered. Ushering in a resolutely luxe vibe, they have succeeded in creating what feels like an edited and confident selection of niche brands alongside the international big hitters. Although the store isn’t huge, it’s very nicely laid out and finally it feels like the buyers get it (I’m well aware that every square meter in the retail environment has a price tag to justify but for gods sake we need breathing room!). For too long stores have rammed it in and stacked it high when it comes to merchandising so it’s refreshing to feel a sense of space. It all adds to the luxury experience.
As far as accessories are concerned, you’re in for a real treat. As well as the biggies (Valentino, Gucci, Victoria Beckham, Stella McCartney…), there’s a nice selection of the Fash Eds’ favourites including Sophia Webster, Aquazzura, Sophie Hulme and Gianvito Rossi.
It was nice to find some lesser known brands nestled in amongst the more familiar names, Loeffler Randall being a case in point. I feel like this is a brand I needed to become acquainted with! Beautifully understated, modern bags at reasonable prices (I appreciate this is relative but in a day and age where your average big brand day bag sits in the £1500-2000 price bracket, £300-400 feels like relative peanuts!) I found it very hard to walk away from this oxblood cross-body in particular!
With a tongue-in-chic VM campaign (steal this and get 2 years, buy this and get rewards points) it’s nice to see them sticking to their characteristically provocative guns. Anyone remember their walk of shame campaign or grown women wetting themselves? Knowing how seriously the luxury industry can take itself I personally love their punchy approach and liberal dose of humour. After all, isn’t shopping meant to be fun?
Also worth a look are their more unique offerings such as the vintage jewellery from seasoned magpie Susan Caplan and one off customised Chanel bags. In an era where everyone lusts after the same hero pieces each season, it’s nice to think you can still buy something special that you won’t find everywhere.
After all that shopping you’ll be in need of a celebratory glass of something, right? Well you’ll also be pleased to hear you can take a load off your Loubs and enjoy a well earned refresher in the wonderfully chic bar.
So has the wildly popular Selfridges been dethroned? Not exactly, and to compare the two would be misleading as they both offer something unique but I’d be surprised if the big yellow powers that be weren’t planning to up their game in the face of serious toe-snapping competition. And if they’re not, they should be.
Bravo Harvey Nics for a daring and seriously sumptuous offering. Ladies and gentlemen, this is how it’s done.