A Love Letter To Accessorize As It Goes Into Administration
When I was 16 I owned a flower garland headband that I wore so much, one day it literally disintegrated into my hands.
Over the course of one summer, I wore it everywhere. Even at school, I would stuff it into my bag alongside my Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse, pencil case and other academic essentials.
I wore it around the house and to the cinema. At friends' house parties it went perfectly with my dramatic side fringe and bottle of knockoff Peach Schnapps.
Once, I even used it as a bobble to tie back my friend's hair when she was being sick. TMI? Look, my point is, we went through a lot together.
I loved that headband - it was, of course, from Accessorize.
When the news broke earlier this week that the high street retailer is set to go into administration, I honestly felt my stomach flip.
It perhaps shouldn't have come as a surprise after a week of high street casualties. But the truth is, much like a loyal childhood friend, Accessorize has been there throughout everything.
Once I'd stopped dragging my mum into Claire's Accessories every weekend, Accessorize was the next step up. Pricier, less shiny and more sophisticated: at the age of 16, Accessorize was the one.
I think I can speak for every girl growing up in Manchester when I say a trip to The Trafford Centre on a Friday night wouldn't be complete without a mooch around Accessorize.
We all harbour fond memories of being a teenager and wandering around the store - avoiding the adjacent Monsoon just in case you bumped into your boyfriend's mum, or worse, your teacher.
And now at the age of 27, over a decade on from my first purchase, I still love it just as much as I did then.
It's seen me through many a trend, albeit some I would rather forget. On my first holiday with my boyfriend, we went to Paris. It was around the time when everyone on Made In Chelsea started wearing those floppy felt hats. I wanted one too. So where did I go? Accessorize, naturally. Photo evidence below...
And if you were looking for a winter hat, there was simply no need to look anywhere else. Ciara, 26, from London fondly remembers a fluffy pink beret she bought several years ago.
"From between the ages of about eight and 12, it was a yearly tradition to go shopping with my mum on my birthday to spend the handful of notes I'd excitedly gathered from birthday cards from relatives - and Accessorize was always the first stop," she told me.
"Walking into the shop felt like stepping into treasure trove, with glistening trinkets and colourful handbags and scarves everywhere. I'd usually spend hours in there trying on all the ridiculous-sized rings, headbands and all the hats I could.
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"I vividly remember one 'big' purchase from there being a fluffy pink beret my mum told me she loved me in. Eleven-year-old me felt very chic and French. To be honest, I still get the same wide-eyed feeling when I visit now for the odd set of studs. Long live Accessorize!"
Birthdays, Christmas, holidays - it's fair to say Accessorize has seen us through some pretty big milestones over the years. When I graduated from uni, I bought a cute earring and bracelet combo to go with a blue midi dress from Warehouse - another tragic victim of the Covid-19 high street blitz.
A couple of years later, I had just finished my first week in my very first journalism internship. I needed a new bag and walking out the office on that Friday afternoon, I thought I would treat myself to a £25 brown 'leather' option from Accessorize, which was just a few doors down.
I'm laughing now that I considered it an extravagant splurge, but that pleather tote lasted me years.
Whether it was a hat, a bag or a headband, just a quick 15 minutes in Accessorize and you could complete any outfit. Scarves, gloves, fascinators, those 10-packs of earrings that came in about a million different styles.
I can still recall frenzied trips to the store pre-festivals, looking for a bum bag or a jazzy pair of earrings. What I would do to be stood in Accessorize now, wasting time eyeing up a diamanté 'L' necklace or a pair of feather earrings.
Obviously, no homage to Accessorize is complete without mentioning its annual holiday collection. It's truly in a league of its own.
There's nothing quite like splashing out on an Accessorize bikini and a couple of sarongs in Gatwick's South Terminal, and I've lost count of the number of times they've saved me when it came to sunglasses.
Come to think of it, most of my Accessorize holiday purchases have been last-minute buys - like the pair of raffia flip-flops that I barely took off during a holiday to Greece a couple of years ago.
MJ, 33, tells me the store has saved her holiday wardrobe on many occasion, and she has a particular soft spot for the brand's 'Z for Accessorize' collection.
"A lot of my teenage Saturday shopping trips were spent in the Ealing branch of Accessorize, plucking out early noughties staples like chokers, anklets and shell necklaces," she says.
"I still have a deep love for the brand in my thirties and it's remained a go-to for affordable but expensive-looking jewellery and last minute beach holiday buys."
Despite doing well pre-Covid, Accessorize has been hit hard by the closing of all its 230 stores over the last three months.
Peter Simon has since struck a deal in which he will buy the company back after filing for administration, purchasing the chain under new holding company Adena Brands.
It means there are now plans in place to reopen the Monsoon and Accessorize chains - but with fewer shops. They hope to "save as many as 100" and we're crossing everything for them.
It feels like we've been given one last chance with Accessorize and I, for one, won't be taking it for granted ever again. Here's to many more years wearing out headbands, being seduced by sparkly studs and hopefully - one day soon - I might have the opportunity to forget to pack my sunglasses again...
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock