23 April 2018

Brand/New at the Bentall Centre

Bentall Centre

Home to a plenitude of high street and designer retailers, Kingston-upon-Thames had been the go-to shopping destination in my teens. (You can read my review from 2011 here.) So when the Bentall Centre invited me back to explore the latest collections in their "Brand/New" campaign, I couldn't pass up the chance to see what was indeed new, and what was still familiar.

Originally built in 1935 as the Bentalls department store, the Bentall Centre is the heart of Kingston's retail landscape. Its towering glass roof atrium floods the complex with natural light, as shoppers criss-cross the four-storey mall and seventy-five stores. Although much remains the same from my memories of a decade ago, the Bentall Centre is undergoing the final phases of modernisation to commemorate its twenty-fifth anniversary, including new restaurants, flagship retailers, and a boutique Curzon cinema on the second floor.

During my visit, I was encouraged to check out the latest menswear offerings from such brands as Hugo Boss, Massimo Dutti, New Look and Tommy Hilfiger, the latter being my favourite for its signature red, white and blue pieces. Awkwardly, my slimmer build does limit my shopping habits to only a handful of high street labels, therefore I have to shop strategically, and trying on everything is essential. It's too often a shame that something takes my fancy, only to find it's slightly too big for me.

Bentall Centre

After popping into every store, thereby ensuring I wouldn't make a premature purchase, my heart had settled on a faux-leather bomber jacket from Zara, complete with striped cuffs, hem and collar. It's a style I came to love only last year for its vintage-varsity vibes. Brown is normally a colour I reserve for leather accessories or tweed suits, but my perusing the various SS18 collections revealed a strong trend in warm, earthy tones. In contrast, a pale pink, cotton jumper from COS mirrors the softer colours of spring, albeit pairs surprisingly well beneath the darker fabric of my new Zara bomber.

Given the unseasonably warm temperatures that were imminent that week, I also relished the opportunity to swap some of my cosy winterwear for more weather-appropriate outfits. (As I have mentioned on previous occasions, my summer wardrobe is virtually non-existent!) I therefore picked up a selection of slim-fit t-shirts from H&M, which - unsurprisingly - became my daily get-up through all of last week's African plume.

Bentall Centre

Outside the wide selection of menswear retailers, I also enjoyed a delicious Lebanese lunch at the newly opened Maison du Mezze, which I shall review in a later blog post. (In brief, both food and service were impeccable for a cuisine and restaurant brand I was otherwise unfamiliar with.) And I couldn't resist browsing the quirky and stylish interior decor in H&M's homeware department, in which I mentally added another twenty-odd pieces to my dream home.

Finally to catch my eye was NYX Professional Makeup, the company's first standalone store outside of Central London. Albeit not a shop the average Joe might be tempted to explore, its weekly masterclasses are beneficial to my not-so-secret side project, and hence I will be returning to the Bentall Centre this very Thursday. Make sure to follow me on Instagram to see what antics I get up to!

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