ra ra skirts

Retail: River Island to re-launch Chelsea Girl

by Sasha Wilkins on March 14, 2011 · 9 comments

A press release arrived this afternoon that sent me into a reverie. (If you are under 30, look away now). UK High Street retailer River Island are re-launching Chelsea Girl, with a capsule collection that lands at the end of March. Yup, that Chelsea Girl.

Chelsea Girl was a high street favourite of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s before evolving into River Island in 1988. But oh for anyone who grew up in the 80s, Chelsea Girl is synonymous with legwarmers, ra ra skirts, neon, white pleather pointy toe flats, pastels stripes & batwing sweaters.

When I Tweeted about the re-launch earlier today, my feed was suddenly full of contemporaries reminiscing about special Chelsea Girl outfits: there was mention of mini kilts and matching jackets and, well, all of the above. This was the era of the pastel Dash sweatsuit, grey slouchy pixie boots and the kind of artificial fibres that need to be kept away from the back of the bike sheds for fear of the wearer turning into a Roman candle.

So, we laugh dryly when we are told that the launch of Chelsea Girl draws from the fashion heritage of the original Chelsea Girl brand. (As well as imparting a kind of pass the Zimmer frame ennui.)

But, on the other hand, the new Chelsea Girl range *was* designed by National College of Art & Design graduate, Lucy Moller. Lucy joined the team after winning a design room internship at River Island in 2006 and created the Chelsea Girl pieces with guidance from River Island’s Brand Director, Farida Kaikobad, who worked on original Chelsea Girl designs in the 80s.

We love the idea that Lucy took original Chelsea Girl pieces from the River Island archive, garments found on eBay and in her mother’s attic as her inspiration for the new collection.  They are positioning it as a sub-brand for younger customers, with a lower price point than mainline items. It launches in selected stores and online on 24th March 2011, and to celebrate the launch, Selfridges & Co will host an exclusive Chelsea Girl pop-up shop.

Photo: www.80sactual.com

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

curious March 14, 2011 at 19:11

River Island is one of my daughters’ favourite shops when we visit the UK not least of which is their generous sizing but I adored Chelsea Girl when I was their age (more 70s than 80s!). With the first money I ever earned, I bought a tin of Mary Quant eye crayons and a short sleeved, sweetheart neckline, fairisle sweater from Chelsea Girl. It’s one of the few things from my teenage years I wish I still owned – oh that and the black crepe swing dress with the cross over straps at the back I was wearing when John Eadie kissed me at the christmas dance:)

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LLG March 14, 2011 at 19:16

I have my mother’s Mary Quant crayons! The ones in the yellow tin! Unusable now, but can’t bear to throw them away. And I love your memory as much as the sound of the frock. Thank you for sharing. LLGxx

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zoe foster March 16, 2011 at 10:04

The Mary Quant crayons in the yellow tin were just the best! I bought a tin round about 1970 as far as I can remember and just adored them, they were such fun to use – I used them to draw stars and flowers and rainbows etc on my face and thought I was a real hippie. I wish I had kept them even though they’d probably be completely dried up by now…

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That's Not My Age March 14, 2011 at 19:19

I’m quite excited about this!

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LLG March 14, 2011 at 20:24

@That’s Not My Age: my nostalgic side is…not so sure about it being age appropriate tho!

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thalia March 15, 2011 at 09:33

anyone else slightly scared that you can still buy a skirt in H&M for those prices (even though the VAT is 5% more…)

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Ella March 15, 2011 at 10:13

It’s rather exciting that River Island are re-launching such an iconic UK brand from back in the day, but I worry whether it will work in todays market.

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janie March 15, 2011 at 12:05

Yuk! hated pastel eighties baggy cotton clothing and flat shoes, SO not glam in my book. Won’t be buying into this look.

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Marbella March 20, 2011 at 08:28

Editor’s note: This comment was so needlessly offensive to a previous commentator for no good reason that it has been expunged. LLG

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