Whatever has happened to Next this season? Normally the home of so-so styling and bastion of slightly dull work wear has transformed itself into a smorgasbord of colour, print and edgy styling perfect for your summer wardrobe needs. Having not bought anything at Next for years I found myself browsing online in a hunt for some dungarees that I had seen in a magazine. Finding them, I was delighted to see they were just as cute as the ones on my-wardrobe.com but a fraction of the price. Then I found a denim sleeveless shift dress – my preferred style of work wear dress and a steal at only £45. This foray into Next had been both successful and very friendly on the wallet! I assumed it was just a temporary anomaly.
Then meeting a friend at the Next in Martlesham near Ipswich I was overwhelmed by the choice of styles in their fantastic bright, airy and very large store. I rushed to the changing room with bikinis, shorts and other assorted holiday wear. I left clutching some shorts and an evening-eque top in sparkly coral having spent less than £40 giving me my summer wardrobe necessities! We then moved on to the ever excellent home wear area and even into the garden area (who knew?) before going upstairs to browse the cavenous bedroom and bathroom ranges and ending up for lunch at the in-house Costa. A most pleasant retail experience, which felt quite reminiscent of John Lewis (still my favourite all-round shop). Spurred on by my success in Ipswich, I visited my local Colchester Next, which has recently expanded to include clothing as well as home wear. I left again triumphant with a lounge top and harem pants and had to restrain myself from also taking home some sandals from a great selection.
The secret of its success to date clearly lies in its very affordable pricing. However, now it has overtly made the decision to become more trend led it will welcome a whole new section of women into its stores for their summer wardrobe. Those who are keen on fashion without being a slave to it and want value for money. At times this value is sorely lacking in some more high-end high street shops. Long may the renaissance of Next continue and I for one will be going back for those block-heeled sandals!