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Shop Nottingham

18 February 04 words: Ellie Goodwin
Got paid last Thursday and by Sunday it was gone. Now living on £24 a week, my only solace that I look damn good in my new Diesel jeans

Photography by Ed Walsh

Words: Ellie Goodwin
Visuals: Ed Walsh

I got paid last Thursday, and somehow by Sunday it was gone. I'm now living on £24 and unfortunately writing for this website doesn't pay. Where did it go? It's a question that many people ask when confronted with the harsh reality of their balance. Fortunately I guess, I know where it went...

This month my money went to Fusion, H&M, All Saints, Claire's Accessories and House of Fraser. I'm not proud to say it but I'm a shopaholic, addicted to the sound of the receipt printing and a calming voice saying "Could you just check the amount and sign?" My only solace is that while scraping by on £24 I look damn good in my new Diesel jeans.

It is the shopping trap of Nottingham. The price for the convenience of a small city and the prosperity of a thriving cosmopolitan is your entire paycheck and a wardrobe of clothes you'll never wear again. Nottingham is nationally renowned for it's shopping; it has a wealth of shops all within easy walking distance. It is this ease that has the detrimental impact on my bank balance.

I need shops that have a mile between them and clothes that have the quality of New Look's bargain bin to discourage me from spending. Unfortunately for me, most of Nottingham's premiere shops are located on a handy 100m strip named Bridlesmith Gate. This street is small, quaint and lethal to your wallet.

Nottingham's shops offer a main course to suit every palate and each area has a different flavour.  The aforementioned Bridlesmith Gate is the city's fashion nerve-centre and pride of place on the street sits Cruise Flannels. Set back from the street it's dark exterior is foreboding and intimidating. It might as well have a sign outside saying 'No fake Louis Vuitton, No Trainers and No Poor People'. But for me the store holds a fascination and on the rare occasions that I've drunk my cup of Tetley, I'm ready for anything.

It is best to point out that Flannels plays psychological tricks on you the instant you walk in. You will notice that the first stand in the women's section is Prada, closely followed by Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana. The astronomical prices of the garments in this section literally take your breath away. It is only when you progress towards the back of the shop that you reach the lesser priced Burberry and Fake London. By the time you reach this less illustrious section you're finding yourself rationally thinking that £400 for a coat is a must-have bargain.

Bridlesmith Gate is the place to go when you've just been paid and you've been saving your Christmas, birthday money and indeed spare change that would have normally been given to beggars.

Gathered around Flannels are Diesel, Ted Baker, Bank, Office, Sole, Boxer Clothing, Sole Trader, Reiss, Paul Smith, Limeys, DNA, Jigsaw and Whistles. These shops, with the exception of DNA and Diesel, stock the smarter highly priced garments for those wanted to dress with class. Diesel, DNA and Boxer Clothing, display scruffier (but similarly priced) clothes; for the kids who are too cool for school, and for making an effort in their appearance.

Diesel's ever imposing presence has led a city of impressionable followers who will buy every pair of jeans that are shoved in their face (Guilty victim here). The street also bares some names that are less 'hip' such as Hobbs, Planet, Coast and East to name a few. Shops that just aren't down with the kids and therefore tend to cater for the older ladies. Random shops include Muji, Oxfam and Token House where you can pick up useless tat for varying prices. 

Progression further across Nottingham brings you to the exchange arcade; slap bang in the middle of the city. The very fact that the arcade is located in the Council House means that structurally it's impressive. The shops inside are mainly women's shops that aren't exclusive enough to be classed as designers but carry enough weight that no one disputes their sometimes questionable prices. Essentially this refers to Kookai, Oasis and Warehouse - Karen Millen can be excused, as it would comfortably sit with the big names on Bridlesmith Gate.

Also in the arcade is a dark and brooding men's shoes shop that I forget the name of, an art shop (who I'm told by a friend is expensive but sells pretty intriguing art), a furniture store and one of those maternity 'fashion houses' where pregnant women go to convince themselves that they can still look chic whilst strapping an extra 20lbs.

The next epicentre of retail splendour is Hockley. Its main asset is being that it is snugly placed by the ever rising, urban metropolis that is the Lace Market and Hockley is now gaining popularity with similar momentum. Amongst its streets lie up and coming stores waiting to break into the big league, this area has most of the independent retailers.

Photography by Ed Walsh

It's biggest attraction is the invincible Ice Nine, this odd ramshackle of a store has an unbeatable prowess that ensures every Saturday it is full to bursting point with curious shoppers wanted to by nik naks and drug paraphernalia. Ice Nine stocks everything; clothing, jewellery, bongs, ornaments etc it is the perfect 'unusual gift' store. Downstairs has a more sinister nature with merchandise heavily leaning towards vampirism and Satanism, but the staff are just the sweetest.

The shop is nationally renowned; Rich, who works in 'The Basement', told me that the last time he went to Newquay he was approached by eight passers-by who recognised from his habitual hole. Teamed up with its sister store Jugglers, Ice Nine corners the Nottingham market for useless rubbish. 

Hockley tends to cater for the alternative lifestyle with shops such as Void (goth), Bug (cyber-goth) and G-Force (insensibly large trousers). There are also interesting shops such as Birdcage that stocks hard to find brands like Sticky Fingers and an array of fantastically original handbags.

Also nestling in Hockley is the ever popular Wild Clothing, this store makes a fortune from looking like a charity shop, smelling like a charity shop and selling second hand retro clothing at astronomical prices. But not all the shops in Hockley are suited for the alternative sect. Fashion following men can find comfort in cin2 and Cincinatti and everyone should be happy in Brother2brother.

Apart from it's unique gems like Hockley and Bridlesmith Gate the rest of Nottingham's shopping facilities are pretty generic. It has all the clothing retailers you could wish for, spread over the rest of the streets (the only vital one missing is Mango but rumour has it that the Victoria Centre is trying to find room for one) and a satisfactory amount of coffee houses and bars to put your feet up for a well deserved break.

That's if you can still afford a Cappucino afterwards...

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