The new House Of Fashions is kind of amazing, though the goods (mainly clothing) they sell remains generally mediocre.
House Of Fashions [sic] has been a sub-continental shopping mecca since 1992. They’ve been efficiently doing tons of business in a big shop on Duplication Road, but that wasn’t big enough. They’ve now moved to a massive 250,000 square building on Baseline Road, between Horton Place and the Kannate Cemetery.
The building itself is epic. Some might call it godacious, but we were actually quite excited to go in. Even parking was kinda fun. It’s on the east side of Baseline Road, so you have to do a bit of a round to get there, but once you do there is parking, something House Of Fashions never had enough of. There are now three floors down of parking, with high ceilings and parking attendants seemingly every few meters. It’s not the best parking garage ever – two cars struggle to pass at points and you have to walk all the way up (for now) – but it, like everything else in the new store, is somehow impressive.
As you walk in you’re struck by the space. The ground floor looks more like a hotel lobby than anything else. There’s even what looks like a concierge desk. There’s tea and random stuff, but the goods are upstairs.
The first floor is sunglasses, perfumes, costume jewelry, etc. It’s kinda impressively laid out, but if you look closer it’s the same somewhat cheap stuff. The sunglasses are high quality fakes and cost about Rs. 5,000. Everything else is cheaper.
The second floor is women’s clothes. They have a nice selection of knock-off Zara stuff (from Rs. 1,500 upwards) but nothing else is that inspiring. That said, if you dig you can find.
The third floor is menswear – jeans, some nice suit jackets (again, knock-off Zara), shirts, shoes, office stuff etc. Not a great selection but, as throughout the store, if you dig you can find, and the prices are cheap.
The fourth floor is kids stuff. A basic T-Shirt is about Rs. 500 and they have a good selection of toys.
The fifth floor is household items, gifts and electronics. They have fridges for around Rs. 50,000 and everything from fans to toasters to lamps.
The House Of Fashion service has always been efficient, but now it’s abundant. There are staff everywhere and they’re watching you, for pilferage I suppose. We were twice questioned as if we were shoplifting, which we weren’t, obviously. A store this big will get targeted by thieves, but having a bunch of people watching and at times questioning you can be unpleasant, not to mention the fact that someone has to watch the watchers.
Beyond that the service is OK. They check you out fast, which is the main thing. The difference is that for certain goods (like on the cosmetics/fragrances/sunglasses floor) you have to check out there rather than the main aisles on the ground floor.
Oh, and there are still no fitting rooms. You have to try stuff on in the aisles (for items where that’s even remotely practical) or buy and return if that’s a problem.
Alas, despite the new building, House Of Fashions still sells the same stuff. It’s kinda cheap, not especially intelligently selected and not what we’d consider a great store. That said, the place was packed and it really does serve its clientele. The items are cheap and if you dig you can get what you need for around Rs. 1,000 an item (of clothing). It’s not high end stuff, but it’s still a level above the usual main street clothing shop.
House Of Fashions is House Of Fashions. It’s a Colombo institution and now it has a palatial building to match. The stuff is still the same, but if you dig there probably something for everyone. The shop remains efficient and cheap.