Walking the streets of Tunbridge Wells, trying to get a sense of the fashion scene it certainly doesn’t take a genius to know this town isn’t comparable to the decadent streets of Paris, however if it's the big names on the high street that tickle your fashion fancy or a peruse in a top notch boutique, RTW might be just the place for you.
Whilst scouting the town centre on a busy Saturday afternoon, I decided to try my hand at a little street style. I figured everyone will be clad in their glad rags in the spring sunshine because let’s face it, we’re British. So, with my Diana hanging around my neck and a notepad tucked under my arm I approached the trendiest folk in sight or at least those who struck me as a little bit different from the TW norm. Now, Tunbridge Wells doesn’t boast the most daring of fashion trends so after a grilling on any favourite stores and a couple of snapshots later it came as no surprise to find that the top 3 favourite places to shop on the high street were (drum roll please…) Topshop, Republic and New Look. Closely behind these fashion favourites were River Island, French Connection, Fenwick and Next. Unsurprisingly the ladies most beloved and desirable purchase was in fact shoes, shoes, shoes and the most commonly mentioned fashion faux pas were ladies wearing leggings and well…not much else. Me-ow.
One lovely lady told me she enjoyed ‘trying to be different where possible’ though admittedly this is easier said than done when it comes to the same shop faces on the High Street. So what does it take to dig a little deeper? Although I personally enjoy a spot of thrifting, it appeared that venturing into one of the many charity shops was almost shameful, with the admission being made either in hush tones or the word ‘Oxfam’ being jokingly passed around as a favourite place to shop with a hefty dollop of sarcasm. Though throw in the question of vintage and watch the reaction change. Funny that. After a little more coaxing I did find that Cancer Research and indeed Oxfam were on some of the shoppers hit lists when scouting for that something a little different.
There is just one shopping centre in the self proclaimed heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells, aptly named the Royal Victoria Place which somewhat predictably houses all the favoured stores listed above amongst the mere 90 stores overall. Luckily for me and my Diana I managed to catch a small fashion show being held in the shopping centre, with the models sporting all the latest trends on the runway for the upcoming season from brands such as M&S, Superdry and of course Topshop. The models were all truly fabulous and collaborated poses, struts and dancing shapes, left, right and centre.
As generic as Tunbridge Wells might be in places it was a royal treat (get it?) when Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair graced the halls of the Trinity Theatre back in January this year with more vintage clobber than you could shake a stick at and certainly not a snigger to be heard. Not usually a fan of the rustle and tussle of rack rummaging I did manage to snap up a bargain Laura Ashley dress which combined 3 of my personal fashion loves, plaid, ribbon and a peter pan collar swoon. Although there are yet no plans for the return of Judy’s Vintage Fair one can only hope, wish and keep fingers crossed that another visit won’t be all too far away.
Although Tunbridge Wells may not embrace the rarities of the fashion world this just encourages a little more digging, and finding any hidden gems is definitely something to be taken advantage off. Dare to stand out from the crowd and you’re guaranteed a double take.