Friday 23rd saw the opening of the North Easts first Boux Avenue store, in Gatesheads Metro Centre. I toddled on over with Daniella and I met the fantastic Carla and the lovely Victoria while I was there.
We got a chance to meet Theo Paphitis and us girlies jumped at the chance to put him in the hot seat and interview him en masse! Theo talked with a genuine passion and enthusiasm and answered all the questions we put to him in a friendly personable manner. I felt you could tell he hadn’t rehearsed and he meant what he was saying. He explained a little about the bra making process within the design and fit areas. This really intrigued me and I’d love to see how each style is developed.
Sandwiched in the green mall, in a triangle between La Senza and Ann Summers (or a shop thong as Theo put it when questioned), the new luxe lingerie store looks resplendently high end compared to it’s counterparts and neighbours.
If the big black heavy gloss doors aren’t intriguing enough, the fresh crisp white interior and the perfectly dressed displays that lies beyond certainly do pull you in. The well dressed, attentitive Boux Girls also seem to draw you in. Each in their smart black shift dress, adorned with their own unique twist on accessorising. I saw day glo pink, leopard print and purple velvet! The only rule the staff have in regards to uniform is that they aren’t allowed to wear black shoes as that’s dull. I think this is great as each girly gets to impart their own personality on to their uniform without breaking the rules!
Inside the store, the first thing you notice is the gentle but noticeable scent that lingers around the store which makes a pleasant change from the smell of old sweat that seems to linger in some stores (come on, you know the smell I mean!). The smell seems to be the White Chiffon scent which you can buy in store in a multitude of different forms. The store takes on a cross between a chic parisian boutique and swish hotel feel to it, with minimal décor that distracts from the products, you have a few prettily decorated mannequin forms and products dotted around the store in vintage suitcases. Very nice touch!
The underwear is beautifully displayed, you cannot help but feel like it’s a high end experience when presented with the pretty bras up top and then the neat drawers full of extended choices. It was a little bit cool to open the drawers and be presented with neatly laid out bras in varying sizes and colours.
The range is very good with plenty to choose from, plain neutrals, bold colours and patterns all feature. The range runs up to a band size of 40, and after perusing the store, it did seem that there wasn’t THAT many 40s on offer and the ones that were there, looked pretty damn small. Boux Avenue are planning to roll out more lines in larger cup sizes in the near future but at present they are not held in all shops.
There is also a nice selection of loungewear and sleep wear, which coming in to Autumn is all nice and snuggly warm. Just what is needed on these cold nights! If you feel you need your nights ‘warming up’ a bit, they also had a beautiful selection of negligees and silky chemises. These seemed to peak at a size 18/20, which I have to say I find to be a little bit disappointing. Especially when you consider the amount of new plus size lines in shops such as New Look etc going up to a 26. Maybe going up to a larger band size / knicker size would have widened the market a little bit but I’m sure they have done their market research.
Not only can you buy your smalls and snugglys at Boux Avenue, they also hold a line of home & body products, which I have to say, were my favourite part of the whole shopping experience (due to small sizes! BOO!). I love the White Chiffon scent and found they offered the scent in a range of items from a hand lotion all the way up through candles to a reed diffuser. The White Chiffon sits side by side with the Pink Taffeta scent too. White Chiffon felt more fresh and clean while Pink Taffeta was a more heady floral scent.
Moving onwards to the back of the shop, you find the VIP desk and the changing rooms! When you move in to the changing rooms, the flooring switches from white tiles to the softest grey carpet my little toots had ever felt – and yes, I did take my shoes off to have a try of it! Each room has it’s own name and is huge in comparison to a lot of changing room stalls, segregated by a grubby and usually ill fitting curtain! Each changing room has a very very high end, luxe feel to it which again reiterates the luxury shopping experience feel that B.A have designed to make you feel that little bit more special while buying your essentials. In the changing rooms, there are 3 light settings so that you can check yourself out in varying lights to see if your bra choice is a hotty or notty in subdued romantic lighting.
Now I hadn’t ever thought of this, but Daniella pointed out that none of the changing rooms,except the disabled, had a seat in the room. Had she not pointed this out I’d not have spared a thought about it but where else would I dump my handbag now!! She also mentioned that if you are going to be sitting down for most of the day, you need to know your choices are going to be comfy right? Without a chair you can’t do that so it’s something that would be much welcomed. They could have added some beautiful stylish baroque-ish style high back chairs to again push the luxury high end experience and make you feel like you’re sitting on a throne while trying on your slinkies!
Heading back out of the changing rooms, you have a small 2 seat waiting area for those pesky oither halves that like to interfere with shopping time and the VIP desk I mentioed earlier.
Boux Avenue run a VIP club which works as a loyalty scheme, spending X amount to earn points which are then redeemable for money off next purchase. Combined with their current offer of buying the bra and getting matching knickers free, this adds up to being an easy to use scheme. Another great highlight to the shop AND the scheme is that if you are anything like me, you find a comfy bra then go and buy it in every single colour they have yet invariably they never have more of your size. With the Boux Avenue shopping concept, you can pay for the bra’s in store and they will be rush posted out to you at home straight away so you aren’t waiting weeks for your bras to come back in to stock. I think that’s a great idea and should the sizes have been wider, I probably would have taken them up on this.
The crucial point about the store, is the pricing structure. I felt that for the quality of the bras, the shopping experience and choice of styles the products were priced very well and I was surprised that they did not cost more. Prices on average hovered around £5-£8 for a pair of lacy briefs and bras ranging from £12.50 – £28 but most coming in at around £20. The sleep wear is also very reasonably priced and on par with other stores.
When making a purchase, your items come beautifully wrapped in lace print tissue, scattered with White Chiffon scented petals (great for keeping in your drawers at home to make everything smell nice), boxed in a glossy Boux Avenue box and then dropped in to a very swish salmon pink BA card bag. Again, the posh bag and wrapping adds to the buyers experience of high end luxe. Much preferred over being shoved a tatty rustling carrier bag and sent on your way.
Overall, I enjoyed the shopping experience in Boux Avenue. Yes, I was a little disappointed that due to the sizing I wasn’t able to buy anything, but hey ho, that’s life innit! I got some beautiful smelly goodies and a toasty warm pair of socks, what more could a girl want for autumn?
As a follow up to this review, I have a filmed interview with the man himself, Theo Paphitis which I will upload at a later date so that you call enjoy my pierced tongue lisping geordieness!
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Theo for his time, the wonderful girls at Fluorescent PR and also say how much I enjoyed the morning with Daniella, Victoria and Carla – you ladies rock.