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REALLY, what's all the fuss about? The great British high street has spent years rubbing shoulders with America's finest - Gap, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch and most recently, Club Monaco. Furthermore, Brits have been shopping J Crew wares via its website as soon as it started shipping here (the online cashmere shop is a must visit - every shade and every shape your heart could possibly desire). With clever editorial devices such as "Looks we love, nine answers to what am I going to wear today", what can the bricks-and-mortar store - and its staff - offer that its website and editorial team can't?

Well, for one thing, this mega, 17,000sq ft flagship on Regent Street is a treat for the senses. It's a delight to spend time here, which certainly can't be said for all high street retailers. With the Serge Mouille light fixtures, the vintage sofas and the gallery's worth of modern art - framed colourful silkscreens sourced from antique dealers, Ed Ruscha exhibition announcements, Ellsworth Kelly posters and quirky London bus scrolls - that lines the walls of this light-filled emporium, one could happily move in.

Part of the J Crew appeal in the US is the shiny happy sales assistants who aren't only up to speed on stock availability and navigation, but deliver it all with a smile. When it comes to customer service, Americans just breed them better, although so far so good: the attitude seems to have passed along to the British J Crew staff, who are dressed in denim shirts with sleeves rolled up and sparkling paste necklaces.

If there are a couple of annoyances about J. Crew opening its doors this side of the pond, the first is that everyone in London is now in on the secret. No longer can you be smug in your J Crew purchase, pretty confident that no one else is likely to be wearing what you are. The other is that the requisite J Crew store visit can be scratched off the Things To Do In New York list.

Then again, with prices marginally hiked up here due to import duties (the same is true all US retailers, Club Monaco and Victoria's Secret included), it's still worth a browse stateside. Think £348 for a sweater with a sprinkling of gems; £135 for the toothpick jeans; £69.50 for a classic white shirt, and from £49.50 for a gem-clustered necklace.

A final note to combat the problem of sartorially copying colleagues and friends: buy it and wear it three weeks from date of purchase. By then, said item would have already flown from the shelves. If this morning's throng of feverish shoppers is anything to go by, nothing hangs around here for long.