In London’s Kensington High Street branch of TK Maxx there are only two men browsing on the menswear floor. It’s just days after Prince Harry revealed in his memoir Spare that he used to shop for “everyday casual clothes” at the designer discount chain. Similar to Harry’s “system” which he explains in his book, both are “working up one rack and down another,” before standing in front of a mirror holding sweaters and jeans up against their bodies rather than using the changing rooms. Maybe the royal is on to something?
Before moving to California and sporting a more polished look featuring luxury brands such as suits from Celine and Brioni, Harry took a more everyman approach to fashion. “Nice and comfortable,” is how he sums it up in his book.
The designer discount giant offers shopping at its most fundamental level. It describes its stores as “no frills”. Clothing is simply divided into categories such as tops.
The retailer manages to keep its prices low, up to 60% less than the recommended retail price, by buying current and past season stock from manufacturers that have produced too much and department stores that have overbought.
Items and brands vary from store to store. But in the menswear department at the Kensington High Street shop, Harry’s local branch, there are rails and rails of Ben Sherman checked shirts (£27.99), Tommy Hilfiger jeans (£49.99) and polo shirts from Gant (£39.99). Harry’s poorly fitting shirts and baggy jeans circa 2013 suddenly all make sense. There’s even a whole rack of his favourite woven belts.
A staff member confirms there are no stock rooms and they never know what items are coming in. Instead, they receive a weekly delivery on a Sunday (some stores get daily) of stock which they place directly from the lorry on to the shop floor.
All shelving is on wheels so managers can alter the layout of the store to suit the ever changing roster.
Harry says he shopped 15 minutes before closing time. Staff say the only time the store is really busy is during the Christmas period, describing it as “madness”. It’s more likely Harry took a Supermarket Sweep approach, limiting the amount of time spent trawling through an endless mass of clothing with pieces crammed together.
Harry also claims that he was “particularly fond of their once-a-year sale”, a quote that has gone viral with many questioning if he actually understands how the discount store works.
A spokesperson for TK Maxx says: “Whilst we’re delighted Prince Harry is a big fan, we thought we should explain we don’t actually do sales. Instead, we offer great value, style, and savings all year round.”
In his defence near the men’s changing rooms at Kensington High Street, there is a clearance section with yellow priced stickers offering even greater discounts. Think a Ben Sherman cord shirt for £18 and cargo Folk trousers for £24.99. Very on brand for the prince’s late noughties era.
The store’s staff confirm they have never actually seen Harry or any other royals. However, “the Love Island crew” are regulars and they are excited to tell me they spotted the musician Stormzy a couple of weeks ago.
Stemming from the US where it’s known as TJ rather than TK, the first British TK Maxx opened in Bristol in 1994. Ushering in a new way of shopping for designer pieces, there are now 352 standalone stores with almost half located in retail parks.
The sixth largest fashion group in the UK, in Septemberit reported a turnover of £2.1bn, compared to £1.3bn in 2021.
The chain has garnered somewhat of a cult following over the years especially among the fashion crowd and no doubt Harry’s comments will fuel further interest.
The stylist Joseph Parker runs the Instagram account tkfashun where he highlights the best weekly finds in the Oxford Street branch. Meanwhile, insiders say that the Ealing shop in west London is best for Vivienne Westwood while there’s always plenty of Marc Jacobs at the Fort Shopping Park branch in Manchester.
You can’t get it wrong 🎀