[All photos my own. Please ask before reproducing].
Space-age bubbles in the windows of Monki.
It's always exciting when a new flagship store pops up in London, but Monki is particularly tempting thanks to its lineage (the sister brand of H&M and COS) and its reasonable prices. What this brand is offering is something between its two successful relatives - the sassiness of H&M's spring brights and its loud Divided range, crossed with the minimalist cool of COS. Case in point: the mannequins were dressed in putty and black Aztec prints with shift or batwing dresses and futuristic boots. I was excited to walk in.
The neatly scallop-edged shop fittings.
On entering, things did feel a little bizarre. Although it was a massive space, the shop certainly felt more claustrophobic than it should, thanks to over-the-top fittings and garish fixtures such as ornate chandeliers, mirrored ceiling tiles and some very odd pink, yellow and green decorations on the stairs. This is not the place to come with a hangover, unless you're a sadist. If you can ignore the young teenage girl's boudoir that the interior designer seemed to be replicating, you can get to the good stuff: the stock.
Well-draped basics were par for the course.
Colour blocking was the name of the game in Monki, with bold and largely plain items across the store that would be easy to pair with each other. Even the patterns seemed to be secretly harmonising with the garments either side of them. The main shapes were boxy jackets, batwing jersey t-shirts, crossover draped skirts and retro 3/4 sleeve anoraks, with prices starting from £6.00 for basic tees and £25-£35 for silk shirts.
The accessories were also very strong, and I can see them being a major attraction for shoppers. Prices varied from £4.00 for green apple earrings and £6.00 for a leather purse, to £15.00 for an angular clutch bag in black or neon green.
A riot of colour and some beautiful buttery leather.
I couldn't resist these boots (£35). Available in three colourways across the shop - mustard, red and putty - they were so simple and yet incredibly flattering, with a platform wedge. After a bit of wavering, I plumped for red and squeezed myself into a size 39 (note to staff: applying the security tag on the elasticated section makes it a bloody good achievement to get them on your feet, regardless of being a theft deterrent).
So, will Monki survive in a recession? The shop fit is garish enough to attract attention from younger crowds, and the fashion weeklies are sure to love the clothing shapes, so I think it's safe to say that the brand will continue to be on the radar for some time. As long as the prices are kept reasonable there will be a place for Monki on the British high street, and I'm sure us Brits will style the clothes in our own eccentric way. Just remember to wear sunglasses if you're easily offended by bright colours.