The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and I’ve just come to realise I may never be an & Other Stories woman.
If fashion is one big happy family & Other Stories is that cooler-than-you cousin that can pull off a nose ring without offending grandma; it’s the intellectual sister of H&M, the trend-knowing niece of Arket; it’s dazzling and chic with the soft scent of a fig-infused perfume.
Unlike, say, Zara, it flies under the radar and has you asking even someone you secretly hate, ‘where did you get that?’. For those in-the-know a trip to the & Other Stories Kings Cross and Covent Garden stores are a rite of passage, like getting your ears pierced or having a tiny poke-stick tattoo on your lower rib.
While I will never be the & Other Stories woman, I’ll still buy their dresses, shoes and swimwear, I’ll Google ‘& Other Stories discount code’ and be able to spot a real & Other Stories woman in the wild from afar. I’ll know her from her floral dress and from the fact that creases look good on her (don’t make yourself sound like a fool, her shirt is meant to be crumpled like that).
She’s the type of woman that goes to barre classes and remembers to make a smoothie ahead of time. She wears matching pyjamas (and underwear), because she's got adulting and wash days worked out. Her flat has trinkets on shelves, posies in handmade vases and a corner dedicated to crystals and candles. She has friends who say they work in ‘media, darling’ and that can talk furiously fast about Brexit and Kanye - sometimes at the same time.
Like the Swedish label, she’s not really into social media, for she reads books and goes to flea markets for fun (not for Instagram). But, she’s still relatable - she loves a mini bag but still slyly carries a tote bag (because life sometimes gets in the way of fashion) and she wears that wide-leg cropped trouser trend but doesn’t really understand it. Chillblain calves are a real complaint.
Her work and weekend wardrobes are the same, which is why shopping is so easy for her. She makes it look like a breeze - everything fits just right, even that oversized fluffy jumper that makes you feel like a gorilla - but she’ll say she hates it. She wouldn’t dream of going to Primark but has no qualms about rummaging through a charity shop bin hunting out one-of-a-kind designer gems, like that vintage Comme Des Garcons dress she found last weekend that cost pennies and fits like it was made for her. She likes & Other Stories because it feels like a showroom and has exceptionally cool collaborations (with the likes of House of Hackney and Kim Gordon).
How do you explain & Other Stories to a stranger? Sure, it’s part of the H&M group, but it doesn’t seem as fast fashion as other high street stores or as serious and complicated as Cos. It’s bright and vividly patterned but also has something for the minimalist who likes ankle boots and adidas pullovers. & Other Stories clothing, beauty and jewellery is coded with a complex coolness that’s not as straight-forward as Supreme or inaccessible as Vetements.
It started initially as the beauty arm of H&M but grew into a standalone concept store complete with design ateliers in Los Angeles, Stockholm and Paris. Each design team may work independently but & Other Stories unites their global vision, selling their efforts alongside each other in one of the brand’s 60 stores. No wonder the & Other Stories woman is so complicated, she’s dressed by three cities at once.