Trips abroad used to be way more exciting. Remember when we didn’t have a Zara? Or a H&M? Or – ye gads! – when a trip to The Body Shop was the height of away-foreign fun. Now we’re spoiled by the fact that all of these “exotic” shops have come home to roost, and you can’t swing a cat but you’ll hit someone in a Zara dress or H&M jumper.
Which is why it’s always such a rare treat when you find a shop we don’t have at home. And though I know it’s a case of being careful what one wishes for (honestly H&M has lost its lustre somewhat since its wares became so ubiquitous), these are the shops I stumbled across on my recent American travels and honestly, truly wanted to see set up shop on our emerald isle.
So picture this: you can swap Heatons for any US shop. Which one would you choose?
Okay, so no surprises here, but the French cosmetics chain seems to have outposts in every single country in the world bar ours (and it's just opened in Australia; strewth!). What’s so wrong with Ireland, Frenchies?! It’s not even the range of brands Sephora stocks that excite me – although I do love that it seems to have everything I love under one roof – it’s Sephora’s own brand. Their brush cleaner is the best I’ve come across and their boxed Christmas palettes are incredible, not to mention incredible value.
2. J. Crew
It was only in November 2013 that J. Crew opened up three stores in London, the brand’s first outside of North America, with a fourth – on Sloane Square – opening this year. What are we, J. Crew, the poor relation?! Though I will admit to having some hit-and-miss experiences with the preppy-quirky brand (the printed trousers are never in my size, and the website promises things the stores just don’t deliver), my last visit to the US resulted in my emptying my wallet in a serious way and handing all of my money over to J-Ly (can I call you that?). All I want in life is a chance to bankrupt myself in my home country. Is that too much to ask?
3. Club Monaco
Imagine my surprise to learn that preppy mid-range Club Monaco was owned by Polo Ralph Lauren! Okay, I wasn’t that surprised. But what is surprising is that, quite frequently, Club Monaco has some deadly bits ’n’ pieces. Sure, they have some underwhelming knits (preppy heaven), but they also have a great range of cute party dresses (you know you’ve been in America too long when everything is “cute” or “awesome”) and printed separates. Our nearest outpost is, surprise surprise, in London. With everything else good.
I’ll admit slight bias here – okay, major bias – because my sister designs for Dallas-born brand Fossil, but visits to their Texan stores have left me surprised and delighted. At the moment they’re doing a seriously gorgeous Eley Kishimoto collaboration as well as a robot motif that I absolutely adore. (I clutched on to this robot bag for about an hour before finally settling on a more versatile Preston cross body.) Of course, a big focus of the brand’s merch is watches; my eye is on this kitsch Eley Kishimoto number. Love!
Yes, it’s another J Crew off-shoot: Crewcuts, the kids-only stores from the US brand. Because of ’n’ how I don’t have any kids, I generally don’t care too much about childrenswear, but Crewcuts has the cutest bits ’n’ pieces for boys and girls, you’d be crazy not to pay attention. Plus, prices aren’t too insane – which may have been aided by the fact that we were there the weekend of Black Friday. I was seriously tempted by this sheep sweater (for my nephew, despite the fact that it’s in the girls’ section) and I’d love to wear this colour-block sweater myself!