Tuesday, September 30, 2008

And We Flock Just Like Birds of a Feather

My current project at work involves getting cosy with over 250 of the nation's most well-known retailers (*subliminal* Westfield London opens 30th October *subliminal* ) and it has really woken me up to just how snobby I am about where I shop and where I choose to spend my hard-earned cash. I do TopShop and H&M, but not Zara. I shop in Sainsbury's and see Waitrose as a treat. I love Selfridges yet avoid Harrods. I am fiercely loyal to M.A.C and Clarins, but totally whoreish over my toothpaste.

The notion of 'Families of Brands' is a concept that is often banded about amongst marketing types, but I think overlooked. Typologies can really gain depth if you start to look at the assortment of brands people bring into their lives. A London-based 30 year old women, with two kids who lives in Islington and shops in Jigsaw will present a completely different set of values and consumption habits to a London-based 30 year old women, with two kids who lives in Islington yet shops in Debenhams.

Suddenly you see that the Jigsaw shopper also has a weekly delivery from Abel & Cole, buys her underwear from M&S, and splashes out in Nicole Farhi. Debenhams lady, however, loves a bargain in Primark, does her food shopping in Tesco, and looks forward to the Karen Millen sale. Where most will have placed these two women in the same consumer group based on age, location and gender, those who look at Brand Families can see a much broader picture.

And it doesn't stop there. Once you know the 'Family', you can see where other brands might fit in - ideal if you are bringing a new one to market. You can see where competition lies outside of your industry - perfect for identifying competitors. And, if you are already established, you can bring your other Family members closer - be it geographically or psychologically - and become stronger.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Been burning the candle at both ends these past few days, but this evening it was worth it as I met the owners and originators of Clippy Kit bags. So exciting - and inspiring - to meet a young women in the throes of business success! Wonderful anecdote about how a guy once asked how she liked running a 'cottage industry' and she responding that you could hardly call supplying House of Fraser, John Lewis and countless national independents 'cottage'. Brilliant.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kentish Town. 8.45am. Winter Wardrobe 2008. His and Hers

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Woo hoo! And I'm back in the game. Creative30 ( have just re-posted the Camilla's Store blog in their 'as picked by our panel' section. 4 days and counting until the end of the selection phase, so I better start churning out those original thoughts that I'm becoming so well known for!

Service with a Smile

The next big thing is going to be a seismic shift in the British retail landscape. Currently in a limbo between its formal, bespoke past and its technology-driven, experience-orientated future, Britain must discover how to stand out in the international marketplace.

Classic BBC dramas like Cranford or Lark Rise To Candleford remind us how there was once a time when what we bought, be it candles or muslin, was handed to us wrapped in tissue paper, then bound in silk ribbon and finished off with a kindly word of advice (or gossip) from our local tradesman.

Today, a trip to Europe or even down Saville Row proves that this attention to detail is far from lost - luxury and artisan retailers feel an affinity with their product and pride themselves on the care with which they sell it. However, with more and more emphasis placed on price and choice, UK companies have cut back on their service offer, choosing to bring in less costly foreign floor staff but losing eloquence and devotion along the way.

Until recently, retailers in Britain got away with shoddy service as consumers got what they thought they wanted, namely cheap products piled high, but in the past five years our boisterous, American cousins have appeared on the scene. For Banana Republic and all the other American owned stores, excellent customer service is part of their mission statement. Their staff are as much as part of their brand as the items they sell. We have laughed for years at candy-pop cheerleaders who greet everyone with 'Hi! How are you folks doing?', but the shopping 'experience' is an integral part of a brand's image, and, ultimately, what we pay for.

The recent backlash against shops like Primark and Tesco in the UK highlight a massive change in consumer attitudes. The term ‘organic’ has taken on a larger meaning that goes beyond chemicals and accountability and now encompasses an entire lifestyle. What we do and experience will define us more than what we buy and own.

In the midst of a Credit Crunch, stores who offer more than just the product they sell in terms of service and experience, will find themselves with a loyal following as consumers enjoy the feeling of true value. With more UK brands focusing on customer experience, the Next Big Thing will be fantastic customer service that excites and enlightens the British shopper.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obamatron says...

"I just saw the G Ramster opening his new restaurant in Camden Town!! Awesome! Its just on the outside of the park - dinner reservations at the ready!"

Translation: Gordon Ramsay's York & Albany opens Monday.

Knowing his claret from his beaujolais.

Blur-member turned cheesemonger says "I think you've got to move out of rock star hair and into poet hair when you hit 35". Another important life lesson to add to the list.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Emma. 12.55pm. Camden Tube.

We all face dilemmas in our lives. Some more serious than others. Today I faced the dilemma of Sainsbury's or Waitrose. Yesterday, during a night out that goes straight in at No.1 on the Top Evenings in London list, my compatriot was juggling the dilemma of World Domination or reclusive Hampstead bookshop ownership. As I said, some dilemmas are more serious than others. And so, to help him in his decision I would like to offer up some inspiration in the form of...

The Camilla's Store Guide to the World's Best Bookshops

1) Yeats said he 'must lie down where all the ladders start, In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart', and for all others who have felt the same when down and out in Paris, the Shakespeare & Co. bookshop on the Left Bank is the place to head for. Rickety staircases, bohemian staff and hundreds of thousands of books makes this one of the most unique places to hang-out and browse.

2) Without ever having been there, I feel like I have visited City Lights Bookshop in San Francisco many times through the work of the Beats. I half hope that, when the time does come for me to visit, I'll find Jack, Allen and Neal waiting for me.

3) Often feted on the design websites, this converted church in Maastricht, Netherlands now houses an incredible selection of books, fusing aesthetics and learning.

4) Living in Austin, my friends and I often found ourselves whiling away our Sunday afternoons in Book People. Great for bumper stickers, the local rags, readings and an extensive selection of Moleskines not to mention three floors of books, books, books. Oh, and right next door to Amy's Ice Cream! Good times.

5) Not really a bookshop, but certainly a fab starting place for the discerning bibliophile. Our grand old British Museum's Reading Room. Makes you feel clever just being there.

High Fives all round! Creative30 - a project from VICE, Volvo, The Independent and Yahoo which "aims to find and celebrate thirty of Britain’s most promising young creative people" has made honourable mention of this very blog!

Funny, as I was just Yahoo-ing the new Volvo XC60, before settling down to read the Independent on Sunday. Talk about synchronicity. And shameless plugging!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tune in, turn on and shop out!

The U.S. debut of Topshop in New York, is yet more proof that when it comes to new fashion and retail innovation, the British highstreet is the international King. What often gets overlooked, however, is the cost of a constant desire for fresh fashion – namely the environmental impact of disposing of yesterday’s trends. Last year the clothing and textile industry created 2m tonnes of waste, 3.1m tonnes of CO2 and 70m tonnes of waste water(1).

Like Britney Spears, the British highstreet is finding out the hard way that with celebrity status comes a certain amount of responsibility. If Britain is going to avoid the global warming equivalent of a head shaving, public nervous breakdown, media feeding frenzy, and a restraining order against seeing its kids, it must start to see itself as a role model on the international fashion stage and make a serious commitment to the development of a sustainable and responsible fashion industry.

The TNS World Panel reported that 7.1 million consumers think that ethical clothing is quite/very important but find availability poor or very poor. Nevertheless, if the Feelgood Fashion Conference on Wednesday night proved anything, it was that sustainable fashion is moving actually away from what Mary Portas so aptly terms ‘knitted muesli’. From Gap’s pioneering of Corporate Social Responsibility and mavericks like People Tree (who are the self-titled ‘Trojan horse’ in TopShop), to innovative online boutiques like Aidli and emerging eco-design collectives like ReVamp, a clothing revolution certainly seems to be looming large on the horizon.

It is how that revolution will unfold, however, that has really got me in a spin. The big retailers are like politicians, thinking only in terms of their short time in power. At the end of the day it’s always going to be about winning points, increasing sales and boosting brand awareness in the short term. To make a change in the long-run you need the passion and dedication of grass-roots organisations – the underdog who taps in to an underlying sentiment and causes an uprising.

If we plan on securing a future for this vulnerable planet by focusing on smart consumption, it has to be the end of fashion as we know it. Trying telling that to the millions of shoppers who visit the value retail giants Tesco, Primark, George at Asda and Matalan (3) every single day – and who contribute to 1.2 million tonnes of landfill in the UK alone (2).

As the average cost of clothes drops year on year, the fight to make sustainability sustainable isn’t going to be a competition, it’s about the best man winning.

(1,2)Defra Sustainable Clothing Roadmap 2007
(3) Mintel Report: ‘UK Clothing Report 2005’.


‘Fashion and Sustainability: A Snapshot analysis’. Report from The Centre for Sustainable Fashion at LCF.

New Generation Ethical Fashion

NB Author's note: I am aware that this blog is also known to champion the very retail giants derided above, but how better to highlight the tension between an arising ethical consciousness and a Londoner's insatiable hunger for fashion?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No proper posting today, but h'core notes from the Feelgood Fashion Conference coming up. Is Camilla about to become an eco-warrior? Is green really the new black? Is sustainability sustainable? Find out tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Street Chic

London Fashion Week may be in full swing in west London, but for those of us not eligible for an invite, we must find our fashion focus on the highways and byways of the city centre. Today I spotted this...

... which turned out to be from Top Shop. But also Shades of Grey were being rocked, making me think a trip to GAP to stock up on some of these...

... may be due. Only question is... will the old budget stretch to this rather fabulous peacoat from Comptoir des Cottoniers?

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Sunday jaunt down to Belgravia to visit my Pater allowed time for a little bit of window shopping at Harvey Nichols. Loving their latest window display and reminded me that I have a ticket to the Feelgood Fashion Conference at the British Library on Wedneday, where they will be discussing sustainable fashion. Tickets can be bought if you click HERE.

Photograph by

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Shock to the system! Finally something truly inspired, hilarious and creative has come out of Reading University!

Heard about them on Radio1 this afternoon - brilliant!

And if parody is your thing, try this on for size as well...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Camilla's Store is reporting live from her sick bed this afternoon, so what better than the the Top 10 Sick Bed Must Haves...

Entertainment is key, but obviously a weakened immune system would not be able to handle anything too mentally stimulating, so in at number 5... It's Dawson's Creek. Nothing beats a cold like a bit of teenage angst and underage sex.

It's important to keep the liquids up if you're gonna get well again in time for the weekend. Put spending nearly £5 on designer juice down to a soaring temperature and get your mitts on some Innocent Smoothie with Acai. Drink it straight out the carton to avoid having to share!

At Number 3, it's the all important illegal narcotics - leftovers from trips abroad and stowed away for just such desperate times. By this stage, however, you've completely forgotten how much you're meant to take, the use-by date has deteriorated, and you end up crawling around the living room at 2 in the morning demanding swiss roll and capers.

When it comes to being ill, it's all about the munchies. In an ideal world, little 'things on trays' will be brought up at hourly intervals by a loving parent, partner or spouse, but in the absence of such a willing individual one needs sustenance, comfort and ease. Take advantage of it being the one day a year when you're allowed out the house in your pjs, pop to the shop and pick up that staple of the storecupboard and every convalescent... Heinz Tomato Soup.

So, you're fed, watered, entertained and heavily medicated, but all this is pointless if you can't snuggle up, get warm and get well. It's the ultimate in luxury and guaranteed to bring warmth to even the chillyest of chills... Cashmere bed socks from Brora. Whoever said being ill couldn't also be stylish?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

OMG! It's Media Bratz!

This evening I found myself doing a spot of child minding for the younger generation of media brats. I arrived to find them stuck into a Bratz Dolls dvd, but rather than mindlessly going along with the god-awful image of American childhood (revolving, it seems, around anorexia, hair extensions and OMG! Best Friends For, like, Ever!) my fellow MBs, were taking a thoroughly post-modern ironic approach to the whole thing.

I guess that's what a childhood in Kentish Town does for the upper-middle class youth of today.
Loving this... the new ipod nano - shake it to shuffle it!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

An Ethical Dilemma

We are living in interesting, if confusing times. On the one hand, we do our recycling, switch off our lights, wash on 40 and tut to each other about child labour in the value fashion industry. On the other hand, we love going absolutely coco-nuts in the Topshops of this world and boasting to our friends about how we got "twelve outfits and a coat for just twenty quid!".

The sad truth is tha,t when faced with the new AW08 collection in Miss Selfridge, the average shopping addict wouldn't give a monkeys to hear that the lot of it was made by orphaned 3 year olds who were paid in heroin.

Is it possible to resolve this? Only time and the actions of the highstreet retailers will tell.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Notes from a small Island.

Umm, hello!? When did River Island suddenly get so freakin' great!!?? And I think these shoes....

...Are going to change my life.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What's in where. What's hot NOW!

Ok, so I'm going to try out a new section for Camilla's Store. I'm a bit nervous as there's a slight risk of coming across as being my own muse when what I really want is to provide a snap-shot of the latest trends on the highstreet.

First up, Urban Outfitters. The new AW08 ranges are in and I'm loving their short-short skirts paired with loose fitting tees. The nineties are coming back in a big way - I even saw a girl on the tube wearing vintage floral doc martens!! It'll be ying-yang necklaces and John Lennon sunglasses in no time!

Anyways, I tentatively post a pic of yours truly rocking the Urban Outfitter's look.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Socks and the City

When it's socks you're after the British have a pretty pathetic list of options. M&S for safe and boring, Primark for a pound a pair and Paul Smith if you're lucky enough to be a guy. Socks aren't exactly the most glamourous items in our wardrobes, but get a pair of socks right and they can make your little day. A girl I knew even used to have Friday Feeling socks - a pair of pink and black stripeys that served as a constant reminder of the impending days off.

And so it was with great glee and excitement that we fell upon Tabio - a shop hailing from Tokyo whose sole aim is your soles' delight. No sock goes unrepresented - from itty bitty sparkly bands for just your instep, to over-the knee knitted cashmere bed socks. Not to mention every colour tight one could ever wish for - not that I sartorially recommend ever wishing for bright yellow tights, but each to their own.

As September sets in, I swung by their Covent Garden shop to pick up some new leg-centric attire.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Apologies for the lack of posts so far this week - been hard at it up at Queen M's. So, let me share a tip for all the worker bees out there ... A food delivery company like no other - restaurant quality at 'oh go on then' prices straight to your door and your tired soul.