Unique to London; Please Shop Small!

December 03, 2013 BY PERMANENT STYLE

03cdd49c59f711e38ee212ae0e21946a_8With Small Business Saturday right behind us and the fate of independent brands on the horizon, Simon Crompton looks to the dying breed of multi-brand retailers in London and salutes his cap to them. Lets #shopsmall this Holiday season. [Photo via @capsuleshow's Instagram]

One of the most depressing retail trends of the past 20 years has been the unstoppable spread of designer brands around the world. It is depressing for many reasons. It suggests fewer and fewer people value quality and craft in their clothing over the reassuring swaddle of a high-profile brand. It concentrates power in the hands of a few mega-groups, as those groups themselves swallow ever-more historic companies. But most depressing of all is the death of the small, multi-brand shop.

London is perhaps the most pertinent example. There are now no more than a handful of unique menswear shops in the city – ones I would recommend a foreign traveller to visit while he is here, that he can’t experience in New York or Paris. Great shopping areas like Regent Street and High Street Kensington have been gradually taken over by brand ‘flagships’. Even the welcome redevelopment of St James’s appears to be merely welcoming in more big-brand stores.

All is not lost. There are a few innovators bravely fighting back. Often, they are retailers that started online, built up a loyal following and are now taking the big step of a whopping monthly rent. They include Drake’s, Trunk and Anderson & Sheppard (haberdashers). Let’s wish them luck, and visit as often as we can.

Simon Crompton is a London based, freelance menswear journalist. His personal blog, Permanent Style, can be found here.