& Other Stories opened on Regent Street this week, just down from Oxford Circus tube station. & Other Stories is the latest store brought to us by H&M Group. I have loved H&M since the early ’90s, when they religiously carried Pippi Longstocking childrenswear, despite no-one in the UK knowing who Pippi was. I’m quite fond of COS too, H&M’s ‘grown-up’ store, a kind of sexier Banana Republic. Before launch, I was guessing that & Other Stories would be pitched between the two, and aimed at people who like Garance Doré (as I do), and now that I’ve visited, I think I was correct.
It’s been so long since I wandered around a high-street clothes shop and thought one of my favourite thoughts: ‘How Do I Put It On?‘. The Maison Martin Margiela for H&M was great for that, as evidenced by the amounts of it left on the hangers and discounted – to my eventual and patient delight. I’m so bored with most high street fashion – & Other Stories isn’t madly ‘directional’ but a browse around their floorspace feels like being offered a sorbet after years of being served McFlurry elsewhere.
It has a sink. May I repeat that?
IT HAS A SINK.
A beautifully clean, large white china sink in full working order, so you can really test all the products. How marvellous is that?
Approaching the shelves full of & Other Stories cosmetics, I kept my guard up, reasoning that I am never tempted by H&M make-up, so why would I fall for & Other Stories cosmetics at twice the price? Well, to put it simply, because the stuff looks great.
The packaging is minimal and simple and therefore (especially when it comes to the range of tools) directly hits the pleasure centre in my brain that I believe is known by scientists as ‘The MUJI cortex’.
The names – and I am all about a good name – are lovely. Theming by fabric is such a clever idea, especially when you don’t limit yourself to crowd-pleasers like ‘satin’ and ‘silk’ but instead go for ‘calico’, ‘whipcord’ and my favourite: ‘scrim’.
The own-label range of cosmetics, toiletries and tools are extremely enticing, but just in case you weren’t tempted enough, & Other Stories have an area to the back of the department dedicated to great brands from other countries. A very extensive range of Dr. Bronner is always a pleasure to see, but there are other ranges to explore and treasures to find. A counter full of The Balm skincare begs for further exploration when time and funds allow … But first I want to try the & Other Stories line. I have my eye on a gorgeous nude eye-liner, the Moire Green nail polish and the Charmeuse and Ivory eye quad (as shown in the little gallery below). I’m also very taken with the tools – for some reason, I can’t stop thinking about the little white nail scissors …
My very favourite thing about & Other Stories is that it has a back door, allowing you to use it as a short-cut to bypass the horrid hurly-burly of Oxford Circus. This is the kind of practical touch that I HIGHLY approve of. It also serves as the perfect excuse to enter the store: “Let’s just pop through & Other Stories …” If you can make it from front to back of & Other Stories without being stopped in your tracks and diverted into a highly enjoyable browsing and buying spree, then I tip my jaunty hat to you. ‘Have no retail outlet in your address book that you do not know to be practical and believe will make you even more beautiful’ said William Morris (I might be slightly misquoting here, but I’m sure he would agree with the sentiment). & Other Stories passes both tests; add it to your address book and visit as soon as you can!