This year was the first time in my two years of being involved in London Fashion Week that I worked exclusively at the exhibition rather than behind the scenes of the catwalk shows. This year I had a fabulous time because I was surrounded by amazing talent; young designers thirsty for recognition of their work, oozing innovation, and collaborations of work leading to ingenious fabric designs.
I fell in love with the Eco Fashion showcase under the umbrella of Estethica & Monsoon. I’ve already written a piece on Emesha eco-luxe label which I am totally in love with.
All designers are hoping to be spotted by large retailers such as Harrods or Harvey Nichols for the chance to have their label featured in their stores. For the chosen few, this is a huge honour, as it is the kudos they need to get exposure and sales.
While luxury stores such as Harrods and Harvey Nichols may mean a designer ‘has made it’, I think that independent labels can get lost in amongst a very tourist-driven clientele. I don’t feel that the customers that visit these stores will always appreciate the brands that are featured.
Such great talent deserves attention, and who better to give these designers a launch pad than the independent boutiques. Pockets of London are famous for maintaining and retaining their independent trading. From the north to the south, east to the west of London…Independent shoppers, I salute you.
Emerging clothing designers such as Masato Jones feels it is very important for his label to have a boutique presence. “Customers can walk in and see my garments – touch, feel, try on – rather than
relying on footage from the catwalk or fashion show”.
Masato, Pitchoughina, Emesha and other designers all agree that they want their work to be accessible. The independent boutique is allowing this to happen.
My favourite areas to gain access to innovative designs – from furniture and home accessories to clothing and wellbeing products, are Crouch End, Soho, Shoreditch, Primrose Hill, Parsons Green and Fulham.
At each of these fashionable stops you will find an explosion of vintage, savvy- chic, reconditioned, bohemian and zen-inspired life-style shops. Clothing, jewellery, furniture and books. You enter shop after shop oozing with personality and clever ways of tempting customers, such as Fulham’s Deauxieme which boasts a gorgeous
tea room attached to their clothing boutique.
Shops are a window to a consumer’s heart – all their wants and needs under one roof. There’s a lot of competition, and the key to any successful business is to be innovative, flexible, true to your product, and love your customers. Without customers, you have no business.
I start my Sunday mooch session with lunch and introduce
my Aussie best buddy to Barossa London. I know that they do a very very good soya latte…so don’t be afraid to keep walking past Starbucks and take a very pleasing chance on brunch, lunch, dinner, or just coffee at Barossa. Great coffee and chai tea latte on soya milk. Delish sweet potato and grilled halloumi salad. Simple, but effective. So, we’ll be back, and making sure the ChicFantatique followers make their way to there too.
With the threat of the traditional book moving into a completely online world, it was a pleasure stumbling upon Nomad Books in Fulham Road.
This is a book store that encourages you to mooch, explore, read, stay a while and enjoy. It was a Sunday when I visited so the Sunday papers were laid out on their tables for customers.
Clearly they know that that their customers are there to look at their books and buy – however they have created a very lovely environment warming anyone’s literary heart. Tables and chairs are set out and you can order drinks with home made cake or slice while reading.
Yes, you read this correctly, you are encouraged in a book store to read.
With the right attitude, I’m not convinced that a book store will or should die out. I think it’s great that music, movies and books can be downloaded with the help of convenient technology beginning with the letter ‘I’ all under the healthy logo of *Apple – but I just don’t believe the book store has had its day.
So here’s a small independent business built on the power of the real book, but I’m guessing, can’t ignore the fact that online technology is here to stay. Nomad Books wouldn’t be on Twitter if they didn’t believe in an online presence. I’m sure this is how a lot of customers find them.
I’ve chosen to write about Nomad Books because I think they’ve taken onboard the need to grow with online competition by offering space for you to meet your friends over a coffee, or to host a book club, and room to explore the shelves. Staff have even taken the time to write recommendations on cards tucked into book covers – just to get more of an opinion of a book. Let’s face it; we all love a good recommendation.
So, I finished my latte, took note of the all the books I wanted to purchase, andexited Nomad with a skip in my step.
Not many shopping experiences make me quite as happy – If I was to write about an Ikea experience for example, you will be concerned for my safety, as I find the mere thought of entering Ikea a depressing fear that I may be found weeks later in a remote corner of the blue
and yellow store rocking back and forth surrounded by useless ice trays, candles and cushions.
Like an addiction to happy drugs, I looked for my next fix, and it wasn’t long before I was drawn to the candy pink exterior of Indian Summer – an eclectic mix of lifestyle, reconditioned clothing, jewellery and all things gorgeous that you have to have, but really don’t need at all.
I would sum up Indian Summer as a beautiful bazaar of dream travel experiences. Imagine all the beautiful things you would find at souks and markets in far eastern and North African continents – it’s a luxury traveller’s dream of beads, lotions, silks, rugs and a lot, lot
So my happiness radar has peaked, and it’s nearing 5pm on a Sunday. A lot of the independent shops will close around 4pm or 5pm, or may decide to not even open on a Sunday, but in my book, that’s okay. They’ve fulfilled their duty of creating a happy satisfaction that my money was well spent, and that the independent will live to open another day.
So, this is just Fulham…wait until I get to Crouch End.