Vintage skirt and shirt, Dune sandals, Dorothy Perkins belt, Me and Zena necklace, Primark bangle, Urban Outfitters hat
At the weekend I went to Bicester Village, a discount designer outlet. I’m always looking for new, money-saving ways to shop, and as Bicester has been mentioned on a few of my favourite blogs I thought I’d take a trip to Oxford to see what the fuss was about.
I’m not sure what I was expecting – an Alexa for £100, maybe? – but I came away empty-handed and unimpressed. This is not a cheap way to shop, and neither is it an enjoyable one. It could be that I’m just not the target customer for Bicester Village – a Missoni dress, while stunningly beautiful, still costs £500 – but I found the long queues, piles of unfolded clothes and hoards of pushing people akin to a trip to Primark. Only this time I didn’t have a bag full of purchases to distract me.
To me, shopping for designer pieces should be special. If I were ever to spend £600 on a bag, I’d want the sales assistant’s full and undivided attention. I’d want space and time to consider my purchase. I’d want it in a thick paper bag with ribbon handles. I’d want (and need) a glass of champagne afterwards. I would not want a pushchair rammed into my ankles as I handed over my credit card, or the dress I’d just spent a month’s rent on shoving into a plastic bag along with its receipt.
Am I naive to assume that the price of high end goods should include exceptional service, even at discount outlets? Or should I accept that if I want to save on the RRP, I need to let the service slide? What do you think of designer discount outlets?
PS – I did have an enjoyable experience in some shops – namely, the less popular ones. Theory had some beautiful LBDs at £50 a pop, and Joseph’s wool blazers were a steal at £39. The sales assistant in Diane von Furstenberg almost convinced me to blow £250 on a classic wrap dress, and the lunch at Carluccio’s was delicious.