On Tuesday night, after weeks spent gazing doe-eyed at the Anthropologie website, I decided to visit the actual shop. I was confident it would be a fairly pretty and well-decorated place. I headed to Regent Street, after work and at rush hour, and diverted into H&M on my way. These details are important because they made the revelation I was about to have all the sweeter.
Anthropologie, Regent Street, is quite simply the most beautiful place I’ve ever shopped in. Three floors (and two mezzanines) of the most connected and considered visual merchandising and branding I know of. Everywhere you look it’s dustily paled hues, natural materials, vintage typography, newspaper cuttings, typewritten documents and quietly kind sales assistants.
For the emptier of pocket, there is an entire room (roughly the size of my flat) of sale goods, with ‘sale’ meaning as low as £14.95. The changing rooms are palatial: literally rooms that you can parade around, furnished with floor-length mirrors and patch-upholstered chairs and rows of hooks to hold your chosen garments. The sales assistant, who is just the right side of chirpy, shows you to a fitting room and asks your name, then inscribes it onto your now personal boudoir in case you need any assistance.
The atmosphere is calm, music is unnoticeable, ceilings are sky-high, air is fresh, air conditioning is soothing and customer service is extraordinary. Your purchases (and of course you will have some after this experience) are giftwrapped automatically and placed into the beautifully understated bags you, frankly, expect by this stage.
You forget you’re in Regent Street; you forget you’re in London. It’s an extraordinarily soothing, and good-natured, or just good, environment to be in. It makes up for years of brutally militant shopping: being ignored in Topshop, treated with contempt in Dorothy Perkins and looked down on at Urban Outfitters.
I have decided to never wear anything but Anthropologie. After that experience, it’s just not worth diversifying.