In a world where everything can be discovered via blogs, Twitter and social curation sites, it’s a wonder that some stores still manage to consistently carry exciting, unheard-of brands. One of those is the excellent Couverture, a judiciously edited fashion and lifestyle store in Kensington Park Road. I say ‘fashion’ but it’s not really fashion in the obvious sense and certainly not the kind of place you go to buy this season’s Marc Jacobs Pilgrim shoes or Miu Miu sunglasses. You could even call it anti-fashion, as the wares on offer are pitched to stand the test of time and get regular use beyond the prescribed seasons.
The common denominator is laidback, comfortable dressing but with attention to detail and quality (reflected in the pricing). Easy separates in simple shapes will often have a standout print – my favourite are the joyous pieces by Mina Perhonen, a Japanese brand with a Finnish aesthetic. Key to the buy is a global mix, with Australian, Japanese and Scandinavian design sitting alongside American labels like Tom Scott and Rachel Comey. 70% of the brands aren’t stocked anywhere else in London and owner Emily Dyson deliberately buys in small quantities to help new designers.
For me, the thrill lies in discovery. The careful, uncluttered merchandising has just the right mix of useful and novelty that compels you to pick up every second item for close inspection (my weakness is leather bags, jewellery, stationery and the graphic cushions that draw me like a magnet to the upstairs gallery). And a big USP is Couverture’s focus on what Dyson calls ‘mother and daughter dressing’, so alongside the womenswear is a generous spread of kids clothes, jewellery and product design. Which oddly enough is just as appealing. A kids jewellery box – red, minimalist and utilitarian – bought a few years ago still has pride of place on my desk.
Couverture, 188 Kensington Park Road, W11