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Why We Should Declare World War Twee On Cath Kidston

by Georgia Lewis
17 July 2012 12 Comments

The floral infestation has gone too far and Cath Kidston is to blame...

Once upon a time, floral prints were the preserve of nice old ladies, dolls’ houses, country lasses who never quite got over wearing Liberty print blouses to boarding school rugby matches and impossibly pretty girls who never belch or swear like truck drivers during childbirth. Then, somehow, Cath Kidston came along and suddenly, a plague of rampant tweeness starting spreading across Britain. How was this ever allowed to happen?

Cath started out innocently enough selling vintage fabrics and wallpapers and the like from a shop in Holland Park in 1993. Then she had a botanical brainwave and saw fit to design her own florals and put one of her prints on an ironing board cover. A freakin’ ironing board cover. According to her website, this was a “witty” thing to do. Yes, how very Dorothy Parker to add flowers to the domestic drudgery that is ironing.

How very Dorothy Parker to add flowers to the domestic drudgery that is ironing.

The first sign that we had a serious floral outbreak on our hands came with the relentless spread of her bags. They’re creepy, like an overgrown version of what Grandma takes to the communal showers on a Caravan Club holiday. Nobody is immune, it seems, from these godawful, plastic-coated monstrosities.

On any given Tube ride, you will see these bags carried by women from all walks of life – grim-faced women in tailored suits, women in tracksuits, women in hijabs, women in saris, high school students using them as schoolbags (even the ones who are clearly the cool girls – and as someone who most certainly wasn’t a cool girl, I can spot these socially gifted starlets a mile off).

I give the mothers who use Cath Kidston bags as nappy bags a leave pass as I do believe it is the law that nappy bags must be unspeakably naff, but seriously, why have these bags which match nobody’s outfit become so popular?

15 quid! – a red torch with flowers. The only way to look like a bigger dickhead on a camping trip would be to turn up in Lady Gaga’s meat dress and refuse to put it on the barbecue.

And that first ironing board cover should have served as a dire warning that Cath would not rest until everything was covered in one of her hayfever-inducing prints. My husband and I were in Fenwick (we had a wedding present voucher, OK? We can’t actually afford to shop there…) and were tempted by those retro-looking Roberts digital radios, wondering if the one festooned with a Union Jack would be ironically cool or make us look like we listen to BNP FM, when I spotted one that had caught Cath Kidston fever. Insipid pale blue with pink flowers – it was simply not a radio to be taken seriously, the feeble bastard child of a radio and tampon box.

But the final straw came this week when I painfully looked at her website. There it was, for 15 quid – 15 quid! – a red torch with flowers. The only way to look like a bigger dickhead on a camping trip would be to turn up in Lady Gaga’s meat dress and refuse to put it on the barbecue. For the same price at Argos you can get an awesome camping light with a remote control and no insane florals. Indeed, given the whole point of going camping is to “get away from it all”, if someone produced a Cath Kidston torch near any tent of mine, I’d have to insist that we remain in darkness instead. We are faced with a nation where the middle of nowhere is not safe from a Cath Kidston infestation. God help us all.

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Geena Davis Lives 7:29 pm, 23-Jun-2011

I have one of these which is box shaped and rain proof. I suppose when you enter the world of bitter married, bags should match everything you wear. For you I suggest a bin one or the 80s acid face on a shopper to remind you that once upon a time you were a kid and you had fun.

Daisy 9:00 am, 3-Jul-2011

This is ace - really made me giggle. My Mum is a CK devotee, and when I go home I'm genuinely scared that she'll creep in when I'm sleeping and tattoo me with a retro floral polka dot motif...

Caroline 12:02 pm, 12-Jul-2011

Yes!! You also made me think about cupcakes when I read this. CK may be indirectly responsible for the worldwide cupcake infestation, the floral twee and the cupcake twee squeeee, its gone too far indeed...

AnnaSpanner 10:28 pm, 30-Oct-2011

Cath Kidston merchandise is bought by women who like to pretend they don't have vaginas.

Alibee 4:43 pm, 4-Nov-2011

Thank fuck I'm not the only one who hates CK. And that fucking stupid little Radley dog wants putting down. There... and breathe.

Andy B 9:24 pm, 23-Nov-2011

Its all called Cath Skidstain to me.....visual diahorrea. Help me from the females in my house.

Jen 4:50 pm, 24-Nov-2011

Cath Kidston's relentless banality is up there with 'Keep Calm and Carry On' and its various offshoots, Tatty Devine and 50s-style circle skirts in, of course, black, white or red polka dots. I like properly old things that have lasted and stayed beautiful, but I'm so bored of identikit, plastic retromania.

Georgia Lewis 10:32 pm, 17-Jul-2012

Geena, fun is a rainproof floral bag? I wouldn't dream of accusing you of not knowing how to rock...

Georgia Lewis 10:33 pm, 17-Jul-2012

Geena, fun is a rainproof floral bag? I simply wouldn't dream of accusing you of not knowing how to rock...

Steph 8:32 pm, 13-May-2013

Um. I have three Cath Kidston bags, and I definitely don't like to pretend I don't have a vagina. I too hate identikit retromania - owning CK items doesn't mean that I dress in head-to-toe polka dots or buy everything with birds on because it's 'vintage'. I happen to own lots of actual vintage clothes and don't buy CK because it's 'retro'. I just love floral prints. I think this article isn't really about CK, but expressing a distaste for floral prints - which is fine; you're welcome to your opinion. I'd probably hate whatever you wear every day too. And yes, Cath may well be responsible for the current popularity of florals. I just think taking out a dislike for a certain style on one brand is a little petty. Ultimately, those 'plastic-coated monstrosities' make really hard-wearing bags - and personally I love that they clash with whatever I'm wearing. The more florals the better, I say.

Jim 12:56 pm, 20-Oct-2014

Steph, the first 6 words of your comment made me hold the rest of the next 10 lines in complete disregard, although I did (stupidly) take very important time out of my day to read this and have managed to gleen from the information that really you are a woman who would prefer to not have the hastles of a vagina, and who would blame you? All this bleeding and hormones every month while the male world carries on as normal its no wonder you have taken solice from this wipe clean monstrosity just in case in your hectic schedule you forgot to insert a super maxi and you happened to get splash marks while running for the tube. This and babysick are the only two reasons I can see for the people wishing to transport their much loved belongings in these 'floral optical rape vessels' not realising the damage vagina hating feminists are inflicting on us normal vagina loving members of the public.

V 8:58 pm, 12-Dec-2014

Jim,I think I love you.

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