From Luella to Lacroix, there's no denying fashion has been hit hard by the credit crunch. But a small group of British chains are thriving, and it's not just thanks to their bargain basement prices. High street stalwart Primark, which sells more knockoffs than our Adventures in Copyrights investigator could even begin to sleuth, announced a whopping 19% increase in sales this month, and Peacocks--which could be likened to K-Mart, we guess, in terms of quality and price, saw sales jump 17% from last year. Unlike in the States, where quality is currently the focus rather than quantity, a bargain outfit is still something to boast of in Britain. The girl mixing her $20 Peacocks frock with a thrift store jacket will prove her fashion stripes far more than the one dressed head-to-toe in Balmain. Really! Budget retailers--once overlooked by fashionistas in favor of Topshop and New Look--have upped their game in recent years, undercutting rivals on price, while dramatically improving their fashion offering.
Indeed, when Primark opened its Oxford Street flagship, there were dawn stampedes as hundreds of shoppers rushed through the doors. And Peacocks’ collaboration with Pearl Lowe (modeled by her daughter Daisy) was so successful that a second collection is due to launch later this spring. These pieces can be so in demand that they sell for many times their value on eBay. So what are the must-haves to hunt down this season? At Primark it’s all about lacy boyfriend jackets and ditzy florals, while Peacocks has pre-ordered over 50,000 pairs of the newly popular kitten heel, a style that was seen on the runway at Stella McCartney. And at just $25, we’ll be buying a pair in every color. --TAMARA ABRAHAM