The King’s Road just got cool (ish) again…
Following the opening of its first London store in Regent Street, Anthropologie opens its King’s Road store on 19th March.
This is quite important, not only because it’s another Anthropologie store (AKA, the most beautiful-looking chain in the world) but because it will bring footfall to the King’s Road and other stores are sure to follow. What do we have in the King’s Road already? The Shop At Bluebird of course, towards World’s End and Jack Wills in the middle. Even if you’re not the Jack Wills ‘type’, there’s no denying that the stores, styled to the nth degree, are something to behold. The King’s Road branch has a coffee shop on the top floor (but shhh, don’t tell anyone) and hosts gigs in the basement. The fixtures and fittings are the best type of antiquey shabby-chic with a bit of faux-punk rebellious teen thrown in. There have been rumours of A Very Well Known US Designer sniffing around for a store nearby too but I’m not sure how reliable they are.
Back (way back) in the day, there was a clutch of superb shops between Vivienne Westwood’s World’s End shop and where The Shop At Bluebird resides now. As well as American Classics (the best used Levi’s 501s this side of the Atlantic), there was The Emperor of Wyoming (more vintage Americana), Liberated Lady (’80s interpretations of ’50s fashion) and Johnny Moke (the shoe dude). A bit further along was Eat Your Heart Out, another vintage store where I once bought a long black crepe Biba dress. Funnily enough I recently found out that it was run by vintage dealer Graham Cassie who now runs Cassie Mercantile. He probably sold it to me and I recently donated it back to him!
Not far from where Anthropologie is opening – on the former site of Antiquarius Antiques – was Flip, a smaller outpost of the legendary Covent Garden second-hand Americana store. This was the place to find love-worn baseball jackets, sweatshirts, prom dresses and tube socks – absolute bliss…
Of course Anthropologie is a far cry from those vintage dens and characterful hangouts but the point is, it’s a start. Retail needs to get people interested in discovering shops again, whether they’re vintage stores, toy shops, bookshops or funny little cowboy boot shops. Let’s see who else arrives in the King’s Road after Anthro…
Make Do Style
3 March, 2010 @ 10:01 pm
And Robot once upon a time. I also once bumped into Bob Geldof and Paula Yates in Waitrose on my way home. I keep meaning to go to the Kings Rd again I've been away for ages. Although my sister got married in Chelsea Registry and then had the reception at the Bluebird.
I really must get in the habit of going there again.
3 March, 2010 @ 10:47 pm
I love Antroprologie, I've been going to America for the last 10 years every year, but only discovered Antro in New York at the flagship store at Trump Plaza 2 years ago. I wasted 8 years of amazing shopping! And I am soooo glad there are now going to 2 shops in London. How exciting!
3 March, 2010 @ 10:57 pm
I am totally obsessed with the Kings Road. I have a very sentimental thing about that part of Chelsea in general. When I was still living in Paris, I used to stay at friends who lived in a street parallel to the Kings Road and I totally romanticised the area, so now even living in London, I absolutely love it.
I don't even go that often as I fear it will taint my memories of it.
I will be at the opening of the new Anthro though!
3 March, 2010 @ 11:13 pm
Sorry not to share the excitement. No reflection on Anthropologie, but I find it sad that yet another big boy from the States is rolling out stores in London when Libertys flagship store and lots of small boutiques – are going to the wall. The independent shops on Kings Road were a huge part of British heritage. The very few boutiques that remain are already suffering without a huge American chain store moving in.
Fi Lovett (Fifi Wilson)
That's Not My Age
4 March, 2010 @ 8:16 am
Aaah remember Johnny Moke? Such a nice man and fab shoes.
4 March, 2010 @ 8:27 am
I've always had a soft spot for the Kings Rd, had a Saturday job in a shoe shop there, got married at the Old Town Hall. Love Antro and love shopping so its back on my shopping radar.
4 March, 2010 @ 2:58 pm
Aw, I want to see all English stores when I'm in England…not American ones!
4 March, 2010 @ 4:06 pm
It takes an American to tell us we should have British shops in Britain. Sadly we can't even keep our great shops in this country so with the exception of Topshop, the situation is not replicated over there. Let's not forget all the small independant businesses that were evicted to make way for Anthropologie. Similar thing happening in Portobello. What was cool on King's road was it's unique identity with so much variety from so many indies. No matter how they try no global chain store can hope to replicate this, they are at the other end of the spectrum. Every day I walk down Kings Road to see more independant shops closing. Makes me very sad. If you're in any doubt speak to the shop owners as to whether they think Anthropologie will improve matters and bring business their way. These shops need support or they will go and so will our choices.
Fi (Fifi Wilson)
4 March, 2010 @ 4:22 pm
Hi Fi, thanks for commenting, I know where you're coming from. I know about the situation in Portobello too and am not in favour of huge chains muscling in. But. Anthropologie is not your average chain. Each store is different and they try to fit into the area. What are all these other retailers doing to get customers in store? Are they just doing the same as they have always done? Not good enough I'm afraid. Shoppers are migrating to online, if a store wants customers it needs to give us a unique retail experience (a la The Shop At Bluebird. I frequently cross town purely to shop there).
I am aware of the hoo-ha surrounding Antiquarius and found this blog post interesting:
Anyone else able to offer any more insight?
4 March, 2010 @ 5:11 pm
Im from manchester, but I'd love to visit Kings road more often when I go to london. Next trip sheduled May! Two months to get looking my best for you dirty bloody southerners ;)
Click here to visit me at LITTLE RAZZI blog!
4 March, 2010 @ 9:52 pm
oooh The memories of kings road !I bought my first ever second hand suede jacket there in bluebird ( vintage hadn't been invented yet) and I bought a pair of platforms from Shelllys ( I guess that's still there?) It forfilled all my teenage dreams .and a tshirt and denim jacket on the sale rail at worlds end. But those posers cruising down the road in there tacky cars just added to the joy . I never go there anymore -the idea never pops into my head . I may check it out again soon . X
4 March, 2010 @ 9:55 pm
Sorry not sure you got my reply – laptop went funny.
In a nutshell Bluebird is a concept store but sadly it is often deserted and can only survive because Jigsaw own it & can swallow any losses. So although important I don't thimk this is just about offering a unique shopping experience. A customer of ours knows the owners of Anthropologie and said they are purposefully going very mainstream and are rolling shops out all over Europe. I just don't think this ethos fits into what the Kings road is renowned for.
4 March, 2010 @ 10:49 pm
ah i love anthropologie. Iv only ever been to the store at the farmers market in LA xxxxx
7 March, 2010 @ 9:30 pm
Brilliant! I live on Kings Road and Ive been waiting so-very-impatiently for Anthropologie to open! xo
13 March, 2010 @ 9:56 pm
I live nearby and go there at least once a week. I think it got more lively since the farmers market opened a few years ago on Duke of York Sq. I am afraid I agree with Fi, I would rather see more independent shops than yet another chain (even if said chain is better than other high street chains). By the way, anyone knows what happened to Picasso? I loved having an afternoon tea there.cn