Recession-proof Cath Kidston has defied the crumbling economy with her ‘kitchenalgia’ empire (apparently this is ‘kitchenalia’ blended with ‘nostalgia’, in case you are as confused as I am). This year she has sold more polka dot tea towels and chintzy fabrics than ever before and has smugly recorded profits of £4.6m, up from £2.9m in 2008.

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This is a big deal in the interiors industry. Other homeware brands have been hit hard by the recession – The Pier has disappeared. High street favourite Woolworths is a gonna (which of recent years was yawns-ville but in the past brought us such classics as the Ridgway Homemaker tableware collection) and MFI has tragically died. So, for Cath Kidston’s sales to rise from £19.2m to £31.3m is pretty impressive. She’s going from strength to strength and now has 27 stores in the UK and Ireland, with 10 new openings in the last year. And it’s not just us Brits who go crazy for her cute, floral style – she’s also huge in Japan and now has shops in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama.

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There have been articles in both The Guardian and The Sunday Times recently charting Kidston’s amazing growth and discussing what the secret of her recession success is. Do women turn to her cheerful designs for comfort in hard times? Do her vintage patterns remind us of our grandmothers, idyllic childhoods and homespun rosy days? Is the CK lifestyle ‘a way to nest, but without all the hard work involved in nesting’? In the Daily Mail recently, Leah Hardy, a self-confessed Cath-addict summed up why she’s obsessed with the brand: “In Cath Kidston world, surrounded by my Cath Kidston things, I can believe I am the perfect housewife. I live in a mullioned rectory. There are perfectly behaved, rosy-cheeked children and well-trained dogs at my feet. Carrots are growing in my garden and there’s a homemade cake cooling in my kitchen. The reality, of course, is somewhat different. I’m a harassed working mother living in a South London semi, with cats and urban children, at whom I sometimes shout, especially when I’m on a deadline and they are fighting over the TV remote control. There are no roses around my door, I wince when my bank statements arrive and my ironing pile is a disgrace. In my retro-styled sewing box I have a Cath Kidston floral-print tin button box but I can’t remember the last time I sewed on a button.”

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So, Cath allows us to fantasise and escape reality. But can she peddle this dream forever? There have been rumbles in the press that she’s grown too big – that her ‘pinny porn’ has spread ‘like ivy’ – that fashion will turn against her as it did with Laura Ashley in the 1990s – that selling spotty bags in Tesco, phones for Nokia, tents in Millets and opening an outlet store in Bicester is a bit too much and somehow, well, chavvy. It’s like when you hear a song you like on the radio. Every day. Twenty four times. It soon loses it’s appeal and becomes a bit annoying. It’s overload. Controversially, a former Cath-fan recently referred to Kidston as ‘a bit of a tart’ in the Daily Mail. She explained: ‘Cath Kidston is everywhere now – and there’s nothing more annoying than finding your hidden gem is suddenly a cheap bit of costume jewellery available on every high street.’

While I’m sure Cath won’t relish being labelled ‘a tart’, she might be glad of all this convenient media attention, as there are rumours flying around that she’s planning to sell her empire… so, what do you think? Have you had your fill of sugary florals? Are you all Cath Kidston-ed out? Or are you a complete convert? Do the new CK  images here still give you a thrill? Will you be rushing out to buy the new Cath Kidston Roberts radio (above)? So many questions! Let us know what you think! – Ellie

Oh, Toast, lovely Toast. Thou art the nicest of all mail order companies by far. I didn’t think you could top your Greek-fest summer images with their beautiful moody lighting, fresh seaside-y feel and various visual delights, but you’ve done it again.

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I’ve just seen the new autumn/winter collection from Toast, and it’s every bit as gorgeous as we’ve come to expect. Think Scotland, think fog, think thistles, think chunky ceramics, snug tweedy textiles, knitted woollen socks and gorgeous rustic homewares. It might be June, but these lovely images instantly transport you to a chilly December afternoon…

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I see yet another vintage milk bottle has sneaked into this blog…really need to sort this obsession of mine out! I LOVE the teal-green ceramics with the bright red tamarillo fruits here.

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Cups on hooks and vintage books, these are a few of my favourite things. Loving the blue and white bobble hat with those blue and white vintage china plates behind, too.

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Mmmm, check out the vintage wallpaper in the background of the matches shot – tasty! Lime green and dirty orange, my favourite 1960s combo. How does Toast manage to make something as simple as a few old wire coat hangers look like gorgeous utilitarian-chic treasures? We mere mortals will never know the secrets of Toast! But one thing’s for sure…these lovely pics are more like works of art than catalogue shots, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.– Ellie