Nothing is more exciting right now than the ring of the doorbell and a package of new clothes arriving.
With our High Streets shuttered, filling virtual shopping baskets is the only way to get a hit of much-needed retail therapy.
Yes, we’re still buying loungewear — that trend isn’t going away any time soon — but we’re also starting to add other, more upbeat, pieces to our baskets.
We want to smarten up our spring WFH look, we want a raincoat for April showers, and we’re starting to think about what we’ll wear for all those picnics in the park, and barbecues we’re hoping to enjoy this summer.
But, as the pandemic lurches on, the crisis in the fashion industry deepens. London Fashion Week, usually a key trading week, has been reduced to a digital-only affair, with eerie, audience-less catwalks streaming online.
Covid has seen high street stores shut, and it is a vital time to support the industry and British brands, including The Fold (above, brand’s blouse, £205, skirt £225, and shoes, £325)
It draws to a close tomorrow, with homegrown heroes like Christopher Kane and Victoria Beckham absent from the schedule.
With High Street institutions disappearing and thousands of retail jobs being lost, there has never been a better time to support British fashion.
And as we move away from cheap fast-fashion in favour of a more considered wardrobe — where ‘value’ is cost-per-wear — British brands come into their own, with quality fabrics and timeless designs.
So, from heritage heroes to unsung independents, it’s time to get shopping. Here’s where to start…
a great, well-made pair will last years. Donna Ida (donnaida.com), founded in 2012 by Donna Ida Thornton, does fantastically flattering high-waisted jeans (from £185), and you can shop by body shape.
M.i.h Jeans (mih-jeans.com) is another female-led denim brand. Founded by Chloe Lonsdale in 2006, its M.i.h Originals collection (from £195) features five best-selling styles from high-rise flares to the straight-cut Daily Jean.
M.i.h Jeans is a female-led denim brand and its M.i.h Originals collection features five best-selling styles including high-rise flares (above, lou jeans, £225)
Welsh label Hiut Denim Co (hiutdenim.co.uk) was founded by David and Clare Hieatt. For almost 40 years their hometown, Cardigan, had a factory that made jeans for M&S — until 2002 when production moved to Morocco, the factory closed and 400 people lost their jobs.
So, in 2011, the couple launched Hiut Denim Co. Their jeans (from £155) are crafted by local women who’ve been making jeans all their working lives, and they offer free repairs for life.
After a year of lockdowns, we know grotty leggings and a threadbare sweater don’t make you feel great.
Hush (hush-uk.com) has been making stylish loungewear since 2003, when founder Mandy Watkins started the company from her kitchen table.
For joggers, slouchy jumpers, and cosy knitted hoodies (from £49) they can’t be beaten — in neutrals as well as soft corals, marine blues and sea greens.
Ninety Percent (ninety percent.com) is a London-based sustainable womenswear label that shares 90 per cent of its profits with charity. Co-founders Para Hamilton and Shafiq Hassan launched in 2018, focusing on pared back, luxury basics.
Hush (hush-uk.com) has been making stylish loungewear (above, £65 hoodie) since 2003, when founder Mandy Watkins started the company from her kitchen table
Organic cotton tops (from £38) and sweatpants (from £95) come in a simple palette of navy, grey marl, off-white and blush pink.
The ‘bed to street’ ethos behind Les Girls Les Boys (lesgirlsles boys.com) couldn’t be more fitting for these times.
Creative director Serena Rees, who co-founded lingerie label Agent Provocateur, has created a collection of unisex, mix-and-match organic cotton sweatshirts, trackpants and hoodies (from £85) in raspberry, khaki, black and grey.
For mood-enhancing, feminine dresses, you can’t go wrong with Rixo (rixo.co.uk).
With vibrant hand-painted prints, the collection of flowing midi dresses (from £225) are created by design duo and best friends Orla McCloskey and Henrietta Rix, who launched the label in 2015.
Filling the gap between High Street and luxury fashion, Maidenhead-based Emily Holmes-Naden launched Spirit & Grace (spiritandgrace.co.uk) only last year. Her floaty, printed wrap dresses (£145) with balloon sleeves and subtle ruffling are elegant and effortless.
For mood-enhancing dresses, you can’t go wrong with Rixo. The brand’s midi dresses (above, £275 dress and bag, £175) are created by design duo Orla McCloskey and Henrietta Rix
For romantic, prairie-style dresses — with lots of forgiving volume — Meadows (meadows-store.com) has long-sleeved, midi and maxi styles in 100 per cent cotton (from £170) with pretty embroidery, tiered hems and smocked cuffs, all designed by Central St Martins graduate Louise Markey.
The days of buttoned-up office wear are a distant memory — now we want WFH wardrobes that offer smart comfort.
ME+EM (meandem.com) have nailed it, with fluid blouses and silk shirts (from £95) and softly tailored trousers (from £59).
With Nothing Underneath (with nothingunderneath.com) reimagines a classic men’s shirt for women.
Founded by former Vogue stylist Pip Durell, her signature Boyfriend shirt (£85) in organic cotton or linen has an oversized cut which looks good with trousers or jeans. You can add bespoke monogramming, too.
With Nothing Underneath, founded by former Vogue stylist Pip Durell, reimagines a classic men’s shirt for women (pictured, £95 linen shirt)
Striking that tricky smart-casual note, Paisie (paisie.com) has a workwear edit (from £55) of belted jersey jumpsuits, balloon-sleeved blouses and flowing wide-leg trousers.
Founded in 2021 by London-based Kate Yiu and Vicky Ng, both Central Saint Martins alumnae, they offer 20 per cent off to frontline workers.
The Fold (thefoldlondon.com) launched in 2011, creating contemporary workwear for women; after the pandemic hit, founder Polly McMaster pivoted her collection, surveying 8,000 businesswomen to find out what they want in our ‘new normal’.
The site has an edit of ‘Zoom-Ready Tops’ (from £185) and ‘elevated casuals’, like four-way stretch twill trousers (£175) that have the comfort of leggings but the smartness of tailoring.
ME+EM have nailed working-from-home comfort, with silk shirts and softly tailored trousers (pictured, £135 shirt, trousers, £115, and shoes, £195)
A waxed jacket from Barbour (barbour.com) is the ultimate in British outerwear (from £199).
The 127-year-old brand is still in the Barbour family — now on the fifth generation — and the headquarters remain in the North East. Barbour’s latest collaboration with Alexa Chung reimagines classic equestrian styles for the city.
For raincoats, 40-year-old family-run Cornish company Seasalt (seasaltcornwall.co.uk) is the ultimate brand.
Their hooded raincoats (£150) go up to size 28, come with fully taped seams, poppered cuffs and a peaked detachable hood with adjusters to protect your face. Frontline workers get a discount.
A waxed jacket from Barbour, a e 127-year-old brand, is the ultimate in British outerwear (above, £249 coat)
Created by cousins and knitwear obsessives Anna Singh and Rachael Wood, Chinti & Parker (chintiand parker.com) does fun, playful knits in sustainably sourced cashmere and merino wool (from £195).
Think polka dots, slogans and stripes in lilacs, pinks, royal blues and mango yellow.
For modern neutrals, Navygrey (navygrey.co) produces ‘good jumpers, made better’, says founder Rachel Carvell-Spedding, who was inspired by an old jumper of her mother’s that lasted more than 20 years.
Chinti & Parker does fun, playful knits in sustainably sourced cashmere and merino wool, completed with slogans and bright colours (above, £195 cashmere jumper)
Made from sustainable, ethically sourced wool, the sweaters , roll-necks and cardis (from £165) are keep-forever classics.
Been London (been. london) is run by an all-female team headed by former BBC journalist Genia Mineeva.
The bags are handmade in London from recycled leather off-cuts or ‘fruit leathers’ (made of processed apple cores or pineapple leaves).
The rectangular cross-body bags (£139) fit essentials perfectly.
Orders are packed and shipped by a social enterprise that employs Londoners with learning disabilities.
Twenty per cent of e Cambridge Satchel Company’s profits from its QEST collection are donated to a charity that funds apprenticeships for crafts (above, £145 bag)
If you want real leather, Weald (wealdhandmade.co.uk) creates unfussy crossbody bags (from £89), which are either press cut in Leicester or hand cut by Weald founder Sarah Barlow in Leigh-on-Sea.
The bags are stitched and finished by hand and have free repairs for life.
Julie Deane founded The Cambridge Satchel Company (cambridgesatchel.com), which makes all its bags in Leicestershire, with 20 per cent of profits from its QEST collection donated to a charity that funds apprenticeships for crafts, nurturing a new generation of talent.