British fashion is having its moment in the spotlight.
We were dancing in our desk chairs when, earlier this year, Topshop announced that they were finally expanding en masse to the US. But we quickly realized that they weren’t the only ones. Many other British fashion brands are making their way to the States in a movement that can only confirm that America is well and truly loving the London Look.
The arrival of British high street labels in the US has been happening slowly over the last few years, with the success of the 2012 London Olympics, the arrival of the royal baby last year and the continuing influence of Kate Middleton’s style choices (she has put many UK brands on the map, from LK Bennett, who opened their US flagship in 2012, to Hobbs, now on sale at Bloomingdale’s stores in the US, which has attracted much additional attention thanks to Middleton’s role as unofficial brand ambassador.)
While some labels have tried and failed to enter the US market in the past (known for their “Britishness,” both Marks & Spencer and Laura Ashley suffered huge losses when they attempted to break America) major companies are taking note as they cautiously dip their toes into American territory. But many brands have taken the “it’s now or never” approach, latching on to the tidal wave of media interest, packing up their Wellies, and making their way to American wardrobes.
You’ve probably already heard of ASOS, the giant online retailer known as much for their distinctly British style as they are for their massive seasonal sales. But you might not yet know boohoo, who opened up sales to the US just a short while after ASOS, and whose distinct calling card is a chic appreciation of mix & match separates at an incredibly affordable price, plus free shipping to the US. In fact, both of these e-commerce sites are doing extremely well, with America now counted as ASOS’s fastest growing market.
But the Brit benefits don’t stop online. It is Topshop’s US takeover that has set tongues wagging. After their huge success selling capsule collections through Nordstrom, and the popularity of their Soho outpost in New York City, the company has finally set their sites on a more far reaching expansion. They will open five stores across the country this fall alone, in Washington, San Diego, Houston and Atlanta, as well as opening their second store in New York City (and their second largest flagship) on Fifth Avenue.
Photos c/o boohoo
Other brands eyeing the US market include Superdry, Jack Wills and Barbour, whose first US store opened on New York City’s Madison Avenue in 2003. Even Boots, the popular UK pharmacy, has made it’s way to the U.S. with a 2012, $6.7 billion deal that sees their products being sold in Walgreens and Duane Reade stores throughout the US.
Of course, London has long been the home of the street style shot, young wacky trendsetters and rock stars. It’s where fashion comes for a revamp. London is where she who dares, wins. It brims with legendary designers such as Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, as well as up-and-coming talents like Jonathan Saunders and Simone Rocha. It is no surprise that its high street is one of the trendiest in the world.
But what is it about the London look that causes so much sartorial obsession state-side? Style bloggers on both sides of the Atlantic have some ideas.
If anyone knows about British dressing, it’s ex-London girl and American fashion blogger Sasha Wilkins, of Liberty London Girl.
“British style is a distillation of personal taste and current trends,” she says. “The thing that the British are particularly good at is that wearing one look, head to toe, never really works. It’s a mix of vintage, contemporary and high fashion that makes the British look so beguiling.”
Born and bred British blogger Carrie Harwood of the popular London-based lifestyle blog Wish Wish Wish believes that a lot of trends are born abroad.
“I think British style really represents how diverse and innovative the culture is here today,” she says. “Young Brits aren’t afraid to get creative with what they wear, so it’s no wonder that so many trends start right here on the streets of London”.
And when it comes to what American girls dig about UK fashion, top Teen Vogue blogger Allison Ramirez of The Stylish Soul, says it’s all about being bold.
“British style is all about fearlessness! British girls wear what they love and exude a sense of profound and cutting-edge fashion that amazes me each time I see a street-style shot,” she says. “As an American blogger, I look to these girls as an inspiration to be more risky when it comes to my wardrobe choices”.
Thankfully, it seems that American girls will have no shortage of style inspiration from across the pond in the seasons to come.
See more in the summer issue of Lydia Magazine