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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