Virginia Chadwyck-Healey on the website you need to know for hidden fashion gems

Well, that was a different sort of maternity leave. It’s been 216 days since my last column, and how life has changed! I wish I could say that this was entirely due to our son, Walter, making his way into the world, but the issue of a global pandemic also features. I admit I feel somewhat sheepish about returning to writing about fashion. It all seems a bit irrelevant, doesn’t it?

And yet, as I looked around the shops on my first visit to London last week, I was reminded of what talent we have in this country. I was also reminded of the vast numbers of people employed by the industry, and that’s just the people and products we see. Behind the scenes, at fashion HQs up and down the country (although more likely working from home currently), there are great armies of people employed to make the likes of us want to spend our money and embrace some retail therapy.

So I thought, in this new-look column, I would offer my take on some of the brands that have really caught my attention and might inspire your next purchase at a time when we are all reassessing what goes into our shopping baskets. Why? Well, in short, because these brands do good. Good product, good quality, good ethics, good customer service, a good website experience – the latter being imperative now that many of us prefer to shop online rather than opting for the real-life experience.

Take this, my lockdown dress; a red wrap design, with puffed sleeves and tiered skirt. This dress was bought at precisely 7.28am one morning, when I was feeding my son and simultaneously scrolling through (yet another) summer sale email. I asked myself ‘Do I really, really need it?’, I zoomed in on the fabric to check the quality, I selected my size, and then hit buy – all before my bowl of Shreddies had been drenched in milk. This is not how I normally shop, but that morning I struck gold.

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