If you haven't been to Bicester Village, then take fashion director Marie Kelly's advice and book your flight now. She's sold on the offering of exciting fashion at accessible prices.
Last week, I travelled to Bicester Village in Oxfordshire, the sister outlet to Kildare Village, and wow... if you love fashion as much as I do and haven't yet visited, then book your flight now. Only an hour outside London (there's a direct train from Marylebone Station), it's home to the most exciting selection of outlet stores in Europe.
I love labels such as Acne Studios, Celine and Zadig & Voltaire, but I can't afford to pay full price for them. At Bicester, these brands, along with others like Saint Laurent, Chloé, Gucci, Prada, Alexander McQueen and Salvatore Ferragamo sit side by side offering exquisite pieces at significantly less than the original prices.
If I'm being honest, my excitement is less about specific brand names and more about the fact that I can buy quality pieces at accessible prices. Not every item there is within my reach - I spotted a leather Acne Studios bag that I adored, but it was still €700 - but so much of it was. Yes, you'll spend a lot more per item than you will in Zara, but who doesn't want to invest in a piece that's made to last, and will elicit envious coo-ing noises from those around you?
My best buy there last week was a pair of Acne Studio kick flare corduroy trousers. They cost €160 and there's a similar pair in teal on the current Acne website that cost €320. I think if I'd had longer to spend at Bicester, I would have also bought an Acne scarf and LK Bennett boots (I own a pair already and the quality and comfort they offer is superb). The Acne scarf was so divine in a shade of pink specific to the brand (it worked with Pantone to develop this soft salmon pink hue), I'm thinking of going back before Christmas just to pick it up.
Flared corduroy trousers, €320 at acnestudios.com
While I was there, the British Fashion Council had installed an incredible pop-up shop featuring 30 designers including Erdem, Paper London (one of my new favourite brands) and Hillier Bartley. It's the second year for the BFC pop-up, and like Kildare Village, Bicester is massively engaged in creating new and exciting fashion experiences for its visitors. Kildare Village has a partnership with IMMA right now that means incredible works of art can be viewed in the village itself.
The BFC pop-up at Bicester Village, the sister outlet of Kildare Village
While at Bicester, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Desirée Bollier, a fabulously stylish woman who is instrumental in developing interesting partnerships between the Village and creative institutions and individuals. She was so inspiring in how she spoke about how the fashion industry and retail outlets can support emerging designers and help to create spaces that fulfil more than just our shopping needs.
The pop-up closes the first week in November, so you may not catch it this time round. But keep an eye out next year as I'm sure it'll return having had such a great reception from visitors. In the meantime, pop down to Kildare Village and check out the IMMA pop-up shop and the incredible installations there.
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