It probably wasn’t hard to feel the excitement behind the words of my last post on Bicester Village. One friend’s favourite-ever quote from this blog says it all: “I am at heart a cheap man.” (From a post last year on buying luxury – specifically, very versatile Hermes ties.) The prices and luxury menswear on offer got my heart pounding, as they did many of you given the comments I have had.

Ever since I have been trying to think of an excuse to go back, and last week I found one. The good people at Chic Outlet Shopping, of which Bicester is part, invited me to a Blogger’s Day – essentially an excuse for them to tell us bloggers about the Village, what makes it so unique, and give us a discount card to get some Christmas presents. Not a bad deal.

Of the 20 or so bloggers there, four were men – and the others seemed to be tacked onto other groups rather than being individual bloggers. The female bloggers were American and Chinese, as well as British, and varied from solo writers to managers of transatlantic teams. All a little humbling: I do hope menswear catches up soon.

I learnt a little about why Bicester is so good for up-market menswear shopping. Although Ralph Lauren has many outlets around the country (and makes more money from them than its normal stores, according to one blogger), Bicester is the only RL outlet to get Purple Label. There was a beautiful double-breasted, shawl-collar tux from Purple Label, in the Custom Fit, which is a lot narrower and seems to fit me very well. Reduced from £2200 to £440.

But I resisted – I have one set of black tie already and little need for another, given that I wear it four times a year. Plus I swore to myself to only buy bespoke jackets from now on.

Loro Piana only has two outlets in the world, one in Bicester and one in Italy. So valued is the outlet here that celebrities have been known to land by helicopter in the nearby field and make a beeline straight for the store. And the staff manages a very detailed customer register that allows you to request updates when particular items come in, and even order in advance.

So how did I fare? Pretty well. An Alfred Dunhill doctor’s bag from the traditional English range (all 100% handmade, in London) a ‘Roadster’ cashmere sweater from Loro Piana and a ‘Horsey’ coat from the same store – the model made for the Italian horseriding team at the Barcelona Olympics and featuring LP’s famous Storm System.

One more trip before Christmas would be excessive, right?


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Loro Piana has an outlet in Woodbury Commons in New York


I went there last week and indeed saw the Ralph Lauren tux you’re talking about. They even had one in my size! I didn’t go for it though for a couple of reasons:

1. it was in a very bad condition, so needed drycleaning, pressing etc etc and I wasn’t sure even how it would look after all that. Because the fabric was wool + cashmere, it wasn’t smooth anymore from all the wear and tear of travel and being up an mannequins and being tried on about a million times… I loved it though, despite the looks it felt fantastic and was indeed purple label with all the strings attached (e.g. needed finishing of the cuffs, and stuff, p.s. would it be working buttons?)

2. I actually found another tux in a store nearby, and you’ll probably hate me for saying this, but it is Armani. Giorgio Armani, in fact. It is single breasted, with velvet shawl collar and has silk lining. Absolutely gorgeous. I am 23 with athletic built and it fits fabulous – the only things I need to get done are trouser length and sleeves length.. I love the cut and feel of Armani suits (I own a blue Emporio Armani business suit), they have wide legged trousers and soft shoulders and feel pyjamas-soft. The jacket has got no vents and hugs my waist tightly. The trousers have a wide velvet “belt”, so no need for cummerbund. Ideal

If I had more money, I’d go back and get the RL one as well.

How does one arrive by P.Trans

where are all the R.L outlets in UK?

thanks mate.Does the train stop in the Outlet.and how does one get to La Valee (is it any good). Are the R.L brogues still on offer