Budget fashion: Oxfam takes on online shopping I

Collette Kerrigan ditches York’s high street fashion stores and heads online to satisfy her strict clothing budget. But just how far will a tenner stretch on eBay?

I must admit, my technological abilities aren’t really up to much. In fact, they stretch about as far as email and Facebook. With the aim of becoming more technologically savvy – and, of course, updating my wardrobe for 2007 – I took the new year as my opportunity to make the leap of faith that is being taken by millions of new generation consumers as they say “goodbye” to the the noise and clamour of high street crowds and “hello” to the joyfully simple prospect of no fuss, no hassle online shopping.

Forget popping into town for a new outfit; millions of consumers are trying internet shopping for size.

For many of us who have irritably elbowed our way towards Topshop in York on a Saturday, the rise of the high street store’s online counterpart is being welcomed with open arms. From riverisland.com to the designer mecca that is net-a-porter (however far your student loan will stretch), internet shopping is an activity that is all too easily becoming a way of life for many student consumers in the 21st century. The prospect of sitting in front of your computer with a bowl of cereal and picking out what you want to wear to Toffs next week in between watching episodes from the ‘Scrubs’ box set is, as my flatmate discovered earlier this term, all too appealing. “Sometimes I just don’t have the time to spend hours going in and out of the changing room,” she says, her mouse hovering over an intruigingly patterned tunic-dress (apparently identical to that worn by Peaches Geldof) from ASOS.com. “This way I can pick out what I like in half the time.”

Forget popping into town to find a new outfit; she and millions of other consumers are trying internet shopping for size. The worry of giving out your credit card details right, left and centre is being flung aside as fashion magazines are dedicating pages upon pages to cyber retail therapy. Shopaholics everywhere can now indulge their addiction in the comfort and anonymity of their home, trundling virtually through an array of websites, desperately seeking that must-have item.

Looking through a number of popular fashion websites (purely for the purpose of this article, of course), I took it upon myself to become click-happy, see what bargains were in the cyber market and discover next season’s essentials. With vintage prints and floral patterns key in February, many websites have added a huge range of 60s paisley and knit dresses to their collection. High-waisted jeans and shorts are also set to make a comeback. Personally, I’m sceptical on this front but, luckily, there is a broad range of sites that will offer me an alternative.

Beyond fashion, the exciting buys stretch further – although unfortunately so does the danger of going completely haywire. Another third year friend of mine who was previously unconvinced by internet shopping thought he’d branch out this Christmas with a remote controlled helicopter from redsave.com. After waiting over a month for delivery, he then crashed it in under an hour. The same friend debating Peaches’s tunic also took the opportunity after a night out in an intoxicated stupor to catch last minute fashion buys, only to realise the next day that she’d racked up a £170 bill on clothes that were actually two sizes too big for her.

Sob stories aside, internet shopping’s greatest time-waster is undoubtedly eBay: the famous online auction that’s taken the world by storm. Mid-way through my online shopping experience, I felt obliged to browse around for a few more deals. Ten pounds, I was sure, wouldn’t stretch too far. But a pair of slippers, an inflatable paddling pool, a poster and an alarm clock later, there was still change to spare. To be fair, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that these items weren’t great quality, but the principle is still there. And the possibilities of this site are endless: rubber dinghys, fire extinguishers, fancy dress and musical ironing boards – whatever takes your fancy. Huge numbers of people make a business out of eBay stores, selling copious items at reduced prices, but it’s never a good idea to get too internet-immersed. I learnt a valuable lesson from a naive friend of mine who thought the site was a great way to make a few bob. Attempting to sell her £250 Tiffany necklace, her highest bid was only £25, which she was forced to accept, according to the eBay terms and conditions.

Nonetheless, I can’t help but be drawn to the appeal of computer crazed shopping. Relishing these exclusive online deals, you also avoid the changing room challenges of queuing for twenty minutes to try on an outfit that really wasn’t worth the time and effort. But is the online gamble of clothes fitting worth the hassle either? Yes, if you know what you’re doing and so can avoid shipping back and forth clothes that don’t fit or jewellery that looked far better on accessorize.com. My advice is to save that new pair of faith.com shoes for a better occasion than traipsing through town and jump on the virtual band-wagon.

Go click-happy for fashion on the cyber market

WWW.ASOS.COM

Features fashion ranging from top-name brands to cheap celebrity imitations, all with the unashamed aim of helping you to replicate that outfit Paris Hilton wore out last night. Despite the scary emphasis on impersonating minor celebs, there are a lot of items here that you would be hard-pushed to find elsewhere, either online or in the real world.

WWW.TOPSHOP.COM
Quite simply the best highstreet fashion chain website; you could spend hours browsing the huge array of lines – but only after perusing the ‘style tip-off’ and ‘lookbook’.

WWW.LAYER-UP.CO.UK
Not the most professional site but underrated. Pull items of reduced-price designer gear together on a plastic mannequin. Cheap and fun.

WWW.CLOGGS.CO.UK
A hub of brands – brands and almost indiscernable discounts on everything you could possibly desire, from furry bomber jackets to wrap-around sunglasses. Kit yourself out in top-to-toe designer gear or select just a few choice quality items at sale time. Picks include cheap jeans and the full spectrum of Converse trainers, and all with free delivery in the UK.

2 comments

  1. Great article. This captures the real reason while online shopping is growing so quickly. It is the convenience aspect as well as growth of broadbrand access that is helping fuel the rise of online shopping. I believe that people are fed up queing for hours to try and find parking on their valuable day off (which will probably cost them £5 which will cover your delivery charge for anything ordered online). I also believe that shopping search engines like http://www.cubalaya.co.uk make it so much easier to find great deals.

    look forward to your next article..

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  2. Interesting article. Internet shopping is an activity that is all too easily becoming a way of life .It tells about the easiest way of online shopping, saving money and time. The above article shows the advantages of online shopping,it is very good.

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