Our city breaks tend to involve unexpected shopping trips to & Other Stories.
This Scandinavian brand pops up in the swankiest and most tourist-friendly postcodes, from Rue Montmartre in Paris, to the trendy Frederiksberg in Copenhagen.
They also have stores in Poland, Russia, Qatar, Austria, Sweden, Ireland and the US, as well as many other locations.
This is not to mention London, where & Other Stories launched their first shop back in 2013. That city is spoiled with seven branches.
We’ve always been rather jealous, but no longer.
On Thursday, the first Scottish store will be opening its doors in the capital as part of the first phase in a much anticipated development.
“Edinburgh has been on our radar for quite some time and it’s truly a dream come true to finally open our very first store here”, says Rocky af Ekenstam Brennicke, director of brand and creative.
“The store is 450m² and will be located at the heart of the vibrant St James Quarter shopping centre."
In common with their other shops, it’ll be as light and pared back as an artist's studio, with clothing hanging on their industrial-style rails, fluorescent lighting and free-standing displays of dressmaker’s dummies.
They’ll celebrate their opening with a window of paintings and handwritten messages, created by Edinburgh based artist, Josie Devine (Instagram: @byjosiedevine), as well as a display of flowers at the first-floor entrance.
This boutique will join the rest of St James Quarter’s fashion offering, which will include the first Scottish Bershka, along with other more familiar brands, like Zara, Mango, Dune, Calvin Klein and Carvela.
However, this is the one we're most excited about.
For those who aren’t au fait, & Other Stories is part of the H&M Group, who also own Cheap Monday, H&M, COS, Weekday, Monki and Arket, among others.
We’ll soon get to see, in person, their spring/summer 2021 collection, which looks very exotic and optimistic after a year in joggers, jammies and jeans.
There are pieces covered in apricot and wildflower prints, earrings that feature shells and starfish, and woven straw bags. Their current most popular pieces on the website include a floral mini dress in eco-friendly fabric, Lyocell, as well as chunky gladiator sandals and a linen over-shirt.
It’s a celebration of the summer holidays we’ve missed.
“The current collection is inspired by nature and is all about well-dressed comfort and forever fashion,” says Rocky. “My hero pieces right now are the wrap dresses, strappy heeled sandals, our beautiful gold necklaces in layers, and the cat eye sunglasses."
As well as their own lines in ready-to-wear and accessories, including shoes, bags and jewellery, they also have a curated line of trainers from Nike, Adidas, Gola and Veja, as well as beauty products. (The brand was originally conceived as a cosmetics brand, back in 2011).
“& Other Stories is all about bringing everything she can wear into one place, focusing on the whole look,” says Rocky, who’s been with the H&M Group since 2017.
“We believe shoes, bags, jewellery, lingerie, and beauty are key for styling and just as important."
As Instagram attests, we’d say the brand is most popular among 20 and 30-somethings.
However, there are always pieces for those who aren’t on board with a playsuit or tube top. This is thanks in part to their ateliers in Paris, Stockholm and Los Angeles, which help diversify the & Other Stories look.
The collections from their Paris Atelier incorporate “a world of fashion, colours and prints, capturing the essence of the bourgeois bohème”, the Stockholm Atelier “reflects the paired-back and sleek Scandinavian aesthetic” and the range that comes out of the Los Angeles Atelier is “sometimes free-spirited and casual, sometimes polished with an attitude, but always flattering”.
“Being part French, part Scandinavian and part Californian brings a genuine diversity to our expression and collections,” says Rocky.
“The fashion perspective and context from each city shines through in everything we do. Sharing collections created by French designers based in Paris, Scandinavian designers in Stockholm and American designers in Los Angeles gives us unparalleled diversity within one brand."
We think Edinburgh is going to like the Stockholm collections best, and not only because they’re probably best suited to our weather.
& Other Stories also do regular “co-lab” collections with guest designers.
Currently there’s a collection by Korean-born London-based designer, Rejina Pyo, but they’ve also teamed up with The Hums, for a line of slippers, and lingerie makers Le Petit Trou, among others.
Covid has been difficult for retail. Edinburgh’s Princes Street is looking careworn after the closure of Jenners, Topshop and Debenhams.
Also, in the past year, customers’ buying and shopping habits have changed. & Other Stories seems to have weathered this storm, in part due to a storage facility that caters to all customers, online or bricks and mortar.
“The pandemic has brought a turbulent year to all of us,” says Rocky.
"We are very humble about the fact that we need to be flexible and adapt quickly. Following consumer behaviour and adapting accordingly with speed is very important.
“Having an omni warehouse gives us the possibility to act quickly and be agile in our customer offer. We’ve had a higher demand for both lounge-wear and bath and body products this past year, especially in the early stage of the pandemic.”
If you haven’t weaned yourself off the comfy joggers yet, it sounds like & Other Stories might just have something in store for you.