RIStyleStudioMontage1 When I heard River Island were the latest brand to climb aboard the personal styling train I was keen to discover if they could pass muster under Sartorialee’s scrutiny. Personal shopping is on the rise, and if my visit was anything to go by, so is River Island’s grasp on tailoring. River Island Style Studio headed up by former Topman menswear specialist Giles Farnham, who counts Eddie Redmayne among his style alumni, was launched this year in an attempt to keep pace with their competitors. RI Style Studio is a complimentary service, offering a bespoke shopping experience in the luxury of their exclusive in-store studio space. Their expert team of personal stylists build your ideal look and help you discover your individual style. They offer 3 styles of appointments dependent on your requirements:

Consultation: |1.| Studio Fix Ideal for those short of time, this appointment will ensure you walk away with the perfect outfit whatever the occasion. |2.| Studio Select Social calendar filling up with events? River Island’s fashion experts will find an outfit that’s guaranteed to make you look and feel like a VIP. |3.| Studio Inspire Whether it’s a new season wardrobe or a birthday treat, RISS cover all the trends and looks you might need; from everyday basics to work wear and everything inbetween.


Giles Farnham and Danielle Ward, my personal stylists

I was invited along to get the RIStyleStudio treatment at the Marble Arch store on London’s Oxford Street. Located on the first floor, the space definitely has more of a feminine touch – think gold pineapples, ikat fabrics and swirly wallpaper, but caters for the style needs of both sexes. It’s certainly very eye catching and draws you in from the shop floor. You sit on the sofa, your stylist hands you a Peroni (or a glass of Bisol bubbly if you so wish), then assesses your style and requirements. There’s a rather natty floor to ceiling mirror with built-in camera where you’re encouraged to pirouette and a 360° video of your ensemble is emailed straight to your inbox, under the hashtag #ImWearingRI. The changing rooms are super spacious and selfie-friendly. Everything your stylist has pulled out for you is left on the rail inside for you to have a play. Whether you’re style confident or not is irrelevant, it’s always nice to get opinions, especially from the opposite sex, other than those of your other half. I could tell my stylist Danielle Ward was itching to free me from my tie and immediately went about selecting items that would tempt me out of my more formal comfort zone. It’s interesting actually because several stylists have commented that while they wouldn’t change my style they encouraged me to dress down sometimes, especially for evening events.

With this in mind Danielle scoured the shopfloor and traded my usual crisp white shirts for Breton stripe tees and grandad collars. She also said I should not be afraid to embrace black, something I admitted, tuxedo aside, I hardly ever wear. “It doesn’t mean everything has to be black” Danielle said. “Black slim fit jeans should be a staple”. This RI pair were a perfect fit straight off the peg. Which is refreshing because nearly always some kind of alteration is required. While I tried on several ensembles pictured above and below, including a grey seersucker blazer that would not look out of place with a Margiela label on it, I came away with a linen blend double-breasted navy jacket (pictured centre left below), an absolute ‘no brainer’ in Giles’s eyes. River Island Menswear is certainly upping the ante in the sartorial stakes. Their AW15 wardrobe is not looking too shabby either (I’m already courting the camel blazer) and I look forward to charting the future success of this high street major player as they go from strength to strength. RIStyleStudioMontage-3