While perusing the madness of Brick Lane in East London a few weeks ago I stopped into the vintage shop called Levisons on Cheshire Street. The tidy little outpost has a nice selection of men’s and women’s vintage on offer with lots of what you’d want from a good British vintage shop — schoolboy scarves, tweedy accessories of every want, country brogues and nearly an entire rack of well worn Barbour coats. Those coats almost almost fall under the classification as ‘tattered’ (and I mean that in the best possible), but considering the way Barbours are made, they will probably last quite a while longer. Everyone working in the shop was welcoming and knowledgeable, making it even more enjoyable to look through every single item on hand and maybe even take some of it home.
There’s little doubt in my mind that Labour and Wait is my favorite store on earth. There are a few stores in Tokyo that are a close second, but no one combines as unique of a concept with such good product and unparallelled visual merchandising. Those are some pretty bold statements I know, but after visiting the company’s new and improved London shop I reaffirmed my love of the quirky purveyor of English home goods and departed with a paper bag full of simple treasures.
One of the great stores has no walls and, in fact, isn’t even a store at all. Consider the Andrews of Arcadia stall at Spitalfields Market in London. Every Thursday, John Andrews sets up his booth of vintage fishing tackle and it couldn’t be improved on by all the art directors on Madison Avenue. Antique angling wares—bamboo rods, cork floats, checkered sailing flags, restored reels, the odd canvas bucket—all laid out perfectly, priced fairly, and described with care and not a trace of snobbery. It’s a very sweet thing. Then lunch across the street at St. John Bread & Wine, and you’re enjoying the better part of civilized life.
During my recent trip to London, I was faced with a bit of a problem; many things to see and not long to do it. I was great just to be in one of my all time favorite cities and I was lucky to meet a lot of like minded people, many of whom I had been corresponding with over the past few years. The downside was my short schedule forced me to abandon an entire arm of my planned exploration. One place I knew I had to visit was the Soho store of the English label Albam.
A selection of photos from The Vintage Showroom in London. The company operates by appointment only, as it is mainly used by designers for “inspiration” and whatnot. If you live in NYC (and are a designer) or a vintage obsessive, The Vintage Showroom operates much like Melet Mercantile or Strong Arm Clothing Supply. Also, if you live in Boston you should know Bobby from Boston, which is more of a public store front than these others. Being that the The Vintage Showroom mainly serves industry people, the prices are not cheap. The prices are also what they are because the proprietors spend a lot of time and money sourcing the stuff. There is also a store front that is open to the public near Covent Garden if you want to check that out.
File this under: Stores that need to be opened in New York.
Just off Carnaby Street in London’s Soho — an area loved by denim brands — sits a newish Barbour Heritage shop. In fact, the Levi’s Cinch store that I wrote about not too long ago is right up the block (as we say in New York). The Barbour store focuses on some of the more unique offerings, from the To Ki To jackets to a slew of International jackets in a variety of fabrics. A Barbour coat is one things that is priced better in London than the States — even after the exchange. I ended up with the khaki colored To Ki To bicycle jacket that I have been lusting after for some time. (Second photo, bottom right.) Spring here we come.
Meet The Vintage Showroom. I spent my Wednesday morning here and while my host (co-owner Doug) ran out to get us both a cup of tea (that was nice of him!) I took this little video. I have much more to say and lots of photos that I will share with you very soon. In the meantime, enjoy all of this vintage goodness.