Taking Care of You

With all the media reporting on Coronavirus we wanted to reassure everyone that we are acting on all the advice of the Government to keep our place of work and your place to shop safe.

We take the health and safety of our customers and our staff very seriously and have taken extra steps to ensure our environment is as safe as we can make it. Extra hand washing, daily disinfecting of all surfaces, disposable paper towels introduced and tissues available for staff and customers are just some of the key steps.

The shop remains open as normal and our fashion events continue as normal.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep you up to date.

Walking the Walk

Buying for Autumn 2020 has virtually come to an end. I have been asked on a number of occasions what is it that you look for in a collection. I suppose there are three main things – colour, quality and design. As a customer, when you see a collection, it is usually the colour and fabric that draw you in. It is the same when I am buying for the shop. I do still like to feel the fabrics and look at the finish on a garment, so colour may be the initial impact but that has to stand up to delivering on quality as well. The design really then answers the question of is that going to suit a female figure, where can it be worn and will it have life beyond one season.

With showrooms scattered all across London and beyond there is plenty of walking the streets to find the brands but all those steps are certainly worth it when it arrives in store.

Seasonal Changes

We are coming to the end of our Winter Sale. There are still some fabulous pieces to buy but you need to get in before the end of the day on Saturday otherwise you will miss it.

While the Winter Sale finishes our new season stock arrives in earnest. We already have a room full of delicious new Marc Cain,  a fabulous new Luisa Cerano story and the return of Basler.

Yes I did say Basler. It has been re-born and is looking as classy as it used to do. Quality products, classic pieces that will last for years to come and in a very fresh lime and navy colour.

These new collections will certainly lift your spirits and take away any January blues.

Buyer’s Playtime

It is not all work at AF, sometimes we do get out and about to have a bit of playtime and with the festive season upon us it seemed the perfect time to check out the festive fashions in London.

Annie, Debbie, Jacky and myself (Becky) headed to London for a night out. First stop Coal Drop Yard at Kings Cross. This area is all part of the regeneration of Kings Cross and home to some fabulous retailers.

Both in the shops, and on people walking around, comfort was definitely key. Chunky sweaters, trainers and cuban heeled boots were everywhere. Wool coats in all sorts of colours probably outnumbered puffa jackets.

But glamour hadn’t disappeared all together. Sequins were teamed with jeans and statement jewellery was adorned by many. Chandelier earrings and art deco rings were noticeable.

Second stop was a glass of something fizzy and the rest, as they say, is history.

Favourite Brand

I get asked quite a lot ‘which is my favourite brand?’ and hand on heart I love all the brands I have in the store. I don’t think I could have a brand in the store that I didn’t believe in.

When I am looking at a brand I look for quality, style, colour and design. If these all meet up to the standards I want to maintain in store then I am happy to stock the brand. I don’t think of my own personal tastes I look at collections visualising how it will look in the store, the wearability and of course there has to be a wow factor in their somewhere.

With buying about to start for Autumn/Winter 2020 I wait with anticipation what the brands have to offer.


Statement Separates

Tempted by the new fashion prints and colours but not quite brave enough to go all out? Try mixing one statement piece with some more classic elements of your wardrobe.

There are plenty of impact colours and prints around this autumn and while the look is to wear it from head to toe, it is not a look for everyone. Luisa Cerano have a fabulous animal print sweater – oversized, colourful and impactful and needs taming down with simple separates. Your WOW piece can be any item from trousers to jackets, shirts to skirts. It will soon become your favourite piece of the season.

Plastic Revolution

We are by no means a plastic free business but we are trying to do our own little bit to help counter the vast volume of plastic waste. All our carrier bags are now paper, we use our own branded wooden hangers and those of you who came to our Spring Fashion Week will have taken away our complimentary Bamboo drinking cup.

My mission for this buying season is to work on those brands to get them to help reduce plastic waste. We are a small fish in a very big pond but at least if I initiate the conversation, it may get them thinking of alternative ways in which to package their clothing. Some are already doing it and send items boxed and not hung which reduces plastic wrapping which is great. As individuals I think we can all do our own little bit because each little contribution we make, will make a difference globally.

Annie’s Weekend Away – Packing Tips

On Saturday Annie gave a talk and mini fashion show on what to pack for a long weekend away. Clothes to take you from travelling, to sightseeing, lunch and through to dinner.  We have had lovely feedback from those of you who came along, so we thought it might be worthwhile to share some of her tips here. Her imagined trip for this event was a 4 day Eurostar trip to Paris!

– SHOES   Going away for a long weekend shoes are often the problem. On this occasion I think only 2 pairs are needed – loafers and a pair of kitten heels.

– LAYERING  For day wear every outfit needs to have layers, eg. t-shirt, jacket and jumper. For evening – either a bolero or pashmina/large scarf for warmth

– BAGS  A tote handbag for day wear will allow you to pop a small bag inside, which can then be used on its own in the evening.

– PRINT  Don’t be afraid to mix prints – eg. spots with stripes, florals with animal prints.

– COLOUR  A plain block colour allows you to interchange tops, jacket and shoes. eg. white trousers and t-shirt can be overlaid with combinations of coloured/printed jackets and jumpers

–  Packing items ‘just in case’ is OK!  If you have not got a tight weight restriction, it will give you a little more flexibility. If you do have hand luggage only on a flight you will need to be stricter with yourself on this.

–  Try to focus on non-crushable garments in your packing – Joseph Ribkoff is incredible for this. If the bulk of  your wardrobe doesn’t crease it is easy to pack the few pieces that do carefully at the top.

Time for Change

Cathy, whom many of you know through her visits to the shop on our Trouser Day, has taken over the fashion agency where she worked. And we went to see her in her new home. Situated in the heart of London’s West End, just off the fashionable Charlotte Street, Cathy has created a wonderful new showroom to house here mix of brands, Toni and Just White among them. Cathy worked for many years with Monika and Chris Bartsch, who have hung up their fashion shoes and are taking a well earned retirement. We certainly wish Monika and Chris well and are super excited for Cathy.

High Tech Buying

Tommy Hilfiger is one of the leading brands in this field. Their fabulous showroom, in the heart of Knightsbridge, has had a tech makeover to help in the buying process. There are still samples of the pieces so you can take a closer look at the shapes and feel the fabrics but then the selection is transferred to a huge screen so you can really visualise what the whole collection will look like in store and how the colours and pieces will sit together. While technology is helping there still really is no substitute for seeing the garments for real to make sure the product matches up to the image.