Celebrating the youth retail stores that dominated the UK high street in 1990s
By Carlene Thomas Bailey

As the UK high street continues to evolve and change, here we celebrate the brands that were staples on the high street back in the 90s.

Mar 11, 2016
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The UK in the 90s was defined by the fashion of the time, between Brit pop and grunge the fashion landscape was a plethora of slip dresses and khaki trousers, while bands like All Saints and Blur were riding high in the charts.

The UK high street and fashion retail also looked different to how it does now, before the influx of U.S. brands like Forever 21, American Apparel and more, affordable fashion for the teenage generation was available from classic stores such as Tammy Girl, Bay Trading Company and Kookai.  Thanks to a #throwback image of these stores, which is currently going viral online I was reminded this week of these classic brands, the stores I used to shop in the 90s.

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Many of them are no longer trading but for me they defined the era and they got a lot of things right. Price wise they were not just affordable, they were downright cheap, they responded incredibly quickly to trends, and they most definitely showed that fashion should be fun. This is where I experimented with faux leather jackets, and where I could pick something up that felt distinctly like it was from the UK, so that when I travelled abroad I looked different. Now, by contrast, the high street is pretty homogeneous no matter where you are in the world, which is why truly unique emerging brands stand out so much.

These classic UK high street shops were not all great though, they failed on a few fronts, they probably fed our increasing demand for fast fashion, the store experience was not luxe or inviting, they were no good at personalisation (as someone with long legs the offerings were often too short) and they were slow to adapt to growing digital advancement.

Despite that they will always have a spot in my heart.

Like this? Follow Carlene on Twitter here.

MORE: For full in-depth retail analysis and how the future of digital is influencing high street brands, join WGSN here


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