Cath Kidston Store
LEAF ARBUTHNOT spends some comforting time in the new Cath Kidston store on Market Street.
Cath Kidson recently opened on Market Square. As bourgeois as it feels to even consider entering the shop, it is, in fact, pretty darn nice. As soon as you clap eyes on the feast of frills and flowery that has been painstakingly laid out, everything suddenly – and very weirdly – feels like it’s going to be alright. The manic humdrum of Cambridge life retreats into the back of your cerebral tissue, leaving you feeling cosy and pampered and great.
Obviously, the merchandise is overpriced. Decent wallets will cost you £25. “Wild Rose Hand Cream” –student essential! – will set you back another eight. But in a perverse way, the prices themselves are reassuring. “The world is not going to pot!” they suggest. “People still want flowery pencil cases! Everything’ll be okay!”
The store’s design is also lovely. The walls are a surfy washed out blue; a frightening amount of thought has clearly gone into every tabletop display. The ambiance is a pleasing mix of granny, mother, seaside and garden.
In the Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera talks about “kitsch” which he defines as “the denial of shit”. Human beings, he argues, live in perpetual denial of the bad shiz that goes down in their lives. We would rather not confront our own bestiality, thank you very much. And Cath Kidson embodies the hell out of this concept. The whole cheery philosophy underpinning the brand feels just a little hollow and absurd. Times have moved on and Cath just hasn’t cottoned on yet.
What bothers me about this shop isn’t the price of the goods, because they’re obviously not meant to be bought by students. Rather, it’s the simple fact that in this Age Of Austerity, lusting after spotty masking tape and bluebell vaporizers is no longer quite appropriate. We’re meant to be recovering from a recession here, people! For God’s sake don’t buy another apron!
So, all in all, a mixed (and waterproof, the sweeties) shopper bag. While it’s comforting to be in there, in a kind of hot-milk-and-honey way, it’s also a bit embarrassing. The brand screams – or rather, politely insinuates – upper-middle class comfort. Unfortunately, that’s just not in anymore.