The British high street is a wonderful thing. Along with tea, rolling hills and sarcasm, it is something we have well and truly nailed. But increasingly the space between cheap-as-chips fast fashion and expensive high-end high street/contemporary brands is widening and it’s leaving a gaping hole in our shopping needs. If we want something that will last longer than Zara, but can’t justify the prices of Reiss, Hobbs, Whistles et al, then where do we go? Tricky.
The past few years have seen a handful of brands attempt to plug this void but with limited success and sticking power (RIP Atterley, sob). Which seems odd considering the concept of stylish, good quality clothes at fair prices is hardly an outrageous one. Isn’t that what we all want? (Don’t all shout at once.) Fortunately ex ballerina turned wardrobe saviour, Haeni Kim has recognised this and is giving the void plugging a go with KITRI – the new, exciting and reasonably affordable clothes label that we are all going to be very happy about.
Launched on Monday, KITRI (named after the female lead in Don Quixote) is what Kim describes as "fresh fashion"; thoughtful designs, high quality production and doable prices. She explains that she started the label out of frustration of not being able to find well-made and well-priced designs on the high street and said that she "never felt comfortable" paying £300 for a blouse. The collection (offering “go-to items for both work and play”) is based around cotton shirts, wafty pyjama trousers, tailored jumpsuits and dresses with a bit of oomph and with prices starting at £45 and topping out at £165, they are certainly more manageable than that £300 blouse.
The brand’s small design team is based in London and everything is made in the Far East in the same factories that produce clothes for several well known luxury brands. This means cottons are soft, crepes are lustrous and details like piping are executed perfectly. To keep prices down, KITRI operates on a direct to consumer basis meaning traditional mark-ups are cut out. And because the brand sells purely from its website, there are no expensive shops to pay for.
Whilst Kim sites the Ninette Tuxedo jumpsuit as her favourite piece, worn with “a pair of great heels for the evening or clean white sneakers and a white T-shirt underneath”. I’m eyeing up the Odile wrap dress which can also be worn over jeans and a top.
To keep the collections feeling fresh, each week five to seven new styles will be added to the site, but in limited amounts to maintain a sense of exclusivity and avoid the familiar “oh look, everyone in my train carriage is wearing my (insert high street brand) coat” syndrome.
So, price – tick. Style-factor – tick. What else? Shopping experience. As well as beautiful imagery, the site is cleanly laid out and very easy to use on both desktop and mobile. Rather brilliantly, if you live in the UK you get free next day delivery and free returns. My one annoyance is that sizes don’t go beyond a size 16, something that Kim says she is working on and hopes to offer very soon, so watch this space.
Great quality at fair prices – it's as simple as that. I'd argue that a dose of "fresh fashion" is exactly what the British shopping space needs right now, so let's hope KITRI is here to stay.