As I walked into the brand new Flannels store in Newcastle today I got that familiar excitement I get when I go into shops knowing I’m going to want everything. I absolutely hate the Flannels store in the Metro Centre, but this is a completely different experience. Located on Northumberland Street in the centre of Newcastle the designer delights of Gucci, Louboutin, Valentino, Off White, Balenciaga and many more are finally accessible in location…if not in price…
When I talk about my love for certain brands like this I often end up feeling really bad, and have a fear of being judged. Materialistic…yes, greedy…that too, unnecessary…not so much. I’m throwing that feeling of shame for expensive things out the window for this post and I really don’t care.
If it’s not for you feel free to bail out now and no hard feelings because, spoiler: this post is pure unattainable, expensive, ‘there’s people starving in the world’ judgemental hell, if you feel that way.
I’m under no illusion how ridiculous I sound but just humour me ok?
I am in absolutely no position really to be buying things like this. I’ve been saving for a house deposit for bloody years after getting so fed up of throwing money down the drain in rent, but what was spent in rent for a couple of years turned into spending on holidays (LA/Vegas/Mexico I’m looking at you!).
I am now significantly more responsible and I’m well on the way to that house deposit but I’m a firm believer in still having a life, treating yourself especially for occasions, and of being able to spend my own money that I work hard for on what I want. Cheers to that anyone…tell me I’m not alone?!
For some things, mainly shoes and bags I consider staples, that I’ll always love and use, I’d rather spend a bloody fortune and wear the things to death. That excitement of walking into shops like that never really goes, even once you’ve made the purchase. Every time I pick up the bags or pull on the shoes I still get it, and I know I make the most of them.
Flannels Metro Centre doesn’t do it for me, Flannels Newcastle does more so.
That said it’s totally out of place, between WH Smith’s and H&M, I’m not sure the location really suits the style or experience. Says a lot that rather than being between two stores of similar concept it’s sandwiched between a National Lottery play sign and a 20% off fast fashion sale sign.
It would look much nicer round the corner near Monument, Reiss and Hugo Boss. Nevertheless the outside is the trademark black with white lettering, and there’s a doorman to let you in.
The entrance is dark and mirrored, with a selection of shoes in lit glass cabinets to the left. Obviously the en vogue Balenciaga trainers are centre stage.
You go down the escalators and find yourself in a basement shop like no other in Newcastle. It’s dark, but not Hollister/GOT season 8 episode 3 dark, the displays are lit. I read somewhere that interior designers from London/Miami are the brains behind the decor, and I have to say they have done a great job, is a slightly more masculine one than I’m perhaps used to in the more feminine shoe departments of Harvey Nichols or Selfridges.
I got the feel that there’s definitely more male lines and selection than female especially in the clothes department, but shoes are pretty even. It’s also not the full collections for each brand, but the most popular pieces, and I’d also say most wearable.
It’s the stuff you see that everyone ends up wearing – the Balenciaga trainers, sliders, seasonal bags, and seasonal clothing, with the odd piece that’s just so out there I’m not sure anyone even buys them.
The rails are in small sections, quite simple but together they form quite the maze, keeping you trapped in a world of names everywhere you turn. I don’t recall even noticing where you pay, but there are plush seating areas with coffee tables and comfy seats.
There’s a significantly bigger collection than in the metro centre, and it’s a significantly more enjoyable experience walking around browsing. There were about 6 or 7 things I’d happily try on and consider buying in there, whereas the metro centre I just walk out.
For Newcastle I think it’s a great addition to the shopping scene, providing it keeps the same standard it’s opened with. It’s good to know if you really can’t wait for something it might be a lot easier to get hold of than previously. Edinburgh, Leeds and Manchester won’t always be the nearest place anymore.
But for me, while it’s a very smart, exciting shop to browse, I don’t think it’s the same experience as either the flagship stores or the dedicated brand stores in the main shopping cities of the world – Paris, London, Florence, Milan, Rome etc. Here the products are in their own environment, and every decor, placement, and even the staff are part of the experience you’re buying.
Maybe the 51% share I know Mike Ashley has in it is putting me off more than I thought at first…
If I ever have the option I’d rather make a whole trip of the purchase, either for the day or the weekend for the unique environment that each brand creates in store rather than a department store. It’s just way more exciting and fun when you’re forking out hundreds on something you’ve worked hard and saved for.
But I’d say it will be a welcome addition to Newcastle for a lot of people, accepting it’s not always practical to have to plan an entire trip away for one item.
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