What?: A self-styled ‘modern-day market’, Arket is the newest addition to H&M’s commanding high-street portfolio. With a name that means ‘sheet of paper’ in Swedish, Arket offers a similar brand of stripped-back Scandi style to sister stores COS and & Other Stories – though with more of a department-store feel and a greater emphasis on sustainability and longevity.
The children’s offer is relatively small compared with its parent brand and the price point is considerably higher, but the end result feels much more considered and contemporary. Organic cotton sweatshirts with yolk-yellow polka dots hang next to long-sleeve Breton tees and sporty leggings in every colour of the rainbow. Windproof jackets made from old plastic bottles sit alongside water-repellent backpacks made from recycled polyester. Pieces are made to be mixed, matched, layered, worn to death and then handed down.
The toy selection is similarly small and so covetable the idea of collecting the whole lot doesn’t feel entirely unreasonable. Everything is built to last, from the sturdy Brio pull-alongs and Steiff teddies to the collectible Bullyland animal figurines and handmade felt masks. natureZOO’s hand-crocheted rattle sticks make heirloom-worthy new-baby gifts, while Maileg’s linen Safari Friends are so cute and stylish you’ll think twice before surrendering them to sticky child paws.
What really sold Arket to me though, aside from its achingly cool flagship store and well-edited product, was the little Nordic cafe, which serves a tempting vegetarian menu blending traditional Scandinavian flavours with modern and global influences. Chic enough that you find yourself willing the ground to swallow you whole when your toddler has a floor tantrum in front of the lingonberry bars but kid-friendly enough to offer children’s salads, jam and peanut butter flatbreads, houmous with crudités and semi-healthy oat cookies (as well as a single but nonetheless super-stylish highchair), this dinky yet elegant corner of the store offers the perfect setting for a post-browse nibble – plus their coffee is just ridiculous.
Where?: You can find Arket’s Soho store at 224 Regent Street, a two-minute walk from Oxford Street (Bakerloo, Central, Victoria). The Covent Garden store is located at 27-29 Long Acre and is a one-minute walk from Covent Garden (Piccadilly).
Price Range: Kidswear ranges from £4 for a pair of knitted socks to £49 for a padded jacket. Toys cost from £2 for a Goki toy Porsche to £45 for a Steiff teddybear.
Best Bits: The cafe really is dreamy.
Worst Bits: The website is a bit of an arse to navigate and you have to go in-store to shop the full collection.
Did We Buy?: I could easily have bagged the Tretorn kids’ wellies in every colour and the whole set of Maileg stuffed animals but I managed to restrain myself and settled on a black ‘A’ sweatshirt for Bab.
Would We Come Back?: Yes but if Bab is in anything like the mood she was on this visit then it might have to be a solo excursion next time.
Bab approximately 30 seconds before a catastrophic, face-planting meltdown at Arket, Regent Street.