What do J. Crew, Banana Republic and Forever 21 all have in common (other than the fact that they all sell clothes, obviously)?
They’re all US-based brands… which operate UK-based websites, allowing those of us here in dear old Blighty to shop from them without paying extortionate shipping and customs fees.
Note that this is not the same thing as simply offering international shipping options, which many brands do these days: it means that these stores all have UK versions of their websites, with the items priced in pounds Sterling, and shipped from UK warehouses. True, the product range isn’t always as wide as on the US versions of their sites, but we’re willing to forgive that given the other benefits. The fact is, you see, international shipping is all well and good (and it’s something that many of our readers clamour for from some of the British brands we feature here), but when it comes down to it, it’s probably not something most international shoppers use on a regular basis, because it has huge drawbacks, namely:
1. The shipping cost can be very high: sometimes almost as much (or even more) than the item you’re ordering.
2. The item can take a long time to arrive, and even if tracking is available, it’s still easier for the item to get lost in transit.
3. Customs fees. They can be prohibitively expensive, and when you’ve already paid through the nose to ship your item internationally, the last thing you want is to be hit with another almost-as-high-as-the-ticket-price charge once it gets to the UK.
While we definitely appreciate having the option of international shipping from the retailers we love, then (After all, it’s not THEIR fault that it costs so much to send something overseas), it’s something that we only tend to use for items we really, REALLY love: and even then, we’ll use it only when we’ve exhausted all other options of finding the thing closer to home. This is why we’ve really welcomed the move in recent years for some of the larger US brands to recognise the demand from the UK and cater to it by launching their own dedicated UK websites. (Similarly, some UK brands like Topshop, for instance, have done the same thing, by opening US websites). While we recognise that this isn’t something ALL retailers are in a position to do (so this post definitely isn’t intended as a complaint), there are some we’d REALLY love to see available in these shores. Here’s our top five:
1. Old Navy
Their stablemates Gap and Banana Republic both have UK websites, which gives us hope that Old Navy’s brand of affordable basics might one day follow suit: mostly so we can grab ourselves a pair of those anchor-print pants, let’s be honest. So far there’s no sign of that happening, sadly: the US site does offer international shipping, though, so we’ll have to be content with that for now.
The Fashion Police have a lot of love for The Limited, most of it dating from this summer, when they went all nautical on us. We never can resist a good anchor print: see ‘Old Navy’, above. Again, these items tend to be reasonably priced, and range from casual basics to workwear, with the odd party-appropriate piece thrown in. As with Old Navy, The Limited does ship internationally, so we’re not totally deprived of their offerings.
It’s long been a bone of contention for us that the internet’s biggest shoe store doesn’t even offer international shipping, let alone a dedicated UK site. The product range at Zappos is probably much too large to offer all of it to other countries, but SOME kind of international option shouldn’t be too much to ask for, should it?
OK, so Target isn’t technically a clothes store – or, at least, it’s not JUST a clothes store – and we’re not asking them to move EVERYTHING they sell overseas, but we’d love to have access to some of those designer collaborations they’ve become so well known for, and at the moment, overpriced-on-eBay is the only way to do that, as the brand doesn’t ship outside of the United States: boo!
Loft recently started shipping to the UK : prices are given in GBP and they also allow you to pre-pay import duties, which is awesome, because it means you can work out exactly how much your order will cost, with no unpleasant surprises from customs. The final step would be to allow us to cut out the duties altogether: pretty please?
In closing, we just want to re-state that this post is a Wish List, rather than a complaint: it’s obviously expensive and logistically difficult for brands to start operating in a whole new territory, so we’re in no way saying we expect these brands to do that – just that we’d be thrilled if they did!
So, who’s on YOUR wish list?
Regardless of where you live, we’re sure there are brands you’d love to shop from, but can’t: either because they don’t ship to your country at all, or because the cost is prohibitively expensive. Who are they? Who would you love to be able to buy from, if location was taken out of the equation?